Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Best of Both Worlds

We're back in Belize. That is, me and my daughter only, because Michel and his son Antoine are stuck in Miami since last Friday as a result of this ´phantom´ash cloud; who could ever have thought of a scenario like that? They were scheduled to fly back to Europe last week, Antoine had to start school again after Easter break, and Michel had to go back to see his mom and have business meetings that will determine our future. After five extra days in five different hotels in Miami Beach, suddenly South Beach is not so attractive anymore, very expensive. Guess who has to pay for it? We do!

As for Soleine and me, we are back in Belmopan, after five weeks . It's good to be back. Nothing has changed here in Belize since our departure, though it strikes me just how hot it is - always need a few days to adjust- and how dirty the road sides are. We are actually going to help clean up the Belize - Belmopan highway this Saturday, for Earth Day, so more on that later.

For the past five weeks we were in Europe and in the States, and this allowed me to compare these two continents. As usual while traveling I like to collect things. This time I collected 'things' that are, in my opinion, better in the US, and things that are better in Europe. Here's my list. Feel free to comment and add.

Things that are better in the States
  • The size of the roads and parking spaces. In Belgium I have to call Michel to come down three floors to park our car reversely in impossibly small parking spots while traffic is racing by.

  • Space shuttles. We went to the Kennedy Space Centre and were impressed by the US space program, seeing the shuttle that went to the moon 41 years ago...no way we would have pulled that off in Europe. 
  • Free refills for coffee and soft drinks. Wish they'd do beers too. Also, the quality of coffee in the States has improved tremendously over the years (or has my taste deteriorated?).
  • People cleaning up their dogs' shit. We can all follow that good example.



Things that are better in Europe

  • Food and sizes of food portions. I find most food in the US rather terrible and the portions are insane, leading to incredible amounts of food being wasted and shocking numbers of fat people. Many are so huge that they  do Disney World in rented scooters because they can't walk.
  • Inclusive pricing. If the menu reads that a meal costs 20 Euro, then you pay 20 Euro. The same goes for hotel rooms, rental cars and flights. In Europe the waiters do not add 18% (!!) to your bill for throwing your plastic food on your plastic table. I could not help but feel cheated all the time because of the hidden resort charges, parking fees, insurance costs, sales taxes and service costs.
  • Castles. True, Disney's castle is cute but need I say more?
  • Real smiles. Okay, people may not smile as much as in the States, maybe due to long hard winters and the fact that teeth-bleaching is uncommon, but when they smile, it's a real smile. Not the Time-Share Sales Guy Have a Great Day-smile (so fake).

Things that are better in Belize
  • The jungle! We went on a jungle trail in the Everglades. Ha ha, what a joke.An asphalted jungle trail? With garbage bins and warning signs?

  • Scenery. Likewise we crossed the Big Cypress park on 'one of America's most scenic highways', well...I can tell you that the highway from the Airport to Belmopan is more scenic, even despite the rubbish. 

  • The Keys (Cayes). We drove all the way down the US 1 Highway to Key West. I reckon that must have been one of the most expensive highways in the States but it felt like being on any other highway...you hardly notice the keys. It's much more exciting to take a water taxi and explore Caye Caulker or Tobacco Caye.

Agree? Don't agree? Anything to add anyone? Of course the real morale of my story is that we are just lucky devils to be able to experience the best of both worlds, and even more!

8 comments:

  1. just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying reading your blog!

    I really appreciate this post...your comparisons are very helpful. I hope to see Belize someday and am interested in all things Belize right now :-)

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  2. Always look forward to your recent posts. Good to hear you're back...can't wait to get down there. As soon as my house sells, I'm hoping for Placencia. Anyway, love your posts -- they help me feel 'connected.'
    Midlife Belizer

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  3. I agree with you on most of the things...however, I remember finding parking space in Sobe was CRAZY...has it improved??? I got my car towed several times! nothing can be worse then small european old town centre, though, i agree!! Also...about the space shuttle...I think we just did not want to invest in it...and i am pretty sure there were brilliant european minds behind it to! am I being too pretentious??

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  4. I suspect that trail was paved for handicapped access--initially a very noble goal, but unfortunately co-opted by all those flagrantly large people in scooters who really do need to get the hell off them and walk for a while.

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  5. "People cleaning up their dog's shit" Hahaha, I remember the last time I was in Victoria, Canada a few years ago I noticed "dog poop baggie" dispensers in all the municipal parks and even on some street corners!!!
    Doggie doo doo in Victoria actually is a serious crime....I believe the by-law enforcement officers can write a $100.00 (Cdn) citation for "failing to clean up after your pet". Whatever works, I guess.
    I just with there was something EFFECTIVE we could do about all the stray dogs (and cats) here in Belize.

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  6. Great blog! I think i'll come and live there sooner or later...;) Greetings from Oman.

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  7. AnonymousJune 28, 2010

    Fat people? Maybe all people aren't fat because they eat too much. Maybe you are just a bitch.

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