Keep up the terrific work, Marty -- you're a saint!

Also, I have a request for those posting to this and other boards:

When we make recommendations on whether or when to come to Belize, I think we should keep in mind that the impact of the storm varied a great deal. Belize is a pretty good size little country, and what happened on one island didn't necessarily happen in another part of the country 100 or 200 miles away.

For example, most reports I've gotten or seen say there was NO DAMAGE, virtually none at all, in southern Belize (I'm disregarding the report by the mentally ill person who occasionally gets through and posts to this board) and that includes Placencia, PG, Hopkins and areas inland. There was no high water and winds only got up to 30 or 40 or 50 mph.

Although there may still be some mainland flooding, due to the accumulated amount of rain and runoff in rivers and lagoons, most of northern and western Belize also had only limited affects from the hurricane. The best information I have so far is that the tourism infrastructure basically was untouched in most of Belize, except for Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, some of the remote cayes and possibly one or two other areas.

I think it would be unfortunate for the many tourism operators (hotel owners, guides, restaurant owners, dive shop operators, etc.) who make their living in Belize to say "don't come to Belize" when in fact for most areas of Belize everything likely will be back to normal in at most a few days. International flights will be back in a day or two, domestic service will soon restart, and any flooded areas will see the sunshine again.

Also, I think it will surprise many people how fast even Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker get back up and running. This is something that happens after nearly every storm.

Remember, tourism is the top money earner for Belize. Let's not overstate the problem or create a problem where one doesn't exist. CNN and AP are bad enough about that. The impact of Hurricane Mitch was terrible for Belize. Not because Mitch did any damage to Belize -- it did almost no damage at all -- but because of the perception in the U.S. and Canada that it had hit Belize, when in fact it had not.

--Lan Sluder
Belize First Magazine

Lan Sluder/Belize First