Wednesday I headed into Belize City for a vision check-up – an appointment with Dr. Hoy at Hoy Eye Center. I am a contact lens wearer – and have been for about 15 years. I got my first pair of glasses to drive at night when I was about 23. And then graduated to contact lenses as my eyes got a bit weaker. And just 2 years ago, after my bi-annual eye exam in the USA (generally at a local Visionworks or other chain eye spot) – I graduated again to MonoVision lenses. Where the dominant eye wears a contact for far vision and the other eye wears a prescription for seeing close. It’s wonky for a few days but once you get used to it? It’s fantastic.
A few weeks back – on my first trip back in the US in almost 2 years – I made my regular eye appointment at the local eye-chain in the local mall. $240US just for the prescription without insurance.
Wait a second here…I think it’s time to start getting this done in Belize. So as soon as I got home, I made an appointment with the eye doctor – at Hoy Eye Center. I didn’t even see that they do FREE eye exams – it’s right there on their homepage.
Let me back up a bit and just mention some of my medical experiences here in Belize. I have my GP here in San Pedro (though she is actually a stomach specialist, Jeff goes to an OB/GYN!). And she is pretty much available when you need her – no appointment “squeezed in” for 4 weeks from Thursday. You feel unwell or have a question, you call for an appointment or drop in during opening hours.
Recently I’ve been to an OB/GYN in Belize City for a check-up and mammogram. Thorough and easy.
You can also read My 49 Year Old Boyfriend Had a Heart Attack in Belize for our unscheduled and most significant with the medical system in Belize. Jeff is headed in for a consultation/check-up with his heart doctor, Dr. John Gough later this week.
Wednesday in Belize City.
I headed into town early…well…early for me. In time for the 8:30am water taxi to Belize City.
The lagoon north of town on my drive down…
And the water taxi dock.
Off we go…it’s 1.5 hours to Belize City…with a brief pick-up/drop-off in Caye Caulker. Masks on!
** I took most of my photos with my IPhone on this trip – I didn’t want a camera strapped around my neck while walking around Belize City by myself. Better to keep it low-key.
There are many many taxi drivers at the Water Taxi terminal. I hopped in one for a ride over to my framing shop. I received a print recently from Etsy (from Etsy to a consolidator/shipper in Houston who ships down to Belize once a month).
Ralph at the Framing Shop is my guy. Great taste (simple wooden frames and matting), great prices and he’s lovely and easy to work with whether you visit the shop in person – or ship your artwork/documents to him from San Pedro.
He has a small selection of artwork in his shop. I am a big fan of Rachel Heusner’s work – and have my eye on this pretty yellow outdoor scene!
I just LOVE the yellows. Here are some examples of her work…oh I love them.
A thick frame, matting around my print and the cost was about $90bzd. It will be shipped to me later this week.
Onward…it was a few big blocks to The Hoy Eye Center and I wanted to make a few stops.
The streets are well-traveled – and it’s an area I somewhat know and feel safe walking during the day.
I passed this beautiful truck – my dream mainland “Scoop mobile” – by Belize Diesel and Equipment Company.
I sent the company a message later in the day to inquire. (Just for fun…) And she is the owner of the dealership’s truck. 1972 Landcruiser. Sigh…
I stopped into Sugar Fix – a fantastic bakery in Belize City to look around and maybe have a slice of cake. Or…pie.
Here’s my visit in 2014: A Belizean Pilot Baking New York Style Cheesecake? Sugar Fix in Belize City.
The cheesecake is INCREDIBLE but the coconut pie was also AMAZING and freshly baked. I had to have a quick slice. It wasn’t like I was going to the dentist!
Their desserts are not tooth-achingly sweet…just the right amount of sugar.
To the clinic for my 11am appointment.
I filled out a basic form and was ushered in. Dr. Hoy is certified in surgeries and Lasix but I just want a basic check-up. My plan was to get the prescription and then order contacts from the states.
He examined my eyes – we did the eye charts and he tweaked my prescription…quick and easy. But even better – he is lovely and has an incredible story of his early years on Ambergris Caye – but NOT in San Pedro.
Dr Hoy’s family owned land and worked in the coconut industry at the far NORTH end of Ambergris Caye which is now Bacalar Chico National Park. Back when there was an active population in Bacalar Chico.
If you want a comprehensive history of Ambergris Caye – try to pick up a copy of “A Guide to the History and Natural History of Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve” – they have a box left at Hol Chan Marine Reserve offices. At over 400 pages long, this booklet is incredible. (Here is an article in the SP Sun when it launched in 2008)
If you enjoy stories of pirates and colonists, shipwrecks, and shallows littered with conch and lobster as far as the eye could see – this book is A GEM. It makes a great gift for your favorite know-it-all/history nerd.
I had always wrongly assumed that Hoy was a name of Chinese origin but it is Irish. Irish!?! Dr. Hoy’s great grandfather came from Ireland, married a Yucatan girl (literally…she was 15 years old)…
They owned The Hoy Estate – a coconut plantation. (read more about Bacalar Chico at that time here in Ambergris Today)
From THE BOOK – “By 1930, the village of Bacalar Chico…had a population of more than a hundred and possibly more than 200, its most prominent residents being members of the Blake, Heusner and Hoy Families”.
And Dr. Hoy’s earliest years – until he was 7 years old – were spent at the northern tip of Ambergris Caye. Where the family owned a wooden sailboat – and getting supplies from Xcalak, Mexico was much closer than San Pedro.
What does this have to do with eye exams? Nothing! It’s just one of the many things that I love about Belize. You meet so many interesting people everywhere and it often seems as though everyone is connecting. I’m heading to an eye examination….snooze, right? No! My eye doctor grew up “in the bush” in the wildest, most remote part of Ambergris Caye.
I have so many more questions to ask…
We chatted until his receptionist kindly reminded him that he had people waiting…
I bought 6 months’ worth of contact lenses from him for $200bzd. And…the eye examination was FREE!
Taking care of business – and meeting someone with a FASCINATING story. Win win.
I decided to head next door for lunch – PIE WAS BREAKFAST – and try this Chinese restaurant.
I watched this boy practicing his casting in the river for a while…
Thanks for hanging with me! This blog is a bit… non-linear? All over the place! But I love to travel, I love to meet interesting people and I love to explore.
This was the ideal day for me. AND the dumplings made it home intact. A minor miracle.