Tag Archives: Road Warrior

Faces of Belize #FriFotos

The theme this week over on Twitter’s Friday Fotos is “Faces” and I could not resist sharing a few shots from my “Faces of Belize” project that I started last summer during my Road Warrior stint for the Belize Tourism Board.  The Board planned on sponsoring my exhibit in Belize City — and prints even ready thanks to my editor at the time (who ironically is co-hosting this week’s #Frifotos) — but unfortunately, we ran out of time on the tail end of my trip.

 A year later, the portraits remain in storage because I decided to wait and have collected more along the way on my independent trips. I plan on continuing to capture and show the amazing diversity in Belize and display them at the right time.

Except for this teaser!  Motivated by FriFotos and in light of Belize’s upcoming September (Independence) Celebrations, this year appropriately themed “Many Faces, Many Dreams, One Goal”, I couldn’t help but share some of these with you.

Behind each smile, gaze and wrinkle is a warm soul who welcomed me to his or her corner of the country and kolcha, sharing time and love selflessly– from different walks of life and different heritage. From the amazing Garifuna musical hero Paul Nabor to Lilly, a Mayan student at Caye Caulker’s Ocean Academy who loves her guitar, to Andrew a Mennonite with some Spanish blood, to the First Lady of Belize, a beautiful Creole lady and humanitarian.  For their stories and more portraits, you’ll have to stay tuned for the full exhibit!


Lilly Aldana, student at Caye Caulker Ocean Academy high school and future Mayan musicianMs. Yacinta, shopkeeper in Barranco, a Garifuna village in southern BelizeThe one and only Paul Nabor, Garifuna legend and musical heroAndrew Perez from Barton Creek, a Mennonite village in western BelizeTalented young dancers from the San Pedro Dance Company, Ambergris CayeP6 DSC_3380.jpgDora the Explorer as she likes to be called - Mayan tour guide and lover of archeology Roselle Noralez, cook at Amor y Cafe on Caye Caulker and Garifuna who migrated to the island years agoElton Henriques, stable manager at Maruba Spa & Resort, and horseback riding instructorFirst Lady of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow, a Kriol beauty

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.