In this first Lost to Live Featured Traveler interview we’re taken to the tropical islands of Belize and the culture shock experienced by a brand-new traveler.
In 2010, Ben Baker left his home in the United States for the first time to serve a religious mission in El Salvador and Belize for a period of 2 years. Since then, he has returned to Belize to visit and show his wife the place he called home. He has since lived in and traveled around Europe for a period of 5 months, and lived in both Mexico and Costa Rica for extended periods of time.
6 years after his first time leaving his home country I asked what he remembered most about his first trip and he stated it was the first feeling of culture shock. “I felt entirely isolated. Being in a country where I knew nobody…didn’t speak the language and in an emergency situation I was completely on my own. That was really intimidating.” To get over that culture shock he says “I had to realize that each day I got through, was another day I got through. I was fine, I was able to feed myself, get water, shelter, the basics. And once I recognized I could handle the basics day-to-day I was able to start branching out. ‘How did I get to different places?’ ‘What were the buses I should take?’ ‘What are the words I need to use in order to get the things and I need?’ It kind of just grew from there until I was no longer worried or intimidated, it was just kind of a new place to live.”
Ben says his 2-years abroad finally felt like home when he was in Belize and it dawned on him that he could build the same thing for himself that he was seeing in the paradise around him. “Looking at the mix of cultures there and just the people that are so relaxed and calm and they have a wonderful life and they are happy to be in paradise, it just kind of dawned on me that I could have that kind of a lifestyle for myself. I could build something where I didn’t have to stress every single day, a job was optional, or I didn’t have to work all day to provide for my needs. That really appealed to me and struck me as home.”