I departed the chill winds and freezing rains of western Canada on December 13th, 2012, bound for Belize, on the Caribbean coast, with something of a sense of detachment. The preceding weeks were sleepless with anticipation and preparation, and yet that overwhelming excitement which consumes many travellers never really sunk in till I was past the customs agents in Vancouver International Airport. Then, finally, my extensive travel plans were out of my head, out of my hands, and an adventure was being borne into a life of it's own.
So what was the adventure? Ideologically I had long fantasized about committing my life to something greater than struggling to pay my own trivial bills. Philosophically I had dreamt of exploring other cultures and wisdoms from around the globe to expand my limited horizons. Personally I needed to sit on a beach and enjoy more than the north-western allotment of 3 short months annual sunshine. I had originally hoped to make an expedition of the grandest design; to drive lackadaisically from British Columbia, Canada to Patagonia in South America, exploring the landscapes, cultures and cuisines of the highly varied terrains en-route, while giving back to the communities that welcomed me through volunteerism. As I planned and calculated, my priorities swayed back and forth between principal and pleasure. To accomplish this journey I was going to have to give up everything I'd been accumulating for a comfortable, sedentary, North American lifestyle. If I was going to make such a risky move at the age when most of my peer group was just starting to settle down, I figured it had better well be for something good, for some greater purpose than exploratory hedonism. While my head reasoned that I should find a spectacular and sustainable international occupation to impress my friends and family, my heart longed to commit to an ascetic life of service. My body, meanwhile, firmly argued for a much deserved umbrella drink and a tan. Somewhere in the middle of all this, and at the mid-point of my intended travel route, my research uncovered a tiny, coastal, Caribbean country named Belize, formerly British Honduras. An ex-British colony bearing most of the basic comforts of home, the national language was said to be English, the government was reported to be stable, and the beaches & landscapes reputed to be pristine. Perfect for a first time traveller. But really it was Belize's national flag that settled the matter; a black man and a white man poised on either side of a tree, bearing paddle, axe, and other implements of honest labour, proudly displaying the quotation "Sub Umbra Floreo" - Under the shade of the tree we flourish. Rapidly dreams of road trips and the acclaim of travel writing transformed – Belize became a destination that was calling me to come home, at least for a while.
Renegade Ocean Sports Instructor, Vagabond Art Teacher, Roving Writer: Jessica Lea Salo
"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore."
"Having a healthy respect for the sea did not mean she owed me a moments grace."
"It is good to be alive."