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As a gringo, I have often wondered exactly what my Belizean friends that I work with and live around and interact with on a daily basis really think about me and mine. I guess it's based upon that paranoia we US Americans have learned to live with, especially intensified in the last years since the events of September 11, 2001.

So to get a proper understanding I contacted a Belizean expat that now lives in the United States and plans to return home to his homeland for good. He explained it quite clearly, for he has a way of doing that better than most people I know. What he said when I asked, "As far as I know 90% of Belizeans love Gringos. There are always those people who don't like anyone unless they are almost carbon copies of themselves. What I have noticed with some gringos for the most part when they are drunk, they become condescending, sometimes down right insulting. That really turns people off and Belizeans are no different."

My friend from Belize now living in the US state of Florida continued, "For the most part people like (gringo) Americans the most I guess because there are more (US) Americans around and if you notice we try to pattern ourselves after (US) Americans. Hell, even the G.O.B. (Government of Belize) adapted some U.S. laws, which in my opinion sometimes isn't necessarily best for Belize. Enough said on that subject."

I decided to ask my expat Belizean friend if his fellow Belizeans had any labels regarding us gringos. He told me, "As far as I know Belizeans refer to gringos as ‘white buay’, or if they are black, black American, they refer to you as ‘da Yankee’ or just ‘Yankees’, whether you’re from the northern or southern part of the U.S. As a whole, (US) Americans are well loved in Belize. Probably more so than Belizean-Americans are and there is a simply reason for that. A lot of Belizeans go back to Belize and they are more (US) American than (US) American born Americans. A few, not a majority, conveniently forget how to speak Creol. Even after only a year or two away. They try to show off a lot, which is a turn off to most (Belizean) people."

My Belizean friend and I, it should be noted, have never met. We have a common interest and have therefore been drawn together via the Internet. So we now exchange several messages a week, and over the course of the months of correspondence I have come to admire and certainly respect his opinion. As he told me just today, " I'm proud of my African and European heritage, but most of all I'm proud to be a Belizean, brought up the way I was. I've even been thinking I'll sell my house here (in the states) to get the cash I need. I need to be home in Belize soon."

I like my expat Belize friend that now calls Florida home. But I have to admit, some of those so-called friends that I have known for years in Belize never cease to amaze me. I have one friend that was actually instrumental by indirectly allowing me to meet the mother of my two children, she is my wife and soulmate. In fact, he is the one Belizean that I have known the longest, we have been friendly now for over ten years.

That said, things were fine between my old Belizean friend and this old gringo until we decided to get into business together. I will not go into the actual details here of the deal or how it went sour since the magazine editors would probably delete the text or employ the tactics used by rogue intelligence agencies sighting national security concerns when they blacken out all the pertinent information in a memoradum or report that might be deemed controversial.

I can say though, that it was a business deal that would have benefited all parties concerned. Indeed, it was a three way deal, two gringos and one in-country Belizean, and it was structured to equally provide an investment windfall for all of the principles. As outlined, one of the gringos would put up the money, the other gringo would work out all the details that actually took close to a year to fulfill, and the Belizean assured that he would be there when the deal was complete to actively participate with the in-country marketing of the three way previously agreed upon endeavour.

As just mentioned, the deal evolved over the course of over a year. In quite the eleventh hour after the one gringo had done the lengthy work required for the success of the project and just when the other gringo was ready to pay the dollars to make it all happen, it was the Belizean that ultimately decided he would be exposed as all of the partners were, if the deal might fail. Although the revenues generated by the partnership were to be distributed equally between the partners, it was the Belizean that was to benefit the most.

The sad part, well despite my deep respect for so many of my other friends and associates in Belize as well as my good Internet expat Belizean friend in Florida, my in-country friend represents a part of the Belizean culture that forces me to write this piece. For that in-country "old friend" is seemingly accustomed and comfortable with "the gringos" putting up the money, doing the work, and not having to lift a finger himself in an effort to insure that the deal happens. It is sadly pervasive in Belize that gringos have money and therefore should be taken advantage of to the fullest. Maybe it can easily be written off by the years of occupation and rule by the British, but let's face it, this is the 21st century and what haunts the Belizean society from the 20th century should be placed in the history books. As Belizean Marie Sharp even said in the interview in this publication <<<LINK>>> "Belizeans need to learn to depend on themselves... TAKE THE QUOTE>>>>>>

In the world of today and tomorrow, Belize has to emerge as a country that respects international laws and treaties that govern all free peoples around the globe. Even as I write, the Government of Belize has just decided to change the transfer tax concerning transferring land titles to non-Belizeans. There is one standard of law that is required for Belizeans, there is another set of governance that dictates how foreigners are to be treated, all under the umbrella of a perception of a free and open society. What really becomes absurd is when gringos open hotels and bed & breakfast guesthouses and charge one price for Belizeans and NGO's but charge a grossly inflated rate for tourist, the livelihood that has put Belize on the map as a destination.

The ever present Belize content forums that are loaded down with bloggers trying to keep that bright Belize reflection glimmering in the hearts and minds of everyone dreaming about moving from Connecticut or Texas or Ontario to open a bar or dive operation or b &b in the tropical land by the Caribe Sea, sadly, most of those overly optimistic forum participants still never convincingly tell the dreamers to be sure to take the time to go to Belize to discover the true realities that exist in-country, a mission required to make their dreams a reality.

Tragically, most gringos that head for Belize from what LoveFM commentator Richard Merrill refers to as "the far frozen north", they arrive with a backpack filled with plans and programs and printed copies from websites that tell them about QRP retirement programs and residency issues and how to form a Belizean corporation for tax breaks on purchasing lands, only to find out the hard way that they would probably have been better off to face the facts. And the facts are, you can find a lot of people in Belize that will be good and decent to you and yours. But in the end, you might look up one day and say to yourself, do they really like me for who I am, or is it the fact that I'm a gringo and I happen to have a suitcase of Euro or US or Canadian dollar bills that lure them to me like a Permit fish to a fly hook??

As the Permit fish so often does when faced with the life threatening decision as to whether they should eat or not, maybe the gringo should decide to either stay at home and learn to cope with life, or else, swim a little further south, like down to the Corn Islands of Nicaragua or the Bocas del Toro of Panama. Of course, expats are bait for sharks there too.


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