Great Blue Hole, Belize

The Great Blue Hole

Looking like a giant eye in the ocean, the Great Blue Hole, about 50 miles off the coast of Belize, is a massive sink hole located in the Lighthouse Reef System.  It’s 984 feet across and 394 feet deep.  It’s considered one of the best scuba diving locations in the world. It was first a limestone cave system during the last ice age when the sea levels were lower.  When the water rose, the roof collapsed and the cave system filled up to be the beautiful underwater kingdom it is today.

Cross-sectional view of the great blue hole.

One of the best scuba-diving locations in the world

 

If I scuba-dived, it would definitely be on my bucket list.

Open Doors

I realized something when I read my last post:  I didn’t explain why one door was closing on my tropical retirement idea.

As you’ve read, I’m a proud Canadian, and I want to live in a country that has, at the very minimum, similar values to my own.  Although Belize has an attractive retirement incentives program, and although I should meet its qualifications, it doesn’t meet mine.

One way to measure how free a country is is to determine if it protects the rights and freedoms of its marginalized members.  Belize does not.  Among other things, it is a strongly homophobic country; gay persons aren’t even allowed to cross its borders. I am not a gay person, but nor am I a black person (or a _____ person; fill in the blanks, it really doesn’t matter); as Martin Luther King said, “discrimination somewhere is discrimination everywhere.”  It’s an assault to us all.

I am a strong supporter of human rights, of which LGBT rights is part.  How a country could summarily reject a class of persons outright (and get away with it) is beyond my comprehension.

When I was a child growing up in Windsor, Ontario, my grandmother, a devout Catholic, had a favourite saying: we are all god’s children. We had a aunt who lived in Detroit, a stone’s throw away.  During the race riots of 1967, my aunt blamed “the niggers” for all the trouble.  My aunt, born in Hungary and raised in a nazified country, wasn’t being cruel; she was just horribly ignorant. My grandmother’s admonishments stopped her in her tracks (at least for awhile), because she saw herself as a good Christian.  Funny how “good Christians” espouse views antithetical to the religion they hold dear.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Just had to get that off my chest.

 

The late Jack Layton, leader of the New Democrat Party, in Toronto's Gay Pride Parade.

From Bora Bora to Belize

I may have to rethink Bora Bora.  Belize wants me.

This tiny, English-speaking South American country is providing incentives for the 45+ group from anywhere in the world to retire there.  Called the Retirement Incentives Program, anyone who meets the criteria of a Qualified Retired Person (QRP) are offered a host of goodies to consider Belize their retirement home.  For example, QRPs can import all of their belongings, including their car, boat, and plane, tax and duty free. Their income (the $2,000 per month requirement from a source outside the country) is tax-exempt.

So why retire to Belize, one might ask?  According to Wikipedia, Belize is one mighty fine place to live.  It boasts beautiful weather year-round (except for the hurricanes that come with frightening regularity), and is home to the Belize Barrier Reef,  the second-largest barrier reef in the world.

Unlike the rest of South America, Belize is English-speaking and English is the official language.  QRPs can adjust quite comfortably to the cost of living there, too:  $1500 a month can support two people living a “simple” lifestyle.

The Keel Billed Toucan: Official Bird of Belize

Everything is much less expensive in Belize than in North America, except for gas and North American consumer goods.  The government is also very generous with its land:  apparently, you can buy or rent property with a 30-day tourist card.

Health care in Belize is reportedly  affordable and modern. I don’t think I would consider giving up Canadian health care, but it’s good to know that, as a QRP, I wouldn’t have worry about a minor illness while abroad.  But what about the health care from one’s country of origin?

In Ontario, as in the rest of Canada, our health care is free.  Our employer co-pays the premiums for what our government doesn’t cover (for example, our drugs and eye care). I’m not inclined to relinquish my free health care, especially in my twilight years, so I did some investigating.  The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)  continues for out-0f-country Ontario residents–as long as they are in the province for a minimum of 153 days of a 12-month period for 5 consecutive years for each subsequent absence.  A lot of words to say that, as long as your in the province for a few months of the year, your golden.

I have a thing about huts.

So what does all this mean to me.  Not thrilled about the hurricanes, but Belize is looking pretty tempting.

Can’t give up on Bora Bora though.  Wonder how a person could get to Bora Bora from Belize…