Outbound Collective logo

Getting Deathly Sick on a Dream Job in Belize

How a day of pure planned bliss for me and 5 others turned nightmarish.

By: Ryan Longnecker + Save to a List

I grew up in weather. The cold and heat don't bother me. Neither does elevation or fatigue for the most part. I get how to manage all of those situations so that they don't take me out. However, a few times when I travel I get a 24 hour bug that doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything: and it totally knocks me out. Usually I'm able to take a day and recover. This is not one of those times.

This was the job assignment:

Go with a team of a professional golfer, personal trainer, golf course designer, videographer, entrepreneur/owner/visionary and spend time relaxing, having fun, and shooting this new property development...

...in Belize.

Yes, my job was to make Belize look good. Yeah, I'll go ahead and say yes. A good friend of mine who had worked with this project for the last couple years invited me along in the past and I had been unable to join, but this time I refused to allow anything to conflict with it.

Right away I knew it was going to be a great trip. Get off the plane and get Belizean beers from the airport bar owner that knew the guy, Luke, heading up our trip. "A man's not a camel" was a rallying cry from Luke, who definitely knows how to host a good trip to Belize. At every turn there was some kind of Belizean beer/specialty cocktail/or $200 bottle of whiskey waiting. I already felt a little catching up was in order, also to earn my spot as everyone else there was already a bit familiar and I was meeting everyone except my friend for the first time at the airport (which by the way was my first time mooching off of someone to get an upgrade to first class by being on their travel itinerary - it's nice to know people with platinum travel status). That night we relaxed in the cabana, did our best to get some basketball on a computer, and talked. It was great.

Saturday was perfect. A lot of lounging and shooting and a boat ride to a private island. Taking our drone up on an undeveloped island that will soon boast a lot of amenities for property owners. No sign of any rainstorms, literally perfect weather (even the locals said it was unusual). Also no hint of what was to hit me on Sunday. The sunset was golden as we sipped more beer on the boat going back to the resort. 

But then Sunday.

Good Lord, did Sunday happen.

Our itinerary for the day was the most work and play-intensive day. The hourly strictness had not been an issue Friday or Saturday and everyone was definitely on "island-time" but Sunday we had some very real scheduled activities and work to do. It was going to start with fun and then get on to work for the rest of the afternoon that involved roaming a savannah grassland to map out some golf course details. I'll remind you that I'm spending this time with a good friend, and a bunch of people I don't know but all who are pretty rad folks... and getting ridiculously, comic-book-level sick would not just be a bummer to work through but super annoying to have to disappear throughout the day to - well - exorcize my demons.

So it started with some fishing in the morning followed by snorkeling. I woke up feeling a little dehydrated. Not that surprising given the ratio of whiskey to water from the night before, but I needed to be on top of my game that day so I took it easy in the morning and had a lot of water. By the time we got on the boat I knew this was an issue.

You know when you're watching a movie and you know someone is going to die... you don't know how you know, you just do? Yeah, it was like that.

I also live near the ocean and sea sickness has NEVER been an issue, so on paper this trip should have been a layup, but that 24 hour thing hit me. It had hit me twice before while on a two separate trips to Kenya, so I knew what would happen, I had just never had this much to push through with it. The fishing/snorkeling trip went something like this: while the engine is running and everyone is out enjoying the ride I'd be down in the bilge huddled over the head. The cleaning supply was foul "mango" scented slime and that definitely helped expedite the process... if only the issue was food or booze it would have been cleared out in the first hour no problem. Whenever the boat was stopped and navigating around the reef I would just hang on, try to get some fresh air and hold it together. When we started fishing it was my first moment of relief. Nothing was moving, and I love fishing. I didn't catch anything, and I didn't care, I was satisfied with just not moving.

Next was the snorkeling. This was my moment to just pretend like I was tired or disinterested and lay down on the boat. There was no real well-shaded area so I just laid there on deck and cooked like a wilting lobster, again happy I wasn't moving, bummed I couldn't participate, and without any food or water in my system also a little shaky. I'll readers-digest the rest of the day so that there's not unneeded reiteration of how miserable I felt and trying to keep it secret so as not to ruin the amazing day planned for all of us. I also hate being looked after, but the boat captain, Cesar was looking out for me, offering me sprite and when we got back on land, coconut water (which will be my first line of defense if this ever happens again - seriously it's unicorn juice).

Following that, we had the golf course mapping, some driving around the properties, and the night was going to be capped with a beachside bar and some of the best food in the country. In any other circumstances I am giddy like a school girl at that situation. Under these circumstances, I am just biding my time before another run to the restroom (and ordering enough food so as to seem appreciative and not enough since it's just going to waste).

Yada yada yada I end up on an overwater bungalow not because it's seriously one of the raddest evenings and I'm soaking it in, but because it's outside of hearing distance from everyone else enjoying themselves and I can be sick openly out there - it's literally the weirdest and worst reason to enjoy an overwater bungalow.

Long story only barely shorter - 19 times knelt over the porcelain throughout the day. There was legit a moment where I had come to terms with my own mortality and did some googling of Belizean spider bite side effects but then fell asleep. The following day besides recovering from that I felt fine and we got to get to a waterfall in the jungle. All in all, totally worth the trip, hope I get to go back.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


How to Visit and Enjoy the Yucatan's Most Beautiful Cenotes


Deep Blue Roatán: 10 Days of Adventure in the Forgotten Heart of the Caribbean

Josiah Roe