Today I have been reading
the countless threads on a Belize forum. I know, I should like
the most of the sane people on the planet move on to the Financial
Times or The International Herald World Tribune or even Rolling
Stone Magazine. Mindless as I am some days, I too cannot help
but to follow the folly that contributors to the forums regard
as a stimulating debate. Call me a mindless midget or refer
to me as an inquiring mind that needs to know. Both references
On this particular topic, the chatters have been running for
days on end concerning themselves with the state of the condition
of the road to Placencia. For the most part, the major players
that have help to put the village of Placencia on the map for
the last ten years are some of the same ones ringing the church
bells in the square rallying everyone that will listen from
Riverdale to Chicago to Maya Beach to Asheville to J’bird’s
humble bar to file a class action lawsuit to take back progress
and give it to whomever. They have also insisted that every
gringo from Barnacle to Destinations Belize to Lan the Man to
Rockstar that they collectively all admit to disliking form
a bond to incite the local Belizean media to lash out.
That’s right, they as of this writing are asking that
the peninsula populous start counting dump trucks and note the
times and the intervals of their passing. They have even suggested
that roadblocks be constructed to say, “our dogs are getting
covered with dust, when will this madness ever end?!?”
With a sense of reflection, I remember how years back that
the road to Placencia was a major part of my reasoning as to
why I fell in love with Belize in the first place. It was my
first trip down the peninsula and so I was filled with great
expectations. I also had a belly filled with grilled chicken,
rice and beans, and two Belikin beers I had rapidly consumed
in time to make the bus south from a stand that no longer exists
directly across the street from the Dangriga bus station.
Back then the long haul partly went through the banana plantation.
The passengers on the bus at the time were mostly all Belizeans
with just a handful of gringo backpackers like myself. Everyone
onboard what I remember as a magical mystery tour of enlightenment
from Belize City through Belmopan to Dangriga to my ultimate
destination in Belize of Placencia were jovial. They were ever
so interested in what each person, whether local or foreign,
had to say about the weather or the season. They talked about
whether bananas were as good as one barrel rum or if a slice
of lime was required to help down a hot Belikin, an issue so
trivial since we all know, Belikins are always served cold.
Back then, I was travelling with a guidebook that was dictating
my every step from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen to Chetumal to
Belize City to San Pedro to San Ignacio to Dangriga to Placencia.
Since that trip I have come to realize that you usually enjoy
the adventure if you leave the book on the bookstore shelf.
For without a guide, a traveller is left to explore, which allows
for mistakes as well as rewards.
The first night I spent in the village of Placencia based upon
my prior planning with the guidebook since Internet was indeed
in its infancy, I thought I was booking the finest place in
town. It was oceanfront situated on a spectacular white sand
beach that allowed you to listen to the waves gently rolling
ashore all night long. Although the description of that stretch
of beach remains the same til this day, the hotel room was not
what I had expected from what I had read in the guidebook. In
actuality, it was a mobile home trailer that was cut into two
rooms, a place called Sonny’s that tragically got ripped
apart years later by Hurricane Iris.
As the locals picked up the pieces of Placencia following that
devastating hurricane in 2001, I must say that something forever
changed in the village of Placencia. Sonny’s was never
rebuilt and today the only way I can put it is that the village
as well as the entire peninsula went Florida. The quaint locale
is now mainstream, land prices have soared and there currently
is no end in sight. The local landowners have made a profit;
the room booking agents made a profit; the adventure outfitters
booking Monkey River trips and fishing trips and snorkelling
trips made a profit; the guide book writers made a profit; the
Belizean and gringo hotel owners made a profit; the Government
of Belize made a profit; the handful of people presenting themselves
as real estate agents have made a profit; and yes, those dastardly
"developers" have made a profit.
And I will agree that everyone that has profited over the last
ten to fifteen years or so should have all contributed to a
fund to pave the road to Placencia. Maybe they should have also
contributed to the building of a water plant and a waste treatment
facility, for everyone knows that developing the entire peninsula
has been environmentally ill conceived, and that’s putting
To be direct and perfectly honest, with all the trucks described
by the folks in Maya Beach blasting through daily, sadly it’s
the proverbial ‘catch 22’. For as logic would now
dictate, the government of Belize, even if they had the money
which they will readily admit they do not have, should stay
the course and wait until all the developments are completed.
Wait now until the peninsula is completely tapped out for development.
Wait until the trucks have no more developers left to deliver
supplies and materials to their building sites.
Then, once the boom goes bust, then and only then the GOB should
raise taxes again on beer, charge higher tourist card rates
for the guidebook writers, tax the booking agents, the local
tour guides and the cabana hotel owners both expat and Belizean
and yes, tax the developers and their guests. Then with tax
coffers filled to the brim, instead of first paving over the
road to a once sleepy little fishing village that most wish
had stayed just that, a barefoot paradise, maybe the GOB should
face the reality for the average Belizean.
Maybe they should just let the dirt track to the village of
Placencia stay what it is and use the money to pave the last
ten miles of the Southern Highway between Golden Stream and
Big Creek. Because let’s all face it, if you can afford
a US$375,000.00 two-bedroom condo in Placencia, don’t
you think you can afford to fly in on Maya Island Airways and
avoid the road to Placencia??