Belize... Not For Everyone

Belize, a tropical paradise like no other? Sure but is it everyone's first choice? Not necessarily, as I recently learned.

A few weeks ago, I was graced with a visit from my employer who wanted to see just what it was that drew me here and what kept me from returning to Canada. Part of his plan to visit San Pedro included checking out a few business/investment opportunities that might give him cause to get out of the Canadian office more often. So I arranged and prepaid his hotel and cart rental for the two weeks that he intended to be here not expecting him to hate Belize so much that he shaved the last 8 days off his visit!

It is no secret that my employer has high expectations and can be downright demanding at times. He prefers the fast-paced lifestyle of North America and I suspected he may not be able to handle the common frustrations of Belize that most of us come to accept.

His first complaint was the inconvenience and high cost of getting to San Pedro (I think we can all relate to that one) but he sucked it up with a smile and forked over the $1,000 required to get him here and back. The next complaint was the lack of an all-inclusive resort on the island. I hadn't really given this much thought since I came here in a different capacity but I guess I can relate to that one too. Your relaxing getaway can quickly become a nightmare when you are constantly having to pull out your wallet and visit ATM's to ensure you have enough cash on hand. (He wondered what kind of horse and pony show this was when he was told that he couldn't pay for a tour with a credit card!)

These experiences went on and on over the initial days of his visit. He just kept calling me in disbelief over everything from the poor internet quality to the lack of availability of familiar items and the terrible food. I don't know how many times I had to hear him ask how I can live without "real" beef... Oh, I was in stitches by the end of day 5! However, after spending $8,000 here over 6 days in an unsuccessful attempt to find one good reason to visit Belize, he was not impressed with my roaring fits of laughter and decided to cut his stay short. He wanted to get out so bad that he paid an additional $600 to get a next-day flight out of Belize City, leaving his non-refundable hotel room and golf cart to us for the remaining 8 days. (*Keep in mind that this is one of the most "frugal" men I've ever met.)

He indicated that there was absolutely nothing Belize could offer that he couldn't get in Florida for a fraction of the cost and left me with some choice words of advice the day we dropped him off at the Tropic Air terminal. He pledged that he would also advise anyone considering Belize for their next holiday destination that it is an "ass-backwards, filthy shit hole to be avoided at all costs".

I thought his words to be a bit harsh considering his experience here wasn't unusually bad, he simply got a taste of what everyday life in Belize is like. The North American items we give up, the slower pace we adopt, the different food and yes unfortunately he got a taste of the frustrations we deal with in terms of corruption and policies that make no sense.

This is not only a great illustration of how our perception affects our experience but also of the way we all differ in taste and preference. I have had many people scratch their heads and say to me "I've been to Belize, why in the world would you want to live there?" I guess the moral of this story is, if you are a classic, high strung type A personality or if hot Miami nights are more your speed then you might want to research thoroughly before deciding to visit this jewel we call Belize. Like anything else, it is not for everyone :)

2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    I hear ya on that! I visited once and wouldn't waste a second trip on the island of AC. It was okay but its not the white sandy paradise that you imagine. Once you get off the public dumping ground they call a beach its just dusty, dirt roads everywhere. I'd rather visit cleaner areas like Cozumel, Cuba or Jamaica for some real nice beaches and way better nightlife. Sorry San Pedranos, clean up your island!

  2. M... Says:

    I agree that the places you mentioned have far nicer beaches and cleaner, more developed towns than San Pedro. In all honesty I wouldn't pay the going price of a vacation in Belize either when I could visit any of your picks for a fraction of the cost... However with that being said, my focus is more on living here than vacationing and in terms of ideal expat locations I think that Belize has a lot to offer.

    It is culturally and ecologically diverse, it's government offers more freedom than many countries, work permit/tourist visa/permanent residency status requirements are fairly reasonable, the health care is still quite basic but the non-emergency care is sufficient and very affordable, the people are very warm & friendly and Belize is also the only Central American country whose official language is English. Of course it has it's frustrations and it may not have the cleanest lanes or the prettiest beaches but it still beats the snow and ice of my Canadian home town. Despite any complaints I may have about daily life in Belize, I still wake up each morning to the sight of swaying palm leaves outside my bedroom window and I am flooded with gratitude.

    For my next vacation though, I'll see you in Jamaica mon!

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