Someone we met in San Ignacio had told us we had to watch the sunset at The Split, the waterway that divides the island in two. We thought there was a nice restaurant there where we could relax with a drink and watch the sun go down. Once we got there, however, we soon learned it was a party hangout spot for young travelers and locals. Most of them were lazing on the dock right next to the water, guzzling colorful drinks and dancing to the loud music blaring from the two-story bar that was surrounded by even more people screaming for drinks. It took a good ten minutes for me to get a bartender's attention. We ordered some fruity concoction and made our way upstairs to see if we could find some seats. No such luck. We stood by the bannister and watched as the sun slowly crept towards the horizon.
The excitement and noise from the bar was wearing on me, so we finished our drinks and walked along the west side of the island to find a quieter spot. There were a few small docks where other groups were enjoying the view, so we watched from there until the sun went down--or until our stomachs started grumbling uncontrollably, not sure which one happened first.
When lunch rolled around, we made our way down the beach and found a spot right near the water called Brisas del Mar. Unfortunately, the location was the only good thing about this place. It was super overpriced and service was very slow. I ordered the fish tacos, which were basically a wrap cut in half. Steve's fish sandwich was soggy and fell apart the minute he unwrapped it. We were disappointed in our decision, and promised ourselves to think before picking a place based solely on location.
Since it was our last night on the island, we decided to get dressed up and go to a nice dinner at this place just down the road from our hotel. Habanero only has seats on the porch, and it was pretty busy when we got there. We lucked out, though, and snagged the last table. It was much more romantic than we anticipated, but it was a nice surprise. I ordered a snapper salad and Steve got the Rainforest Snapper. Normally, I would try to order something completely different than him, but the snapper just sounded too good to pass up. And I wasn't disappointed. The restaurant was a little pricey, but considering how much food we got, it was very reasonable, especially compared to prices in the U.S. As we dined, a guitar player serenaded everyone with classic and popular songs. It definitely added to the ambiance.
When we finished dinner, we took a short walk around the island before heading back to the hotel and relaxing out by the pool. As Steve held my hand, I kept thinking how incredible Belize is and how lucky we were to experience as much of it as we did. I was ready to call it a night, but Steve pleaded for me to wait a little longer. This was such a perfect night, and he felt we had to soak as much of it in as we could. It was a little suspicious, but I went with it. A few minutes passed, and I started to fall asleep. I sat up and told him I was going to the room, but he held onto me. He was shaking and tripping over his words a little, and I suddenly knew what was happening. He didn't get down on one knee, he didn't even have the ring, but the night was too perfect, he couldn't plan anything better at home, and so he went for it. He proposed right there next to the pool and I accepted. The perfect end to an already unforgettable evening.
The following morning, I was still in a post-proposal haze when we went downstairs to grab some breakfast before checking out of the hotel. We still had a snorkeling excursion planned that afternoon, so we left our bags at the front desk and headed over to pick up our gear. A small group of us boarded the boat and headed over to the barrier reef. At our first stop, we followed the guide around the reef for about an hour as he pointed out coral residents and various sea creatures. We ventured over to another part of the reef, where we were allowed to explore on our own. Then, we ended our trip at Shark/Ray alley, which is exactly like it sounds. A spot in the reef brimming with Nurse Sharks and large stingrays, all swimming within inches of us. I managed to stay in the water for a few minutes, but a close encounter with a ray made me scramble back to the boat.
When we got back to the island, Steve and I grabbed a quick lunch at an open-air restaurant called Roses Bar and Grill. We got there just in time, as it started to pour once we sat down, the first time it had rained the whole trip! The seafood ceviche I ordered was super fresh and delicious, but Steve's Hawaiian Sandwich was a little lackluster. Still, it was a nice final meal on the island. We picked up our luggage and caught the ferry, but not before buying some homemade banana bread from a local vendor.
We arrived back in Belize City and made our way back to Villa Boscardi, the same bed and breakfast we stayed in our first night. Looking back on it now, we should have stayed one more night on the island, and then taken an early ferry in the morning to catch our flight, but you live you learn. We kept it simple our last night, ordering some pizza from a local shop nearby and enjoying some wine as we relaxed in our room and nursed our sunburns (didn't realize how much sun we got while snorkeling).
As we packed our bags the next morning, I was sad to leave Belize. We had such an incredible time and created so many memories. It was truly one of the best trips I've been on, and I know we'll be back. There's so much we didn't see, and I want to explore more of this beautiful, friendly country. I'll keep Belize in my heart, always.