Wife To Her Husband: “I Don’t Know Who You Think You’re Retiring Overseas With, But It Won’t Be Me…”
Cathy Thayer: When David came to me and said, “We are going to be retiring, and I really want to live outside the country,” I replied, “Not with me! I don’t know who you’re going with, but it won’t be me.”
David Thayer (with a smile): Yes, Cathy wasn’t open to the idea at first. Her only experience outside the United States at that point had been a trip to Paris, a birthday gift from our daughter.
I had been living in Europe before Cathy and I got married. I already knew that I wanted to travel. I wanted to see a bunch of different countries. But Cathy said no way. Then life took over. We had our kids, raised them, had careers. After the kids were grown, we had an opportunity to travel to Central America and Mexico.
Cathy: No I was not open to this at all. Then, when we traveled a little around Ecuador, Panama, and Mexico, I thought, “Uh, OK… I can see where this is interesting.” But I couldn’t live in any of those places. I don’t speak the language, and I knew I just wasn’t going to learn it.
David: We’d been reading Live and Invest Overseas, and I noticed about this time that they were holding a Live and Invest in Belize Conference. So I said to Cathy, “Why don’t we extend the trip a little?”
That was two years ago. We registered for the event, and then we were sitting where you are. That experience—the people that we met, the things that we learned—was enough for Cathy to agree to come back later that year.
We agreed we’d take it one step at a time. We returned to Belize a few months after the conference to look for a place to live telling ourselves that if we found a place we liked, we’d stay for a year.
Cathy: The conference made me feel more empowered, a little more educated about Belize. I felt like I wanted to get to know the country better.
I thought I would be attracted to the Caribbean… the beach, the sunsets, the white sand, the blue water. In fact, I made that part of my conditions for our extended stay. I told David I’d come back and try Belize out for a year but that we had to live on the beach. Fortunately, though (and this is one important piece of advice I would give to you), we made a plan to travel all around the country. We went south to Placencia. We went to the cayes, spent time in San Pedro. We went north to Corazol. I was interested in that part of the country because it’s near to Chetzumal, and they’ve got movies and Walmart and Sam’s Club.
I wasn’t interested in Cayo at all. I said, “I am not living in the jungle. No way.” I was picturing bugs, wild animals, and Pygmies or something, all running around everywhere. But I agreed to look all around the country, so we went to Cayo on a tour. And I fell in love with the jungle. Even more, I fell in love with the people in the jungle. The people of Cayo won me over.
David: Cathy was a social worker in the States. She loves people, and she doesn’t like to sit idle. One big concern I had when we started seriously considering making this move was what we’d do with ourselves all day long, especially Cathy.
Cathy: That was a big concern for me, too, and it’s a big part of the reason I was interested in Belize when I wasn’t so interested in Ecuador or Panama. Everybody speaks English here. Belize is the easiest place in the world for people like us to meet people. That’s partly because of the kind of people you find in Belize, but it’s also because they all speak English.
So I fell in love with Cayo for the people, but also because this is a more affordable place to live than the cayes. Also, it’s cooler than on the islands or the coast. So we settled on Cayo as our location for our year-long visit. But I put another hurdle in the way. I said, “Let’s see if we can find a place to live in Cayo where we’ll be comfortable.” I really didn’t think we would, because I am picky.
Finally, the next to the last day of that trip, as I was thinking I was off the hook because we weren’t going to find a place that passed muster, we met a guy in a smoothie shop who made a call to a friend who knew about a house for rent. I agreed to go see the house even though it was in Cristo Rey village.
I’d said that I wouldn’t live outside San Ignacio. I wanted to be in the main town, for the shopping and for the people. “Cristo Rey is too far away,” I said.
The next thing I knew we were driving up this road into the most beautiful area I had seen anywhere. We passed through a beautiful gate and came to a stream with waterfalls, and I thought, “We’ve found our house.”
We met the landlord, put some money down, and I realized it wasn’t going to be easy to get out of this now. I’d agreed. We’d committed.
After 32 years of marriage and four children, we were moving to Belize.
The next question was: What in the world were we going to do with all our stuff?…
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