Caye Caulker Has The Highes PHI (Personal Happiness Index) In The World
Opinion by Wendy Auxillou

Many people mistakenly believe that the size of their bank balances or the bottom line on their pay stubs is the truest measure of success.

And then there is the little fishing village island of Caye Caulker.

Here on Caye Caulker, success is instead measured by an individual's PHI (Personal Happiness Index), which includes social interaction, ease of meals, ease of shelter, available leisure time and the ability to live in harmony with one's surroundings.

Take for example, my five year old son.

Blayd Christopher has always preferred Caye Caulker as his favorite place in the entire world. It is an added plus that he, in fact, has a grandmother that lives here, and that she absolutely dotes on him. But the true reason for my son's love of Caye Caulker is the absolutely freedom he has to be a carefree and very loved boy.

To the left of his grandmother's house and in the same yard lives Jacob. Jacob is the product of a Creole Belizean father and a White Canadian mother. Jacob, by the way, is the same age as my son.

Blayd Christopher himself is product of a Belize City Creole father and a Mestizo British Belizean mother.

To the right of his grandmother's house play Shanty and Rashawn, two other little kids his age. Shanty and Rashawn are also inter-racial children.

While the North Americans tourists have preferred San Pedro, the European tourists have preferred Caye Caulker. Because of the tourism industry, traditional Caye Caulker natives have been exposed to an extraordinary variety of cultures and ethnic beliefs thereby making them some of the most tolerant people in the world. With so many tourists of varying degrees of ethnicities passing through Caye Caulker, it is inevitable that some will stop and take root...and create families that are meshed and melded with the local ones... or even create their own hybrid family dynamics.

On an island where visitors easily become spouses (and later mothers and fathers of Belizean children), Caye Caulker has become a mini-United Nations of sorts making for a very rich blend of gene-pool mixing. On this little fishing village island of less than fifteen hundred people, it is quite easy to find a Belizean-born child with grandparents from such far-away places as Sweden and Germany.

Multi-racial families with inter-racial children for the most part live quite harmoniously on Caye Caulker. Perhaps one of the biggest contributors to the peaceful and easy going life on Caye Caulker is the absolute tolerance displayed to families of all ethnicities and racial-mixing.

Factor into the mix the idea that the majority of Caye Caulker residents (per capita) are extraordinarily well traveled in relation to their other Belizean counterparts and you will find an island of fairly well exposed residents . Ask any five Caye Caulker residents where all they have been and it is a sure bet that at least four out of five respondents can tell you tales of either their Central American, North American or European travels ..or of their travels in all three areas.

The increase in multi-racial families with foreign-born extended family members sending remittances to Caye Caulker has also contributed greatly to the island's affluence.

For little children, there is nothing more special than to be fully accepted and integrated without stigma into society... where bonds are made because of who you are and not by the color of your skin.

It was my pleasure yesterday to witness four gorgeous multi-racial children swimming in the water in front of grandmother's house. The kids had a boat in the water and were screaming with glee as they took turns climbing onto and jumping off the boat.

Just under the coconut tree on the beach was Jacob's mother on lifeguard duty. She was joined there by a female friend who did co-lifeguard duties with her as they chatted. It seemed like they were having so much fun under the shade that I soon joined them. Maybe an hour later, Jacob's mom was called away to do something.

I, in turn, without even noticing I had done so, next took up the slack as lifeguard on duty.

Checking in from time to time to see if anyone needed anything was the father of the other two children who were in the water, and whose family owns the restaurant nearby. When I, too, was called away on an errand, it was he that sat down to take over lifeguard duty until I returned.

Before I knew it, an entire afternoon had passed by seamlessly. Four children squealing with joy all afternoon did not once have their fun interrupted by the obligations of adults. The lives of four adults of four different ethnicities had been joined together all afternoon in the common pursuit of providing their multi-racial Belizean children with a beautiful life. Life does not get better than this.

At sunset, we pulled them all out of the water, soaped and freshened them up and put dry clothes on them.

Once dry, my son ravished his fish burger and and then quickly disappeared. Imagine my surprise to find another neighbor's twelve year old son escorting my dripping wet son home at 7:30 p.m. It was already dark.

"Where were you son and how did you get so wet?" I inquired of the munchkin.

"I was night swimming with Shanty and Rashawn" he replied.

And so he was.

Right at the same spot where at 5:30 p.m. I had pulled him out of the water, there he was again at 7:30 p.m. in the pitch black of night.

And that, friends, is the main reason why the Personal Happiness Index on Caye Caulker is so high. It is called FREEDOM. Freedom to have the available leisure time to spend as much quality time with loved ones as one wishes. That, to Caye Caulker people, is the true measure of success.