Travelling to another country is always a great experience that teaches you many things that you probably wouldn’t otherwise learn. I had the opportunity to do just that, only that I wasn’t only visiting for a short time, I was relocating for three years. I am a born Belizean and have lived in Belize all my life, however in 2010 I moved to Barbados. My move to Barbados wasn’t because I had gotten a job or because I was eager to leave my country, instead it was simply because my husband was going to study there and as a result our little family of four relocated.
Barbados is a beautiful Caribbean country that is surrounded by amazing, white sandy beaches that are simply irresistible. Walking to the beach is the norm in Barbados and you can get there within 5 – 10 minutes. That was one of the first things we did when we arrived, we walked to the nearest beach. The people are also very interesting and they take great pride in their country. They make an effort to keep their country clean and rarely will you see trash lying around on the streets. They are also very courteous to one another and would normally say good morning or good evening when you walk pass them. Respect is a great part of their culture and I love that about them.
However, even with all the beauty of the beaches and the pride of the people, my experience there made me deeply homesick and I learned to appreciate my country even more. It made me realize that there is no other place I would rather live than Belize. You may ask why? Why would I choose Belize over Barbados, after all, the beaches in Barbados are all in walking distance from almost anywhere you are.
Here are some reasons why I love Belize so much:
1. Belize has the best of both worlds
While Barbados has amazing white sandy beaches with beautiful clear blue waters, that’s all there is to it. Belize on the other hand, has some gorgeous beaches and many islands that will provide that rest and relaxation that you crave. Yet we also have some incredible Maya Ruins, underground caves, mountain tops and lush jungle that will provide that thrill and adventure that you seek. The reality is that you can be climbing a Maya Ruin in the morning and by the afternoon you can be by the beach side drinking an ice cold beer or Panty Ripper!
2. Caving in Belize is incredible
Belize is a small but very diverse country. We have our share of beaches but we also have some amazing Cave Systems. Barbados also has caves but I only know of two. They have the Animal Flower cave in North Point Barbados and the most popular cave which is Harrisons Cave. The Animal Flower cave should be filled with deep pools and sea anemones however that seems to be what it was long ago. The view out of the cave is the only amazing thing. Belize on the other hand has the Rio Frio Caves, Caves branch river system, Barton Creek Cave, Tiger Cave in Toledo, Che Chen Ha Cave and the most popular one which is Actun Tunichil Muknal or better known as the ATM Cave. These cave systems are filled with mystery, religion and tradition that will take you deep into the Maya Underworld. Some of these caves still hold artifacts and pottery that have been there for over a thousand years.
3. Amazing natural environment
Belize is a country where the sceneries will amaze you. While I enjoyed living in Barbados and enjoyed the sceneries that it offers, I realized that most of these sceneries were only the sea. After each time I would return to Barbados, I would realize how much more Belize offers. All of Barbados can be toured in one day but I can’t say the same for Belize. Every district that you visit in Belize immerses you into another world. You experience the lush jungle in the beautiful country side and gorgeous beaches at any of our cayes. I love that beautiful waterfalls can be found in many parts of the country and the snorkelling and diving offers breathtaking encounters with marine wildlife. Oh, and the Belize blue hole is one of the most amazing sites in the world.
4. Rich diverse cultures
Belize is a melting pot of cultures made up of the Creole, Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, Mennonites, Chinese and Hindu. All these people come together to make up a rich and diverse culture. Travel to any part of the country and you will be able to taste different dishes that are influenced by our cultures. Experience the cultural dances and explore the different lifestyles and beliefs. Our rich culture makes Belize unique and it gives you a look into the past that still remains in our present. Our culture is one that Belizeans are proud of and one that we eagerly share with everyone.
5. More affordable
One of the things that I appreciate the most about my country is the low cost of living. It was not until I moved that I realized that our prices are cheap, I went from spending around $150 – $200 USD a month on groceries to spending about $400 – $500 USD a month. Fruits, one of my delights, are very expensive. While I can still get 10 oranges for $.50 USD in Belize, that’s the cost of one in Barbados. The reason for Barbados’ high cost of living is the fact that they import everything since they are an island. This increases the price on their goods. Their sales tax at the moment is at a whopping 17.5%. Renting a house in Barbados is also very expensive. In Belize you can rent a nice, fully furnished house for about 400 – 500 USD a month while in Barbados I paid $750.00 USD for a small apartment.
6. Fresh Fruits and Juices
You may ask yourself why this is even a reason. I grew up in a country where fruits are abundant, where you can get freshly squeezed orange juice on the street sides with no preservatives and no sugar. I didn’t realize how much I would miss it until I moved away. I recall walking by the GAP in Barbados and looking at a sign that said: fresh natural juices sold. This of course immediately caught my attention. I was very excited since I hadn’t had a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in a while. I immediately purchased one and realized that it was not freshly squeezed, it was concentrate juice full of preservatives. It’s too expensive for people to sell fresh juices because fruits are expensive to buy and vendors rather buying the concentrate to make a quick profit.
7. Delicious Food
Barbados has some great food such as their Mahi Mahi fish, referred to as Dolphin, which can be found at Oistins. Yet it still cannot compare to the food in Belize. Because we are a multi cultural society, there are many different dishes and many flavors that excite anyone’s taste buds. Our dishes are prepared with different herbs and spices that make our dishes unique. The Barbados local dishes are somewhat more bland than what I am used to. One of their main dishes is Macaroni Pie, however it wasn’t as rich and cheesy as I would have expected it to be. Belize on the other hand has amazing local dishes such as Chilmole (Black Dinner) or Hudut. On every trip to Barbados I was sure to bring my local seasonings especially recado as that made our meals much tastier. I even took corn to Barbados since they don’t sell corn and I was able to make my cultural dishes such as Salbutes and Garnaches.
8. Genuine friendly people
Barbados is a country that has very courteous people, however they are very reserved. While they will greet you, they will rarely invite you to their houses. They would rather invite you to a restaurant or to a public location instead of their house. Belizeans on the other hand will immediately, without thinking, invite you over to their house for lunch or dinner. They may even do a Bar-B-Q and invite all their family and friends to welcome you to the country and to make sure you feel at home. Living in Barbados and facing this was a huge culture shock to me. People were friendly however they kept you at arm’s length.
9. Belizeans don’t discriminate
One of the things that made me appreciate my country even more is the fact that Belize does not discriminate as in other parts of the world. If we do have discrimination, it’s nothing compared to what I faced in Barbados. We are a very accepting people and we embrace each other and our diverse cultures. I was shocked when I arrived in Barbados and I was treated differently because I was not from there. I was only there for two days when we were told by an immigration officer to move back to our country, even though as CARICOM members we are legally entitled to live and work there under the Free movement of labor act. What was more upsetting was the fact that they would not allow my son to enroll in school while our papers were being processed. After many ups and downs and literally begging the immigration and the school, they finally allowed my son to attend. In Belize, no child would face that. We understand that children need an education therefore they are accepted while their legal documents are being processed.
Barbados was an experience, one that I don’t regret. It taught me things that I could never learn in any classroom. Living like a local immersed me in their country and made me experience and see things in a different way. It made me appreciate, who I am, where I come from and it made me a very proud Belizean.
Do you agree like my points? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.