How’d that happen? This week has been a total blur. Tuesday was crazy…Flag Day. I was the last person in our class of 41 to be called, and I kept listening as each of my top bids, and then my medium bids, went by. And when the last flag came up, I was too wound up to focus on it. Was it Singapore?? Oh, my god, they hadn’t called Singapore yet! I would’ve remembered. That was high on our list and I’ve always wanted to go there. Could we be going to Singapore???

No.

We had 18 people in our class and 19 posts. Singapore had apparently dropped off in there somewhere. So imagine my surprise when they called….

BELMOPAN, BELIZE!

I know, I know, many of you out there LOVE Belize. It’s the greatest vacation spot you’ve ever been to. So forgive me if my enthusiasm doesn’t match yours. But Belize was about 14th on our list of 19. Followed only by Bangladesh and four violent posts…two in Central America and two in Africa. And I know that Belize isn’t THAT bad…if we’re going to go anywhere in Central America, I’d want to go to Belize. But these are the reasons I’m not so thrilled to spend the next two years of our lives there, particularly with an infant.

Climate: It’s 95 degrees every day with 120% humidity. There’re huge bugs and snakes and spiders. You have to have the dehumidifier on all the time or everything in your house will mold and rot.

Medical: Decent doctors are virtually non-existent. We’ll have a local nurse or two at post, but the doctor only comes through once a month. If you have anything serious, like a car accident, you have to be medivaced back to the States, which cuts down your survival rate. And forget about finding a pediatrician of any kind.

Diseases: Typhoid, rabies, malaria, dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (River blindness), and American trypanosomiasis (Chagas’ disease). I don’t even know what half of those are. But you can’t bet your ass I don’t want anyone in my family to get them.

So those are the glaringly obvious cons.

Here’re a couple pros:

Language: Belize was previously British Honduras, so the official language is English. One less thing to stress out the family at our first post. At least they’ll be able to get around and communicate for the most part.

Proximity to the US: It’s about a five-hour flight from DC. So the grandparents and any friends that might want to visit us won’t have too far to go.

Housing: Official housing in Belmopan is half local and half on the compound. The compound housing sounds pretty good, with generators and water treatment for drinking water, a pool, and tennis courts. Hopefully our luck will pick up and we’ll actually get housed on the compound.

Recreation: The town of Belmopan is wicked small. I’ve read varying reports that range from 10-16,000 people. Apparently there’s not much to do around town, but we’re an hour from the coast (won’t get beat up as badly by hurricanes) and there’s a coral reef off the coast that is supposed to be the second best in the world for diving.

Hardship pay: We get 20% and qualify for the student loan repayment program with State.

So that’s where things stand at the moment. I’m trying to be positive and see the bright side. We were disappointed not to get any of the other posts that we’d ranked higher. But, hey, at least we’re still getting paid to travel…and we didn’t get NIGERIA.

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