‘Tis indeed a small world. I went to get my hair “did” yesterday and normally I don’t talk but one of my challenges this year for myself is to engage in small talk and to just let people know I appreciate them. So, somehow we got to where I’m from and I said Belize and she goes “O my gosh! I’ve been there.” So I ventured to ask where hoping it was like San Pedro or Caye Caulker and then she said, struggling to appear neutral, “Belize City.” And I saw the look on her face and I burst out laughing. I said, ‘O I’m so sorry. Why did you go there? Nobody goes there for a vacation!” And she said that it was the cruise ship. They were dropped off and told to go explore Belize City. SERIOUSLY???? Whose stupid idea is this??? I mean, even we locals hate going to the city.
She said that she didn’t want to give me the wrong idea. She learned a lot and came to appreciate that she really does have life good and that she is very glad she lives where she lives. She and her family took a guided tour in the seedy and then more wealthy areas (turns out it was definitely Buttonwood Bay). She said she felt scared and knew that had it not been for her family she would not have even gotten into the cab. She said she definitely felt “eyed” and threatened. She liked the chicken with the “sauce” on the rice but was afraid to try it at first, then glad she had. I asked her if she got to go to the islands and she said that she knows that there are beautiful beaches and that people have destination weddings but she never even got close to a beach.
Here is the thing. I understand that the tourist village was built to drive $$$ into the city in an attempt to create jobs and a sustainable economy but did we shoot ourselves in the foot? By highlighting our crime ridden and bullet gutted city, we provide a very narrow and frightening view of our country to tourists. This creates a negative press we may not have anticipated. That girl and her family (6 of them) will never entertain coming back and you can damn be sure they are not going to send anyone else. Multiply that by a couple thousand every week or so??????
*sigh* Any ideas on how to do this differently?