Escaping the Rat Race: Freedom in Paradise
World Audience (2007)
Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (6/08)
If you are seriously considering moving to Belize, Helga Peham’s “Escaping the Rat Race: Freedom in Paradise” will have you feeling a part of your new home in no time. The book is a series of interviews with both transplant and native locals from various age groups, educational backgrounds, income levels, and reasons for living in Belize. Their candor and the personal information they provide is sure to be the start of many conversations with strangers who have read Ms. Peham’s book.
Formerly known as the British Honduras, Belize gained its independence from Britain in 1981. It still has functioning army bases and is a part of the British Commonwealth, and the fact that it is primarily an English speaking country is emphasized throughout the book. Chapters discuss business and real estate, children and the aged, the arts, and the tourist trade among other things, but each interview generally includes insights, opinions, and advice on several aspects of Belizean life at once. The author has also ensured that the information is well-rounded, including thoughts on personal safety, hurricanes and environmental degradation, government interference, and youth and drugs. Those interviewed generally agree that Belize is a lovely place to call home, and express very strong community feelings. However, they do not spare their words to possible newcomers regarding it being a foreign country that has its own way of doing things, which needs to be respected.
This book would not interest anyone who does not enjoy reading biographies. The writing is also a bit choppy and repetitive at times, with an overabundance of invitations to e-mail the author for more information. However, the generous margins and large, clear font will be appreciated by older readers. Television travel shows and books such as this are bound to generate further interest in the country. If a move to Belize is being seriously considered, take some advice from the people already living there and do some research first, which should definitely include reading “Escaping the Rat Race: Freedom in Paradise” by Helga Peham.