LIVING IN BELIZE – “Sun is Here, Belize Quality, and Cayo Attractions” – 2/7/12

Hallelujah! The sun has come back! Yesterday it was a bit overcast in the morning, but by 9 a.m. the sun had appeared and it didn’t go away all day. I certainly hope this a trend that continues. All the locals and tourists alike are sick and tired of the rain.

Yesterday was a shopping day. We had lots of little things to go buy. Unfortunately, some of it was things we just purchased not too long ago. For instance, a broom and mop we bought about three months ago were already shot. The broom ends were pointing every which direction, and the mop strings were laying everywhere after you used it.

Keep in mind, brooms and mops only cost about $7-8 bze ($3.50-4.00 usd), but when you have to replace them three or four times a year, deep down you just wish they could make them better quality, charge a little more, and then you could buy them far less often.

However, in Belize, quality is a major issue. Some things just are not made well here, and they tend to break or wear and tear quicker. When you first move here, the joy of saving money on your purchases quickly gets replaced with the realization that you’re probably not saving that much after all. I’m not sure if it’s a faulty manufacturing process, or whether the climate things have to endure is the real culprit (all the heat, humidity, and salt air can damage items quite quickly, especially electronics). It’s probably a combination of both.

And then you have the roads. Most cars and trucks take a real beating on Belizean back streets. All of the highways, and most of the main roads in towns, are paved. But the minute you go off to a neighborhood or the hills, you’ll be on very rocky, muddy, and pothole ridden terrain. This can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s under-carriage, axels, shocks, tires, etc.  This is why the used auto parts business is so big in Belize.

So if you’re planning on relocating to Belize, just be aware of this issue. It’s not like this situation doesn’t exist in the States either. I remember the few times I shopped at Wal Mart and scored a deal, whatever I purchased broke almost immediately. You get what you pay for.

We had new guests check in at The Kumquat Cottage yesterday. They had started their vacation in Placencia and told us it had been raining there the whole time as well. They were super excited to see the sun.

I find that most tourists who visit the Cayo District are here to see the many ruins we have, like Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Caracol, and Tikal (nearby in Guatemala). Or they want to see the caves, like Barton Creek or ATM. Or others want to go hiking at Guanacaste National Park or Blue Hole National Park (which also has swimming).

Since we have a three-night minimum stay for the cottage, a lot of folks come here and can’t possibly squeeze everything they want to do into one visit, so I either tell them to stay longer or come back again to visit.

When you’re on vacation, do you like to relax or be active?

  • Sandy A.

    Quality is definitely an issue in BElize. It’s like everything is total crap, and if it isn’t you pay an arm and a leg for it. I think the Chinese take all the stuff that can’t possibly sell in America, even at the dollar store, and send it to Belize. I brought in a Swiffer and a bunch of refills and it was SO worth it!!! Love my Swiffer for my tile floors!! Same goes for clothes. Most of the clothes are pretty sorry. On the other hand, there are some pretty good second-hand clothing stores with clothes from the US in them ( of course, not actually MADE in the USA, but you know what I mean).

  • Sharonhiebing

    I have more luck here w/ clothing than household goods, which as you say, are just crap! It’s such a bummer. Glad I had a year to determine what I needed to bring back, cause some of my quality stuff sure comes in handy now!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame that quality is based on $$$ value, but it shouldn’t be.  Although you pay less for a Ford, its quality should be as good as a Cadillac…it’s just that a Caddy has more features; which is the real reason it costs more.  They use the same metal, glass, plastic and cloth.  But, you can’t tell that to a Cadillac dealer or owner.

    I go on vacation to actively tour, swim, walk, hike, take photos, shop, zipline through the tree canopy, white water raft, climb mountains and talk to the natives.  Most of my vacations are three to five months long.  I relax when I get home.

  • Emily Smith

    Most of the junky stuff for sale here in Belize is made in China, and it is the quality that you’d find in the US at dollar stores.  Since I didn’t shop in those stores there, I hate to buy that stuff here.  I would much rather pay a bit more for a quality product, but so often, there just isn’t an alternative in Belize.  It’s junk or nothing, if you need a particular item.  Frustrating.  As for vacations, I like active ones.  We are usually on the go most of the time, sight-seeing, walking, biking, and so forth.  A little down time is okay, but I don’t care for lazy vacations or lying on the beach or by the pool for more than a short while.

  • Sharonhiebing

    But the fact of the matter is, no matter where the stuff is made, as you say, you are stuck w/ little to no options in Belize, so you must buy it – yes, quite frustrating! It’s particularly tough on the island, where you live, finding alternatives. Last week when I was blogging about Chetumal, someone was touting WalMart as a great option, but I shopped there once in the States, the zipper in the shorts I bought busted not even a week after purchasing them, so I never went back. Not exactly thrilled about travelling all the way to Chetumal for WalMart, lol! I’m the exact opposite on vacations – I work so hard that on vacation, I get real lazy :) Thanks for the comment, Emily!

  • Sharonhiebing

    Hey Fred! I’ve never heard of a janitorial supply store in Belize, which is probably why this one is going out of business, lol! I’ll keep my eyes open for them, since that listing gives no details, and I refuse to call the listing agent for personal reasons.  All the hotels I stay at, as well as restaurants I frequent, are using the same supplies any average joe buys at the local stores. Frankly, mops and brooms were just one example – there’s oh so many other items that are inadequate. It’s just a fact of life here. Your rationale about quality is correct, but unfortunately here in Belize, you always get what you pay for. I wish I had the time and resources to be running all over the country of Belize sourcing the best products, but I just don’t :(

  • Anonymous

    As you said, your dilemma is not having time and resources to find the quality stuff. I’ll tell you what, if you pay my way to Belize and provide me with a place to live, I’ll be your supply manager for free. I am a skilled craftsman and if I can’t find an item, I’ll fabricate it. I also do windows and clean toilets.

  • Sharonhiebing

    Ha-ha, Fred. You’re seriously over-qualified. I still think even if I had time, my results would be 50-50, but at least I’d be 50% better off, lol!