Belize guide book author – Peter Eltringham – fulfills his dying wish of reconnecting with Belize
Not many foreigners whose lease on life seems to be at its very end would return to Belize, hardly able to speak, utterly unable to eat, and with a feeding tube in their stomachs, just to bid farewell. But one Englishman, dying from throat cancer, who has evidently fallen in love with Belize and its people, defied doctor’s orders to do just that.
Peter Eltringhman, 55, of London, UK, was introduced to Belize in the 1980’s – when he first visited here as a volunteer in the Royal Air Force. He said he came to Belize at the time when the country was facing a threat of invasion from Guatemala.
His travels since then throughout the length and breadth of The Jewel have left him dumbfounded by the country’s rich treasures, so much so that he has spent the last two decades documenting for people all over the world, and especially tourists and tour guides here, all the vast diversity – sights, sounds, and scenes – that gives Belize an appeal like no other.
Eltringhman said that he “immediately fell in love with Belize,” and what he found most attractive was its friendly people. At the time, he said, Belize was hardly known to the outside world, and he chose to promote Belize via a guidebook, because there was none on the market at the time, and he felt others needed to know what the country has to offer. His earliest memories were captured down south, in Toledo, and on the offshore atolls.
Peter says that producing a guidebook is a year’s worth of work, and the biggest reward he has gotten is hundreds of friends throughout Belize.
“I came here to say thank you and goodbye,” said Peter Eltringhman, who revealed that he has been battling with cancer for 4 years.
He told us that he has never smoked and doesn’t know really what caused his illness. Even though the cancer is seemingly incurable, it doesn’t hurt to hope for a miracle. Like Peter, his relatives and friends say they hope to try one more treatment, and so they have not entirely given up on him.
Peter arrived from London with his brother, Michael, and nephew, Adams, on June 21. They started their tour in Guatemala City, then moved on to Antigua, Flores, Peten, and Tikal, before they crossed the border into Belize. They have spent several days in San Ignacio, Monkey Bay, and Caye Caulker, and they stopped by Amandala on their way back to Monkey Bay. The family returns to London on Thursday.
Family friend, Marga Miller, a co-owner of the Monkey Bay’s conservation center, said that Michael had not known much of Peter and his whereabouts until this trip, and they are only just finding out where Peter has been hanging out for much of the past 20 years.
Michael told our newspaper that he has had a fantastic time in Belize – and he has found the Belizean people to be really friendly and helpful. He says that he plans to return to Belize someday with his wife.
Marga jokes that Adam, Michael’s son, has discovered the machete.
“In most countries in Europe, you cannot walk around with a big knife like that,” she commented.
Adam has been learning to chop bush (at Monkey Bay) and to fight mosquitoes, but the group has also gone out sailing and snorkeling, and sightseeing on the reef, she reported.
Marga said that she remembers Peter in the good old days, updating his book on a very old fashioned typewriter – before the days of computers. Monkey Bay was often his refuge while he was writing the Belize guide books, she added.
It was Marga Miller who took the initiative to ensure that Peter’s story be told, “because I’ve been in Belize 28 years and every time I pick up newspaper there is so much tragedy happening. I greatly admire Peter and highly respect him. I think he is an awesome writer and a dear friend.”
She said that it is important for people to know that there are really good people around in Belize who are helpful and kind.
Peter promoted the tourism business in Belize and promoted those in the industry as well, and it is important that people are recognized and honored when they are still around, Miller elaborated.
She said that Peter serves as an example that we can all do a little bit of good to make Belize a better place.
His brother, Michael, told us that many people have personally said to them during the course of their trip that Peter has put them and their place on the map, business-wise, and over the past month they expressed a debt of gratitude for his contributions to the tourism sector.
Miller said that since Peter can’t possibly visit all his friends in Belize to bid them farewell, it was important for him to visit the Amandala, so that he could convey to all those Belizeans he has known over the last few decades how much he appreciated the love then extended to him in The Jewel, for which he holds an everlasting love. http://www.amandala.com.bz/index.php?id=7239