What's it *Really* like?
Okay. We all love a great story and a lot of beautiful pictures. But what is it really like? As I was posting pictures to Facebook, my friend, Larry, private messaged me asking, "Is there a down side to this crazy adventure?"
My first and immediate response was "mosquitoes". They are horrendous little creatures that show no mercy. Aside from slathering on the Skin So Soft Bug Guard plus Picaridin (or staying indoors, which is not an option) you have no control over this dilemma. The locals tell me that mosquitoes will be here during the rainy season but come December I will soon forget about them. I am anxiously awaiting that forgetful moment in time.
Upon further pondering of this question, I realized he had a very good point. When we travel to far off places, taking pictures and telling stories of all of the fun things we are doing and people we are meeting, so often we overlook telling the "rest of the story" as coined by Paul Harvey.
Certainly we miss family and friends when we travel. But I've found some things that I feel are specific to living on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Here is a snapshot:
It's expensive. This is an Island, folks. That means that things need to be imported. But for each expense, there is a tradeoff that makes your quality of life better. You learn to offset the expense with an alternative.
- Food. Fruit, fish, chicken and vegetables are fresh and less expensive here. Plus, it's healthy. Forget purchasing chips or processed/packaged convenience food. There are many places on the island that offer great food on the cheap. I should cook more but really do enjoy discovering local cuisine and best of all, meeting a variety people. I'm definitely going to have to work on the eating out budget but the offset is that I'm saving on electricity at home.
- Wine. Hmmmm. My alternative for the expense involved in purchasing wine involves requiring any guests arriving from the States to purchase the allowed 6 bottles at the Duty Free shop before going through Customs. I prefer red - Merlot or Shiraz.
- Gasoline and electricity are expensive. Don't rent the golf cart (unless you have guests in town). Buy a bike or even better, walk! The two mile walk to town is beautiful along the shore and, again, healthier. Take the occasional land or water taxi and you've unraveled the gasoline expense problem. As far as the electricity, there will be times of the year when you must run the air conditioning. Not so unlike many places in the U.S. Learn to shut off the TV, get outdoors and unplug from the electronic world; daily.
- Gainful employment. Although most people visit Belize and the Cayes for the world class diving and snorkeling in and around the world's second largest barrier reef, some plan to seek employment once they get here. It is not easy for foreigners to find employment in Belize - especially if you are not a citizen, land or business owner. Work visas are required and if there is a Belizean citizen who can do the same job, they get it, regardless of qualifications or experience. If you do land that bartender on the beach job, keep in mind that you'll be paid in Belizean dollars. (1/2 the value of the U.S. dollar) There is a wealth of information already on the Internet about this subject and I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here; take a look at our web links page for doing further research.
All in all, it's a beautiful country, the people are friendly and the perks are unbeatable. There are definitely more bonuses than downsides. If you love adventure in a setting that is as diversified as the population, then Belize is certainly worth a visit!