Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Requests for the People of Belize

I have two main complaints about the people here in Belize - and obviously not everyone behaves this way, but the majority do....


I'm so sick of seeing dogs chained up in yards with no shade, or on a rope that's barely long enough for them to move.
I hate seeing dogs that are ALWAYS tied up, never allowed to run free.
I hate seeing dogs that should be big and beautiful...looking like they're going to starve to death. Same goes for horses.
I hate seeing dogs get beaten and kicked, I hate seeing little kids throw rocks at them, and I hate how everyone wants me to give them one of MY dogs.
I KNOW my dogs are pretty, because I take care of them!! I give them food and water, I talk to them and pet them, I give them flea and tick medicine and I love them! If a Belizean took my dog, it would look like a totally different animal in two months. It would be skinny, mangy, and unhappy.

I also know that most of you don't consider animals to be "pets," but this country would be a lot nicer if you did.

Mahatma Gandhi may have said it best...

My second request is that you PLEASE STOP LITTERING

I see people throw garbage out of the windows on the bus constantly, and a few weeks ago, when we went to see Bolo in the hospital and gave his mom a ride home, she threw a styrofoam container and a 1 liter bottle of water out of the window when she was finished with them.
If she wasn't one her way from visiting one son in the hospital in Belize City to visit another in the hospital in Dangriga, I would have lectured her about it and made Trip turn around for her to pick it up.

Do you know why more tourists don't return to Belize? It's because of the garbage!! You have no idea how many times I've heard - "Costa Rica is just like Belize, but MUCH cleaner."

This is what the bus stop in Alta Vista village looks like right now:

friggin disgusting - WHY doesn't this bother Belizeans???

I have had people tell me, "It doesn't matter if we throw it in a garbage can, the dogs will just knock it over and make a mess."

Ok - first of all, feed your dogs and they won't be so hungry that they have to tear into dirty diapers and used condoms and whatever else is in there.
Second - how hard would it be to build a little wooden structure with a top you throw over it to keep dogs out of the garbage??

Ug. Come on, people.... be nice to animals and keep the country clean - those are my requests to you.

And I hope no one gets all "Go back to where you came from if you don't like it," about this, because I would never ask any Belizean to do anything that I wouldn't be willing to do myself. (excpet kill a bug or something gross)

I feed the scrawny dogs (when I can afford to) and I pick ticks off of them and give them love and attention, and I'm constantly picking up garbage.... so... there.


  1. Here here! This is an awesome post I will be sharing. I was riding my bike behind a local just yesterday. He unwrapped his tacos and threw the paper and foil on the road and just kept on walking. I didn't say anything since I am not a Belizean and am very sensitive to the fact that a lot of locals don't want gringos telling them what to do in their own country, but it made me very sad. I am sure he is only doing what he has seen his parents and friends doing. Both the animal treatment and trash issues are near and dear to my heart. You should send a copy of your post to ALL the newspapers in the country. Seriously.

    1. Don't feel bad I get yelled at too but I can see where you are coming from. i think ppl here just believe that they know what is best for the country when a LOT of us have a lot to learn and in general they dont like being told what to do by ANYONE. Next time don't feel bad about saying something, even if they cuss you out.I get cussed at ALL the time lol.

    2. Tanya, thanks for your advice. I absolutely hate being cussed out, though! It takes a thin skin to stand up for what is right. I should have immediately stopped and picked up the trash (though there was no trash can anywhere near -- that is something Belize needs a lot more of). I will definitely do that next time, but the whole thing happened very fast, and I just didn't think quickly enough as I was zipping by on my bike. Next time for sure.

    3. I meant *thick* skin...duh!

  2. Hey carrie,
    It is very true everything that you say. i have the same issues with a lot of people. I have been lecturing people about the garbage and treatment of animals for years and years. As a Belizean I am tired of trying to get people to realize what we are doing to our country. I love this post and I will share because I know a few belizeans on my page that are VERY guilty of this and think that I don't now what im saying when i tell them that tourists have mentioned on many occasions that it's disgusting, they might just believe me since it's just not me saying it now lol. I am sorry, I would have told your friends mom to pick her trash up. But that's just how I am. But GREAT post.

