Explore Belize (City)

So much of the photographs I see coming out of Belize, while beautiful in their own right, all seem to read as post card photography. Sprawling vistas, islands in crystal blue, white sands, mountains, our thick rainforest. Nature shots are overarchingly all you'll see if you drop "Belize" into your search engine. And there's nothing wrong with that - in a tourism based economy, it's best to be Disney: all the pretty parts with the rough edges all filed down till smooth.

While that’s all well and good, that’s not the Belize that I knew. Maybe the San Pedranas have a right to their white sand Nat Geo shots, but I grew up in Belize City. I spent so much of my childhood wishing I grew my roots in some other part of the country, somewhere more scenic. Placencia, San Ignacio, somewhere where my parents would let me ride my bike by myself.

But then I moved away to the most polished city this side of the equator, perfectly maintained to Napolean’s specifications even in 2014 and I found myself gravitating more towards the grit of Quartier Pigalle than bellinis on the Champ de Mars. There was beauty in the underworld, in the dark, in the alleyway. There was charm in the chipped paint, and my childhood in the weird smells dripping from the backs of bars.

Growing up in the city might not be the safest thing, and it’s definitely not a tourist destination (nor do I necessarily believe it should be). But taking my last spin down marine parade to grab one last batch of photos that caught Belize the way I always saw it – messy and inidyllic and weird, there’s no one that could tell me it’s not beautiful.

Belize City is like no other on earth. It has character and attitude and it’ll kick your ass if you’re stupid. But when you’re a teenager, it’s a playground, like Jay Gatsby in the dark, without the chandeliers and glitter. Anything goes if you’re clever and the way the night sits on the grimy water that hugs our city’s coast before giving way to glassy blue? Best thing I’ve ever seen. Wouldn’t trade it for all the Eiffel towers and clear ocean vistas in the world.