I have been in Belize for over 5 years now and looking back I can see some profound changes that happened within me.
For many years I owned an Import/Export business in the states. I did product development and consulting. After a few years in Mexico I went back to the states and lived in a gated community. I had everything that I thought I wanted in life.
However something was wrong in my life. Very wrong. I did not feel I belonged anymore. The culture in the USA was moving in a direction I did not like. Government regulation and interference was constantly nagging me. I had to hire someone just to keep up with all the red tape and filling out forms that business need to give.
Out of the blue my father called me. He wanted me to learn and take over the family business in Belize. At the time he had been in Belize for 25 years. I jumped at the chance.
I did everything I thought I needed to do. I visited Belize several times and then sold the house.
My dad place in the Cayo District a few mile off the Western Highway, by the Belize River. This was the Jungle. The beauty still takes my breath away. At times as I look around it is like I am living in a surreal world that goes beyond description.
When I visited before everything was new and novel. I was around tour guides and employees. Everything seemed great. They ate a lot of chicken but that was okay. I liked chicken.
The number of Expats in Belize surprised me. For such a small county is does have a relatively large amount of people from all over the world. There were people like my dad and I who had started businesses and were starting a new life in Belize.
However the largest amount of expatriates are people who moved here under the Qualified Retirement Program (QRP).
The official language of Belize is English. Although in truth it is a multicultural country. People speak English, Spanish, and many other languages. In Belize the everyday language is an English version of Creole, called Kriol. It is English based because Belize is part of the British Commonwealth.
When you hear it at first you will likely not understand anything they are saying.
The culture is very different in Belize. The people are friendly but they see things very differently than we do in the Western World. Time means nothing to them and they will always answer any question you ask with "Yes" even if it really means "No". It is not considered polite to say "No" to someone directly.
Belize does not have all the luxuries, choices, and variety of the Developed world. There are convenience stores in the States that have more variety that the largest grocery stores in Belize.
The food is very different in Belize than in the US. No fast food franchises found in the USA. There actually are small restaurants that serve chicken rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The beef is grass-fed as opposed to grain fed. It has a very different texture. The pork was different that it was in the states.
By the fourth month I began to question my decision to move to Belize. Self doubt started overpowering me. I had not felt that way in years.
What was wrong with these people? Why did the stores not stock all the foods I normally ate in the USA? Why did I have to wait so long for things to happen? Why did the people in Belize not see the world as I did? I began to envy those QRP people who moved to Belize just to relax and enjoy the laid back type of life. They did not have to worry about employees, the visa stamp every 30 days and they got brakes on Import duties for vehicles and household items,
This troubled me for several weeks. At one point I broke down in tears and could not stop crying. I went to bed and asked myself, "Why are the other expats I know so happy here?" I went into a deep sleep.
In the middle of the night something woke me up. I opened my eyes looked around and closed my eyes. I heard a voice within my mind it said, "Eric, you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself." I opened my eyes and thought about it for a while. That realization changed my life.
Over the next few days I did some research on food health and recipes. Turns out the basic foods in Belize do not have all the additives and preservatives that they do in the USA. I had to admit that I did feel better and rarely got sick or had indigestion like I did so often in the States. Upon further investigation I learned that Grass fed beef was healthier and that people in the US were paying a higher price so they could eat grass-fed beef.
I began to take an active involvement with the cook and encouraging her to try new things and ways of cooking. Slow roasting beef and pork improved the flavor of the meal. Using recipes and locally grown spices our cook could make splendid meals. Finally eating was a joy not just something you had to do to survive.
With the new knowledge I changed my approach with employees. If they said "Yes" immediately I would question them further and finally get them to say "maybe". I began realizing that things to take longer in Belize. But instead of getting angry I would gently remind and guide them so I could keep them more focused on the task at hand. It improved productivity and helped my relationships with the employees.
All of the things that were driving me crazy, were no longer an issue. I could now enjoy the beauty all around me. For the first time in years I felt at peace with myself.
I am no longer the stressed out American. Now I take life as it comes without getting angry or frustrated about how things are.
I am thankful that I moved to Belize. It has made me a happier person. SOURCE