  3. One thing that might actually make an impact is "model the behavior". When raising children, this is what actually works better than saying do this, and this, and this. When you lecture someone, the moment the tone of your voice becomes harsh and the first negative word comes out, the brain of the scolded person immediately shuts down anything that comes out of your mouth and it starts trying to process how and what they are going to say to you in return. You said that kids see their parents do it, therefore they do it. So, maybe, next time the guy in front of you discards his taco wrappings on the ground in front of you just pick it up and throw it away in a proper trash receptacle. And, maybe grab some scrap lumber from your own building projects and start a grass roots movement to build the protective box for the container at the bus stop and so on and so on and so on. Then make your M. Ghandi sign and artfully attach it to the wooden box you made. Then get a few Belizeans and expats together and take on another bus stop. And if a Belizean helps out, reward him with flea and tick medicine for his dog, because I am certain that treating the animal like a pet is financially not an option for the vast majority of Belizeans. If you get a chance, watch the movie "Dogville" and "Manderlay"....certainly gives one pause.

    Carrie, I love your blog. I check every day to see if you have posted something. I am moving to Belize by the end of this year...I will certainly look for the tatted couple in Stann Creek. You are delightful.


    1. Thanks, Joyce!
      I generally don't say anything to people unless they ask why Im picking up trash - which I do while I'm waiting for the bus. (On the inside of the bus stop, not all around the outside - I'd need gloves and bug spray to get that deep into it.)
      I've had kids and old ladies ask me why I'm touching the dogs or why I'm picking up trash, and I tell them that I think everyone needs a good pat on the head once in a while, and that the country looks prettier when there isn't garbage all over the place.

      We try to set an example for the two kids that come up and work for us on Saturdays - they know the first job is to grab the wheelbarrow and start collecting trash from the property and they see how much I hug on my dogs and how much time I spend keeping them bug free.... hopefully it rubs off.

      I should definitely get off my ass and start building some trash bin protectors... I can start with one of two in the village and see how it goes. Some people steal the weirdest things.... like the nets off of the basketball hoops. We were going to buy a few to donate but everyone told us not to waste our money, they'd be gone in a matter of days.

      Maybe that will be a good project to do with the kids.... have them build it and paint it and then explain to the other people in the village the point of it.

      Oh and the Ghandi sign is in the zoo - I should have mentioned that...

  4. Wow, thanks for all the comments!
    I know a lot of people feel the way I do about both issues, and I agree that it needs to be taught by example.
    I've been thinking about volunteering at the school here once I get my residency... I'd want to focus on animal care, littering, and things like etiquette (waiting in line, saying "excuse me," offering old people your seat, etc) if I had any say in what I could do there.

    I think I'll see what I can do about making a trash bin protector with the scraps we have at home.... we use just about all of it, but I'm sure Trip won't mind donating a few pieces for a good cause.

    Tanya, you crack me up!

    Thanks for sharing, ladies, I can use all the help I can get!

  5. I have lived in Belize for a number of years, as well as 2 other Latin American nations.
    Never have I witnessed a people with such "lack of personal responsibility", it's like they are all still adolescents.
    They also bite the hand that feeds them.
    If in a tourist related business, they prey on them with thinly veiled contempt, if not treat them with outright disdain.
    Their economy depends largely on Western visitors, and I have heard over and over that I do not belong here, should not be allowed to live here.
    With half or more of their population living in the US, they really have an arrogant and false sense of entitlement.
    There are some great people here out in the countryside, but generally the tourist spots are full of lazy con-men who feel that all visitors owe them a living.
    The best tour companies and hotels are all set up by expats who have a clue how to treat paying customers, have a realistic live and let live ethic.

    1. Aahhhh.... sad but true.
      I have to give props to all the amazing, Belizean owned and run restaurants, though. If you find a nice, local, "down home" place to eat, they treat you like family and don't rip you off by charging $15 for a place of rice and beans with chicken!
      George's Kitchen and Robin's Kitchen, both in San Pedro, stick out in my mind as two good examples, and there are hundreds scattered here on the mainland.
      Are there any tourist spots that you've been to in other countries that aren't full of con men? I dont have much to compare it to, but I think Jamaica was ten times worse than anywhere in Belize as far as people being in your face and obviously scoping out your wallet..

