Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Crossing the border for lunch

If you grow up in a country that's also an island, especially if it's as big as Australia, crossing a border is a big deal. You have to make a special journey, either by plane of boat, to make a border crossing. So the idea of going to another country for lunch was astounding for 6 year old Ana Maria, and still had a certain frisson for me at more than eleven times Ana Maria's age. We're in Chetumal, in the state of Quintana Roo in the far south-eastern tip of Mexico, right on the border with Belize. A friend of my daughter offered to drive us across the border to Belize for lunch of rice and beans.

The border crossing hardly lived up to our expectations.

Belize border

We were simply waved through the border by immigration officials - no need to present identification and, sadly, no stamps in our passports.

Borders can be odd places - not quite one country; not quite the other; and sometimes spaces that are unclassifiable and global. Our brief visit to Belize included lunch in a casino dining room:

Belize casino

The casino itself could have been anywhere in the world, though our rice and beans with plantains, chicken and potato salad were distinctively and wonderfully Caribbean and we were served by English-speaking waiters in the only (officially) English-speaking country in central and south America.

Belize rice and beans

Lunch was followed by a short visit to a duty free shopping area. This had none of the try-hard gloss of duty-free shopping in large airports, but was an intersection of dusty streets selling cheap imports from India and Taiwan, probably to be on-sold at local markets for small profits. Again, we could have been in any such market around the world selling exactly the same cheaply-produced goods:

Belize duty-free

So we crossed the border for lunch and found a mixture of the local (the food) and a strangely borderless world.


DrK said...

a long time ago, i saw a travel brochure for belize and i've always wanted to go there, i think i saw pictures of beaches though, not rice and beans. it must have been a very interesting experience for Ana Maria! no fabric this time?!

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