I am on the phone all day, five days a week, answering questions about Belize. Because it is an 800 number, and because when people call they get a real person who is willing to talk to them and can answer most of their questions, I end up talking to wide variety of people for a long time. Many of them are clearly not suited to visit an eco-resort way out in the middle of the ocean, but I figure why not help them anyway, maybe it helps Belize in general. So I do a lot of talking.
Lately there seems to be a new pattern with some of my calls. I have been hearing from people very worried about things they ‘heard’ from ‘someone’. Once they get a real person on the phone, they pour out these concerns, seeking my opinion. They are extremely concerned about rumors they haven’t tried to verify, and they are making decisions based on these rumors. Some of these rumors are preposterous!
Yesterday a gentleman was very concerned about ‘Third World’ dive operators who had ‘faulty air mixtures’ in scuba tanks. Someone had told him about this, and he was not sure he wanted to go to the Third World to dive. I said, but wait, it’s not a mixture, it’s just air that has been compressed! I told him that I have been working in Belize 26 years and never, ever had heard any problems with faulty ‘air mixtures’ in scuba tanks. And besides, Belize is not really the Third World (is there a Second World?) He sounded somewhat reassured, but still seemed anxious to believe the ‘someone’ who claimed that dive operators in Belize are somehow degrading the quality of scuba tank air!
Another caller told me that she ‘heard’ that Belize City taxi drivers will rape you; that it’s not safe to take a cab from the Belize City airport. What? I have taken zillions of cabs in Belize City. They don’t want to have sex with you, they just want to take you where you want to go and get paid the going rate for it!
Someone told another person that traveling to Tikal from Belize is unsafe. I replied that there have been a few problems over the years, but not recently. And if you are super concerned all you have to do is use a Guatemalan guide. Would-be Guatemalan road warriors do not bother their countrymen who have paying passengers. Still, she opted not to go to Tikal at all, because someone told her she would surely be attacked.
The bottom line, when you hear a rumor, search for similar claims on the internet. If these things were true, they would be all OVER the internet. It’s not hard to put your fears at rest. You definitely cannot believe everything that you hear.