Cathi Bray takes a lighthearted look at finding the essentials in a foreign country. For example, where can you get decent wifi in Belize? Or find a public bathroom?
When you move to a new area it can take a while to find the important things. You know, like your favorite restaurant, movie theater, or grocery store. I knew where all those things were at my home in Texas.
We lived in the countryside, outside of Houston, but we were no more than a few minutes from anything.
We had many grocery stores to choose from, gas stations, you name it. We could choose our favorites, and did.
In Belize, I’ve developed a whole new list of priorities when it comes to locating my favorites.
Topping the list is finding a decent bathroom and wifi in Belize.
In Texas, we have Buc-ee’s gas stations. Anyone who knows Buc-ee’s knows they’ve built their brand on having the nicest, cleanest bathrooms you’ll find anywhere.
But even if you can’t get to a Buc-ee’s there are places all over where you can find a clean bathroom while on the road. And it’s acceptable to ask if you can use the restroom and be allowed to do so, without needing to buy something or provide your own toilet paper.
Not so much here. The major towns in Belize are pretty far apart, like an hour and a half to three hours, depending on where you’re going. Between the large towns, you have many small villages.
Rarely do you find a nice, public bathroom at grocery stores or roadside restaurants. Especially one you can use without having to buy something or pay a dollar.
I understand the need to contribute.
Toilet paper (when they have it – I store some in my purse and keep a roll in the glove compartment, that’s how often I end up needing it) costs money. I get that. So does water. The dollar I pay the potty attendant – or the bottle of water I buy – is a small price to pay when I can’t wait any longer.
Even when you pay, though, it’s not like you’re going to find nice facilities. At least that’s been my experience in the larger towns I’ve lived in or visited. And I can guarantee they are non-existent in the smaller towns and villages.
And I’m no diva – I’ll go to the bathroom on the side of the road if I have no other choice. But come on, who doesn’t prefer a nice, clean toilet that flushes and has paper, if they have the option?
I’ve always been teased about the size, or lack thereof, of my bladder. And for good reason. I go a lot. So finding bathrooms along the way was of utmost importance to me when we moved here.
For instance, there’s a large, open-air restaurant in downtown San Ignacio. I know I can run in there without feeling guilty about not eating there (we do eat there a lot), and the facilities are nice.
There’s the gift shop on the highway near Belmopan that doesn’t mind if you need to stop for the potty. Maybe you’ll remember you need a gift for someone while you’re there.
One of my most recent additions to the list came when making the long drive to the airport – the zoo!
I love the Belize Zoo and have been many times. We take everyone who visits us there. We even pay for a private guide to bring the animals up close and personal, something you can’t get at big zoos in the States.
But more than that, the Belize Zoo has a decent bathroom out in the parking area.
I can drive in, go, and leave without being a problem to anyone (of course, only when absolutely necessary – don’t abuse the Zoo potty!). And that’s exactly what I did today when taking my husband to the airport. I said, “Stop by the Zoo so I can go to the bathroom.” He laughed and said, “That would make a good story,” so here you are reading about my bathroom habits.
Wifi is also important to me as a writer, social media marketer, business owner, mom, and grandma.
I’m always wanting or needing to be in touch with someone. Most restaurants I’ve found in Belize offer wifi – not all, but most.
Sometimes you need to hand over your phone and let them type in the super-secret password. But sometimes you don’t, and I haven’t found any that charge, thus far.
And, of course, all the resorts offer wifi.
Before we moved to Belize, my husband stayed in a couple of resorts while checking out business options. One resort had spotty wifi, so he went to a nearby restaurant every night for dinner and online time. He – then we – became good friends with the owners, and we still eat there all the time – and still use their wifi.
In my experience, some regions have better internet and restroom options than others.
San Ignacio is pretty good for wifi, not so much with the public bathroom options. San Pedro, on Ambergris Caye, is pretty decent for both, though the country as a whole is definitely not public bathroom-friendly. Placencia, down the coast to the south, is as spotty as San Ignacio.
It depends on where you go and how hard you are willing to look for what you need. But you’ll get it figured out pretty quick if you choose to make Belize your home.
I mean, it’s all about those priorities, right?
Catherine “Cathi” Bray is a travel agent, freelance writer, and firearms instructor who splits her time between Belize and Texas with her husband, Tom and their Great Dane/Mastiff mix, Allen, and Poo-Hua-Hua puppy, Maya.