Upon arrival to Belize City yesterday, I was greeted by a smell that I had somehow forgotten I remembered. The air outside of the airplane had the unique flavor that comes from humidity, garbage, and a faint whiff of sewage. We were greeted by the Barber family as we scurried through customs and were quickly hauled off in a van. During the brief drive to the Barber’s house, I looked out the window at the tropical city and was overwhelmed by memories of last year.
Memories of riding around a city surrounded by tuk-tuks while singing silly American songs at the top of our voices. Memories of walking through a dusty street, shadow hopping to hide from the sun. Memories of bartering in a sweaty marketplace over an uncut pineapple.
Memories I love. I couldn’t stop smiling. And nearly couldn’t stop myself from crying.
And it was the smell that did it.
I was so thrown off by how familiar that smell was! How could I feel like I had missed something I had forgotten? Something so unpleasant? Who misses the smell of sewage? What a strange person God has made me.
It’s morning now and we are all beginning to relax into our temporary home. We had a driven tour of some parts of the city last night and will be leaving for a walk around a different part in a little while. I can’t smell anything unusual anymore. Im sure I will catch it in small puffs throughout the rest of our time here, but for now I have adjusted to the scent that lingers in this city. I still keep smiling. I know this place is different from Cambodia. I am finding the differences slowly, and trying to be intentional that I remember them. I want this experience to be new and not be tainted by un-met expectations or an unrealistic mind-set. Or by familiar scents. But there is something about the tropical culture that I think I have fallen in love with.
Maybe it’s just traveling that I love, or maybe it’s just the memories. Or maybe it’s something deeper. Whatever it is, I think… I hope… this is going to be a good trip. Humidity, garbage, and stench in all.