So I’ve covered that Placencia has first-rate drinking water and superb beach bars, but there are also plenty of other amenities that residents and visitors can enjoy and that’s what I’ll be outlining in this post.
Lots of grocery options!
Firstly, for anyone looking to stay somewhere longish-term, you’re going to want to know about the grocery store situation. I wasn’t sure what to except. We had been to a little town in Costa Rica a few years ago that didn’t have a market within walking on biking distance. They had a baker and a butcher and a corner store that sold chips and beer but not much else. I was happy to discover that Placencia had plenty more to offer- no car trip required.
There are several grocery markets in town- like 5 of them- so food shopping is easy; you have a bit of variety and the competition between the markets keep them from price gouging you. For fruits and veggies there are at least 2 stands (one by the bus station and one by the soccer field) set up in the village every day. The stands are going to have produce from the mainland- usually Cayo district, and typically it’s from the Mennonite farmers. Yea! Belize has Mennonites; like Pennsylvania has the Dutch Amish. Cool, right? A local told us the Mennonites are responsible for almost all the crops grown in Belize and if they ever decided to strike the country would be in for a world of hurt. I’ve read that once a month the Mennonites come down to Placencia and you can buy hand-made furniture directly from them, swap meet style. The internet says they make beautiful and durable wooden furniture and you could place an order with them for specific items you want commissioned. Sounds good to me.
Placencia also has a big modern fishing pier that you can check out for buying fresh fish, conch, and lobster direct from the fisherman’s boats. The fishing pier has a nice new cleaning station for gutting and washing your catch and there are always pelicans and other sea birds hanging around the harbor waiting for the free snacks that are discarded.
Because Placencia is a tourist destination there are a number of souvenir shops and all day long you’ll see a parade of women or children walking the beach peddling “Mayan crafts.” These are trinkets like jewelry, small carvings and woven baskets. I local guy told us the crafts aren’t carefully handmade in quiet Mayan villages tucked away in the rainforest like the sellers would lead you to believe but rather they’re mass produced in Guatemala, bought for pennies on the dollar, and sold at ludicrously inflated prices to gullible vacationers. We bought a bowl.
I forgot the Dramamine!
The town also has a pharmacy that saved us from more motion sickness embarrassment—I can’t believe I forgot the Dramamine! After looking through the small selection of over-the-counter meds available in the grocery stores we hit up the pharmacy and got what I needed. They don’t have Dramamine, they have a generic version from Mexico and they sell it by the pill. I said I’d take 6 and they put half a dozen of the little pills in a tiny button bag. They set us back a whopping 20 cents apiece- Belizean. So for 60 American cents I was greatly reducing the odds I’d be tossing my cookies in front of strangers for the rest of the week- what a deal! They work fine but made me super sleepy, much more drowsy than our brands back home.
We also saw clothing stores in town though these definitely aren’t your GAPs or Macy’s. Most clothing stores are second-hand shops but they get freight shipments of gently used clothes from North America and you can find nice things cheaply. Personally, I love thrift shops so I don’t see this being a problem when we live in Belize (and I can always steal stuff from friends when they come to visit me too—Andrea I’m specifically thinking of you).
Placencia also has a youth center (I think this was actually a grade school), a small healthcare clinic, banks, coffee shops, and a hardware store for building material and household items like pots and pans. They even have a Cross-fit gym that we took a class at. I’m thinking- if you need much more than all that; you needn’t live in Placencia, right?