I'm not sure how I got there.
It was a long process. After an early morning run through the familiar and dog-filled streets of San Ignacio, I took a three hour bus ride to the capital, where I grabbed a ferry over to Caye Caulker. I found a room on the beach, signed up for an amazing snorkeling trip, ate on the water, drank pina coladas on The Split. The bartender thought I was cute so he gave me extras for free. I closed my eyes. I jumped off the pier, got my hair wet, and dried out on my pink sarong I used as a beach blanket.
I let it all come in, and it was all beautiful.
Night. I ate with two Italian guys. We spoke entirely in Spanish. One of them leaned over and brushed a hair out of my eyes. I ate my pesto and discussed mi trabajo, mi gata, el libro escribe.
Walking down the sand/dirt road, I left my Italian friends, met some strangers. We ate ice cream, sharing licks from each others' cones. It felt like impossible was nothing.
I met the English Army, en route to the reggae bar. I was glad I met them; the guy that invited me earlier that day was less than appealing, even as a friend, mostly because I knew he was interested in things other than friendship. Still, the reggae bar was the place to be, until it closed.
The English Army - not all of them, but many of them - drank monkey lalas with me. We licked the chocolate, the coconut, the rum, the bananas off our own lips, leaning our heads back to see the stars above the rooftop bars. I sat in a swing while they sat across from me asking questions. They liked me, as any heterosexual Army would like women, but I was aloof. Still, they played at speed dating, during which I laughed, drank monkey lalas and kept my distance. I saw a drug deal. The warmth soothed my skin; back home there was a blizzard. I never wanted to go home.
The bar closed, after dancing to reggae music. Everyone moved to the other bar, the one that had karaoke. I hate karaoke. The English Army passionately shouted songs I never heard before.
Then they insisted I sing. They put on a song, the song we used to sing at the all-boys' dances we used to go to, looking for a boyfriend, or just wanting to try out our lipstick. I followed the words on the screen, but I didn't need to look for most of them.
These are the best days of my life...
We finished singing. Drinks were bought. I danced with other backpackers. We laughed, swinging each other around. Rum. Rum. It's Belize, after all. Rum.
The English Army tried some things, but I wasn't interested. Not in them. I leaned my head back, opened my arms up, danced. There was coconut rum.
A drunk English Army guy kept trying to dance with me. He was nice. But he liked me. "Can I walk you home?" he kept asking. "Why?" I wanted to know. He insisted it wasn't safe. I scoffed. "I've backpacked across Central America and you want to say that my second-to-last stop in the safest country is unsafe?" He said it wasn't, and then said, "I like you."
He smoked too many cigarettes. He smelled like it and I coughed a lot. He was bad for my asthma. I tried to hide from him on the dance floor. Tired, rum, I said goodbye to those I met and tried to slip away. He followed me. We walked, he kept telling me I walked too fast. He grabbed my wrist. I realized it was unsafe.
I ran away. I ran so fast, faster than I've ever run in a race. He was too drunk to follow, but I ran anyway, not even daring to slow down to glance over my shoulder. I ran until I locked myself in my room, and then didn't dare turn on the light right away in case he could tell.
I sat on my balcony, watching the waves crash. I felt very content to just be with myself, hearing the ocean, feeling full of life. And just knowing that the real ones to watch out for could be the very ones to proclaim to want to help you.
And alone, I was truly safe, truly free, truly happy.