After three weeks in Florida, it was time to return home to Ambergris Caye, Belize. This post reflects my personal preferences. But it touches upon a few of the reasons expats enjoy the lifestyle on our Isla Bonita.
IÂve been living on this exotic, quirky Caribbean island for almost four years now. And these conference jaunts remind me of why I'm happy to come back to our rather unusual little world.
- Beaches with a Barrier Reef ViewÂ Â There are many gorgeous beaches in Florida. But I missed seeing our stunning barrier reef and crystal clear, aqua blue waterÂ
Admittedly, we are spoiled.
- No need for a road map on Ambergris Caye. Driving is easy on the island, although bumpy on the dirt roads that haven't yet been paved. Â There are only a few roads to master. No 8 lane freeways in this country... And we mainly drive golf carts on Ambergris Caye. Â Forget about road rage! Every time I visit the USA it takes a while for me to re-adjust to freeways and expensive road tolls. IÂd forgotten how much time people spend in cars in the USA. I'd rather spend time walking on the beachÂ
- No Building on Ambergris Caye Exceeds 4 Stories Â On every Florida beach walk, (on the eastern Atlantic shore), we passed one huge condominium building after another. Granted, I didnÂt visit all the beach townsÂ But IÂm relieved this isnÂt allowed on Ambergris Caye. (For example, ourÂ first building at Baymen Garden will be three stories.)
Plenty of Restaurants are on the Beach - I did expect to find a series of cute restaurants on the beach in Florida. No such luck. Â So tonight weÂll head to town for a tasty dinner at Wild Mangoes, or Blue Water Grill, spitting distance from the Caribbean Sea.
- A Break from Shopping Malls Â Admittedly, itÂs easy to shop in the USA. But Florida struck me as one extended shopping mall. Take the Sawgrass Mills Mall, near Ft. Lauderdale. ItÂs one of the largest malls in the USA. On a Sunday it was so crowded it felt like the Christmas shopping rush. It was an effort just to navigate around other shoppers. And I was stressed out at the possibility of losing track of my rental car in the series of parking lots. Â Really! We donÂt have shopping mauls in Belize. But we get to know the owners of each of the shops in town. Each time we shop, there is time to chat with the owner. Â And they are usually happy to place a special order for usÂ
- Few Hurricanes - Ironically, the weather reports predicted that hurricane Rina would hit Belize and the Yucatan. My husband, Mike, actually put up our hurricane shutters. But, as is most often the case, Rina blew right by Belize. She visited Mexico Â then headed for Florida. So I experienced the Rina deluge while in Florida. There was plenty of flooding. Fortunately, Belize only gets about 1/10 of the number of hurricanes that Florida does.
- Plenty of Room - With only 330,000 people in Belize, there is plenty of room to breathe. Â We do get some crowds here on the island during the major holidays. But nothing like the crowds of major cities in the USA.
A Strong Sense of Community Â Visiting a populated area of Florida reminded me that I barely ever spoke with my neighbors when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I returned to San Pedro yesterday, my husband picked me up at the airstrip. As we drove back home, Â a variety of friends passed, shouting out, ÂWelcome back, Ann. How was your trip?Â I love the friendly environment in this small townÂ
In all fairness, I didnÂt mean to pick on Florida, in particular. The two conferences I attended were outstanding. The people were wonderful, and helpful. We dined at a variety of good restaurants. The markets were high quality, with a dizzying array of products to choose from.
But some expats have chosen to embrace a simpler, less expensive, lifestyle. This g post gives a perspective of one alternate lifestyle approach.
We still have the infrastructure we need here, on Ambergris Caye. Â Many of us are on the internet every day, often working from our home offices. Â Electricity hardly ever goes off. Â TV channels are plentiful. And we get most everything we need on the island, most of the time. And that is ok.
The sense of community, the islandÂs stunning beauty, and low stress lifestyle, are worth any tradeoffs weÂve make. Â ItÂs easy to take a short trip back to the USA, or Mexico, when we need a big city, or shopping fix.
If you would like to check out Ambergris Caye, come join us for a Grand Baymen Chill Weekend. Â Click here for more info...