Planning A Small Plantation In Cayo, Belize

Sundown In Cayo

Aug. 14, 2014, Cayo, Belize: The Cayo region of Belize is the perfect setting for a small plantation—a chance to experiment, become more self-sufficient, and make some money from the harvest.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

" food, no cook, and no sign of any barbecue," I said to friends Bohn and Teri traveling with us in Belize this week as we drove up to the palapa at Maya Spring Estates.

It was nearly 5 p.m.

"Looks like the 4:30 cookout might be a little delayed. At least we've got the cooler with the drinks."

About one hour and two One Barrel Belizean rum and cokes later, still no sign of dinner. Someone's cellphone rang. Several of the men jumped up and into one of the SUVs. Young Jackson came over to Bohn, Teri, and me to give us an update.

"Con, who's bringing the food and the cook, had a flat tire. Phil and some of the others just went to help him change it."

Teri made us another round of rum and cokes, and we settled into hammocks on the upper level of the two-story palapa to watch the sunset over the hills. The darkening sky was streaked brilliant red.

Eventually, the men returned, followed by Con with the food and our chef for the evening.


TEFL, TESOL, AND CELTA: What You Need To Know About...

Teaching Opportunities In Southeast Asia

Aug. 13, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: English teachers are in high demand around Southeast Asia. Practices differ by region and by school—and pay depends largely on your qualification level.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

People who want to live abroad but lack the funds to support themselves have a wide variety of choice in Southeast Asia. The growth of the middle class, the progressive development of virtually every ASEAN member country, and a region-wide push for English fluency make Southeast Asia a destination ripe with opportunity.

Teaching English is probably the most common way for an expat to earn a living wage throughout this region, and there is a high demand for English teachers. The requirements vary from one country to another, but most people can qualify for a reasonably high-paying job with a little preparation.

Officially, a bachelor's degree or higher is required for teaching anywhere in Southeast Asia. Unofficially, the requirement may be waived by schools in rural areas where demand is high and teacher recruitment is difficult. Teaching in a remote village can be extremely rewarding but will probably not pay well—many places will offer a room or house, utilities, and food, but they can't afford to pay a salary.

Teaching in the cities is different. The most important consideration is the type of degree or certification you have under your belt.

Most English teachers have a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification in addition to a college degree. The TEFL certification is the easiest and least expensive to obtain. Courses ranging from 40 to 120 hours are offered online and may or may not require actual student interaction before graduation.

Teachers with a TEFL certification can find work, but the pay offered and employment opportunities will be less than for those who have earned a more prestigious certification.

A TESOL certification requires 120 hours of training and in-class teaching is part of the curriculum. A CELTA degree requires a similar amount of training, but the coursework is more intensive and the cost of the course is higher.

Classes in TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA are offered in major cities in the United States and abroad. Schools offer courses that range in price, from practically free up to around US$2,800, depending on the number of hours and intensity of the program. Dave's ESL Café is a good resource for learning about the certification process and the experience of teaching English abroad.


The Path Of Progress In San Ignacio, Belize

Breaking News From Cayo, Belize

Aug. 12, 2014, San Ignacio, Belize: After decades of no news from Belize, the market is moving—even in the less-traveled Cayo District. A new town square, new restaurants, and rising prices around San Ignacio mean this area is finally being discovered.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Over the past three decades writing about Belize, I've often borrowed Morley Shafer's line from the mid-80s, when he traveled to Belize City to film a segment for 60 Minutes.

"The good news from Belize," Morley said looking up from a little wooden boat in the middle of the Belize River, "is no news from Belize."

True then, true since, and true now, though maybe a little less so. This trip to Belize's Cayo, I'm discovering news worth reporting.

The main town in this part of this country is San Ignacio. For the first 20 years I knew San Ignacio, it was a tiny roundabout with concrete benches, a main drag with hostels and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and a river launch that was little more than a muddy hillside that you could slide down or drag yourself and your canoe up.

In more recent years, there have been more shops, more restaurants, more small hotels. Still, San Ignacio was San Ignacio, a middle-of-nowhere hub charming for its simple way of life but nothing worth writing home about. Now, San Ignacio is being spruced up. A town square has been created, with a park in the center surrounded by more high-caliber enterprises than I ever might have imagined for this spot, including Fuego, legitimately one of the best restaurants I've eaten in anywhere in the world.

Next-door is a pastry and sweets shop with a pink-and-white striped awning and a floor-to-ceiling display of oversized mason jars filled with gumballs, gummy bears, jawbreakers, and other candy you'll recognize from bygone days.

We've been to Fuego twice, once for dinner and once for happy hour (for the US$2 watermelon mojitos). When we return to town next, we'll try another of the new restaurants that friends have recommended. What a have a choice of fine-dining establishments in San Ignacio, Belize.

