Best Laid Plans
Have you ever had one of those moments where you start peeling a sticker off something and immediately realize that you should not have started that project? I had that happen to me a a few occasions. Thankfully for my silver exacto knife, one of the VIP things I brought with me from Canada I was able to scrape it off. I wish I had brought more tools with me, specifically my hot glue gun and my dad’s staple gun. For some reason Paul did not think a glue gun would go over well with customs. My thinking I was already packing everything but the kitchen sink in our 4 suitcases and a bag of kites so what was one more crazy thing? 🙂 In the end I let him win that packing battle.
As many of you know the decision to move here for us came after one 2 week visit and it took us 2 years to “get our shit together” before I put my food down and one day I said “we are buying tickets for six months out and that is all the time we will have to make it happen” and we did.
This past weekend at the Cancer Society Blood drive, Thierry and Gail stopped by to say hi and meet me in person after several emails back and forth before their move. It was nice to finally meet in person and hear a bit about their trip with dog in tow, how pleased they were with Tropic staff through that process. It made me smile to hear them talk about things that 90% of people who move here go through such as the realization that they brought things they did not need and left behind things they now wished they had not.
While the happy couple are enjoying both their new island life, they are still experiencing an adjustment process and adapting to the idea of not really having a timetable or schedule.
I asked Thierry if he would share their story with you and he was more than willing on behalf of the two of them.
Thierry (and Gayle) Duhamel’s account of moving to Belize
Our adventure to the tropics started as a research project. We had a 10 year plan for retirement. After working in Houston for six months and realizing that the rat race was not for me our plan was revised to a 5 year plan. The choice of Belize was made after exploring a few other islands, English is spoken, stable economy, cost of living, the number of expats already here and everyone is so damn nice. As everyone knows the economy is the driving force for everything and it was also for us. I was found to be redundant in my employment and this changed our plans to a 6 week plan. The preparations for this change of life were hectic at best but with good preparations it can and did go smoothly. We followed every blog concerning expatriates in Belize and more specifically San Pedro. The information we could get from them was invaluable to our preparations.
Everything started by us setting up a “drop dead” date for our adventure to begin. Once that was done everything was planned accordingly. The selling of all vehicles and furnishings is a humbling experience at best. It was hard to see our hard earned material possessions being basically auctioned off to the highest bidder. If you can convince yourself that these are just material things and do not define you, it makes the process a little easier. We sold all furnishings and vehicles successfully. We kept our personal items like art and photos in a storage locker until we can bring them here.
We brought a dog with us on this adventure and to everyone thinking of bringing a dog it is very doable, you just have to start early to have it completed in time. The pet will need every vaccination you can think plus a couple we had never heard of before. Our vet in Katy, TX was great and enlightened us just in time since we apparently needed a form stamped from a USDA vet. Of course the closest USDA office is in Austin. You will also need an import permit from BAHA (Belizean Animal Health Authority). This should be your first step as this took us three weeks to get. To be more specific it took 2 weeks to get hold of someone and 1 week to get the import permit. Once you get the whole lot of paperwork everything goes smoothly, at least it did for us. As I’m sure everyone has read somewhere there are 2 airlines flying into San Pedro, Maya Air and Tropic Air. We chose Tropic Air and it was the right decision for us. They were very accommodating and helpful in getting our dog from customs, through check in and then onto the plane.
Our arrival was pretty much uneventful, which is not a bad thing as everything went according to plan. We arrived on September 1st, probably the hottest month of the year. I’m anxious as to our electrical bill as I’ve heard it is very expensive here. We’re trying to keep the A/C to a minimum with a general temperature of approximately 78 degrees F. We shall see next month. This is all part of the expat experience which you have to expect. Groceries were another eye opening experience. We are quickly adapting to buying local products which if I may say so are quite good. It is just a matter of finding a store that you like. Since this is low season it does give us a more sedate pace to adapt to the island life and meet up with other expats and locals. I’m sure it will be quite hectic once the tourist season starts.
This was an experience that my wife and I had not planned on so early but it is turning out much better than we had anticipated. The people are friendly and helpful, there is everything you might need here for a quieter pace of life. Sure not everything is rosy but compared to where we came from it is paradise. The one big thing we’ve tried to instill in each other is that we are here to live and not vacation and this means a different mindset. We’re ready to face our new lives here. We gave ourselves six months to make a decision as to whether this is a place for us and at least for me I doubt it will take that long at all.