I’ve never wanted to distance myself from White USAians as much as I do when I’m traveling out of the country. And even more so when I’m in a place where White Skin is the minority & usually visible expressing their inner colonizer.
Today I did a bit of exploring with a FB friend, a local. Born & bred in Placencia, she now lives in Seine Bight, just up the road. We went to Santa Cruz, Hopkins, & Sittee River Village.
It’s been a while since I’ve had to come face to face with the privilege I carry as a USAian. The poverty I saw in Hopkins & Seine Bight had me reconsidering my ideas about trying to find a rental. Not because I didn’t want to get to know the towns better, but because I could see how even more difficult it would be to “blend in” than it would be in Placencia. Even though my skin color wouldn’t mark me as different, my living in one of the guest house rentals would. I’m not wealthy, but I understand how wealth can be comparative & by those standards, I’m wealthy. Even the fact that buying land in Belize is an option for me (not a lot of land, & definitely not on the coast) marks me as a person of wealth compared to the Black locals. And I have to acknowledge that.
So then how do I figure out how to own land here & be a part of a community, part of the local community, not anchored in the “ex-pat” community? My tour guide asked me if I wanted to go see where the Americans live. God no. I mean I suppose I should know where it is, so I don’t somehow accidentally buy land there. And by “Americans”, the locals mean “White Americans”. I’ve never wanted to distance myself from White USAians as much as I do when I’m traveling out of the country. And even more so when I’m in a place where White Skin is the minority & usually visible expressing their inner colonizer.
We’ve been here 4 whole days now. I’m still not completely unpacked, I don’t have groceries stocked up, I haven’t figured out my daily schedule, and I haven’t yet got a decent night’s sleep
This seems planned, but like most of my plans is a combo of well-researched & seat-of-my-pants. Life Is An Adventure is the motto my mother passed down.
I came into a little money & had decided that I needed to get the hell out of Dodge. Being a Black American in a country that despises me was starting to get to me. Dealing for the first time with 40 years of PTSD from a car accident as a child had left me open to feeling all the feels (anxiety, panic, terror–YAY EMBODIMENT /s) & I just couldn’t fathom living the rest of my life full-time in the states.
My first plan was to by a used RV & travel around the country & into Mexico. People let me know soonest that driving alone in Mexico was not an option (well, it was an option, just a ridiculously dangerous one) & all the RV caravans were old white people–not to mention very expensive–so not really my cup of tea. I then thought about driving to Alaska (an item on my bucket list for the last 20 years). But as we got closer & closer to the election it felt unsafe for me to be in a target–even if moving–driving through rural parts of the USA.
After the election I thought that in case we ever get to the “convert your jewels to cash, safety pin them to your children & put them on the first thing with wheels leaving” place that many people in Nazi Germany did, it would be nice to have a place to go. So I started to think about places to buy land. It’s also been a dream of mine to have a retreat center for QTIPOC, so this seemed like the best of both worlds. Also I really wanted to be somewhere where I could see lots of Black faces. And I didn’t really want to have to learn a new language (I do speak some Spanish, but not that advanced), and I wanted to be somewhere I could get back to the states relatively easily (meaning short flights). I’d been to Belize back in 2014 & it hit all those points.
I made some poor choices in the move from my studio to here. I spent almost all of the money, and made a move that made it impossible for me to see clients at home. But I was still determined.
As the days got closer, my panic increased until I was making myself physically ill with anxiety several times a day. But me & Spera got through the plane rides with minimum wear & tear. And then we had one of the most harrowing drives to get here I’ve ever been through. But we made it!
We’ve been here 4 whole days now. I’m still not completely unpacked, I don’t have groceries stocked up, I haven’t figured out my daily schedule, and I haven’t yet got a decent night’s sleep (it’s too dark & it takes me quite a while to adapt to new sleeping places that aren’t “home”). Plus I’m worried about my spoiled cat (there are no options for fancy, grain free, cat food, & she’s turning up her nose at Friskies).
But we made it!