Guest Blog! The quarantine experience in Placencia, Belize…..Thank you Randy!
(Forward by me – Laura 🙂 )
We have our teams a bit split up right now, with staff at both PUR Boutique Cabanas on Ambergris Caye, and in Placencia at Caribbean Beach Cabanas. I have posted a couple times about the unique island experience.The experience in both these places, since the first positive case was found in the country of Belize, on March 23rd, has been quite different. Placencia has always been considered a somewhat remote fishing village. There is only one road in and out of the 16 mile (skinny) peninsula. Although it is not an island, of course, like Ambergris Caye, Placencia has the unique ability to control somewhat – the traffic coming in and out of the village. Placencia, although well-known to Belize visitors, is still considered a place that is off the beaten path. Placencia is never crowded, even during high season. There are somewhere around 1,000 full-time residents in the village of Placencia, at the most southern tip of the Placencia peninsula.
The amount of tourism in Placencia has always remained a small number, and this has kept it holding on to its rustic, funky, artistic, small-town charm. Like the island figuring out, that by quarantining the island, we were much luckier than trying to control a mainland place, Placencia Village is now finding that they are in a uniquely lucky position of having a small population in which to take care of, and to get their arms around the needs of the village, at this time. Much like the island, the small village has banded together and created food banks for the needy, and the Rotary club has stepped up to make sure no one slips through the cracks. It is a very heartwarming and touching experience to see the lengths that people with any amount of resources, are willing to give, to those less fortunate.
Because of the quarantine, we are not able to travel back and forth of course, so I have Randy, our wonderful general manager who is living in Placencia during this quarantine, writing this guest blog to help us understand the experience the village is having down there during this time. Placencia is a much-loved, special place, and we have been extremely touched by the number of past guests who have reached out with their best wishes. It means the world to us to hear from you! We wanted to share what is happening down here for those that are concerned or curious. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook, and we are going to do our best to continue to document what is happening in Belize. We are so excited for the time when our beautiful communities open back up for visitors from all over the world again!
On to Randy!!!!
300+ hours. That’s about how long we here in Belize have all been locked down. Together in unity, we are all learning how to navigate the landscape of being trapped in a fishbowl. A wee bit dramatic I know, but it’s a great way to grab your attention.
What is the purpose of this essay? Since mostly everyone reading is collectively at some level of lockdown. Perhaps as humans, we are able to overcome adversity by hearing our own stories. I don’t know if it will benefit anyone in particular, but I often want people to know that we are connected. Albeit we may hang our hats on different tenets and ideals, we still have a desire for happiness and a safe place to call home. What is your daily life like now? How have things changed for you? Is it temporary? Permanent? Have you shifted any of our past behaviors to positively affect the future?
Things have come to a definite pause down here in our sleepy Caribbean fishing village. Luckily, the pace of life was never one of immediacy and frenzy, so the facade of Placencia remains quite the same. Here in our little village of about 1200 people, the storefronts are all boarded up. The constantly chipper banter of the local villagers in the morning has ceased. We are only allowed to be out for exercise between the hours of 5 and 8 am. Throughout the day there is the opportunity to secure more staples of everyday life. Groceries, pharmaceutical medications, and fried tacos are all great excuses to hop on your bike and get outside.
Our village depends on the sole business of tourism and living off of the land. Our fishermen aren’t able to catch the fish that feed hundreds of mouths daily. There has been a ban placed upon their means of making an honest living. I do believe that most people are ok with the bans, but it’s the constant change that is throwing everyone for a loop. The uncertainties of what tomorrow may bring cause the parents to keep an extra vigilant eye upon their children. The parents who practice “free-range parenting” are even taking extra measures to prevent the worst-case scenario from affecting their families. Suspicion when you hear a normal sneeze or cough, now are a cause for paranoia and distant behavior. Another strange new adopted behavior is ordering your groceries remotely from outside the store. Even permitted to shop normally in the store, I often take my time. I have intentions to set out for a specific item, but by the time I walk through those open doors, my mind is a blank slate. So this ordering process is forcing some of us to be more organized shoppers. Not necessarily a bad thing either lol!
But I don’t want to focus only on the slightly negative differences that have taken place here in Placencia. The villagers are banding together to make sure that everyone has enough food to eat. A local young woman has organized and executed the Placencia Food Bank for anyone who may be suffering any woes brought upon by these difficult times. The Placencia Rotary has been painstakingly working neighboring villages to see how they can financially assist any families in need. The police are constantly walking the sidewalk, checking the properties for any activities that seem out of the ordinary. And the Belize Defense Force, BDF, is presently represented by a few of its esteemed members here on the peninsula. The weather has been very cooperative in our favor. 85 and sunny day in and out with a nice breeze in the evenings as the brilliant full moon slowly rise above the ever ebbing Caribbean Sea. The nights are so peaceful. As I walk the dog down the lone sand path to the sea, there isn’t a soul around except for the occasional swath of light cutting the darkness from a security guards beam.
Everything will eventually begin to function again and life will get back on track. But I refrain from claiming it will go back to normal, because what is the new normal? Will we as a species continue to be leary of the common unseen virus as a potential life-ending threat? Or will it bring us together more than ever before to combat our fears together? I am hopeful for the tensions to be lightened and the constant companion of anxiety to be lessened. We here at PUR Belize Hotels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We have utilized this time to reflect upon our future, and how fortunate we are to have you all as amazing loyal guests. The future will be brighter than ever. Belize will rebound. The world will heal. If we can all take one lesson learned from this isolation and apply it to the future, maybe it’s not all in vain? I wish you all health and wellness and Belize will always be calling.
And to remind you all of the kind of images that make Placencia so special…….