Monday, December 25, 2006
Chinese Belize
For those of you who have been asking, I know I haven't posted in a while and I'm sorry. I've been in the midst of travels (coming back from China, spending some time with my cousin in the Caribbean, trying to take a smog-free deep breath on my vacation). For those of you who don't really care, sorry for the long intro - I'll try to get on with it.

I know I am no longer living in Laiwu, but I think I may keep the title "Laowai In Laiwu" for the time being, unless someone else manages to come up with something better for Beijing or something comes to me in a dream. At that point you just have to admit that a higher power dictates and make the title change, right? (Though somehow I think the powers that be have more important things to do...) But for those of you who are asking, despite my not being in Laiwu, I will continue the blog and for the sake of ease, it will remain at the same web address.

Now onto the good stuff:
As I mentioned earlier, I spent some time in the Caribbean with my cousin, just taking in the sunshine as well as a few ports of call. Belize City, as we would come to find out, is not a particularly stable nor a particularly safe place to walk around - especially for two twenty-something females. We were advised by our good friend and rock climbing belay support, Peter, to try an excursion into the jungle or to the beaches and to avoid the "city" part of Belize City. The only hitch was that to get to the jungle, you have to cut through the city one way or another. Our way involved a tour-guided hour-long bus ride. Our hiking leader/tour guide, Raymond, narrated the history of the city as we drove, pointing out the highlights along the way. By twenty minutes in, I had sort of tuned Raymond out and was just staring out the window, enjoying my time off.

Out of the blue, it all came rushing back. I saw a sign with Chinese characters on it. That's strange, I thought. Then I saw a second. And a third. It was unbelievable - here I take the good time and money to fly thousands upon thousands of miles away from China and it manages to follow me all the way to Central America. I decided to ask Raymond about it. Well here, it turns out Belize has a HUGE Chinese community (actually, more specifically Chinese and Taiwanese community - which, depending on your political convictions, may or may not be one and the same). They dominate - of all things - the Belizean fast food industry. They are the "McDonald's",''KFC," and "Beijing Express Take-Out" of Central America. Raymond went on to explain that the Indian community (from India, not the Native Americans) dominated textiles and the only viable industry left to native Belizeans (?) was tourism.

Apparently, as recently as the last five years, there has been a major influx of Asian emigration and investment into Central and South America. I know I mentioned in an earlier post the current Chinese influence in Africa. Well it's spreading globally. Like a virus. I'm thinking Ebola. Take my advice: learn Chinese and quickly - it may be your best shot when the smoke clears. Just kidding. But even if I'm not, I speak Chinese so at least I'm in the clear...
posted by Rachel @ 9:54 AM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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