Mick Fleming is a larger-than-life character, a Brit who, more than 30 years ago, with US$600 in his pocket, made his way to Belize City, where he met a guy in a bar who owned a piece of land in the jungle he was interested in selling. Mick bought, thinking he’d try his luck as a farmer. The farming was tough going, but, in time, Mick identified another opportunity. Travelers were beginning to find their way to this remote region. They’d happen upon Mick and ask if he had a place where they could spend the night.
Mick built a few thatched-roof cabins…then a few more…then a dining room and a bar…
I met Mick nearly a quarter-century ago, when his Chaa Creek Lodge was a humble (electricity- and hot water-free) but beautiful oasis in the rain forest. I returned as often as I could for years, but, when we traveled out to see Mick this week, I realized it’d been maybe 13 or 14 years since my last visit.
In the intervening years, Chaa Creek has grown up. Today it’s 25 luxury villas, a spa, a swimming pool, and five-star service in the still thatched-roof dining room.
“The world has changed since we saw each other last,” Mick said our first evening together. “We watch the news here each evening, and we know what’s gong on out there. It’s not that we’ve got our heads stuck in the sand. It’s that we choose a different reality.”
Here in the Cayo, it doesn’t take long for any other reality you’ve brought with you to fade. In this frontier land of rivers and rain forest, your mind and your body are occupied with challenge and discovery from sunup until you fall exhausted into your bed each evening.
At Chaa Creek, Mick and his staff (Chaa Creek employs more than 125 local Belizeans) grow their own fruits and vegetables on site, make their own furniture in their woodshop, and thatch their own roofs using techniques passed down from father to son in this part of the world for centuries.
Mick Fleming is something of a legendary character in this part of the world. But the relevant point for you is that the opportunity that Mick came to this quiet corner of the world to find three decades ago exists still. Belize’s Cayo District remains a place where a man (or a woman) can stake a claim and carve out a simple but rich and rewarding life.
Friends and colleagues at our Live and Invest in Belize Conference this week showed all in attendance especially appealing current opportunities for doing just that—for starting over, for seeking safe haven, and for making your own reality in this beautiful, English-speaking country.
Kathleen Peddicord www.liveandinvestoverseas.com