If you have white skin and you are in the Cayo District, they are going to want you to pay more. The Belizeans here think that if you have white skin, regardless of where you are from, that you are very wealthy.
What my husband, Howard, has found is that learning to speak a little Creole makes you somehow part of the country of Belize but I might be saying this wrong and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings nor step on anyone’s toes. People here in Belize are nice, in general. If you treat them nicely, they will do the same thing for you but there is still that little thing where because of your skin color, which is white, then it means you have a lot of money so they are expecting you to foot the bill all the time. You just have to tell them that you might have money but you do not want to spend it that way. Just speak up and tell them how you feel. It’s not about being American but it’s that you are not from here in Belize so automatically, some people might think that you have money because you are from another country.
It’s not that they treat foreigners badly but sometimes they don’t seem to know better. The Belizean dream is to have enough money and move to the US because the US, for them, is the land of milk and honey and paved with gold. To them, the US is a land of opportunities. So anybody who comes from anywhere else, they think that you have a lot because you come from a country that has a lot. However, this is changing a lot because with more access to the internet and television, people in Belize are starting to see and think a little bit differently because they realize that everybody is the same there and here. It is just a different environment.
In general, I don’t think Americans are treated any differently than someone from Guatemala, El Salvador, the UK, or from Europe, or Kenya. I couldn’t say that Belizeans are 100% welcoming to foreigners because there are some people who are resentful simply because that is the way they are but as a whole, Belizeans are open, friendly, and helpful. If you are lost, and you stop somewhere to ask for help, they will go out of their way to help you. They might even tell you to take them along and they will show you exactly where you are going!
Some Belizeans speak Creole, which is sort of a bad form of English. It is not difficult to learn. You just have to listen carefully and understand that we don’t pronounce the “th” and some letters are dropped off from the front or the back of a word. So as an example, instead of saying “the”, you say, “da.” Very quickly, you would learn to understand what anybody speaking Creole is saying. It’s not difficult at all.
(Creole- speaking expat, Howard Oldham in black cowboy hat with wife Wilana in black lace top, pictured at US embassy party in Belize, pictured.)