Tag Archives: First Lady Belize

Update from Belize: Where I am and Where I’ve Been


So the last time I posted this map, I was in the Cayo District. Jungling and caving away my first two weeks in Belize.

Then came the unexpected – an assignment to photograph the First Lady of Belize, Mrs. Kim Barrow, and her family – so I returned to Belize City for a couple of days. After that, off to Maruba Spa, still in the Belize District and close to the Altun Ha Maya site and several villages such as Maskall Village.

After Maskall, I headed up north: “sugar country” as some call it because this is where most of the country’s sugar cane is produced. First to the town and District of Orange Walk, followed by Corozal.

Orange Walk is where I experienced my first Belizean fiesta or annual local fair. I missed the Benque Viejo Fiesta in the Cayo District a couple of weeks ago, remember? Well I wasn’t going to miss this one. Orange Walk calls theirs “Fiestarama.” Overall, the town isn’t very tourist-geared. It’s also more “Mestizo” on this side and most people speak Spanish first, English second and sometimes…not at all (I think they just sometimes prefer not to). But the Orange Walk District has one of the biggest Maya sites in the country – Lamanai – and in my opinion, one of the prettiest rivers, called the New River. You don’t have to stay in Orange Walk to visit Lamanai but it sure makes it a much shorter day trip.

The town and District of Corozal is even farther north. It’s super close to the Mexican border, and is a beautiful, clean, small and quiet seaside town with more guest homes and small resorts than Orange Walk. There are also a few Americans and other expats who come here to build their waterfront homes and retire.

My next destination after Corozal will be to one of Belize’s numerous islands or “Cayes”: Ambergris Caye (shown in purple on the map).

So all you island lovers, get ready to read about the water adventures as I head from jungle to beach life in a few days!


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.