One Single Mom’s Adventures In Belize
”Who knew that a single mother,” writes new Belize Correspondent Macarena Rose, ”happily raising eight kids (two biological and six adopted) in Florida, could pull up stakes and follow a hunch to a new life in a new land? Who could have predicted that the results of this experience would be a wealth of warm friendships and a profound sense of connectedness to a new country and a new community…plus a thriving new business?
”In short, that’s my story of a journey that began seven years ago and that continues today. I took a chance on life, and the reward has been an extraordinary transformation.
”How does one get from there to here? The path is different for everyone, of course. I know that many outwardly crave challenge and excitement in their lives and are looking to make dramatic changes. That was not me. I was a mom in Florida, content with the status quo. My life with eight children seemed already an adventure.
”Then I discovered this Caribbean paradise where English is the native language. I was infatuated from the day a friend told me about the warm, welcoming inhabitants, the natural beauty of the land, the heavenly beaches, and the delightful surf.
”Maybe what appealed to me most was the promise of leaving all the day-to-day stresses of life far behind and living at a slower pace. Living in Belize, I discovered, I didn’t need my Blackberry!
”Once I was introduced to the idea, I let my imagination go, and I began daydreaming about this culturally diverse place where you can live your life intimately connected to your neighbors. I think many of us fantasize about finding a place with that kind of small-town feeling, and that’s just what you find throughout Belize.
”It helps, too, that there’s no stress to learn a new language!
”And what a pleasant shock to your system to learn that Belize is a country where your financial resources will likely be more than enough to let you live in comfort.
”It all began when my teen daughter and I were offered an opportunity to travel with the Sentient Temple of Florida to San Ignacio to participate in a healing workshop. That was April 2003.
”When I returned to Florida, I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind. My memories from Belize were always ‘there.’
”I decided to make a second trip to the country. Six months later, in October 2003, a friend and I were back, traveling throughout the country but finding ourselves especially drawn to the San Ignacio area (where I still live today).
”This second time in Belize was just as special, just as exciting as my first experience had been, and, so, I faced a moment of decision. Would I accept this opportunity to take a chance on life? Watching a local parade in Belize one day, I was taken aback by the intimacy of the event and by how real life is in this country. It was a defining moment, one I will always look back on as the beginning of this new phase of my life.
”Returning to Florida, I told my children that, when the last one graduated, I was moving to Belize. Then came the surprise. My daughter Chiara, 15 at the time, responded by saying she had a ‘feeling’ we were meant to move to Belize right away, not to wait. It was the last thing I ever expected to hear from her.
”But it meant that we were on our way to Belize.
”I sold our family home, packed up our containers, and took them to the shipping yard in Florida. With our two dogs in tow, we boarded the plane to Belize and have never looked back.
”When you make your initial announcement that you’re moving to another country, prepare yourself. The reactions will be both pro and con. When I told everyone that I was planning to settle in a new land, with my children and my dogs, and that I intended to do it within 60 days, well, that certainly got the conversation going. Everyone had an opinion, especially as I was a single mom taking this on. Two close friends invited me over to dinner immediately to try to talk me out of it. They stressed how dangerous it would be. Plus, how would my daughter cope?
”I’m pleased to be able to report now, though, that, once I made the move and began sending back reports of my life, these same two ladies couldn’t make plans fast enough to come visit!
”Another friend said it was her dream to throw the hat over that wall and go where she felt called. I explained that, from my viewpoint, the only thing keeping her from doing it was herself.
”And I was not going to stand in the way of my own dreams.
”At first, Chiara and I lived at the Cahal Pech Hotel in San Ignacio. This gave us a chance to get familiar with our new town and community. Chiara started school right away. You can imagine her reaction to a uniform that went down past her knees. Oh, the changes (and tears) she went through. I admit that I wondered at times if she were wavering and having regrets.
”One of her biggest concerns at first was that she couldn’t find Dr. Pepper (the soft drink) anywhere. One day, while I was out getting her lunch, I found it. I was able to work out a deal for the vendor to bring in a regular supply, especially for Chiara. That was it. Chiara was fully on board.
”For my part, the better I got to know Belize, the more I liked it.
”Fast forward to today, more then six years later, and I am running my own successful real estate company in San Ignacio, a business that was awarded the title Best Real Estate Agency in all Belize by CBS and The New York Times. I’m also the voice you hear on the cell phone system recorded messages in this country, and it is my pleasure to host a weekly TV show featuring local Belizeans.
”I am greatly enjoying coaching the Cayo‘s semi-professional men’s soccer team, as well as serving on the boards of the Winsom Foundation (an organization with two purposes–to help keep children in school and to let them experience the arts) and of the Humane Society (very appropriate for a woman who supports nine dogs!).
”So, as you can see, I’m well integrated into my new life here. The entire experience continues to be breathtakingly rewarding for me. It’s not only that my own life has been completely transformed, but also that I am now participating in bringing about change in the lives of others in my community.
”Shortly after settling in, we began our search for a home to buy. This was an eye-opener. We were surprised and disappointed by the lackluster quality of salesmanship among most of the real estate agencies we dealt with. In addition, we discovered the agents here were neither licensed nor trained.
”That’s when I decided to open up my business, Rainforest Realty. My emphasis has been integrity, service, and southern charm! I have a colorful office on Benque Viejo Road in San Ignacio. You can’t miss it.
”I have to say that I take great pride in being able to tell this story today. As I’ve said, this has been a remarkable journey.
”And it’s far from over. Every day here is another opportunity for growth and discovery.
”I invite you to come see for yourself what Belize is all about. When you do, please drop by to see me. Here in Belize, we love newcomers.”