This title can be taken three ways. There is a literal time change when you fly to Belize from almost anyplace in the U.S.—which itself has six time zones, counting Alaska and Hawaii. Canada has five time zones. If you’re coming from anywhere else, you’ll have to figure out the time change for yourself. As a country, Belize represents a different time—a slower, more relaxed one—and your mind and body will have to get in sync with it. But those two words can also be taken to mean that the times themselves change, and that’s what I want to talk about today, now that Belize is 50 years behind me.
Here’s a story that didn’t make it into my book. It happened fairly early during my stay in Rio Blanco, and I didn’t include it because I had already documented my many cultural blunders and didn’t see the point of including another example. Besides—the incident wasn’t really that funny. Except to the Maya.
People who move to Belize and stay there year after year, making friends and becoming part of their community, usually have very good social skills. The most important are: acknowledge that you’re in a foreign country, and respect that country’s laws and customs instead of trying to superimpose your own values on existing laws and customs.