  6. Oh boy, we agree with the littering. Wow... It's disgusting, most places! As for the dogs, I sure wish the country would get a program going, to neuter ALL the male dogs. Then, work on the the females after that. The males only need an injection. It's REAL sad, to see them in Cayo, with the bones sticking out, mange & puppy teats. Breaks my heart. We cannot help with this, but we can help with the garbage. EVERYone can help with the garbage. If there were more trash recepticles around town, Like the bus stops, bank, post office, grocery stores, ect, maybe people would actually USE them, for what they're for. We love Belize, but we'll be leaving in a year, only because of some of the "simple" things, WE desire, in our lives. Belize is a beautiful country with beautiful people. EVERYone is nice to us. Except for the bus people. VERY rude. Pushing in front of anyone, to get on first. There's a whole bus, people, come on! I hope your volunteer work, will have an impact on these people. We do learn from example. Thanks, for sharing, Annie

  7. Amen on the locals boarding buses, water taxis.
    You have to adopt the "Driving in New York City"
    tactic, avoid all eye contact, it's shove or be shoved.
    I have literally been knocked to the ground in Belmopan, once on, DO NOT get off the bus!

  8. Thanks for bringing this to the attention of all. I'm horrified at the treatment of dogs in Belize. I do what I can, feed as many as possible, but there are so many. I'm fortunate that I know a vet in Corozal that will take in abandoned puppies as long as I pay for their initial vaccinations and deworming. In Corozal, the town every now and then puts out poison to kill the to be a better way.
    As for the garbage, the only answer is education right from the start, from parents to teachers, but old habits seem to day hard. Perhaps enforcing the fines would be a good start.

    1. Is there a Humane Society in Corozal, Dave?
      The poisonings make me sick... there has to be a better way :(

  9. Preach it, sister! And everyone else that posted comments. You echoed what I think all the time! With the littering...well, there is no excuse for that. HOwever, with the animals, a lot of it comes down to economics, not to mention how animals are perceived by many people in Latin American countries. If you can hardly afford to feed your kids, you won't really be able to afford to feed any dogs, let alone buy them tick/flea meds or any other meds. The various Humane Societies set up here and there around the country (we have a wonderful group in Placencia) have been making a difference for sure, but it is definitely not country-wide. Also, people in Belize often just think of dogs as tools (for alarm or protection) and not as beings with thoughts and feelings.

    1. you're absolutely right about how the dogs are seen as tools and not pets - and I totally get that.... it just makes me sad. At the very, very least, I just want people to stop beating their animals, and if you can't feed them... well, that sucks, but at least let them off the leash so they can go try to catch something on their own!

  10. Hi
    I live in Belize City and walk my dogs along the municipality airport road. Talk about WELCOME TO BELIZE... the garbage on the side of the airport entrances is just horrific. A year and a half ago, I decided to do something and got a couple of local kids to join me in a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) and we cleaned the area on a Saturday morning. During that time a guy from the airport came and asked me "why I was doing it". After chatting with him I thought nothing of it. BUt about six months later I suddenly realized there was no trash... and I was stopped in teh street and the same guy came to me and thanked me. He said he was raised right, he couldn't believe watching a person his own mums age, picking up trash that wasnt hers and right there he promised himself there would be nothing for me to pick up. WIthout my knowledge he (and his friends) have kept that area clean. A seed was sewn without my even knowing it. Good luck.

    1. That is SO nice to hear, what a great guy! And good for you for getting the kids involved in a clean up, that's definitely something I can try to get started around here, especially right at their own school and the area around it.
      I want to hug you!

  11. I know this post is old but I just had to comment. You're making a generalized statement about Belizeans littering and being inhumane to their dogs when that kind of thing happens in the states as well. I've seen it with my own eyes happen in NY, VA, NV, and HI. I'm a proud Belizean. I don't litter and I respect all animals, so please don't clump us all into one when you say Belizeans litter and don't treat their dogs right.

    1. Maybe you didn't read the VERY FIRST sentence.... maybe?

  12. I just stumbled over your post, and I cannot agree more. We just moved to Belize 5 weeks ago and the trash issue is unbelievable. All those posts "don't be a litter bug, keep our country clean" are like a slap in the face, especially if they are right next to big piles of trash. I understand that people here don't want to be told what to do, especially from foreigners, but it seems like they have no problem getting financial aid from foreign countries. Belize being a developing country has the opportunity to learn from mistakes others made before, so why don't listen? Being very dependable on the tourists this should be a major concern. I don't want to even talk about the animals, it just breaks my heart, but there are SO many, you don't know where to start.