ALL OF THE PHOTOS: 1,214

here are all 1,214 photos I have

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/belize2014

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The Real Money

“David” a Lebanese business man living in San Pedro sat down with me and talked about all things business on the island. From average workers, to the business owners elite, he gave me tons of information. to start, the average Belizean in San Pedro brings in $20,000bz a year which is a very good income down here. The island of San Pedro is the Manhattan or Beverly Hills of Belize, all of the mainland citizens look up to San Pedro as the wealthy of the country. On the island the upper class workers will earn about $40,000bz a year which in this country will put you in the top 10%. The business owners however, are the ones who bring in the big money. The income disparity between the worker and the owner is staggering, in San Pedro an owner of a company dealing with tourists can make about $40,000-$50,000bz a month. To add onto that staggering figure, the tourism industry on the island is fairly new, local government is trying to increase the revenues by 100 fold. In 10 years David says there will be no more locals, only resorts and hotels, bringing in hundreds of millions in cash for the region, as it stands San Pedro brings in 70% of Belize’s GDP.
David’s current industry is restaurants, grocery stores, hardware stores, and clothing. He currently brings in 80% of the islands goods through importation and makes roughly $20,000USD a month. His long term goal is to wait until the tourism boom in a few years and run the importation to the single largest cash cow in the region. He then plans to move to Miami and run imports from there. A cool thing I picked up in conversation was that non cocacola products and Marlboro cigarettes were banned in the country of Belize yet he was able to smuggle them through by paying off the customs agents. “Our country of Belize is so corrupt you can do anything you want for a price, [it’s] not good for the people but very good for business” – “David.” He even got his cousin into the country for a large cost.
The most interesting thing to me was that once he found out that i was a finance major interested in banking, he almost had more questions for me than I did for him. His main questions focused around loan systems and how to go about getting qualified and what the banks were looking for. but some Questions focused around investing, it was almost like up until this point the banking system in Belize was minute or non-existent yet this new found wealth was bringing a wave of investors and bankers to the country. The new business men with their relative vast wealth, people like biggs and david, who have never countered people like them before are totally blind to the modern systems and looked to someone like me for help.

Minimum Wage

We arrived yesterday, after 3 flights and hours of layovers and delays we finally pulled up in front of our hotel. The first day was not all that eventful, we shopped for essentials, hopped into the water, and went to a fancy dinner with the crew.  Today was much different, we were able to snorkel and a bunch of us dove with the dive master and reviewed some of our skills.

During lunch I was able to talk to a few locals about the basic economics of the island, specifically about earning wages and average incomes.  The regulated minimum is $3.25 Belize, or $1.625 USD an hour. At 40 hours a week that is roughly $3,380 a year US. Construction workers make roughly $50 Belize a day or $25 USD which amounts to $6,525 a year. The man I spoke to worked at a pizza joint as a server and made $100 USD a week or $5,200 a year before tips, he mentioned that he loves american tourists because we are the only nationality that tips and he makes him just about or even more from tips as he did from his wage.  The cost of living is so low that on these small wages people can live with middle class lifestyles.  To supplement lower incomes many people catch their own seafood such as fish and lobster.

 

three young children were spear fishing

three young children were spear fishing

Paul, Steve, and John

Paul, Steve, and John