I’ve already been through some hustle and bustle since living here in Belize City. In the past two weeks, I’ve somewhat figured out the local prices, got better at ignoring stray dogs barking (early morning or at night) in my neighborhood, avoiding to fall into the side walk holes, letting every taxi that honks at me, know that I’m straight (means I’m good in Belize) and lastly, keeping up with understanding creole (broken Belize English).
I’ve heard a mix of different comments from Belizeans about living in Belize City. Some have mentioned to me that you need to be very careful (depending on the street), that many Belizeans want to help and are nice, Belizeans won’t bother foreigners because we bring in the money, or, in the city, you are a target because you have money. Gets pretty confusing to figure out my positionality. My favorite advice was, go with your gut feeling when you’re out or talking to someone you just met (and I will take that).
My accommodation in Belize is in the Northern part of the city (it has less gang violence compared to the south side). I live in this white apartment -that needs a splash of color – in fact, it reminds me of a prison (tiny bit). Yes, I do have bars on my window and a security guard on the main floor. This area is away from tourists and it’s one of the affluent communities (sort of a suburbia).
Here are pictures showing inside the place:
(I do have a roommate who is another Cuso volunteer from Canada – she works at a different organization).
There is also a park (called Dolphin Park) in front of my building that has a lovely gazebo that you can sit, look out to the sea and watch the fisherman fishing in the sunset. I’ve been told by a few locals that you can actually see dolphins swimming in the distance early morning – hence the name of the park.
Oh, but to get to the gazebo, you need to cross a destroyed dock and students or people from the community like to have a few drinks there too. This happens especially on Thursdays because here in Belize people call it “tirsty tursdays” (thirsty Thursdays) where locals get together and drink after work… a lot. Some Belizeans come with nets and fish at the park too. Unfortunately, the park hasn’t been kept since hooligans would come around and vandalize it when it was new.
On my walk to work, at the side of the road where the rain sewage is collected, there are holes dug into the ground and as I pass, there are a number of blue crabs that scurry into their burrow. Black iguanas (some are massive in size) inhabit around the area too, but it’s better to stay clear of them since they are aggressive – unlike the nice green iguana.
Is it dangerous for a young white female (me) here in the city? Well, I have not encountered anything that put my life at risk. Even the unstable dock I cross to get to the gazebo has a trick to it – pick two parallel panels and walk across.
I look at all these challenges and adapt to them. I understand this is not my home surrounding and that is why I have to take each new obstacle, figure it out and go with it.