The grocery shopping in Placencia is great. They have multiple grocery stores. When it comes to clothing, there's not a lot of options there, because Placencia is just a small, tiny village.
A lot of the local people there make their own clothes. People there who can afford it go out to shop. So “shopping,” as we in the United States would think of it is probably non-existent other than for a couple of tour shops that might have lot of t-shirts that say “Belize,” “Placencia,” or “Let's Go Scuba Diving” on them or other tourism-type notations. You’ll also find some shorts, but not much.
For everyday things like underwear, socks, and shoes you're not going to find a whole lot of that in Placencia. If you want to get those, you have to go to Belize City for the day. It’s not unusual to just fly up there. It's only a half hour flight, so it's worth it for them just to periodically just say “I'm going shopping in Belize (City) today.” They go out in the morning, take an early flight, shop in the stores up there, and then come back.
Expats have an advantage because we have visitors a lot, and so people will bring stuff down to us. We may ask our friends to buy a particular item at Old Navy, for example, and bring it to us when they visit. We may also ask them to go to Wal-Mart or Target and pick up particular items and bring them when they visit. Expats do have that resource that the locals don't have.
I doubt if people in Placencia buy online because the mail system here is not the greatest in the world as far as timeliness is concerned. I have oftentimes mailed stuff down that took a week for to show up. And I'd wonder if it is even going to ever arrive. So I wouldn't do shopping by mail, and it is also very expensive to ship from the US to down here. When we're working at the resort, we typically will not ship stuff down. We'll ask people to bring it with them, or we'll hire a service that is bringing stuff in for a bunch people all at one time.
When the expats go to visit the US or they go to visit other places, they buy then and come back. They'll pack an extra suitcase and fill it up with stuff they want.
When you live in Belize, you live very differently; you live with fewer things. The people who move to Belize come to that conclusion pretty quickly and prefer to have fewer things. Many go there with that desire in mind. They think, "I don't need all this stuff any more. I can live much simpler and easier, quiet and more peaceful."
Keep in mind, too, that Placencia has a “one temperature climate,”; it's always hot. In the winter, it's hot. It's funny that if it gets below 70 degrees at night, the native Belizeans put on sweaters. There have been a couple of times where I wish I had sweater, and I'd wear long pants, but I just wear a long-sleeve shirt because it's a windy night, getting down to 65 degrees. It's cold, and it feels chilly. But in general, you're not wearing anything else but shorts and a t-shirt. Maybe once in a while if you go out to a nicer restaurant, you put on a polo shirt.
(Colorful and intricate made by the Mayans in Belize, pictured.)