First US Embassy Town Hall in About Three Years Held in San Pedro
Today, at 11 am, the US Embassy in Belize held its first town hall-style meeting since COVID in San Pedro at the Blue Water Grill.
I was just tagging along with Jeff and didn’t know there would be an informational meeting too.
His passport expires early next year – and since certain countries have a 3-or-6 month rule, this meeting seemed to be the perfect chance to apply for a new passport and NOT have to travel inland to Belize’s capital town of Belmopan.
It was actually perfect timing. After very heavy rain in the early morning, we left the house and returned a few hours later…in time for the next heavy rain.
The current storm system moving right over Belize today.
And I thought I’d share with you what I learned because the meeting was good. Interesting. Here’s what I learned with some photos from this morning sprinkled in.
Since the US Embassy in Belize hasn’t held a meeting in about 3 years, they want to assert their presence again – let people know they are here, what they do, and the best places to get information.
Here’s the most interesting tidbit I learned. The US embassy in Belize estimated that there are about 30,000 most of the year-full time Americans living in Belize. 7.5% of the population. WOW!
It is IMPORTANT to sign up for the US Embassy’s STEP program (join today with me) – so that the US Embassy can keep you up to date on events, general information and emergency info.
The topics: Hurricane Preparedness Update, US Voting, and A Security Update
- Storm Season: Though the season has been relatively quiet so far, NOAA is still calling for an “above average” storm season. This means 14 to 21 names storms in total and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. (There have been only 3 named storms to date: Alex, Bonnie and Colin)
- Get prepared. Batteries, water, 3 months of medication (important!)
- Do NOT ignore evacuation orders
- And from me: I haven’t been on the island when a mandatory evac was issued. Hurricane Dean in 2007, it was suggested but not mandatory. I think it might have been Wilma (which jogged away from Belize and hit below Cancun) in 2005. Both were doozies – but thankfully not so much for Belize.
- NEMO (Belize’s National Emergency Management Organization) is going to be your primary source for information and warning when in Belize. These storms generally give considerable warning…and you can trust me when I say, it will be ALL the town is talking about for days leading up to the event
- Voting: First, look online for information and contact your local voting district/area for information and registration. When sending in your ballot, you can mail it thru the US Embassy in Belize (often faster than the local mail). Remember that you often need to submit your ballot early (sometimes a few months early) for it to be counted. Here’s a link to US Citizen Service.
- Security Update: The new Superintendent of Police, Superintendent Cowo introduced himself – he just relocated to San Pedro for the position. He gave us a brief overview of the police who patrol the north and the south of the island. During the day, there are always two officers at Secret Beach. He also gave his phone # at the station at 206-2022. We also got his personal cell number but I don’t want to…would it be doxing to share it here? You can message me if you would like his cell phone number.
- He said that crime is under control right now but that there is an increase in golf cart theft. Often the cart is left – with some/all parts removed- far north on the island. LOCK YOUR CART!
After the meeting, Jeff (who filled the form out before the meeting started) attached the required photos (he got those taken just before the meeting at Belicolor right here in San Pedro town), paid the $130US for the renewal fee, and handed over his old passport.
He snapped a quick picture of the Picture/information page – you should always have a copy!
It should be ready in 2-3 weeks and he can have it messengered to him thru the Embassy. (Which costs an additional $33bzd) Easy peasy.
After the meeting was over, we all stood up and held hands and sang “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood.
Ok…I made that last part up. But I’m not used to having a meeting for Americans in Belize. I don’t often think of myself like that.
But today I guess I do. And I’m glad I attended and I’m now on their email list.
Caye Caulker. You are up next.
To get an email when a meeting is coming to your area – sign up for the STEP program – the link is above.