Introducing our split life
When we moved to Hopkins Belize, I could not have predicted the split life I am now leading. I live part time in Belize City and part time in Hopkins because of the kids’ school.
For the first three years in Belize, both of my kids attended primary school at Sittee River Methodist school, 15 min from our home. But when my daughter reached high school age, we selected a high school in Belize City (BHS). You are able to choose from a number of high schools in Belize. Some are technical / hands-on schools, some have high academic entry requirements. Some are private. I think all are religious. You can read about choosing our high school in this blog post. We enrolled Fay in June of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. I didn’t really have a plan for how I would manage getting her to school. Belize city is a 2.5 hour drive from our home in Hopkins, Belize. I kept thinking a solution might present itself if I just kept an open mind. I know families that send their high school kids to board (for pay) with families in Belize City. But I wasn’t ready to do that quite yet (Fay was only 13).
It was a bit of a silver lining when schools closed for in-person learning in the fall of 2020. We were able to stay home in Hopkins while Fay did her online schooling. And, Fay’s high school did a really good job of adapting to online learning during Covid. So good, in fact, that I decided to enroll Rex in the same school, but the primary school division (BES).
When schools opened briefly in the Spring of 2021, we decided to rent a furnished apartment near the school. The kids attended 1/2 days at school and some weeks were remote weeks when we could just stay in Hopkins.
Fast forward to now, winter of 2022/2023. School has resumed to full days. Every week, we travel up to Belize City on Sunday afternoon, stay the week, and travel back to Hopkins on Friday afternoon. The kids and I split our lives between Hopkins and Belize City. There are some pros to this arrangement and some cons.
The upside of our Belize City weeks
From the start, we were all excited to get to know Belize City. Our first 4 years in Belize have been spent in Hopkins, which is a rather small and somewhat remote, village in Belize. Typically, the grocery store items are limited to the same selections, week after week. But, in Belize City, there is an abundance of imported snacks and cereals, as well as international cuisine (Indian restaurant, sushi restaurant) and in pre-pandemic times, there was even a weekend-only movie theater. Belize City has a department store, Mirabs, which carries furniture, kitchen dishes and tools, toys & games, decorations and much more. We also have a fantastic fabric store in Belize City (Mikado), and a stationary store that could almost be called a craft store (Stationary House). Besides personal needs, I find myself shopping for things the hotel needs which is a cost saver. Typically, if the hotel needs something from Belize City we would need to pay to send it on Tropic and pick it up at our local airstrip.
The downside of going to school in Belize City
The toughest part of living in Belize City part time is this constant countdown of “when we get to go home to Hopkins”. Each week, we drive up on Sunday and back on Friday. It’s fun to have the weekend to look forward to, but I realized it was more than that: we were treating our Belize City apartment like temporary hotel rather than a home. After a year of living with that feeling, I decided I had to make a change. If Rex goes to high school at BHS, we’ll have another 4 years of this split life and I wanted to make sure the kids (and I ) feel like we are living in our home.
So I set about making the kids’ bedrooms have personality. I sewed curtains for Rex’s and I got a bunch of photos framed for Fay to put up on her wall. We also decorated cork boards to put up on the walls. I think all the changes have really helped.
Another huge downside is not being able to interact with the B&D team or guests. Now that I spend 5 days a week in Belize City, my work has changed to mostly computer work. It reminds me of my life before we moved to Belize. I’d much rather be at the resort, working with office team and meeting the guests. I realized after moving to Belize how much I love hospitality. I love getting to know all our guests and hearing about their lives and seeing them experience Belize. So, if you visit us, look for me on the weekends!
Up&Down: Making friends in Belize City
During the pandemic, Belize City was REALLY lonely. The kids went to school part-time and didn’t have lunch period at school. School was all work and no play. I was also very lonely because I did not have any opportunities to meet the parents of the kids’ classmates. I didn’t feel part of the school community. And Ryan spends his week in Hopkins, so we didn’t see each other during the week.
I’m glad to say that has all changed this year! In 2023, the kids are back to school with full days (including lunch) and after school programs. The PTA meetings are in person rather that virtual and there have been several in-person events at the school. I’ve started making friends with a couple of moms at the school and I feel very much a part of a wonderful school community.
And while I do not want to cast a shadow on finally making friends, with it comes one downside. Now the kids are sometimes torn between staying in BC on weekends and going home to Hopkins. Occasionally, there is an opportunity to hang out with friends on the weekends in Belize City. Just last month, we stayed in Belize City 2 of the 4 weekends so the kids could attend a school function and a friend’s birthday party. It feels terrible to be away from Ryan, home and the resort for two whole weeks when we stay in BC on a weekend.
But it is what it is. I will still count this situation as a positive. The kids are in a great school and we have made friends in two places in Belize.
AND, the coastal road is better than ever. Don’t know about the Coastal? I’m going to write my next blog post about that.