It was 10 years ago that the original idea for crowdsource-buying an island to run as our own micronation first appeared (and failed). After 10 years of finely tuning said idea, we finally started to raise capital in January. The initial plan was to get 120 people to invest $3150, thus giving us $377,800 to buy said island, put stuff on said island, and pay pesky things like lawyers etc. Now at just under 6 months in, we sit at 64/120 investors. Our imaginatively named website can be found at www.LetsBuyAnIsland.com
Conquest of Paradise
At 50 people, we agreed that we would proceed regardless. Having reached 64, we decided to start preliminary island shopping.
Our initial searches found that the best bang for our buck was Belize. The country’s sound legal infrastructure further sealed the deal. With two of our initial party on tour in Colombia, we decided that we’d go give it a look.
We flew initially from Bogotá into Guatemala, and then took the 8-hour bus ride to Flores Island City (which is a blog post unto itself). The 8-hour journey took 20 hours, which meant instead of a night in Flores we boarded almost immediately for Belize City.
Belize and Guatemala are still technically at war with each other, with Guatemala claiming over half the island as its own (another blog I plan to write – watch this space). Despite this the border is surprisingly chilled, maybe due to the weather and decent rum – who knows?
Driving through into Belize City, a coastal city and former capital of Belize, is a treat in itself. Belize typifies what you’d expect from Central America and the Caribbean – the country features beautiful rivers, bush and rainforests. Also, as we were to later find out, there are plenty of sublime beaches and paradise islands.
Our first night in Belize City was a Friday. They do weekends properly in the city, with the drinks flowing and the girls dressed to the nines. Alas we were not there to party, but to buy an island.
The next day we headed to the airport to pick up the third member of our group and our rental car. That accomplished, we headed down to Placencia via the “new” capital of Belmopan.
The drive is supposed to take 4 hours, but took us close to 7 due to all the stops we made. It’s that gorgeous.
Our first stop before Belmopan was an interesting one, to say the least. We saw a number of portable-home-type things behind some fences, and some gentlemen in orange jump suits waving at us. Our acute powers of deduction led to our realizing it was a prison – more specifically Belize Central Prison, known colloquially as the “Hattieville Ramada”.
The prison had a gift shop where we stopped to at least have a look. We got chatting to some locals visiting “loved ones”, swapped T-shirts with a pretty lady heading away from the prison, and generally took in the surroundings. A surreal moment to say the least. Prison visit accomplished we headed off to Belmopan, the capital of Belize, and the next part of our road trip.
End of part 1. Part II can be found here.