A New Start and a New Life on an Island in the Caribbean

After enjoying a Belize sunrise from my bird-song serenaded porch with a cup of locally grown coffee, a trip to the gym or walk on the beach is a great start to my day. Then I may catch up with friends on the internet, read international news, or spend time tending to plants on the veranda.

The decision to move to Belize was not taken lightly by my husband Anthony and I, yet was achieved with a light heart. Mourning a deceased relative motivated us to try something different. Belize was top of our list of English-speaking countries for our new adventure.

Anthony has family history and relatives in Belize, so a dozen years ago we went in search of the roots to his mother’s background. We were welcomed so warmly by relatives and residents that it was the natural choice for our relocation.

In 2007 we took the plunge, holding such a massive clean-out sale in our beloved Seattle that we even sold my car from the front yard. We bought a top-floor condo on Ambergris Caye in a lagoon-facing neighborhood populated by a mix of Belizeans and expats.

After nearly two decades teaching elementary school in Seattle, I was curious about the educational system in Belize and have become involved in helping out at some of the local schools. Doing this has allowed me to establish a meaningful relationship with the local community.

Belize
You won’t need a car on the island of Ambergris Caye. The best way to get around the island is a bicycle.

On daily bicycle trips to the store, school, or the beach, waving at familiar faces in golf carts and on sidewalks creates smiles that tinted windshields and traffic congestion in the U.S. never could. In Belize, there are fewer inhibitions and time-related pressures. We commute on bicycles and take taxis for longer trips or at night-time.

As Ambergris is an island, anything not made here arrives by boat, meaning some items can be expensive. But we keep our household costs and food budgets manageable by enjoying locally produced staples such as chicken, dairy products, rum, and beer. Pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and coconuts/coconut water are only $1 to $2.50 each. Fruits and vegetables have none of the pesticides, preservatives, nor wax coatings which saturate food in North America. Natural means natural here.

Corner stores called tiendas offer Central American-manufactured foods at rock-bottom prices. Instead of Doritos for $4, we enjoy a bag of locally made chips from the very hands that flattened the tortillas for only $1.50.

Adopting the relaxed pace of this tropical island is easy. On weekends, we may meet friends at any number of beach- or lagoon-front restaurants for brunch, or gather later for barbecue afternoons with cold beers and sailboat views as the palm trees wave in a gentle breeze and the Caribbean waters glisten aquamarine.

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