Here's Peter Eltringham's take on the Cuxlin Ha timeshare near PG (of all places!). Peter does Rough Guide to Belize and other guidebooks.

--Lan Sluder

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Cuxlin Ha, Toledo District near Punta Gorda
Tel: 501-614-2518 (cell phone in Belize – though not good communication here) Fax in USA: 707-922-6073; cuxliha@hotmail.com; www.cuxlinha.net P.O. Box 39, Punta Gorda, Belize. Four miles north of Punta Gorda on the Southern Highway, then turn left at Eldridge (signed) for another three miles.

Cuxlin Ha: “Belize’s premier timeshare and retirement community …. Paradise with all the comforts of home….” Well, it is according to the typo-ridden promotional material on the web and in the brochures anyway. The reality is far different.

Although the apartments, houses and rooms here are reasonably well furnished, there’s no escaping or disguising the musty, dank smell which greets you as soon as the door is opened. You can’t miss it though the owners appear oblivious – no explanation or apology was offered for the terrible odour.

Punta Gorda and Toledo District seem to attract more bizarre “tourism and development” schemes than other parts of the country, many of them purporting to be “helping the Maya.” Cuxlin Ha is perhaps just the most bizarre. As you drive in from the Southern Highway and enter this “gated community” (there is a small, thatched turret-like gatehouse, but it was unmanned when I visited), you’ll notice that most of the buildings are Maya houses, occupied by Maya families. Built from concrete blocks and stone, with thatched roofs by the families who live there, this is an artificial village whose inhabitants have been persuaded to move here by the promise of land titles and jobs.

In a labyrinthine and paternalistic system of tenure the Maya families are members of a co-op which has borrowed from Village International (a non-profit company owned by the owners of Cuxlin Ha) to pay their individual leases to Caribbean Cayes – which has leased the land from the co-op. Clear now? No, nor was I entirely, but everybody seemed happy with these arrangements: the families will eventually get title to their house lot and the co-op will eventually own the whole development. The villagers here built the hotel, the timeshare apartments and the two existing houses, and a small portion of their wages goes towards paying the loan for the lease. They also make some very handsome carved doors and other furniture.

Problems might arise when it becomes clear that few, if any, customers are likely to buy a timeshare or a retirement house here, at least in the foreseeable future. If you’ve seen material on timeshares in say, Mexico, or visited such developments and then compare what’s on offer at Cuxlin Ha I’d say you be certain to be disappointed. Cuxlin Ha lacks any atmosphere and there’s none of the beautiful landscaping that so often enhances most other resorts charging US$125 a night. There is a pool -- Cuxlin Ha means “living water” in Mayan – but jumping in to cool off is not an inviting prospect as it looked cloudy and possibly unhealthy when I visited. Perhaps it really was “living water.” Of course if you’ve already got a timeshare listed with Resort Condominiums International then you could swap a week here and see for yourself. And there are still plenty of plots left to build your dream home – 98 out of the projected 100 in fact.

If ever an expatriate dream in Belize was doomed to failure this is it – unless there are rapid and dramatic improvements in the appearance and aesthetics of Cuxlin Ha.
copyright Peter Eltringham 2003
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Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com