I’m 59 and I’m sitting in Belize and I’m not sure why.
Sometimes I’m sure. Sometimes I’m not.
My husband and I moved here in 2016 although we still maintain our home and business in the US. In most ways, Belize is a paradise. But sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right thing—but only if you are a tad bit neurotic, though.
Should I stay in Belize?
I was talking to one of my sons the other day about whether we, my husband and I, should stay here or go home. Or if he should go home and I stay here (he needs to go back more for work reasons), and so on.
My son said, “Depends on what you want to do with your life.”
Oh. Okay. Well—and what do I want to do with my life? And when might I figure that out?
You mean, what I wanted in the past for my life? I never saw myself being anything but a mom and a homebody. I loved being a mother, and when I projected out into the future, I only saw myself surrounded by my children, and then my grandchildren—one big happy family, all the time, and at my house!
Except my children have scattered now. Two of them live a distance from us. The other three live nearby, including one still in our house. They are all doing well without us. Meanwhile, I sit here in Belize and miss them so much it hurts.
“Right now” is kinda the problem
Or should I do what I want for my life today? Right now? Well, right now I want to live on a beach and listen to the waves while writing a bestseller. But also right now I want to go home and see my babies, and their babies.
How about what I want for my life? Um. Not to lose my mind before I die? Not to become old and incapacitated? I mean, what I want for my future right now has nothing to do with my decision to stay in Belize or go home. Well, maybe it does. A little.
Should I stay in Belize for my health?
I’m a sun lover. Always have been, always will be. No matter where I am, I’d rather be outside in the sun. I’m a fair-skinned, (natural, though-not-so-red-anymore) redhead, so I don’t understand why. But in Belize, I’m in the sun often. And even though redheads have higher levels of Vitamin D and being in the sun raises those levels, my last tests showed my levels were low. So, I supplement; but I also try to get outside as often as possible. Being in a paradise like Belize makes getting outside easy.
I can also get basic health care here free or at low cost. Back in the States, I can’t get decent life insurance (had cancer, refused the treatment, got well, no trace of cancer for seven years now, but still can’t get covered), and my health insurance, no matter who is president, is outrageous. The best rate I got last time I checked was a shade under $1,000 per month. Yep, ONE THOUSAND – US dollars—per month! And then I still had to pay my deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
In Belize, I pay around $600 for six months of coverage for both myself and my husband. If Belizean hospitals can’t handle something, they—someone (I don’t have a name) will fly us to the nearest hospital that can. The policy comes with $150,000 to pay for those medical expenses. Also, I can walk into any pharmacy here and get meds I need, like painkillers or antibiotics, without a prescription, and pretty darn cheap. Can’t do that “at home.”
Should I stay in Belize for the food?
I also eat healthier in Belize. I read an article saying they have now found glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer) in ORGANIC wine in California. Those wine companies didn’t know the chemical was in their wine. They didn’t put it there. But it’s so pervasive in the US it’s in almost everything. Even the “organic” food we pay extra to buy so we can be healthy and not have toxins in our food!
But it’s not as widespread in most other countries. I can still get food here in Belize that is pretty clean. Plus, they don’t put near the levels of sodium or sugar in the food here as they do in the US. I always have to ask for salt here when I eat, say, nachos, because they aren’t salty.
Eat those same nachos back home and you’ll drink a gallon of margaritas to stay hydrated.
Okay, maybe that’s the point. But that doesn’t happen here. And their sweets aren’t sweet, by US standards. I’ve found that to be true of most sweets from other countries—not as sweet as their counterparts in the States. Another change, but one I know is helping me become healthier.
Should I stay in Belize to get fit?
People also walk a lot more here or ride a bike. I planned to walk more when I broke my foot a while back. It left me unable to do much more than sit around pitifully (total cost of care for my broken foot, at the local PRIVATE hospital, was about $200… period). I wish I could say I broke it running away from a jaguar. We have them in Belize. It wasn’t anything near that exciting though. I turned wrong and rolled it. Snap! It happens. But now the cast is off and I can move again with little pain, I will walk more.
It still amazes me how many actual people I see if I’m driving through town around 8 AM, or around noon, or in the early evening, or on weekends… There are always people everywhere!
Parents are walking their children to or from school. Or walking home for lunch. Moms and dads are walking to or from work, or to church. Grandmas are walking to the market, or to visit family. Sure, some are driving, but only a few. And others ride bikes – good exercise, too.
When we go downtown now we park in a particular place and then walk wherever we need to go. We’re getting the hang of this walking thing.
So, I can be healthier here, with less effort, and if I need medical care, I can get it cheaper.
But what am I supposed to do every day?
I’m that person who can’t figure out how someone can retire and fish all day. Sorry, fisher-folk, but I’ve never cared to fish much, anyway. Although Belize is a great place to do that. Okay, how about: I’m the person who can’t retire and lie around all day. I need to be pursuing something, creating something… DOING SOMETHING! I’m sure that’s one of my greatest faults, but it is what it is.
So, we’re opening a business here in Belize—the same one we had in the States. Belize makes it challenging, with all the red tape and lack of central databases; but we figured most of it out. And I’m now getting to visit various parts of the country while calling on customers, so that’s fun.
But but but…
Back to my original question though: Should I stay in Belize or move back? All answers seem to point to staying here, but I still miss those who are doing just fine without me at home. Would they like to see me sometime? Sure. I have a good relationship with them. Do they “need” me? No.
That mom-DNA inside wishes they did, but they don’t. Perhaps someone in Belize needs me. There are people here in need. When I see all those adorable little children, in their adorable little uniforms, walking to school, I’d like to gather them all up and take them home. I don’t think their parents would appreciate it, nor would it be the best thing to do at my age. And my husband would leave me at that point. He can only take so much of my shenanigans. I don’t know. But there are children’s homes I’m looking to get involved in.
I also miss the conveniences back home. The cultural events, the movie theaters, and shopping malls (I’m not even a big shopper). All those things are pretty non-existent in Belize. Even if you didn’t do them much back home, when you move to a country that doesn’t have them, you miss them. I also miss the friends and other family members I have back home.
So, what do I want to do with my life?
Beats me. On some days, I want to lie on the beach. Other days I want an adventure in the jungle.
Some days, I want to sit on the second-floor veranda high on the hill. The wind is blowing through my hair, I’m looking across the valley at the mountains, and I’m writing something amazing.
Some days, I want to go home and see my kids, and their kids. Some days… well, you get the idea.
I guess the blessing is I can do all this. I am at a point in my life where I can do whatever I want, and I know that not everyone has that opportunity.
So, although I sometimes still struggle in this paradise with what I want my life to be today, I also try to remember how very, very grateful and blessed I am.
I don’t know how long I’ll be in Belize, but I’m here now, and I couldn’t love it more, even with its quirks and drawbacks. It’s about time to take a trip back and spend a little time with the kids, though.
Belize will be here when I get back.
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.