The spouse and yourself decided
enough was enough, and together you both agreed, it was high
time to split from the bitter winters of Vancouver to a full-proof
retirement plan in the heart of paradise. For years you had
visited the land by the Caribe Sea, you had by decision making
time on the ground countless locals that knew all the tricks
for relocating, how much it actually costs to build a house
and how much to bring in infrastructure into the bush from water
wells to current. You also had your sights focused squarely
upon opening yourselves either a spiritual retreat center with
your fellow stressed out gringos to provide jobs for the locals
or possibly a small restaurant serving tofu burgers along an
isolated stretch of mangroves so you could feel good about the
land of the free that you left behind in a state of war. Either
choice in the end your projections forecasted it would be a
win-win deal for the mothers and fathers and children of the
world that probably only you and yours could properly guide
through the universe.
And so you spent night after night after your nine to five
job sending emails contacting every real estate agent you could
find on the Internet marketing properties for sale in Belize.
After yet another four trips down on vacation you fell in love
with a small idyllic village and decided to buy a ready made
wood frame house with a big front porch and a zinc roof and
settle in for the long haul. The only thing left then was to
bombard the real estate agent with those fool hearted far frozen
north tactics, “you actually spent this, thatch really
can be done for less, the streams don’t have water year
round so why advertise that”, blah, blah, blah.
With the purchase behind and two years into living the good
life hamaca swinging away, suddenly one day the weather takes
a turn and becomes unseasonably dry. Yea maybe it really is
an “inconvenient truth” that mankind has burned
away the atmosphere with fossil fuels. Just maybe it has been
accelerated as of late by all those cell phones beaming useless
information from here to there.
But in real time, regardless of the reasons, it had not rained
a drop in weeks but that only made for a better tan. Then one
late night after a full day of swaging Belikins and One Barrel
Rum backs the lighting strikes your wood kitchen champa catching
fire, then the menace runs rapidly along a wooden walkway, jumps
to a pile of trash you forgot to burn the day before since there
is not trash removal in the heart of the bush, then the out
of control bushfire leaps onto the partially treated siding
of your house. Within minutes your piece of paradise is engulfed
As you and the better half of your life stand there in the
darkness since the power went out you frantically punch the
repeat numbers on your BTL issued mobile hoping to get an answer
from the department of fire that you had programmed into the
device for situations just like you and the wife were now facing.
That’s when you realize poignantly that it might have
been nice to have that hurricane insurance policy but right
about now it would be nice to have a local fire department standing
by to put out the flames.
Although the above is mere fiction, recently in Placencia a
fire broke out in the core area of the village. On Sunday May
7, 2006, within a matter of minutes as stunned villagers and
local revellers watched on in horror, the fire consumed two
houses, The Purple Space Monkey Internet Cafe with it’s
restaurant, four shops, and the local cable television provider.
Those affected lost homes, worldly possessions and jobs.
What might shock many, with all the millions of dollars in
development in the boom town of Placencia, there still is no
fire truck. To make matters worst, on the evening in question,
water pressure within the village made it virtually impossible
to pump water through hoses to slow the progress of the fire.
In the end the villagers had to stop the flames by way of a
human chain, aka, a bucket brigade.
But what about the dreamers that develop deeper into the bush??
What do they do when the savannah grass dries out and their
year round creeks run dry?? Will their Rotoplas and rain harvesters
and their backup water well save them from the devastation that
sadly many faced recently in Placencia?? I’ve seen in
my years of moving in and out of Belize wild fires that can
scorch hundreds of acres in literally a matter of minutes. Once
the fire begins to run the streams of madness can crawl up the
side of a thirty meter high Kahuna palm and scald the tropically
green leaves to a crisp. In the bush in the dry season, nothing
and I mean nothing stands between the fire of mother nature
and a wooden house. Then there are the lightening strikes. Gathering
around the forceful storms of the spring and summer, I have
heard crackling lightening coupled with such boisterous rumbling
thunder that my entire family and I have been awaken from an
after midnight sleep.
It’s hard to compare living in the remotes of Belize
where the closest possible fire truck sits idle in a town some
eight to ten miles away as the fire fighters drink away their
blues at a ‘cool spot’ to counting on what your
insurance broker in the states insured your house for on a cul-de-sac
in Eugene or Denver or Vancouver, an estimate based upon the
distance from the center of your living room to the closest
fire hydrant. It’s hard to imagine that lightening strikes
as you are firing one up swinging in your Mayan hammock and
that the local fire department can be reached by your satellite
Internet connection in a village where cell phone connection
is years away. But when it comes to Belize, it’s best
to imagine and to prepare for the worst. For as they say, s&%t