At the end of January 2013 we put Barton Creek Outpost on the market and by the middle of February we had a deposit on it. The Outpost sold, we hugged some necks, shed some tears, packed a few things and after 8 and a half years, left Belize.
We are now three weeks into readjusting to the US and I have realized a few things during that time. American grocery stores make my head spin. The pledge of allegiance at Little League games makes my eyes leak. I like good roads and air conditioning. The US is incredibly wealthy.
The abundance in the US is hard to get used to after being surrounded by so much poverty. NEWSFLASH: The people of the US are not in financial distress. Oh but everyone is in debt, it’s all credit cards, blah, blah blah. Here’s an idea, take your family to a 3rd world country for a year, live in a similar fashion to the locals. Return home. Notice how nice everything is, notice the air conditioning everywhere, notice the pavement on the street, notice the highways and mall parking lots & restaurants packed with shiny cars, notice the lack of burglar bars on every window. If the Fickle Financial Wonderers of Wall Street use the spending habits of average Americans to help determine confidence in the economy, look around and see how much money is being spent. It is staggering. Don’t listen to the fear-mongers, you are still wealthier than most of the world. Chillax…
I am not opposed to people making and spending money. Some of my Belizean friends extoll the perceived virtues of the “moneyless world” and the peace it allegedly brings… I mean, apart from the murder rate, alcoholism, physical abuse etc….AND, even though, according to a friend of mine, “the u.s. is the known leader of detestable excess” I am personally happy to see nice things again. I don’t think abundance, wealth or having nice things is detestable or evil. Even my 5 year old daughter (born in Belize) appreciates the smooth roads in the US. I subscribe to the Ann Ryand view, “America’s abundance was created not by public sacrifices to the common good, but by the productive genius of free men who pursued their own personal interests and the making of their own private fortunes. They did not starve the people to pay for America’s industrialization. They gave the people better jobs, higher wages, and cheaper goods with every new machine they invented, with every scientific discovery or technological advance- and thus the whole country was moving forward and profiting, not suffering, every step of the way.”
I love Belize for its natural beauty. I love Belize for the freedom its people have. I love living there because of the perspective it gives a Tennessee redneck on racism. I appreciate that it is not a “stuff driven” society and keeping up with the Jonses’ isn’t a way of life. I love that about Belize. However, I do think that the majority of the Belizean native population could use a good dose of M.O.T.I.V.A.T.I.O.N. I have said it a hundred times, Belize doesn’t have an unemployment problem, Belize has a work ethic problem. That might ruffle a few feathers but I know this, if you are a foreigner and have lived in Belize for a few years you just said, “Amen”. Can I get a witness?
Are there hard working Belizeans? Of course. Do I want Belize to be like the US? No. Can Belize and the US learn from one another? Yes. Let’s face it, Belize is laid back. People go to Belize on vacation and want to move there because it is laid back. They soon find out their contractor is laid back, the electrician is laid back, the mechanic is laid back, the waitress is laid back, the majority of the workforce is laid back. Its great to be laid back until you need something done. Want the opposite of laid back? Visit the Mennonites in Spanish Lookout, Belize, for example. The streets are awesome, the buildings are nice, the bathrooms are clean, there is “customer service”, gasp. Customer service is so foreign to most Belizean businesses that I doubt there is even a word for customer service in the kriol dialect. (Easy, I’m kidding, some have a vague understanding the general concept.) Are there exceptions? Of course, but they are exceptions. Is there bad customer service in the Midway Restaurant in Spanish Lookout? Yes! Could the US benefit from being more free, less uptight and generally more laid back? Yes, yes and yes.
Being away has given me perspective that I hope I am forever grateful for. Coming back to the States I am astounded by the relative wealth the people of this country enjoy. The wealth here is not an accident but the product of abundant natural resources and generations of dedicated men and women with vision and an incredible work ethic. In the US today we are “standing on the shoulders of giants”, products of the great generations before us. Like many others, I am dismayed by some of the things happening in the United States. Unlike many others I just returned from life in a “developing country” and I see the US as an incredible land of opportunity and wealth. My fellow Americans, quit whining, you’re embarrassing the giants.
A final note, for those of you who continue to tell me how screwed up the United States of America is but you haven’t lived anywhere else, save your breath.