Amanda Savage is a funky Floridian that runs the village ice house and makes crafts from road kill. She’s called Placencia home since 2017 and has no plans to ever leave. Her partner, J, had family ties to the area- his uncle is Harold Wallen: venerate villager, he’s on virtually every committee from Rotary to Volunteer Fire Department and the owner/ operator of Placencia’s original hardware store (aptly named, Wallen’s).
I wanted to feature Amanda in an Interview with Expats because I don’t think she fits the typical image many people have when they think of a Belize expat; mainly because she’s so young, but more and more young people are making big moves like this (or at least considering it) and I wanted to spotlight a similar story.
So hang on to your palm-frond woven hats and racoon-bone earrings (which you might not wear but Amanda is fashion famous for) while we get to it! The questions:
When did you move to Belize and why?
I moved to Belize in late 2017 with my husband and our cat. He had been here dozens of times growing up and spent a few years here in his early 20s. I visited twice, for a month each trip, 2 years before we made our big leap. For my hubs, it always felt like home. For me, it was love at first sight. His grandmother, who traveled extensively on every continent from her early 20s until her final trip to Machu Pichu at age 82, advised her family and friends to “travel and enjoy life while you can”, so that’s what we’re doing. We didn’t have a house to sell or 401k to empty. We took a leap of faith. I don’t recommend it for everyone, but for us, following our hearts has worked so far! As ‘tree-hugger’ as this sounds, if Belize is really where you belong, life will make it work. If it isn’t working, good news! You can always keep going till you find where you belong!
How is life different now in Belize as compared to your life in the US?
Daily life here is freeing (and much slower) compared to my life back in Florida. It’s not always paradise, but at the end of the day, there’s always something to be thankful for. People judge me based on how I treat others, not on what I’m wearing. I take better care of my things and produce less waste. The environment is always on my mind. I eat healthier and get more creative with my meals. I use my time intentionally. The little things don’t matter, yet simultaneously matter more than ever. Life has more purpose when you follow your heart.
What advice do you have to someone wanting to move abroad?
One of the most common pieces of advice I was given from Belizeans and old expats when I first arrived was that getting frustrated will get you no where. And boy were they right! I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else, but Belize moves a little slower than where I came from in ‘hustle and bustle’ Orlando, Florida. Be patient, enjoy the little steps and remember you’re a guest here so be adaptable.
Is there anything you miss about the US or your old life in the States?
I was raised in central Florida. I really miss spanish moss on two-hundred-year old oak trees. But honestly, that’s about it. Obviously everyone misses their grandma. Duh. But it’s easy to forget about what you once considered necessary or a convenience when you’re gaining so much more in its place. I guess if I had to pick something though, I might choose security. Don’t get me wrong, the village where I live is (for the most part) extremely safe and really is that dream community where “it takes a village.” But you do have to depend on yourself more. I didn’t realize how coddled we are in the States. You can always call for help, there’s always medical assistance within like 45 minutes. There’s video surveillance everywhere. That’s not the case in “third world” countries. There isn’t always such things as accountability or consideration. Be prepared to take care of yourself. Not just safety wise either. When it comes to getting business done, don’t expect anyone’s advice to be the same as what you go through. You can have a hundred people say “this is what I had to do” but when it’s your turn, it could be totally different. We all walk our own paths. Expect the unexpected and be flexible.
What are your future plans?
Have you heard, “remember when you dreamed about what you have now”..? That’s where I’m at. Even after 3+ years (which my mom says feels like an eternity) I still feel like I’m in the ‘honeymoon stage.’ Even on the bad days, I get to be in this beautiful village on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. We have fresh, seasonal food, we have clean water, and children laughing as they roam the village freely- what more can you ask for? But seriously, I never thought I’d leave Florida and now I can’t imagine leaving Belize, so I really can’t say what my future holds. What will be will be. (But if it involved farm life in the mountains, I wouldn’t be upset!)