In December 1999, I made my first trip to Belize with the Fisher/ Paradis families to bring in New Years 2000. (Our families became friends when we went to daycare together in the early 1970s). I vividly remember the first golf cart ride through the small sandy streets of San Pedro Town. Large colorful Christmas bulbs were stretched across the entire length of the streets. Parents and beautiful children played in the park on the beach. The entire vibe of the island felt light and festive and I knew it was going to be so much fun!
Upon arrival at the Blue Tang Inn (then called Rock’s Inn), we were greeted by my parent’s good friends- the Leslie brothers. These extremely charismatic “island” men grew in San Pedro Town and my parents learned to scuba dive through their dive shop called Hustler Tours… the name says it all! My parents have enjoyed this friendship since 1992, when they first ventured to Belize. Many adventures and practical jokes were shared over the years between them. Now 12 years later, I could write a book about the lives of the Leslie brothers including how Gerald, a Tropic Air pilot, is now a personal pilot for Jimmy Buffet in Florida.
During this first trip to Belize, I had no idea how much a part of my life it would become. I also did not know that I was pregnant with my first baby and would return the following year with my 3-month old baby, dancing in the rain on the beach in celebration of New Years 2001.
I did fall in love with the people of Belize and the breathtaking beauty of the blue Caribbean. Every trip to Belize, I am dazzled by the brilliant colors of everything around me – especially in contrast to the dull Minnesota winters!
The Blue Tang Inn manager, Fanny, was hired when she was 19 years old as our front desk manager. She and I quickly hit it off! During one of my early visits, I traveled with her to her hometown of Corozal in Northern Belize. I rode on the tractor with her dad and ate amazing authentic Belize food prepared by her mother and sisters. I visited the building where fresh tortillas are made each day- mmm! The next year Fanny came to Minnesota and lived with us for 2 months. She helped care for my 1 year old baby and we took a trip to Montana for a family reunion. She learned so much about American living! Fanny is the Manager of Blue Tang Inn and I consider her my “Belize Sister”.
On another trip to Belize with my dad, we enjoyed scuba diving out at the Blue Hole. After a 90-foot dive, I thought it may be wise to take a pregnancy test before doing any more deep dives. Sure enough, I discovered I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter and my dad was the first to find out. Not to worry, the baby handled my 90-foot dive just fine! And turns out that Fanny was pregnant too and we had our babies only 6 hours a part!! She in Chetumal, Mexico and me in Minneapolis, MN!
In addition to the places I visit and people I am close to in Belize, I also have the opportunity to talk to the wonderful guests of Blue Tang Inn. Many come back to us year after year and I have the opportunity to keep up with their lives in our phone conversations. I love this part of my job and take the opportunity to personally call each potential guest that emails us. This provides a big assistance to them regarding their trip logistics and also creates appropriate expectations for their stay and eases any concerns they may have about travel to Belize.
Through the creation of Atalanta Journey, I really look forward to building lasting relationships with professors, yoga instructors, spiritual mentors and resort owners/managers. And of course the rich cultural experience had by the participants of these groups is a real pleasure!
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