Things are done a little differently in Belize. From the music to the food to the celebrations- Belize has its own particular style and sometimes its own unique quirks. Anyone who’s spent any significant time here could probably recount their own anecdotes that end with “That’s so Belize!” Here are some of my anecdotes; times where I raised an eyebrow or had a chuckle and thought, “that’s different than it’s done in the States.”
I was slogging through my morning jog when I looked up at a moped headed towards me. It was David Ortiz (Pickled Parrot bartender, occasional tour guide, boat captain) puttering in to town with a little chicken riding on his shoulder. It lifted my spirit and inspired this post about Placencia peculiarities- things that make you smile, shake your head, and sigh: “only in Belize”
We moved here from Ocean City, New Jersey- “America’s Greatest Family Resort Town.” Ocean City is a dry town. That means is has no bars, no liquor stores, you can not even order a glass of wine with dinner in a restaurant! Yes, it different from most every other town in that regard but the US for the most part has conservative views on alcohol consumption. The higher legal drinking age of 21, the regulations many states have about where and when alcohol can be sold, and the strict laws on open container or harsh punishments for driving under the influence. Before we moved to Belize, imbibing was relegated to weekends or special events.
One of our first mornings here, when Mitch was still small enough for the jogging stroller, we’d just finished up a family cardio session and were catching our breath outside one of the grocery stores. A taxi pulled up> the driver ran in and grabbed a beer from the fridge> cracked it open at the register> and drove off drinking it! At 8 in the morning! Phil and I looked at one another, we looked around at other to see if anyone else were raising an eyebrow over this… no one so much as took notice! We thought, “we’re certainly not in Ocean City anymore.”
Though public drinking is technically illegal, it is not typically enforced and it isn’t stigmatized as it is elsewhere. Whereas before we would rarely have a weekday drink, nowadays it is unusual for us not to have a happy hour sip (or three). I blame it on the heat- after drinking cup after cup of water all day, a Belikin just goes down easy by late afternoon.
Safety- Mind yuhself
Last week our guests sat on their porch watching the building project across the street with fascination–equal parts horror and delight. Belize has no OSHA regulations and it is overtly apparent. Worksites in North America that would require hardhats and steel-toe boots to enter, here construction workers might not even own closed-toed shoes!
Safety standards are just different here, far more relaxed. Take our zoo as a prime example: animal comfort is top of mind, enclosures are there but not heavily reinforced. You’ll see signs warning you to keep little fingers on the proper side of the fence or risk losing them. Can you imagine the litigious US taking such a laissez-faire approach? I like it though! Personal safety is a person’s responsibility.
Close, but no cigar
If I tried, I could probably think of half a dozen times when I’ve thought, “ah, Belize, you came so close but…” My favorite anecdote for this pertains to Thanksgiving turkey. Obviously an American holiday, I asked my local shop keeper if she was going to have turkeys for the following week. To which she responded: of course, I know American Thanksgiving, I ordered turkeys. Great! So I waited… and waited… and 2 days before Thanksgiving I really needed to obtain a turkey so I asked her again. “Yes, I know. Turkeys will be here Friday.” Bwahahaha! A day late and a turkey short.