I published my last post on June 26th and then I fell silent for a few reasons. First off, I had nothing good to say, and trying to make sense of continual changes and conflicting information was wearing me out. So I decided to take a long break.
I was gearing up to tell you about my special news back when it happened in September, and this post was 3/4 written, but I could not find the inspiration to write in my happily depressed state of mind.
Thankfully I snapped myself back to finish what I started.
My Big News
After waiting five years after my residency to apply, and two years of my application being in process, I was accepted and became a Belizean citizen on September 9th, 2020.
I knew I should be prepared to hustle after my citizenship shoes had been sworn in with my friend Jenna not long before, she only had a few day’s notice to prepare. Not everyone has “official clothing” here and it is not uncommon for people to get a friend’s help to dress a bit more formally (sleeves and closed-toe shoes) when the occasion requires.
As for my turn, it came up even faster, and it proves as much as we joke around about Belize time, there are definitely moments when you have to move lightning fast. I got the email at 3:21 pm on my 53rd birthday that they were holding a swearing-in at 11:00 am the next day along with an apology for the short notice.
What a great birthday present.
I took 20 seconds to decide if it was doable and wrote Ms. Shadel Young back with a yes. She is the woman at Nationality in Belmopan that did a great job of handling my file and guiding me to completion.
The fact that Jenna also went first helped me decide on how I was going to travel. She opted for a water taxi from Ambergris Caye to Belize City and made the $250 (Belize currency) drive to Belmopan with a hired car. Her husband Herman went along for the ride.
Not wanting a long trip on an over crowed boat during COVID, I quickly booked Tropic Air flights from San Pedro to Municipal and return. Also not wanting to spend $250 on a private transfer, I planned on taking the slightly more populated $6 BZ bus option. Somedays you just have to navigate people and being too close.
Once in Belize City, I decided to get a cab on the fly. It worked perfectly and my driver John advised me that due to COVID travel passenger limits, I should go to Novello Bus station, instead of taking the Cemetery Road bus stop shortcut.
I emailed Ms. Shadel that the 8:45 am bus was full and that I was close to first in line for the 9:15. You can bet I barely moved a step from my spot. I was getting on that bus. She sent me an instant reply that all was good, and I should make it just in time for the ceremony. That put my mind at ease so I could sit back and enjoy the ride.
I also put my imaginary forcefield up as there was a big lack of social distancing happening while we were waiting and boarding. At that time the busses were sprayed before boarding began, operating at the full seat capacity but there was no standing allowed.
I made it to the Belmopan bus terminal just in time and easily caught a cab to get me to the Immigration/Nationality building. It was completely empty inside and they had everyone waiting out front for their appointments.
After a short while, we were called to our big moment and led around the back of the building. Due to protocol, there were only a few of us getting sworn in, I was lucky number 8. (Refer to Swearing-in the picture near the top of the page.)
Sometimes I go shopping after visiting the government offices to add to the joy of my accomplishment. I like to check out the bigger grocery store, health food store, and Belmopan market. That day, I was tired of wearing a mask for hours on end, so I did not bother to hang around afterward and booked it to the bus station. Thankfully I was able to wait by myself outside.
I scored a nice colorful ride home. As you can see in the picture below, my personal space disappeared close to boarding time. Our country is just not practiced enough to get a gold medal in social distancing. I do see the irony of it, though. It happened on the plane too. As you can see in my featured image above, they had seats blocked out at the airport while waiting for the plane to give each other space. After a stop at Caye Caulker, a third passenger was added to the back seat, so there was instantly no space.
Almost back at Municipal Airport, feeling excited and grateful. I was ready to set foot through my front door for the first time as a Belizean Citizen, take off my mask, and celebrate. This moment had been 14 years in the making.
Pictures for this post were inspired by my friend Magistrate Adolph Lucas. Knowing what I was doing, aside from delaying an errand to the Town Council for him, Adolph asked me for a visual version of my day and made me feel like I had a road trip buddy. Our mutual friend Aimee was going to come too, however, not enough advanced notice put the kibosh on that.
The COVID Crippling
Of course, it has not all been blue skies and smooth sailing, like my trip above. The second reason I have not written in a while is the state of my business crash due to COVID had me putting all my energy into trying to feel better. Doing so is not always an easy task when you are in what feels like an endless freefall of uncertainty.
COVID life has been continuously disorienting and life-changing for many businesses, including mine. There are signs of unasked for change as grocery stores shift their stock around, and many now have empty fridge space. I see friends work on reinventing their tourism-based businesses and adapting to a big income slowdown, new rules, and travellers’ lack.
Our Belizean economy has been badly crippled. Some estimate it will be a good 2-4 years before we get anywhere near to a new normal. At the rate this slow-motion trainwreck is going worldwide, I sadly agree.
