10 July, 2009

The Light Is Getting Brighter At the End Of the Tunnel

The four of us, Doug and Twyla, and Dianna and myself, made another trek to Belmopan to continue with our quest to obtain residency here in Belize (the US equivalent would be getting a green card).

We left bright and early yesterday morning at about 7:30 AM, in a pretty good drizzle, complete with rolling thunder. We made good time down the Northern Highway to the Burrell Boom Cutoff, which we took over to the Western Highway to Belmopan. All pretty non-eventful.

As we turned onto the Western Highway, the sun began to break through in spots, so it actually became quite nice.

I felt guilty about reneging on driving and leaving that all to Doug for the second or third time. I was quite sore from boating on Wednesday (you don't realize how many extra muscles you use keeping your balance on a moving boat and climbing up and down ladders, etc.). That was my excuse and I'm keeping to it.

We pulled in to Belmopan around 10:00 AM and headed directly for the Immigration Department office. Along the way, we passed the Chinese bakery that is supposed to be just excellent. We figured we'd stop on the way back so we weren't tortured too much by the smell of fresh-baked bread.

As we walked into Immigration and "bellied up to the bar", so to speak, Doug mentioned to the girl who motioned for us that we had come to do the next phase of our residency application. "Mr. Rider?" She said, looking right at me.
"Yes, that's me." I answered. It's always an ominous sign when someone you've never met before knows who you are.

Right away, I was wondering, Oh Lordy, what's wrong with our applications? I could just picture them passing our applications around the office, trying to hold back tears from laughing so hard. "Look what they put down as an answer for Number 4! Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha... It's priceless! They expect to get approval for that?!

I guess we actually we did better than that with our apps. She just wanted updated copies of our passports, and to give us the Security Bond forms that we have to fill out along with a Belizean citizen who will vouch for us that they will pay for a one-way air ticket to get us from Belize to the US (or wherever you might be from) in the event that sometime in the coming three years we turn into absolute deadbeats.

I'm going to check with a couple of folks we know here over the next few days, to see if they would be willing to sign the form for us. They would become, in effect, our sponsors, in US-style terminology. The form has to be signed in front of a Justice of the Peace, so, it's really a binding agreement. Something the Government of Belize will be sure that whoever signs it really does know you and is willing to vouch for you.

Once that's done, we return to Belmopan with the form and our passports. They keep the passports for a couple of weeks (giving us a receipt for the passports) while the Director evaluates the application packages. Then we return to Belmopan once the Director approves everything, pay them the required money (for US applicants, it's $1,000 per person) and we get our residency stamp in our passport. Then we head to Chetumal, Mexico for dinner and a movie to celebrate!

On with the tale of our trip. After we got done at Immigration, we left Belmopan and drove another 20 minutes or so over to Spanish Lookout to have lunch and scope out a hardware store I was interested in.

As we got into Spanish Lookout, we were all impressed with how clean the surrounding environment was and how spacious the layout of the town was. Almost, a store per block it seemed, really roomy.

We stopped at the Golden Corral Restaurant ( for a nice lunch, then we hopped over to the Midwest Steel and Agro ( as I wanted to look at weed whackers. What's cool with them is you can order from their catalog on line too.

After a couple other stops at hardware stores, it was a short return to Belmopan to the Chun Fu bakery. Some folks say it's the best bakery in Belize. I don't think so. For my money, the selection and quality at the Panifacadora La Popular bakery in Orange Walk, is far better. Still, we all bought about 2 loaves each of Cheese bread and cinnamon bread from them. It is tasty stuff.

By then, we're beginning to run out of energy, and anyway, we wanted to get back to Corozal before dark to avoid the vampires and whatnot. So, Doug pointed their Isuzu down the highway and away we went.

Of course, the further we went, the more drizzle we ran into. On one stretch, we got to exercise our adrenalin muscles. It was on one of those white marl-topped sections of the highway. There was a piece of "yellow gear", a hughe loader of some sort, in front of us on the highway. He slowed down for a speed bump, as you do here in Belize. Doug began to brake as well. Only we didn't slow down directly. He broke traction on the white marl surface, and we slid quite a long ways... right at the massive back pusher bar of this piece of yellow gear. Doug managed to bring it to a halt about three feet before we would have plowed into his pusher bar. I doubt if the guy driving it would have even noticed that we clobbered him good. Well, thankfully, we didn't, and shortly thereafter, we managed to get around him and on our way.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, other than the four of us saying over and over how excited we were that we were nearing the end of our quest for residency. It really was an uplifting feeling to know we're near the end.

I must say that I have a much better appreciation for the work involved and the hassle folks must endure who come to the US looking for the "green card". I never fully appreciated just how hard it must be. I suspect getting a green card in the US is even harder than the residency program we're going through in Belize.

Only a couple or so weeks more to go. There really is light at the end of the tunnel!


Julian in SC said...

You know, our first trip to Corozal I had a car rented on-line and they were to be at the Airport with my name on a sign.... never happened. At that did happen was that it took another hour to find and rent a car. Then we took off up the Northern Hwy... and in December it gets dark pretty early so we spent the last hour and a half in the dark.

The only way I could work it was to let a local pass me and then speed up and follow them as long as my nerves held up - since they knew where the bumps were!!! When they hit 70 I let them go on, slowed to 35 and waited for another "guide". We made it to Corozal and I want you to know I had 3 drinks before supper!!! Wow, what a ride!

Dave Rider said...


Thanks for the chuckle. Only trouble is, it's the way we still do it too - and we're going on three years!

Driving at night here is terrifying.

I think I'll go have a beer. My nerves are frayed.

Dave and Dianna

sandy a said...

WHen my DH went thru immigration (he was a Canadian) here 17 years ago, it wasnt that bad. I heard its a real pain now. He finally got his citizenship last year and that was a breeze. Now he doesnt have to renew his green card every 10 years!

sandy a said...

i was going back in your old posts about the whole house surge suppressor and was wondering what kind of duty you had to pay on it? Now that we are getting ready to build our house in Maya Beach I really think it is important to have one of those things installed.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Sandy,

As I recall, we had it shipped to Clifford Marage Trucking. Shipping from LA to Belize and duty only cost us about $50 BZD total. It's a small and light-weight unit.
That reminds me, I need to get another one for our guest house.
I ordered it from It was a Leviton Whole House Surge Suppressor (LV511201) and cost $243.83 US including UPS to Marage in California.

sandy a said...

thnx--will check it out.

Unknown said...

Oh, and good luck on getting your residency made Official. Did you ever entertain doing the Preferred Residency Thing where you could bring down your belongs, car and boat with no duty? I seem to remember that there were some provisions that made it questionable...

I know my wife says that if the only "talked about" Value Added Tax of 25% is ever made into law then you might have neighbors...


Dave Rider said...

Hi Julian,
Thanks on the luck. We looked at the QRP (Qualified Retired Person) program, but just didn't see much advantage as far as we were concerned and for sure, more liability, requirement for a couple of thousand per month into a bank for one, and we didn't have a boat or plane, and bought a vehicle after we got here. Residency just seemed more our speed. Now that it's almost done, it was a piece of cake. After two years on the QRP what do you have? Not much. No residency. Just wasn't for us.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the info.. that is what I remember now. I dislike getting older.. I now have the dreaded disease called CRS -- which stands for Can't Remember Stuff (or something like that)..