You will hear over and over from people who visit Belize, “The people are so nice! Everyone is so friendly!”

Its true.

On our first trip to Belize, we met a couple, Horace and Sharon Andrews, who live in Sittee River.  Sittee River lies in the Stann Creek District, just north of Toledo.  After a day of fishing and snorkeling on their charter boat called, “Mek Wi Fish”, Kriol for Let’s Fish, we struck up a friendship over the  love of Belize, the marine life, and most importantly, the food.

We met up with Horace and Sharon on this trip at their friend’s restaurant in Hopkins, Belize called the Barracuda Bar.  The bar, owned by the Andrew’s friends, Angela and Tony Marsico, is a showcase for Tony’s self-described “Mediteribbean” foods.  Angela’s sweet desserts round out the menu and it is a perfect beachfront locale to meet up with friends.

“Its so funny how sometimes, when you are on vacation, you meet people you might not otherwise talk to.  You get to be open and free and be yourself.”  Sharon said. Her words rang true.

On assignment in Belize, I have  adopted a “yes to everything” mentality: Yes will try that food! Yes I will go caving and diving! Yes I will ride the chicken bus! Yes I will talk to that person!

I have found that being open has allowed me to find out more about myself and the people and environment around me.

Sharon adopted this same mentality when she came to Belize over a decade ago. “I came down from California to dive.  I loved it and even though it was a big change, I jumped right in a rented a place.”  She met Horace through her local friends.  Horace is one of 14 children, most of whom are in the tourism industry. “I have the two boats – the “Watuna” that I run out of Tony and Angela’s place and the “Mek Wi Fish” that I run from the marina in Sittee.” said Horace.

We had the chance to meet Horace and his brothers, Cardinal and James.  All three of them were as natural and comfortable in the water as they were out of it.  Mark and I both commented on this ease the brothers had near the water, and both felt a bit of “seaside-living” envy.

People become natural ambassadors of a country. Once you open up and say hello, you experience the richest side to travel: making new friends.

“The pace of life here is different.”  said Sharon.  She reflected on the quality of  life in Sittee and the comfort she feels when she is Belize.  The couple split their time between Sharon’s family home in Southern California and Sittee River during the tourism season. “You can always fine us here though.” said Sharon with a laugh, referring to the Barracuda Bar. The Andrews and Marsicos have become good friends.

With ease we talked about our dive adventures in Placencia and our love of fresh fish, coconut and chocolate desserts. We listened to Horace’s boat-captain stories and leaned in to fill ourselves with local gossip.

Next Up:  Horace and Sharon take us out on the river and to Sanctuary Bay- and we eat more at Barracuda Bar.

Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons