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#512741 - 03/30/16 10:21 PM A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Preface to my latest book, Lan Sluder's Guide to Belize

By Lan Sluder

Itís hard for me to believe, but I have been reporting on Belize for more than a quarter century. I know thatís not a long time in comparison with some old Belize hands, but will you forgive me for a little bit of nostalgia? The Belize I first visited in early 1991 was a very different place than it is now.

Back then, there were only two half-way decent roads in the country, the Northern and Western Highways (renamed now, but Iíll probably never stop calling them by their old names). The Hummingbird Highway was nothing but a long but scenic haul of potholes and broken pavement. The Southern Highway was so bad, so full of washboards, that it literally shook my Ford Bronco until the engine quit. In the dry season, when a tractor trailer came by the dust was so thick you couldnít see 50 feet in front of you. In the rainy season, the road to Placencia would swallow even four-wheel-drive vehicles in mud. I donít know if there was even a single stop light in Belize City.
'
There were some good hotels here and there Ė I still miss Four Fort Street Guesthouse and Colton House in Belize City and Skip Whiteís old Turtle Inn in Placencia, among other places long gone Ė but back then you could count the number of hotel swimming pools in all of Belize on the fingers of your two hands. Now some resorts have three or four. Outside of Belize City, air conditioning was rare and usually something you paid extra for. Over the years, Iíve stayed at probably 250 to 300 different hotels, resorts, inns, lodges, fishing camps, villas, condotels, B&Bs and guesthouses in Belize. I bet Iíve stayed in more hotels in Belize than anybody else. Thatís something for some obscure record book.
Probably the biggest change Iíve seen in Belize has been the rise in upmarket hotels. Can you believe that many resorts in San Pedro, Hopkins, Placencia and Cayo are now charging US$400, $600 or even $1,000 or more a night? These rates donít include meals or the 9% hotel tax, and many properties are now charging a service charge, usually 10%, and an increasing number are adding a resort fee or administrative charge of around 5%. Belize now has many beautiful resorts and lodges, but who can afford them? I canít.

As a travel writer, you naturally make enemies. Your readers have to come first, and sometimes that means pointing out problems at lodging or restaurants or attractions. Iím not naturally tactful, so probably I have said things I shouldnít have. Sorry. Belizeans donít quickly forget slights, so I have made more than my share of people who do not like me very much. I do regret that.

Crime in Belize City was bad even back 25 or even, Iím told, 50 years ago. No place in Belize was safe from killing and tiefing. But, somehow, it didnít seem as bad as it does now, when kids with guns kill their neighbors for a few dollahs.

A lot of the great characters in Belize that I knew or at least knew of have passed now. Some of them were expatriates, some Belizeans by birth or inclination. Skip White, I mentioned. Colin Howell, who built an island lodge and then Lamanai Outpost Lodge. George Bevier of Rum Point. The amazing Emory King, of course, who was Belizeís most famous expat. Bull Headley, the Florida lumberman who bought a piece of the Mountain Pine Ridge. Ken duPlooy. Sir Barry Bowen, a Belizean of many generations back. Peter Eltringham, who I believe was the best travel writer who ever covered Belize. Of course, the Right Honorable George Price. And lots of others, many of whom sadly I never met or hardly knew.

Our kids grew up traveling around Belize. I still have a photo of our daughter, Rose, beside some scrawny chickens at Altun Ha, before the cruise ship daytrippers started coming there. She was a toddler, hardly taller than the chickens scratching in the dirt. Long ago, our son, Brooks, and I went from San Ignacio to Tikal and climbed Temple IV, dodging a swarm of Africanized bees.

I suspect that this will be one of my last books on Belize. Iíve written 15 books on the country, mainly about travel and retirement. Iím not exactly burned out on Belize, just tired of doing the same things over and over again. Maybe Iíll do a history of British Honduras or profiles of great Belizean characters, or something else. Iíve done other books of late, on the game of bridge, on my hometown of Asheville, N.C., and on vintage Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars. I have several more books in the hopper, a cookbook and a book on private eyes.

The world moves on, and so does Belize. Thank you for so many good times in the Jewel.

/s/Lan Sluder

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#512771 - 03/31/16 06:33 PM Re: A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Otteralum Offline
Awesome, Lan. Love everything you've done
_________________________
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

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#512772 - 03/31/16 07:33 PM Re: A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Diane Campbell Offline
How about a book on the cars of Cuba. That would be a hoot and scratch your travel itch at the same time. I'll buy one (a book,not a car).

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#512773 - 03/31/16 10:40 PM Re: A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Shyboy Offline
I'd rather have the new (last) Belize book. How about autographed copies for forum members at a "forum" price? If you have made an enemy or two, they can buy one and hang it on a wall and use it as a dart board.
_________________________
A little known fact... Women who are overweight tend to live longer than men who mention it...

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#512775 - 04/01/16 12:06 AM Re: A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
I love the idea of a book on the cars of Cuba, Diane, though I imagine that's been done a few times.
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#512794 - 04/01/16 12:11 PM Re: A Bit of Nostalgia: Preface to My New Book [Re: Lan Sluder/Belize First]
Marty Offline
love reading your work Lan, will get your latest book! Thank you sir!

Here's a link to the book and its description on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Lan-Sluders-Guide-Belize-Sluder/dp/0692663533/

LAN SLUDER'S GUIDE TO BELIZE is the new, up-to-date travel guide to this amazingly beautiful, diverse and exciting English-speaking country on the Caribbean Coast. You'll benefit from Lan Sluder's 25 years of reporting on Belize. He's explored every corner of Belize many times, personally stayed at more than 250 beach resorts, jungle lodges and personality inns in Belize (and toured the rest) and has tried nearly every restaurant in the country.

As the award-winning author of more than 15 books on Belize, including Fodor's Belize, Easy Belize and Living Abroad in Belize, Lan Sluder knows the country and tells it like it is. This guide gives you the latest scoop on snorkeling, diving, jungle trekking, hiking, cave tubing, fishing, kayaking, sailing, visiting ancient Maya ruins, caving, birding, wildlife spotting, horseback riding, snorkeling with sharks and stingrays, diving with whale sharks and other activities on the water and on land.

It gives you detailed, candid information on the best hotels, restaurants, attractions and tours. And it also gives you tips on how to avoid rip-offs and overpriced tourist traps. It shares tips on stretching your travel dollars and provides itineraries and choices for your budget, whether it's high, low or in-between.

This travel guide covers every destination in Belize, from popular islands like Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker to the rainforests and jungles of the mainland and to off-the-beaten path, little-visited places like Sarteneja in Northern Belize and the Maya villages of Toledo District in the Deep South.

In more than 500 pages and 180,000 words, Lan Sluder's Guide to Belize covers all these destinations and more:

SAN PEDRO AND AMBERGRIS CAYE CAYE CAULKER Lighthouse Reef and the Blue Hole, Turneffe Atoll and Glover's Reef Atoll Remote islands inside the Belize Barrier Reef including Southwater Caye, Tobacco Caye, the Snakes Cayes, Ragged Cayes and more SAN IGNACIO, BELMOPAN & the MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE IN CAYO PLACENCIA, HOPKINS and Dangriga on the Southern Coast Punta Gorda and the Maya villages in Toledo District Corozal Town, Cerros and Sarteneja in Corozal District Orange Walk Town and Orange Walk District Belize City

BONUS CHAPTERS with in-depth information on side trips to TIKAL, Guatemala, and Chetumal, Mexico!

This guide lists the Top 10 Everything -- Top 10 Beach Resorts, Top 10 Jungle Lodges, Top 10 Budget/Value Hotels, Top 10 Restaurants, Top 10 Watering Holes, Top 10 Attractions, Top 10 Adventures and 10 Best Beaches in Belize! Lan Sluder's Guide to Belize tells you everything you need to know about getting to Belize by air, sea and land ... and how to travel safely around the country by bus, water taxi, rental car, puddle jumper and private shuttles. It shares the wonderful diversity of this little country -- Maya, Mestizos, Creoles, Garifuna, Mennonites and others. It even gives you a quick lesson on traveler's Spanish and "Bileez Kriol."

This is the new guide that goes in-depth on Belize's national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, forest preserves and marine reserves. It tells you what's noteworthy about the top Maya sites including Tikal, Caracol, Lamanai, Xunantunich, Altun Ha, Lubaantun, Nim Li Punit, La Milpa, El Pilar and more. It provides what you need to know about spotting the elusive jaguar, the mountain cow, the sea cow and the cow cows! It gives you precise information on how to get to where you want to go and exactly how much you should pay.

The new guidebook includes more than 40 photos and maps. Check the Table of Contents and the free preview and see if you agree that you get far more for your money with Lan Sluder's Guide to Belize. You get more for less, with everything as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Thank you for considering this new guidebook to Belize, and don't hesitate to email Lan Sluder (his private address is in the book) with any questions or comments you have.

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