Tag Archives: Belize Road Warrior

Meeting and Photographing The First Lady of Belize, Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow

“So Lily, you’ve been in Belize all of two weeks, and now you’re on your way to the Prime Minister’s home, where most Belizeans have never been. How do you feel?”

Dyon, who is in charge of Media Relations for the Belize Tourism Board, is half-joking from behind the wheel, but we both realize it’s pretty mind-blowing.

While I may have expected some of the adventures awaiting me on my Matador Road Warrior gig in Belize, like caving or hiking up Mayan temples, I never expected this one.

Two weeks in Belize and I got to meet the First Lady, Mrs. Kim Simplis-Barrow. Not just meet her but spend two days with her, getting to know her, photographing her at her office, at home with her daughter and her husband Prime Minister Barrow, and on her site visits to a children’s home and to the hospital in Belize City where she’s helping build a new pediatric intensive care unit. I saw a woman who takes her role seriously and wants to make a difference in her country. A woman who is clearly beautiful on the outside, but cares more about what’s on the inside, and wants to continue making her mark on Belizean children’s lives.

“Education is the key” – that’s her main message through her Lifeline Foundation. With two Master’s Degrees under her belt, it’s a message she learned young, and it’s one I grew up with myself. My siblings and I always knew that if we wanted Dad to be happy and if we wanted to make something of our lives as he has with his, we had to not only do well in school but also make it at least through college. It wasn’t something that was up for discussion, it just was. As an adult, I can’t begin to imagine what my life would be like or where I’d be today if my father hadn’t had the will and determination to get an education, walking miles and miles to school every single day, despite his humble origins as a young boy from the village of Endebir in Ethiopia.

When I first laid eyes on Mrs. Barrow, I was stunned. She may as well have come straight out of the pages of Vogue. I even meant to ask her if she was related to Liya Kebede! Same tower height, similar features, so model-esque and gracious. But speak to her and she’s the most down to earth and approachable person you’ll meet. Who else brings Belizean Kakaw or chocolate for their photographer? 🙂

The final images – I wish I could share with you all but you’ll have to be a little patient as they have a special purpose.

The past couple of days have been interesting, inspiring, eye-opening and an absolute treat. It was an honor to photograph the First Lady and her family. All thanks to Julie Schwietert, Managing Editor of Matador Travel and creator of the awesome Road Warrior Program, who needed photos of Mrs. Barrow for one of her important projects and entrusted me with the task.

An unforgettable experience for sure; I can’t even imagine what other surprises are in store over my next ten weeks in Belize!

Sitting across from Mrs. Barrow at Belize City restaurant "Celebrity," where she kindly treated me to lunch after the morning shoot.

End of a two-day shoot - time for my own photo with the lovely Mrs. Barrow and her family.


Special News: I’m The Next Belize Road Warrior!

I’m super excited to announce that I’m the next (and second) Road Warrior for the Belize Tourism Board and the Matador Travel Network. For the next three months, I will be based in Belize, working as a travel writer and photographer.

The Road Warrior Program was launched in March 2011 and it’s a first initiative of its kind between the Belize Tourism Board and a major online travel magazine and blog such as the Matador Network.

The goal: to showcase a unique destination such as Belize through the eyes of a long-term travel blogger.

It’s an amazing opportunity offered to those of us who graduate from the Matador Network’s travel writing or travel photography course (“MatadorU“) to do what we love full-time: write and/or shoot. And for readers, it’s a chance to learn about Belize from the perspective of a traveler who is on the ground immersing in all things Belizean.

I’m also the Road Warrior Program’s first photographer (so excited!). Through both words and images, I’ll be sharing my next 90 days in Belize with you as I go all around the country. My main theme: adventure travel. Stay tuned to find out what I get into (read: everything from repelling to diving). And when I’m not hanging upside down from a rope or floating through caves, I’ll be capturing portraits for a “Faces of Belize” project.

My articles and photography will be published every week on the Matador Network, and my blog will be updated regularly with images and lots of stories and tidbits on Belize.

Joining the Road Warrior program is one of the most positive steps forward for my travel photography and writing since I embarked on pursuing my passion 2.5 years ago and since completing MatadorU’s travel photography course. It’s literally, my dream job.

So if you’ve always wanted to visit Belize or want to learn more about it, this is your chance to watch it all unfold!

I arrived in Belize late Friday, and it’s been an amazing start so far: from waking up to birds chirping at the beautiful Belize River Lodge, to learning about medicinal plants, to spotting howler monkeys and sampling my hosts’ traditional Belizean cooking.

I’m sitting on the porch at the lodge right now, taking in the night breeze and listening to nature all around me as I write this first post.

Three months to go, and it’s going to be one un-Belize-able ride! 🙂

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