Ding! The seatbelt light clicks off, and I quickly unbuckle myself while craning my neck to look out the window. We finally made it. Ten months of anxious preparation leading up to this moment, I grab my red carryon bag from my overhead compartment as fast as I can, and step out onto the dry land of Belize.
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I get used to the everlasting sauna I now know as air only because the wind blowing from the bus windows make it tolerable. The city is not what I expected, and as we drive to the orphanage, I realize I have no idea what’s in store. Walking up to the children’s treehouse I look up to see two beautiful eyes smiling bright at me. After a playful introduction, Gilbert decides it’d be best to just jump down into my arms. “No please don’t!” I yell, and he starts cracking up laughing while I am foreseeing our deaths in the events about to take place. I beg him to climb down once more and he flies down in about two seconds. He insists that my name is “Naddy”, and I’m fine with that.
Gilbert is eight and is the sweetest and fastest boy I have ever met. His tiny baby sister is a spitting image of him, and the two together melt my heart faster than volcanic lava could only dream of. We run and play for what seems like hours, but I look back at it now and see it as one single moment where nothing else in the world mattered except who was going to be picked as “goose”. On this day I realized my life would never be the same because of these children. They taught me in a few hours what it means to love like a child does, and how to genuinely care for someone more than yourself. Gilbert and four year old Laverne both acted with inexpressible joy, yet they didn’t even have shoes. My heart broke because I don’t deserve what I have, and they don’t deserve what they have lack of. Once, when we played in the grass my knees got dirty. Right then and there, he decided to rush me to the the water hose and rinse me off. The significance of this is that he was covered in dirt. His heart is fragile and full of gold. I want to be like him.
Saying goodbye to my best friend forever was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We colored together and I realized he was kind of like my brother back home in some ways. Yet, he has nothing but his siblings and sporadic mother; he needs so much more. I can’t help thinking about him and our memories always; I have hope that I will see him again.
These moments taking place at a dumpy orphanage in Belize for a few days will always remain in my heart until I am a wrinkly old prune. The world imprinted itself on me everyday I was in Belize because I saw beauty in everything. So, I sit in my seat on the way to Logan airport somber yet joyful. I know I will never be the same.
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