Living Safely In Belize

machete and sheath – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI hear you are Belize bound.  Maybe I can help.  No, packing plates wasn’t what I had in mind.  Sorry.  Be of good cheer, though, that your porcelain will remain safely out of my CLUMSY hands.

Now then, let’s consider some handy things you may want to toss in that last box before you tape the top.  First, have you included a goodly number of chains among your household items?  You look at me wildly.  Take it easy, now.  I am not prying.  Another purpose for the chains I propose.

No chains, eh?  …… Alright.

Of course, these chains would require the companionship of a lock, or locks, as many as you have chains, to be sure.  Thus, my second question follows predictably.  Any padlocks packed?

“Of course not,” you reply.  Well, I had to ask.

Pets.   Oh, you have Mitten’s cat carrier ready and little Freddy’s fish bowl safely tucked away.  Fine and dandy!  How about a dog?  I mean the sort of dog that is easily disgruntled, with a snarly snout, gurgling growl, bad bark, and a pair of lethal canines.  Got one of those lying around somewhere between boxes?

No?  …….. Hum.

Golly, I am almost afraid to continue.  You’ll certainly torpedo me out the door over my next query.  Just the same, here goes.

Got a gun?

Saints Preserve!  You almost landed that paperweight right between my eyes.  Alright, so you have scruples when it comes to family armaments.  I understand.    Allow me this question, then.  How are you when it comes to wielding a machete?

Don’t bother; I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

Now that I have scared the pants of you, let’s regain our equilibrium – and put the pants back on.

First, a calm qualification.  Things happen anywhere, and I feel Belize more congenial to expats than some Central American countries.  Let me now benefit you (or not) with my own little testimony.  It is by no means a generalization and may be beyond the norm.

Like you, I did not pack the items I’ve mentioned.  No, I learned about the need of these “fortifications” AFTER my move to Belize, some ten years ago.  Even more disconcerting, the need of padlocks and chains and dogs and guns and so on arose after a slew of situations blindsided me – really catching me with my “pants down,” if you will.

Still, let us not pull the emergency brake on your move.   Much of what I encountered was simply a matter-of-course.  My problem was ignorance of “the course.”  Maybe I can help by removing some blinders for you.

I am not a patron of the current thinking that life should be risk free, and I don’t endeavor to make it so.  It dilutes a zest for life and smothers adventure.  Admittedly, such insouciance has not always served me well, one proof being my sudden awakening to certain realities in Belize.

Consequently, you can well imagine my dismay when informed - on the very day I was moving into my new house!  -  I needed to secure my outside hot water tank and other appliances because of thieves.  Thus, the chains and padlocks we’ve discussed.

No sooner had I recovered from that revelation when the next one presented itself: I needed a dog, a guard dog, and I would be feeding it that evening!  On the tail of THAT announcement, while still in the midst of my moving upheaval, I learned the reason behind these safeguards.

My locked-down new life came courtesy of an alternative concept regarding private property.  Simply put, if one is not wise enough to chain and lock his belongings and place a dog on watch, one deserves to have thieves for “guests.”  Did you say something about a justification for stealing?

By sundown I had divorced myself from my easy-going outlook on life – at least my Belize life.       

Of course, I knew of this mindset as a fixture of other cultures.  I just did not expect to meet it in Belize.  Its presence exerted itself enough on life there to restrict weekend outings to just that.  Anything beyond a two-day absence meant facing the prospect of arriving back home and finding no home, or a stripped-down house.  Forget about the chains and dog. 

Prior to my advent in Belize, I noted the oft-made, quaint claim that life there was like the old American Wild West.  I might recommend taking that claim to heart with regard to living safely in Belize.

Thus, when galloping through Wild West Belize around Christmas time, especially if you are trotting down the Hummingbird Highway, that gun I mentioned earlier may come in handy.  Besides an American Wild West counterpart, Belize also can claim a Robin Hood, complete with merry cohort’s who “canvas” said highway, taking from the rich and giving to the poor at Christmas.  Of course, if you are the charitable sort that people say you are, this definitely will be the ultimate charity and certainly will obtain for “thee” many gold stars in “thy” heavenly crown.

You are not wringing your hands.  Good!  I am happy that I have not dissuaded you from transplanting yourself in Belize.  Remember, much of this is simply precaution.   On this wise, Chopper, your carnivorous canine cop, will more routinely deter the terrifying (to me) tarantula from trespassing than a crook.  His watch might even extend to discomfiting snakes. 

Just in case I am wrong about Chopper’s abilities, let’s revisit your skill with a machete (pictured above).  Besides being useful for cutting the grass, well, it will also be your weapon of choice against a villainous viper, the Fer-de-lance, a serpent that fears nothing.  Come to think of it – even better than Chopper - that sneaky snake may be your best protection against any and every unwelcome visitor, provided you can discourage it from making you it’s first victim. 

You see, there are other things to consider when it comes to safety in Belize, or anywhere, for that matter. 

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