Just like the title says, it has been just over a month since I have come to Belize. January 11 was our arrival date in Belize City. And a lot has happened since then.
Our first night was a stay at the Belize Best Western where our stay was of a mixed experience. The staff was really helpful rectifying a problem we had with the air conditioning but we shouldn’t have been given that room in the first place.
We went back to the car rental place 3 times because the rental vehicles each had something pretty significant wrong with them and with the distance we were driving we needed something we could depend upon for the entire round-trip journey.
We got lost looking for the lawyer’s office in Belize City. The streets all go criss-cross to each other and nobody carries street maps. When Even when we finally found the right street, we were directed the wrong way to the specific number of the building. 90 minutes late! It turns out that the “correct” name of the street is Newton Barracks Rd, but we were only given Barracks Rd as the address. So of course, my google search didn’t show the map properly. Stopping and asking – well that was not helpful. Most people did not know where this particular street was. Maybe because we were asking for Barracks Rd. and not Newton Barracks Rd.
Once we finished with the business in Belize City we started to make our way down the Hummingbird Highway towards Punta Gorda. It was a long drive, took just over 6 hours. The distances here aren’t so great, but there are a lot of speed bumps on the highway to slow traffic down. This is a country with very few stop lights and definitely none outside Belize and Belmopan Cities. So speed bumps are used on the highways at the various villages along the way to control the speed of vehicles. As well, pedestrian crossings are typically raised, similar to speed bumps. As a result, this all adds more time to the travel. And of course, we have to stop for pictures along the way. That will be for another blog – The Hummingbird Highway.
Okay, so we get here, to Punta Gorda. I learn that my apartment is more like a studio or bachelor’s apartment. Apparently my idea of fully furnished and the management’s idea of fully furnished differs. No dish soap, no tea towels, no drinking jugs, no dish cloths – nothing of what I needed to keep a kitchen clean. But okay I go get the stuff and just decided to bring it with me when I left. The view from the apartment was quite nice, generally. One way we overlooked someone else’s deck? but further out was the sea.
And for the first three days at this “apartment” we lost hydro and water – water since it is dependent upon hydro for the pumps to work. The proprietor would tell us that it was like this in Belize but since moving out of there we have only lost hydro once and it was for about 20 minutes. In the apartment it was off for the entire afternoon.
One of the things I did while in Belize City was visit a lawyer to get my work permit in order. It was supposed to be ready in 5 days. That was on January 12. Here we are, on February 15 and I still don’t have it. Needless to say I am not pleased about this.
So far this blog entry has been about the downside of my experience here in Belize. That is not all there has been. Where I am living now, the hydro doesn’t go out on a regular basis, nor do we lose water pressure because of lack of hydro. My work permit will be processed in due time.
In the meantime, I have met some wonderful people. From Canada, from Denmark, from the United States, and of course from Belize. People here seem genuinely pleased to meet me and I have had a few people come up to me and introduce themselves to me. The amount of trust these people have is also amazing. When I decided to move out of the apartment the proprietor just assured me that we would get together to make arrangements for payment. This was at the end of my stay there so I could have just left. But I was trusted enough to make things right. My fellow Canadian walker, Dorie, needed something at a store and since it was the last item left she asked the shopkeeper to keep the item back for her and she would return with the money. Instead the shopkeeper told her to just take the item and it was even run through the cash register. We went and got the money right away but again, it was a trusting act that came first.
As well, the cell phone service here is better than back home too. I have unlimited data, and all calls as well as text messages in the country are free. No long distance charges inside the entire country of Belize. Here in Belize the Blackberry Messaging service is not included with the basic plan so with all included the cost of my phone to use here is the same as back home, but I get more for it.
Internet service here could be more affordable. I am using a 256k service which is not quite adequate for my needs. And this service costs $50 a month. Definitely below the standard at home. However, it seems that all areas are covered. If you don’t have DSL service you have stick service. So pretty much everywhere you can get cell phone coverage (which is pretty widespread) you can have internet service. It’s not always the quickest but it is available – almost everywhere.
And by far my favourite is the environment. The weather – even though it has rained almost every day since I have been here, the sea where I go to just veg, the forest, the trails. I love it here. My skin seems to have cleared up, I feel less stressed and I am actually getting up early!