Monday, April 9, 2007

Belize Letter 6


As the month changed from January to February, the weather changed as well. For most of the first week of February, the skies were cloudless, the temperatures ranged from high sixties at night to the mid eighties during the afternoon. Everything is extraordinarily green and growing rapidly. We have heard that it is extremely cold in Pennsylvania. I am glad I am in Belize and can continue to wear shorts and t-shirts.


I am still working on various house projects; however I did manage to get a good walk in to Five Blues Lake. Diane and I have also been eating at a local restaurant called “Over the Top.” I usually choose the favorite local fare, rice and beans, along with whatever meat of fish they have. The meal, which also includes a small salad, costs about $3.50 US or $7.00 Belize.

House projects

For the last two weeks, including weekends, we had up to eight contractors at our house each day. In addition, I was working on setting up the electric circuits for interior rooms and exterior lighting as well. Keeping track of the various projects, materials, and people is an arduous task. Since my brother will be visiting this week, we will halt all projects for a week of relaxation.

Satellite connection

The longer I am away from being connected, the less I feel I need it. However, my friends and brother feel it is a necessity. Therefore, I will relent and pursue connectivity. I will be focusing on connecting to a satellite service for internet at first, then perhaps TV. Also, while at the Hamanasi Resort, on the Caribbean, my brother spotted a satellite radio receiver. I checked to see how they placed there antenna, but could not see it. I will be contacting Hamanasi management to see if they can provide more information. My brother also said he would send me a registered XM radio receiver to try.

Property values

Property values in Belize are increasing rapidly, In Belmopan, due to the new American Embassy, housing has increased drastically. Also, at the coast, beachfront houses that were selling in the high three hundred thousand (US) range two years ago are now seven hundred fifty thousand. With the increase in property values, rental rates are up also. Tourism is up as well as immigration. This tends to increase property values as well.


It is great being retired. Although I have been working on the house pretty much, it is great not to be on a schedule. There are still some schedules that have to be maintained. US Federal Income Tax, PA State income Tax as well as Local Income Tax need to be filed. I went to the US Embassy in Belmopan and learned that I need to fill out a simple form and I will not have to file or pay anything owed until October 15, 2007. I knew people could always apply for an extension, but any money owed needed to be paid prior to April 15. The Embassy offers lots of services to US citizens living abroad. I may as well take advantage of these services. Speaking of taxes, we paid our annual property tax on our 20 acres and house. Since we paid in full as well as early, our entire tax bill was $19.84! That is Belize dollars which equals 9.92 US dollars.

Information system business

The information system business in Belize is similar to what it was in the US during the late eighties and early nineties. One of the largest tool and hardware stores in Belmopan is just now converting to a computerized business system. Most small businesses do not even have computers, let alone a business system. Even the Government runs mostly with hand written forms. There are information system companies, mostly very small, that take advantage of a customer base that has relatively little knowledge of computer systems or how a good system could help their business. Service prices are very high and markup on hardware is greater than 100%! I have been looking for a company that will help me with satellite radio licensing. The companies that represent the various satellite internet service companies are very bias about their respective service. There seems to be no one that can provide an independent view of this business segment. People locate companies by asking their friends who know nothing as well. While at the US Embassy, I learned that if I was interested in starting a company in Belize I could have use of their systems to help gather information. I don’t know if this will provide the information I seek but it is worth a try. Getting back to my point, the state of the information system business in Belize lacks true service oriented service providers. This could be an opportunity for a geek that didn’t mind living with Howler Monkeys!

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