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The spouse and yourself decided enough was enough, and together you both agreed, it was high time to split from the bitter winters of Vancouver to a full-proof retirement plan in the heart of paradise. For years you had visited the land by the Caribe Sea, you had by decision making time on the ground countless locals that knew all the tricks for relocating, how much it actually costs to build a house and how much to bring in infrastructure into the bush from water wells to current. You also had your sights focused squarely upon opening yourselves either a spiritual retreat center with your fellow stressed out gringos to provide jobs for the locals or possibly a small restaurant serving tofu burgers along an isolated stretch of mangroves so you could feel good about the land of the free that you left behind in a state of war. Either choice in the end your projections forecasted it would be a win-win deal for the mothers and fathers and children of the world that probably only you and yours could properly guide through the universe.

And so you spent night after night after your nine to five job sending emails contacting every real estate agent you could find on the Internet marketing properties for sale in Belize. After yet another four trips down on vacation you fell in love with a small idyllic village and decided to buy a ready made wood frame house with a big front porch and a zinc roof and settle in for the long haul. The only thing left then was to bombard the real estate agent with those fool hearted far frozen north tactics, “you actually spent this, thatch really can be done for less, the streams don’t have water year round so why advertise that”, blah, blah, blah.

With the purchase behind and two years into living the good life hamaca swinging away, suddenly one day the weather takes a turn and becomes unseasonably dry. Yea maybe it really is an “inconvenient truth” that mankind has burned away the atmosphere with fossil fuels. Just maybe it has been accelerated as of late by all those cell phones beaming useless information from here to there.

But in real time, regardless of the reasons, it had not rained a drop in weeks but that only made for a better tan. Then one late night after a full day of swaging Belikins and One Barrel Rum backs the lighting strikes your wood kitchen champa catching fire, then the menace runs rapidly along a wooden walkway, jumps to a pile of trash you forgot to burn the day before since there is not trash removal in the heart of the bush, then the out of control bushfire leaps onto the partially treated siding of your house. Within minutes your piece of paradise is engulfed in flames.

As you and the better half of your life stand there in the darkness since the power went out you frantically punch the repeat numbers on your BTL issued mobile hoping to get an answer from the department of fire that you had programmed into the device for situations just like you and the wife were now facing. That’s when you realize poignantly that it might have been nice to have that hurricane insurance policy but right about now it would be nice to have a local fire department standing by to put out the flames.

Although the above is mere fiction, recently in Placencia a fire broke out in the core area of the village. On Sunday May 7, 2006, within a matter of minutes as stunned villagers and local revellers watched on in horror, the fire consumed two houses, The Purple Space Monkey Internet Cafe with it’s restaurant, four shops, and the local cable television provider. Those affected lost homes, worldly possessions and jobs.

What might shock many, with all the millions of dollars in development in the boom town of Placencia, there still is no fire truck. To make matters worst, on the evening in question, water pressure within the village made it virtually impossible to pump water through hoses to slow the progress of the fire. In the end the villagers had to stop the flames by way of a human chain, aka, a bucket brigade.

But what about the dreamers that develop deeper into the bush?? What do they do when the savannah grass dries out and their year round creeks run dry?? Will their Rotoplas and rain harvesters and their backup water well save them from the devastation that sadly many faced recently in Placencia?? I’ve seen in my years of moving in and out of Belize wild fires that can scorch hundreds of acres in literally a matter of minutes. Once the fire begins to run the streams of madness can crawl up the side of a thirty meter high Kahuna palm and scald the tropically green leaves to a crisp. In the bush in the dry season, nothing and I mean nothing stands between the fire of mother nature and a wooden house. Then there are the lightening strikes. Gathering around the forceful storms of the spring and summer, I have heard crackling lightening coupled with such boisterous rumbling thunder that my entire family and I have been awaken from an after midnight sleep.

It’s hard to compare living in the remotes of Belize where the closest possible fire truck sits idle in a town some eight to ten miles away as the fire fighters drink away their blues at a ‘cool spot’ to counting on what your insurance broker in the states insured your house for on a cul-de-sac in Eugene or Denver or Vancouver, an estimate based upon the distance from the center of your living room to the closest fire hydrant. It’s hard to imagine that lightening strikes as you are firing one up swinging in your Mayan hammock and that the local fire department can be reached by your satellite Internet connection in a village where cell phone connection is years away. But when it comes to Belize, it’s best to imagine and to prepare for the worst. For as they say, s&%t happens.


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