Written by Rosanna Stevens
“Is that an iguana?!” comes a voice as I sit in a Zoom meeting to discuss the next issue of a magazine I write for. I turn around to see that the friendly reptile which lives on my terrace has sauntered into view. I respond that yes, that’s Derek (I named him after a popular TV character), and he is one of the many amazing creatures I now encounter every day here in Belize. Working remotely in Placencia as a food and travel writer and blogger is vastly different from my weekly routine last year in the UK. Like most people in the world, my routine for most of 2020 was rather monotonous. I was under lockdown in the UK, and the highlight of every day was probably walking to the local shop. Compared to my life right now, it is a different world.
A Strong Start
My weekdays here either start or end with yoga, watching as the sun peeps out from under the Caribbean or slips behind the Maya mountains. I work either in my apartment or in one of the communal spaces at Umaya Village where I am staying, or I might go into the village or to other hotels nearby. I have spent days at buzzing Barefoot Bar surrounded by laughter and music or the cool outdoor terraces at Itz’ana Resort & Residencies. Wherever I choose to work, the view is like a postcard, but it is strangely easy to focus! I have been at my most productive whilst here, in what could easily be the most distracting location.
Related: Digital Nomads Rejoice As Belize Readies To Introduce “Work Where You Vacation” Program
I often start early to maximize time within UK working hours and enjoy a Belizean breakfast of eggs, refried beans and fry jacks. You’ll then find me writing, shooting content or editing, taking the occasional break for a swim if I need a refresh.
Feeding My Inner Foodie
Lunch is usually a plate of fish tacos (I have eaten roughly 745 since I arrived). I also love stewed chicken; I have developed a real taste for Belizean food and drench everything in Marie Sharp’s hot sauce. Some of the best food I eat is from street sellers; a personal favorite is the pineapple fritters from Holey Roller Donuts bike in Placencia village. Food is a huge part of my blog, so trying as many things as possible is important to my work. Late afternoon brings a more relaxed vibe, perhaps a quick game of beach volleyball and, on some days, a pre-dinner workshop.
Umaya holds weekly workshops, including mindset coaches, sales experts, fashion designers and visual effects artists. It’s not only entertaining to hear about each other’s careers; there is also so much to be gained by learning about other people’s professional experiences. We all vibe off each other and are a constant support and inspiration source. On Friday evenings, we will discuss how our weeks have been and enjoy a cocktail (or three) at the beach bar before a community dinner. The food is always themed, and my favorite was a Mayan night. The chefs explained everything to us in English and Mayan, and we ate Dukunu, Pibil and Tamales. It was delicious and fascinating at the same time, and I love trying new food from around the world.
Cocktails, Waterfalls, the Belize Barrier Reef: Why An Extended Stay Still Wasn’t Long Enough
After focusing on work all week and letting loose on Friday nights, come Saturday, we explore! We all want to see as much of Belize as we can and have gone on some pretty great adventures. We have hiked through the jungle and thrown ourselves into waterfalls; heard howler monkeys scream high up in the trees, marveled at Mayan ruins and snorkeled around the Belize Barrier Reef. I have fallen in love with nature and the landscape here, and everyone I meet is so friendly and welcoming. Even though I am here for longer than a ‘usual’ trip (the most time I’d ever spent somewhere before is 2 weeks!) I never think it will be enough time to see all that I want to see.
“In fact, no one leaves when they are supposed to. Everyone extends their stay, myself included!”
I was meant to leave after five weeks and failed miserably at it. It’s simply such a great environment to work remotely in fantastic people and such stunning surroundings. Who could resist the sparkling Caribbean as a real-life Zoom backdrop? No week is the same, boredom is impossible, and anytime you need a break, there are things to see and places to go. We have felt safe relating to COVID-19 too, Belize has handled the pandemic really well. Everyone had to test negative before coming, and the protocols surrounding masks and social distancing are strict, which is reassuring both for us and the people who live here full time.
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Social distancing on a beautiful beach just feels very different from doing it back home; it’s a lot more fun for someone used to cold rain and grey clouds. The other digital nomads say that Belize found them rather than the other way around, and I completely agree. I can speak for us all when I say that being here has been a transformational experience. I am sold on both the digital nomad life and life in Belize.
About Rosanna Stevens
Rosanna is a writer and content creator living between the UK, California and now, Belize! Exploring the world provides endless inspiration for her work writing and creating travel and food content, seeking out unique experiences and sampling international cuisine. She is also an accomplished jazz singer and cat mom to Ginger Rogers, an obnoxiously large orange feline. Find her on Instagram, YouTube, or at www.rosannaetc.com.