In my opinion, Belize is not a 3rd world country, but a developing country and I hope other than getting better internet and roads, it stays pretty much the same.
I've learned that Belize is a beautiful, multi-cultural country with visitors from all over the world. Belize is populated by the Maya, Mestizo, Kriol, Garifuna, East Indian, Mennonite, Arab and Chinese, who own all the grocery stores and many restaurants on San Ignacio, Santa Elena and surrounding areas.
On any given day, you'll find street vendors selling fresh fruit, some cut up and bagged and fast food, such as tacos, burritos Since I don't eat meat, I can't tell you what some of the other foods are called.
Also, taxis and buses are plentiful here. Taxi fares from $2.00 BZ for in-town to Bullet Tree Falls, while long distance taxis cost $100 BZ or more. I take the bus to Belmopan every month to visit IMS (Immigration) and I pay $3.00 BZ and $4.00 BZ (each way) for Express buses, which are old school buses.
My favorite time is Saturday mornings at the Market where fresh, organic produce can be purchased reasonably. Ten bananas cost $1.00 BZ, which is $.50 USD. Beautiful, large heads of green leaf lettuce for $3.50 BZ. There are many established booths as well as many farmers who bring in their produce fresh from the fields.
The Mennonites also bring their cheeses and fresh butter, while other booths sell and make jewelry, sell fresh meat, trinkets, CD's and DVD's, clothing, shoes. You name it, you can probably find it at the market.
I've learned that fresh-farmed eggs ($10.00 for 2 dozen) and bread ($1.75 BZ) are very cheap, but many canned goods and imported food is expensive. For instance a 28 oz container of Jiffy Peanut Butter is $14.95 BZ, while I can buy a local brand, a little smaller container for under $5.00 BZ. Soda's are mostly in bottles and only $1.00 BZ. Pasta is very cheap and the local, packaged cheeses are reasonably priced, though they are pasteurized.
I've learned that the Belizean people are very welcoming and a happy people for a population around 331,000.
I've learned that during election year, the roads receive great improvement or even replacement, as I witnessed on Burns Avenue (I renamed it Bank Street due to the 3 banks located there). All roads here are created using concrete and sometimes are more than 6" deep, reinforced with a great deal of rebar.
I've learned there are very few street signs, so we mostly find our way by landmarks. There are very few traffic signs, but speed bumps are prevalent. There are some billboards, but mostly it's just a clean landscape, other than the litter. I would love to see a giant sweeper that collects litter and deposits it at the landfill where they are just beginning to recycle.
I've learned that the septic systems here really need an overhaul. While enjoying a meal on the second half of Burns Avenue, renamed Tourist Avenue by my friend, Lois, the wonderful odor wafts on the breeze and I have to stop breathing for a minute to let it keep on moving. I feel EM Technology would be most beneficial and to educate the septic installers on the proper way to install a sewer system.
I've learned that I must visit the Immigration office every month and the return visit is minus one day. For instance, I arrived March 23rd, yet I have to visit Immigration next month, a year later on March 8th. The first 6 months, I paid $50.00 BZ and now I pay $100.00 per month to live here, though recently I've read on some official websites that after 6 months, one is considered a resident. I need to investigate this further because many people apply for residency, which is not only time consuming, it is costly.
I've learned that to work here or even volunteer, one must have a permit, which costs $2000 BZ, and the employer must show that they have advertised the position properly to hire a foreigner. This policy has been a huge drawback for me, though I didn't come here to find a job, but to change our world, it would help me greatly as I have a great many skills, not to mention, I could really use the money!
I've learned that in spite of the high humidity, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I love looking out and seeing the palm trees and hearing the birds sing and chirp, and no, I haven't begun identifying them yet.
I've learned there are many stray dogs on the street and many who are mistreated, prompting me to add an animal rescue to Purple LoveLand.
I have learned that besides English, Belize Creole and Spanish are the main languages spoken here, though many still speak the Mayan dialect. I was told by soldiers guarding the Mayan ruins at Xunatunich (shoon a tu nich), that they are required to speak Mayan and are the only ones recruited to protect all Mayan ruins on Belize.
I've learned that while I love the summer months here, which feels like 110-150°F to me, I'm loving these cooler months. When the Resort is built though, you'll find me either in my own pool or most likely, the water park when not contributing elsewhere.
Rents around San Ignacio vary greatly. Furnished apartments, cabanas and homes tend to get pricey. I've paid $250 per month for a furnished room, including utilities and internet, up to $475 BZ. I rented a small cabin when I first arrived for $950 BZ per month, including utilities and internet.
I'm adding this section on Hotels, Inns and Rooms for anyone who wants to visit:
Hotels and Hostels range from $11.00 USD per night to $137.00 USD. Cahal Pech Village and Resort rates start at $90.00 through $137.00 USD. There are some campgrounds being built, but I don't have rates on that yet. Hode's has 4 rooms with 2 double beds for $50.00 USD per night. Venus Hotel, which is located downtown, costs $30.00+ USD per night. There is a wide variety of inns/hotels and resorts to choose from. I would be glad to help you select what's best for your stay.
There are many tourist attractions, which can be booked all over town. Zip-lining, tube caving, canoe caving, air tours, hiking, visiting Mayan ruins. All tours have a licensed guide.
I love the energy of San Ignacio. Though the prospective resort property is several hours north of here, I'm very grateful to be here right now and I met my soul family here, of all places after feeling their existence for years.
I've learned that Belize is very encouraging when it comes to self-sustainability. Many homes have cisterns and some are totally off the grid. There are many homes being built in almost every community I have visited, and there are many old structures that I see need updating or torn down and rebuilt.
I've learned there are no building codes here, at least the places I've lived. Having a construction background, I'm amazed that even common sense isn't used, hence the scariest is what is called 'suicide showers'. Above the shower head, wires are taped up that run to the heating unit for the water. A little nerve-wracking to say the least. I'm very careful not to splash!
Speaking of self-sustainability and building, I feel it is time to get things rolling for the resort, but I need your help physically and financially. I have been receiving support from friends who resonate with my mission and I'm asking you to please consider contributing to My Project.
I could also use your help here on Belize and ask that you use the form on the Contact Us page to tell me what your interests are and how you can help.
Visionary, Project Manager
Purple Paradise Resort
https://wesharecrowdfunding.com/NickiLove (My Project)
https://wesharecrowdfunding.net/NickiLove (Landing Page)