Photo Credit: Courtesy of Asli
The Black Expat: 'We're Chasing The Sun, Belize Is Just One leg Of Our Journey'
London-born Asli and her husband Frank have been traveling a fair amount since they got married in 2014, spending a couple of years in the East African region. But when it came time to settle down, they decided to put down roots in Belize, a Caribbean country located on the northeastern coast of Central America and bordered by Mexico and Guatemala.
Accordingly to Asli, “The more research we did, the more we looked around, we believed it to be the best balance for us right now in life.”
With their five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter in tow, the couple is committed to building a sustainable life and practice a “holistic approach to living.”
“The reason it came about was not just sustainability, but preservation and making sure that we live a healthier lifestyle, a cleaner lifestyle and giving back more to the earth, essentially,” explained Asli. “And then when you have children, I think your general thought amplifies some more in terms of what am I teaching them and what world am I going to leave behind.”
She continued, “Apart from the general being a parent thing, you feel that much better when you’re not bombarded with chemicals and pesticides in your food, and you’re not constantly having to worry about various illnesses that can come about from a certain way of life.”
To that end, Asli runs her own skincare company, something she has done for a few years now. The couple also grows their own food, a habit they started forming back in England when they learned through planting in a plot of land specifically earmarked for non-commercial gardening or growing food plants known as allotments.
“That in itself is incredible for your mental health as well just to gradually build from that,” she added. “And then it kind of went all the way through to looking into buildings. My husband’s been in construction for over 20 years now anyway. There are so many sustainable ways of building. Everything doesn’t have to be concrete.”
For Asli, the move to Belize was also part self preservation.
“Being a Black woman in the Western world, we are what we are and get treated how we get treated. And I just wanted to find different places in the world where more people look like me, and you get treated as we should rightfully. From a cultural perspective, growing up in London I’m used to a multicultural society, and it’s always nice to be around different people, to learn different things and broaden your perspective as a human being. I wanted that for my kids. The welcome I got personally was one of the best anywhere in the world, which was very heart-warming. It has stayed the same since, so it’s not just a one off glitch in the system. It wasn’t just a nice customs lady at the border kind of thing. The people are really nice.”
But sustainable living and friendly faces are not the only factors that continue to attract the family to the Central American country.
“I think my favorite thing would be the mixture of different communities. You’ve got various people. You have Garífuna people, you’ve got mestizos, and the Mayans that were here from the original tribes. It’s such a mishmash. And the way people just generally coexist is beautiful. You’ve got the Caribbean vibe. Everyone’s just chilled and doing them. It’s really just a live and let live type of way, which is a really nice place to be because you can just get on with your life and not feel bombarded like you would in some places in the world.”
Belize is also the only English-language-official country in Central America, which Asli said made the transition much easier.
“You don’t actually have to worry about the logistics, the people, or all the legal stuff being in a different language that you have to translate. You can just get on. Everything official is in English. That’s a big bonus.”
“The water’s impeccable,” she gushed. “You’ve got the Blue Hole. And even though we have the second largest reef in the world, it’s actually the only one left alive. The Australian Great Barrier Reef isn’t alive like it was a while back. So the waters are actually just breathtaking. The other thing is you go inland, and you’ve got the jungles, you’ve got the mountains, which are lush and dense and have a massive variety of wildlife.”
Ease of movement is also a game changer in terms of being able to enjoy access to the comforts of home.
Because Mexico is close by, a trip to Walmart, Home Depot, or Starbucks is not out of the question. But as enamored as the family is with Belize, this is just one of what Asli calls their “permananent homes.”
“We have made a conscious decision in the last couple of years to not have just one home. It may sound a bit greedy, and we’re not millionaires by any means, but it’s due to having the freedom of movement to be able to open up as many opportunities as we possibly can and to be able to explore the world a bit more freely without tying ourselves down to one place. It gives our children immense learning opportunities. But the idea is that we want to decentralize our lives in every sense of the word, whether it’s our finances and the way we invest. We bought a piece of land and a home in East Africa when we were there last, then we want to be able to do some pieces in South Europe. We’re chasing the sun. Belize is just one leg of our journey.”
Follow Asli and her family’s sustainable living at The Decentalised Life.