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Got up the next morning and booked it to Belize City .
There's a water taxi building that you're deposited at if you take their boats. Triple J's is different. This building has food, drinks, snacks, beer, and lockers to store your things in by the hour.
We'd heard that Big Daddy's Cafeteria was good, but it looked old. So we snacked and boozed. Walked down to the tourist zone, which is a few block all around where the cruise ships dock. There's heavy police presence, to keep these fat Americans safe. And there's plenty of affable street vendors that want to sell you crap. Being "not those tourists" we got a kick out of the hustle, which is strong, and surely must work on most of the people that jump off the boat and aren't accustomed to it.
I stopped at someone with a cooler and bought an icey Belliken. They had my product. I wasn't interested in doodads, or crappy bracelets, but a cool Belliken, well, I could handle that.
Wow, the vendors ratcheted up the pitch as soon as I was carrying a beer. "hey man how 'bout we go get some more beers and see some girls?!" "ey' buddy, good beer, yah? What do you think about my .." Etc etc. Anyway.
So we finally hopped a cab back to the airport, negotiated down to $15, which is about the local's rate. We finally asked a few nice ladies and that's what they told us, anyway.
Guess what? Remember that over-taxing problem we previously talked about? There's a $30 US exit fee from the country, which is *not* included in your plane ticket. We were ticked. And there's a $2.50 security fee, payable at the ticket counter.
So, if you get through the gauntlet and are angry, there is a guy that sells hot dogs down at the end of the terminal building, and that makes for slightly happier times. And the duty free places all sell rum. But I digress.
Sat around for a few hours chatting with some fellows from the Midwest that want to open a fly fishing place in Belize . We wish them the best, but they kind of fell into that group that we've identified that are taken with the place before they really crunch the numbers and do the on-the-ground leg work.
Kyle was the same way. He thought for sure that all you have to do is show up in Belize and you'll make a killing. Well, you could, but there's a lot of hurdles.
The locals are one. You can't be a tour operator without a license, and you can't get that without being a citizen. Good luck.
Another is the rocketing taxes, and plummeting tourism.
Another is that unless you're operating out of a big place (San Pedro) you're competing for very very few tourists. Better have a marketing machine working in the states.
The other is that most people don't have a great business plan. "I'll open a bar!" is the stupidest thing you could do. Right now, Belliken is wholesaling for $1 US a bottle. It retails for $1.75 in the store, $2-$2.25 in the bar. That's nothing as far as normal markup is concerned. Most wouldn't deal with less than 300% (ie $3 US) but the market won't bear it. $3 US for a beer that's only 2/3 the size of a full 12 ounce beer? Yeah, right!
In case you hadn't picked up on that - "regular" Belliken is 245 ml, instead of 355 ml (12 oz). Bullshit.
So, at any rate, this concludes the rant about Belize 's taxes. They're crazy.
Left Belize and made it to DFW. Kyle and I split there, him from Lubbock, me for Austin . Had my first "weird" conversation on the plane with a nice women. Was reading a TIME magazine, trying to catch up, talking with her, and trying to have an "American" conversation. Small talk, you know, plane shit. It was hard. Well, it was hard to be coming from a place where traveling is what everyone is doing, to a place where "travel" is a weekend thing to go shopping, or camping if you're really crazy. Hard to adjust. Luckily she was a fly fisher and we bullshitted about that for some time. Nice woman, but made me realize that when people ask where you've been and you say, "Central America", and they respond, "Oh, what part?" and you respond, "umm, all of it.." that it really makes people's heads explode. Haha.
At any rate it's weird to be back.