We spent far too long in Belize, not only for our moral but for our pockets. Spending 5 solid months in a country allows you to see things that travelers would otherwise miss. The following is our raw account on Belize, the people we met (both amazing and not so amazing) and our experience working for Crystal Auto Belize.
Luke: Belize is third world mostly due to the organizations operating in the country. Companies do not have to abide to basic human right standards and exploitation is just as rife as the corruption that goes on between governmental bodies – in a round about way, we fell into this trap.
Similar to investor fraud, we were manipulated and taken advantage of by Jay Crofton, the owner of Crystal Auto Belize, who hid behind his big Texan hat and mirrored sunglasses with a cigar smoldering against his blackened teeth. For five very long and hard months we worked every day on a project he wanted to get off the ground for 6 years and couldn’t – the project was turning his 90 acre farm land jungle mess into a tropical oasis.
Throughout the 5 months he offered reassured glimpses of reimbursement for our time and contribution to his enterprise and land, but he avoided us like the plague. Jay made it impossible for himself to come to the farm so not to address the volume of work that had been completed, but spoke to us on the phone daily requesting more work to be done. Sadly during our final hours in Belize he shrugged us off and manipulated the situation as we were mere ‘tourists’ in his country – not paying a dime for our work. We left with an empty bank account and some wild memories.
Jenna: I watched on as Luke designed and constructed the most beautiful 90 acre landscape during the rainy season and one of the wettest seasons in years. He was up at the crack of dawn and always in the thick of it – burning down marsh land, working some crazy machinery, excavating a 10 acre lake, building islands, manipulating the ground levels to avoid flooding, shoveling this and pushing that – things most wouldn’t understand, things I didn’t understand at the time, but creative vision lye’s within.
And five months in images…
Jenna: In addition to creating a paradise in the deep dark depths of Belize, he touched many lives and managed the project with poise and tact.
Luke: Adrian is one of the most humble men I have ever come across. He has had one of the hardest working lives – suffering illness at a young age and missing out on his education he was pushed out to work by his large family to help provide and has worked tirelessly ever since.
Now at the same age as me, he has his own family of five and continues on to just survive. With a boss that pays him peanuts, he is plagued with sand flys and Miskitos all night in his make shift wooden shack with 15 dogs that live outside and under his home. His duty even during the night is to ensure the safety of the farm, respond to the dog barks and patrol the compound.
Adrian was often spoken to in a way lesser than the dogs he cares for and yet was still the nicest and friendliest. He would help me anytime with anything. We shared food, clothing and as much conversation as our time together could offer.
We would sometimes drive the family to the shop in the comfort of our quiet car and they would fall asleep before they had put their belts on. An exhausted sleep deprived family, over worked and no prospects working for the boss.
I only wish I could have left him one further piece of advice which is take your family and leave the farm, go back to your old boss.
Luke: Alex was a really good god loving man that was sincere and straight down the line. He was a loud but warm and inviting Honduran man that you could hear singing or occasionally catch dancing in the workshop during his lunch break. He always invited me into the workshop with a warm smile and was always willing to help me with fixing or finding the tools i needed to keep my operation going. He was a humble and colorful man and I will miss his inviting smile and character. Stay happy Alex and thank you.
Luke: Jenna supported me every day that I went out into the jungle – from my tea at 6:00am all the way through to our beer at the close of day at 630 pm. She kept me hydrated with frozen bottles of juice in the roaring heat, shielded me with countless bottles of Deet from the ever attacking insects that tried to weaken me during the day and had to venture out into the small unsafe local communities to find something of better nourishment than the tripe that was offered to us as a company meal. We ate beautifully and creatively with our minimal resources to hand, which prevented me from wasting away to the same degree as the other malnourished employees. I could never have completed such a large project on my own without her support.
Luke: On top of this great feet, Jenna took it upon herself to give the poorly paid and forgotten family of the farms jungle the compassion and education that she has had the fortune of having – working with the three young children tirelessly most evenings in a make shift school in the back of a 40ft truck to better equip them in their lives and give them the opportunity to open up their capabilities for the no doubt excruciatingly hard life ahead of them. They all went from lost cause to top of class. What a women!!!!
Jenna: Adrians family are simply sweet – I spent a lot of time with his children in our makeshift classroom working on homework and teaching them English, but just as I spent time teaching them, they too taught me.
JJ: Thank god I am out of there. My doggy doctor said for me not to talk about it but I can’t keep quite. The locals would throw stones at me and my family, and kick us if we got in the way – in which I had first-hand experience from one of the farms hands. If I hadn’t of been adopted by my parents then I too would have been one of the other poor pups thrown into the land fill due to negligence and mistreatment. I lost a lot of good friends and family. I will seek vengeance and tell my story of the brutality, I will have my day. Read my story soon in MEMWARES OF A MUT.
A dear family member said it best about travelling – ‘the amazing highs and CHARACTER BUILDING LOWS’. The long overdue ending of this chapter was most definitely our lowest point as we worked 12 hour days for 5 months straight for a man who led us to believe that our work would be financially rewarded. Sadly we could not read between his lies and in the end were left broken and broke, exhausting all of our financial resources to travel on-wards. Thankfully we have a strong network of support who in our darkest travelling days shone light upon the situation and pushed us forward to continue.
DAY: GOD KNOWS!!! 5 MONTHS LATER!
And… Even if we were left broken & broke… There certainly are things that money simply can not buy… Such as…
We grew stronger as a team
We adopted the perfect puppy – the LEGEND that is JJ
We acquired the perfect TANK
We met some great people
We had our own parties every night
We saw some pretty spectacular sunsets
We played with some super cute puppies
And we learnt one of the hardest lessons in life…
We may not get as far as we initially planned, but we will certainly adapt, readjust and surge forward.
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Keep reading as the adventure has only just begun!