"How long have you been open?" I asked the manager of Fuego.


How To Deal With Travel Warnings And “Average Advice”

Escape The Average Advice

Aug. 11, 2014, Lviv, Ukraine: Should you travel to areas for which the U.S. State Department has issued warnings? Sometimes, it’s okay to use your better judgment and skip such average advice.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Throughout the past few months, Vicki and I have been telling friends and others we'd planned to visit Lviv, Ukraine.

"Don't go," was the universal response. Friends pointed to the war between Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels in the east of the country. The U.S. State Department had issued a travel warning on Ukraine. Bombs and demonstrations had killed people in Kiev, Ukraine's capital.

"Dangerous and unnecessary," one friend wrote.

All this came before Malaysia Air Flight 17 was shot out of the sky over Ukraine air space.

But Vicki and I rejected the above as average advice. Sure, the average tourist might want to skip Ukraine this year. But Vicki and I are not average. We determined to decide for ourselves.

I first ran into what I call "average advice" in my youth, when I attended a public high school in a Los Angeles suburb. Counselors in my high school told A students to go to UCLA, B students to L.A. State, and C students to a local junior college. Average determined destiny.

I came up with the concept of average advice to explain the process. Average advice keeps us focused on the status quo, mired in how John Doe views the world.

You want average advice, go to the U.S. State Department. The State Department makes its living thinking about average Americans, the 300 million Americans with average concerns. The average American wants to stay home in Iowa. We wish him well.

But as a Live and Invest Overseas reader, you want to explore a bit...or at least think about it. The last thing you need is average advice. Our mission is to give you the raw material you need to make a decision that fits with your needs.

Back to our Ukraine trip...

Vicki and I read the United States travel advisory. Even average advice helps in a tense time. We noted that the advisory omitted any mention of Lviv, the area we wanted to visit.

We talked to travelers in nearby Poland, the locals who come and go over the Ukrainian border all the time. We drew on our knowledge from previous visits to Ukraine. I was in Ukraine three years ago with two friends, savvy travelers both.

Vicki and I made up our minds. We would go to Lviv, in western Ukraine, an anti-Russia region some 800 miles from the fighting. We would enter Ukraine by land from Poland, flying in and out of Warsaw—Polish airspace—rather than Kiev.


Adventures In Belize

Belize—Still For The Intrepid

Aug. 10, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Kathie returns to Belize, 30 years after her first adventures in the country.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Returning to what has been one of my favorite places on earth for a long time for my first extended stay in years, I find Belize's Cayo hardly changed. Me? I'm a little harder to recognize.

I came to Cayo for the first time almost 30 years ago. I had seen little else of the rest of the world by that time, but I recognized something in this part of Belize that I appreciated immediately—a big-time potential for adventure and discovery.

"This is what's great about Cayo," I told my 14-year-old son Jackson as he, his father, and I drove around lost in the dark on the unpaved, unmarked, unlit jungle roads last night trying to find our lodge.

"You can always count on having an adventure."

On my first visit to this part of the world three decades ago, my first friend in Belize, Mick Fleming, wondered just how much adventure I was up for.

Sitting next to me at the wooden bar of his Chaa Creek jungle lodge my first night in the country, Mick turned and asked, "Do you want to go on a guided tour of the Mayan ruins...or would you be up for a real Belize experience?"

Being 22 years old, how could I resist an opportunity for a real Belize experience, even though I had no idea what that might mean.

Mick had one of his staff drive me deeper into the jungle, to the two-room thatched-roofed home of a Mayan family. Alongside their little house, Mick had helped them to build a second, smaller place, a single room that they rented out to tourists. I've always wondered if any other tourist actually ever stayed in the place. This tourist has remembered my night there ever since.

Mick's man dropped me off and said he'd be back for me the next morning. It was just past lunchtime.

The family consisted of a mother, a father, and three children. The oldest child, a 13-year-old boy, spoke a little English. He asked what I'd like to do and then suggested a hike to a nearby cave. I smiled agreement.

I followed the boy up the side of the nearby mountain, through the bush. When it began to rain, the trail became slick, but the boy continued on, so I did, too. He used his machete to cut branches and growth from the trail we followed. Finally, he pointed with his machete toward the ground. I followed the machete's point and saw a small hole in the muddy earth. "The cave," the boy said. "Do you want to go inside?"


The boy lay down on the ground, on his stomach, then reached into the hole with his two hands, then his arms, and then he pulled himself through the mud and was gone.

I stood on the side of the hill, in the rain, in the mud, and considered my options. Really, I had only one. I got down on the ground the way I'd seen the boy do and slithered hands and arms first through the hole.


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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.


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