I recently embarked on a month-long backpacking journey to a few destinations down south, and I can’t wait to share some of my experiences along the way (now thanks to reliable wifi). Travelling with type 1 diabetes and special dietary needs is often a mega challenge, but it’s completely doable – especially if you’re on the road with a supportive travel companion. I love getting out there and exploring new parts of the world without feeling totally hindered by my needy endocrine system. Even if it means making some temporary lifestyle adjustments! It also helps that the time change is only an hour ahead of home…
Last week’s adventure began with a red eye excursion to Belize city. After 14 hours of travel and 2 stopovers, I was ready for a siesta on the beach while my extra supply of insulin was in dire need of refrigeration (pre-packed bags of instant ice are a savior in these situations). Since there aren’t too many desirable Belizean city sights to take in or blog home about, we headed straight to Caye Caulker – the beach backpackers’ oasis located about a 45 minute boat ride out of the city. Before our bags hit the sand, we were immediately accosted by accommodation hustlers pacing the beach near their golf carts (main mode of transportation). It was relatively easy to find a decent guest house as rates and occupancy don’t skyrocket until the high season starts in late November. Plus, most of the options offer a mini fridge to keep insulin cool.
Considering October is still the off season, I wasn’t quite prepared for the sweltering heat. The official island motto is “go slow”, which the local kids will firmly remind you as they play marbles on the street. I’m assuming the motto refers to taking the time to savor paradise and also physically moving at a snail’s pace in the heat.
It definitely took a few days for my blood sugars to acclimatize, and insulin doses had to be adjusted for exercise levels (or lack thereof). Snorkeling was a fun light form of exertion in these temps, especially when eagle rays casually glide along the shoreline. Caye Caulker also offers diving and snorkel tours to swim with neon flounders as well as rays and sharks out on the nearby reef, but watch out for curious eels when the guides bring bait along. This was overwhelmingly off-putting and I hope to never see an eel swimming up to me again.
Many restaurants and shops are gated until the season picks up, but a few were open to cater to the sporadic tourists, locals and ex-pats. The cuisine is a mix of Caribbean and mainstream western flavors, with an emphasis on the fried and buttered seafood variety. I did enjoy a freshly caught sail fish, as well as an adaptation of coconut curry and seafood ceviche. But the chances of finding whole grains of the non-wheat family are pretty slim. Rum is also a typical addition to fruit stand smoothies, which requires specifying ‘no happy hour’ if you don’t want a shot of sugary liquor in your morning fresh fruit mix.
After a few mellow days on the beach, we took the bumpy 6 hour bus ride to Flores in Guatemala. This charming little lake island is a launch pad to get to the Mayan ruins in Tikal and the volcanoes in Antigua. As the brief waves of rain and thunder rolled by last night, I was pleasantly delighted to stumble upon this fruity kale smoothie at San Telmo restaurant. Now I just need to brush up on my Spanish!
Buenos dias amigos 🙂