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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 probably fit.

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 it mildly.

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??


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