Personally, being faced without a monthly paycheck since March has been tough. Add the uncertainty of the airlines and the removal of commission potential as they change their ways to survive, and my income has been left in the dust.
I feel like a leaf blowing in the wind, and in my case, the winds of change blew in more ways than one. I was faced with a COVID move and having to find a new place to live in.
Not only was it an unplanned move during a pandemic, but it also lined up with the last two hurricanes. The old saying “when it rains it pours” was applicable. My old apartment suffered water tank flooding during both storms. Because I was rained out from going there for days, each time, I had no idea there was a pool of standing water covering a large portion of my apartment – ugh.
A Brighter Future
We just have to work on knowing we will have a brighter (and in my case dryer) tomorrow and keep making it happen day by day until we finally gain some sort of smoother direction forward and return on our tourism economy.
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23 thoughts on “Finally, Something Good To Say And It’s Big!”
Congratulations on your citizenship. I always enjoy my trips to Belize and I find your blogs interesting and informative. Thank you.
Congratulations, and hope for better times. We love Ambergris and look forward to returning. Thanks for reminding us of our great holidays. Eleanor and Alan U.K.
First time I read your letter, I like and I will continue to follow.
Congratulations Laurie! I am thrilled to hear of your new citizenship. While I have missed your regular writings, I can understand the lack of positive content during these trying times. Keep your head up and we will all get through this together!!!
Congratulations Laurie! That is good news. We had to cancel our trip this year but look forward to visiting soon and supporting the economy there!! Brighter day are ahead!
Laurie – Although we only spent a short time together, I continue to admire and live vicariously through you. I’m sorry for the troubles you have been through, but becoming a Belize citizen is such a great thing! After 19 years of visits, I hope to be able to visit again soon. I MISS BELIZE! Sandra
Congrats on your citizenship! We know all about the struggle through the slog of paperwork, but we haven’t even been able to get residency yet even though we’ve been here 6 years!
Tacogirl got a great birthday present! Congrats! Enjoyed may stay February 2017. Would like to go back someday…
Hi Lori Mel here herb wife way to go I’m so happy for you hope we can see each other soon belizean now hoping you know spanish call me 6274818 would love to catch up enjoy the xmas and a happy new year’s
Your post showed up on my Google news page. I was looking into Belize as a future retirement home and Google’s algorithms thought your post would be interesting to me. They were so right! But not in the way they may have thought! You see, reading about your problems from the pandemic and weather helped me feel better about my own struggles. I own an office building in Salt Lake City Utah. Now days everyone is working from home. My building is 70% empty. I put it up for sale in October but if I miss one more mortgage payment the bank said they will forclose on the property. At this very moment my dear wife is applying for a 0% credit card so she can help keep the the business solvent until we can get the building sold.
Thank you for sharing your troubles. It helped me feel much better!
Congratulations, Paizana! Now you are indeed my country folk. Well deserved having waited so long. I enjoyed reading your blog.
Congratulations Laurie!! What a beautiful event.
Hi Taco girl! Congrats to you and I’m very happy to hear from you and read your post. I really miss the island and look forward to visiting again. I’m going make a contribution via PayPal but first I to clarify something. You spelled your name Laurie with the email for the PayPal donation but I noticed in the section where it talked about you growing up dyslexic your name is spell Laure which does not have the “i”. I want to make sure I send the money to the correct account. Please advise and let me know. Thanks!
Congratulations Laurie, keep your chin up. This time next year we will be once more enjoying the Belizean Christmas and New Year that we all love
Every time I check out your wonderful blog, it takes me back to super friendly people, blue water,great food and a lot of fun. Thank you I will have a friend let me use her PayPal!
Congratulation on your citizenship! My family had been to Belize twice and had visited your blogs multiple times. They are very real and informative. We hope to visit Belize again soon so please keep on writing and love to hear your perspective on everything.
Good things ARE worth waiting for…congratulations Laurie!
Hi Laurie, Glad to hear about your citizenship. Keep your head up, life will get back to normal hopefully sooner than we think.
COVID has crushed so many of us income-wise Charles. I recently read the Statistical Institute of Belize reported almost 39,000 lost jobs/income in Belize as a result of the pandemic and hurricanes definitely did not help.
Thanks, Danielle, wishing you well on your potential future citizenship journey.
Whenever we visited Belize we always commented as to how lucky the citizens were living in paradise. But obviously we overlooked how many live paycheck to paycheck with no life line in times of hurricane, flooding, or now an economy busting pandemic. If you have been to Belize and enjoyed their hospitality I suggest you find some way to offer help if you can.
Congrats, Laurie! So happy you got the citizenship you have been waiting/working towards. Maybe one day that will be me, too 🙂