Wine-Tasting, Markets, and Dinner Parties in Western Belize

“I really like the people of Belize,” says Ginny Ophof, who started visiting Belize after her mother moved to the Cayo District in 1977. “They have innate wisdom and empathy. They are tolerant and calm. Americans are better educated. But there’s a lot they can learn from Belizeans.”

In 2007, Ginny moved to the Cayo, determined to spend quality time with her aging mom, who had just turned 85. Ten years later and her mother, Connie, is still going strong and sharp as a tack. In fact, Ginny laughs when asked about her mom’s health. Both she and her mother have seen the direct results of healthy living in the Cayo.

Many expats move to the Cayo to spend time on the rivers, in the jungle, delving into the Maya culture, or exploring caves. Ginny enjoyed those more adventurous activities years ago. But now that she’s in her 60s, she spends her free time taking advantage of the Cayo’s many social options.

“Something is going on almost every day and night,” says Ginny. “On Wednesday the ladies meet to play darts at Remo’s. On Thursday nights, it’s fun to go to Hodes for country line dancing. Fridays, the Wine House holds a wine tasting night. Every other week they have a special event.

“A nice mix of Belizeans and expats attend and mingle. Every Saturday morning the San Ignacio open-air market is held, above the Macal River.”

Ginny particularly enjoys getting together with her diverse group of friends for private dinner parties. But her absolute favorite events are Belizean weddings. “You haven’t been to Belize until you’ve gone to a Belizean wedding,” says Ginny. “They put so much work into their weddings without spending a lot of money. The weddings are so festive, colorful, and fun. And the Belizean children are so well behaved…”

Ginny obtained her permanent residency years ago, so she no longer needs a permit to work in Belize. To get your permanent visa, you must live in Belize for one year. You can enter the country on a tourist visa and apply for residence after that first year. You can then keep renewing your tourist visa every 30 days until residence is granted.

Ginny has had a few different incomes since she moved here. Since she speaks multiple languages, initially she worked as a translator. For a while, she worked in a garden center. But she found her perfect role once she became a relocation specialist.

Ginny’s a social butterfly who loves meeting and helping folks who are considering a move to the Cayo. “My work is fun. I meet expats from many different places. I want people who come here to have the best possible experience in Belize, especially in the Cayo.”

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