Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Dilemma

We were faced with a bit of a dilemma this week, and we did what we think was right, even though it wasn’t really what we wanted to do, although we think it will turn out okay. Most of the men we’ve met around here have questioned us about working in the US. Because so many gringos, like us, come down with enough money that they can buy property and don’t have to work too hard if at all, the perception is that if you go to the US you can get a job, make huge money, and return to Belize a rich man. Plus, most Belizeans know that it’s not hard to make $10US an hour, which is half a day’s work for many Belizeans. Whenever our friends have asked us about this, we try to explain that it’s not that simple in the US, and that the cost of living is higher, and there are all sorts of expenses a Belizean would encounter in the US that would chew up that $10/hour very quickly. So, even if a Belizean would make a whole lot more money in the US, getting most of that money back to his family while he was living any sort of a reasonable life in the US – away from his family – isn’t as simple as it looks.

Anyway, a friend of a friend in the Rochester area owns a landscaping business and gets work visas for Mexicans and Belizeans so they can legally come to the US and work for him for eight or nine months of the year. He contacted us and asked if we know of anybody who might be interested. We laughed because just about every man we’ve spoken to in the year we’ve been here would be interested at some level, and then we got some more information and asked if the prospective employer wanted us to talk to anyone. He sent us his list of qualifications, and told us to go ahead and ask our friends. This is where the dilemma came in, because Tom and I looked at each other and realized that because this deal sounded so good – and is good, really, for the right people – we really didn’t want to tell our friends about it for fear they’d jump at the opportunity. But, we then counseled each other in our grown-up voices, our friends are adults who can make their own decisions. And, are two people who chucked their established life and successful careers in the country where all of their friends and families live to go to a country where they only casually know a handful of people and have no jobs qualified to make a decision like that for somebody else? No, of course not [we said in those grown-up voices]. So, we wrote down the information and trotted off to our neighbors to give it to them.

And they’re interested, and may know other people who are interested. We talked for a good hour, and warned them of other expenses they might encounter, and told them of some of the differences between here and there that might surprise them – April snowstorms, for example. We also told them about some of the things they might like, and let them know that part of the reason we would try to talk them out of taking a job in the US is purely selfish on our part, because we don’t want our friends and neighbors to go away for a long time. Yes, I know, that’s what we did to our friends and families in the US, but that’s also how we know that it is difficult and hurts, and the hurt may not be worth what they’d be paid. So, now we wait and see what they decide, and if any of them are offered a job and decide to go, we load their suitcases with the fleece and wool socks we’re not wearing, give them hugs goodbye, and say we’ll see them in eight or nine months. Olmi has already come to tell us that she’s pretty sure Damion wouldn’t do it because they don’t want to be apart from each other for that long, but we’re not sure what anyone else is thinking. And, we’ll tell a few more people we know about the chance, and then just see what happens.

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