In 2004 my wife and I sold our stuff, packed up our 2 children, ages 6 & 3, and moved to Belize without ever having visited here. Six years and another child later we are still here. Most days we still love it.
Our good friend in Florida had purchased beautiful property in western Belize, commissioned a few structures to be built here and offered us a chance to come down, start a business and live in the Belizean jungle. We didn’t immediately jump at the chance but pondered it for some time before making the leap. Jacquelyn and I had both spent much of our lives on the water and were, in fact, navy deep-sea divers for 10 and 12 years, respectively. At the time we got the offer we lived on a small island in southwest Florida where we lived right on the water and I was a charter captain taking people fishing & island hopping. Belize sounded ok but the jungle? What about the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world? You sure you don’t have anything available closer to that? In the end we went all in and here we are 6 years later.
Today we operate the business we founded called Barton Creek Outpost (www.BartonCreekOutpost.com). The Outpost caters to backpackers traveling through Belize, we offer free camping, rent tents and work with local tour companies showing people the amazing sites in this area. I won’t say we’ve got it figured out but we’ve received quite an education since we’ve been here and know a helluva lot more than the day we arrived. In the months following our arrival I heard from a few sources that we wouldn’t make it here and God only knows what tomorrow brings but here we are, still slugging. Floods, thieves, dengue fever and serious financial hardships aside we enjoy the amazing setting, our lifestyle, the people we meet and a country that is at once refreshing and exasperating.
Like many people who live away from their extended families our friends have become our surrogate families and we are blessed with great friends, most of them ex-pats in the same boat. While we are here year round several of our friends go to the US for the slowest part of the year, usually August – November or so. We miss them! The ex-pat community here is large, active and growing. Belize, being an English speaking country with favorable laws regarding land ownership and rights, is an easy place to relocate.
We home school our children, spend many days together as a family (even if we are working) and even make it to nearby San Ignacio for some occasional R&R. I think raising our children in this remote spot in the jungle might be easier than raising them in a more traditional circumstance. It doesn’t “take a village”, it takes our direct involvement and with our lifestyle we are more able to provide that. Homeschooling can be a challenge when we are busy with the Outpost and I admit to counting my time in their presence as quality time when I shouldn’t but I am very happy with where my kids are socially and, maybe only slightly less so, academically. I still have exposure to children raised by their teachers, babysitters & TV and I feel fortunate that we are able to raise them this way. I hope time proves that we have made the correct decision in that regard.
I am new to blogging in general but look forward to posting more in the very near future. My postings will mostly center around our experience here in Belize and what we have done to carve out a life here. I look forward to sharing our experiences.