Don’t Worry, Be A Tourist!

Living in Belize City for almost 3 month, my positionality to make a few observatory comments I believe is permitted and holds some adequacy. I would like to start off by sharing my remark on the tourist village in the city. A section of the city entirely cut off from local Belizeans (unless they work there) but all access granted to foreigners (congratulations to me). Oh yes, I had no problem slipping into the cold sore of Western consumerism that sits on the brink of a developing country, staring into the mouth of poverty. Through better words to describe what I mean, the village looks out onto the canal as it connects with the sea. A pictorial scene of the South side buildings – about 100 meters – sit parallel from it (great view by the way).

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The village is filled with cruise ship tourists and only operates when there is a scheduled ship (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in this season). They come in on grand polished ferries which dock and allow the tourists to waddle down the bridge into the village. Why do I sound like this village is the gateway of utter despair? Because that is how I felt! I was curious of what was in this secluded part of the city and I regret it.

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I stood in the middle of the main boardwalk and just stared at a sign saying “Welcome to Belize” as white foreigners glued to it posing with coconut drinks sprouting frilly straws in their hands, capturing their moment of being in Belize. I took pictures of them taking pictures of themselves because it was a circus for free to me. Truth, they were not even standing on the grounds of Belize, they were still in the free zone.

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I got bored quickly. I realized that it was nothing more than a shopping trip.  You are on a cruise ship (where there are shopping malls) then, you get off of to do more shopping on land. Wow, mind blowing. But wait, it’s different BECAUSE you can meet working Belizeans. The village is a mini replica of Belize and they even tried to replicate “street food” and “street vendors”, that was it, I had to leave.

Good news? There are tour guides to the city and the tourists had free will to go about the city. This also included other tourist destinations like Mayan archeological sites or go cave tubing. Many Belizeans see this village as “money coming into their country”, but don’t hold your breath to believe it “helps” alleviate poverty.

But how can I get frustrated with good folks enjoying their vacation? Doesn’t everyone deserve some R and R. I exited the village and walked down the street, scratch that, I actually had to dash because the women working as hair braiders were fixated to cornrow my head – terrible idea I told them. I managed to finally catch a bus back home from Albert St (main downtown street).

Afterwards, I realized while waiting for the bus that I was approached for money, at least three times more that day compared to previous days. I have promised myself not to head downtown when there is a big pretty boat floating on the horizon. I am not one of those tourists I tell you, but I do look like one.

Score: Capitalism = 1, Monika = 0.

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