Monday, October 22, 2012

After-market Garmin Maps for Central America

Buyer Beware!!

Our Jeep's dashboard package came with a built-in Garmin/NavTeq GPS system. Familiar with the Garmin product, we were happy to have it incorporated into the dashboard, so there would be no tell-tale windshield ring residue inviting trouble.

I, in my indubitable wisdom, decided to plug in addresses for Mexico and Belize while sitting in our driveway in Nashville. Lo and behold, the Mexico map zeroed in on its destination; Belize, however, did not exist!!! Uh oh, now what? Further investigation lead me back to the dealership in search of an owner's manual, where I was told, "It's a satellite connection, should be no problem." But it is. In further discussion--with a salesman, who was a techy--I found out there are no Central American maps pre-installed on this particular system AND there is no way to install them after market!! AND there is no owner's manual for this GPS system-it does not match up with the GPS system represented in the owner's manual supplied with the vehicle!! WHAAAT?? 

After trying to call Garmin's customer support twice--and refusing to hold for a 40 minute wait, Google happened. 

Here's what we discovered

The Central American maps are ALL after-market and have to be downloaded from your computer to the GPS device via the USB port. We had to purchase a 2nd Garmin, we chose a Nuvi 2555LMT, to accept the download! Yes, we now have 2 devices.

For all you techies out there, in order to get Central American maps installed, check your device's specs and go to We chose to install the Central American package, covering all countries. Individual countries are also available.  You may also view the maps, and pre-plan a route on It's free for both Mac and Windows.

After all that, we'll be traveling with dueling GPS's on the dashboard through Mexico--we shouldn't get lost.................

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Checklist --T minus 2 weeks

Today I realized it's less than 2 weeks until we leave good ol' Nashville!


Personal paperwork (wills, POA, licenses, passports, etc) and mail
     Originals and copies all distributed to family members for safe keeping.
     Mail forwarded to family member.
     Good through 2018.
Stateside Driver's License
     Good through 2016.
     Own Jeep. Driving it down through Mexico.
     Packed the Jeep with empty suitcases, to make sure everything fits and has a
Car insurance
     So, it will take 2 insurance companies to get us to Belize! One each for Mexico and 
     Schwab accounts ready to go.
     Arranged through Caribbean Shipping Services. Crate built, packed and ready to 
     Visit family and friends-PA, MD, VA, NC, TN, TX- before crossing the border 
     into Mexico mid-November.
     Plotted central route through Mexico.
Belize crossing
     December 1.
     Dec-Feb Corozal apartment, rented
     Mar-May Hopkins cabana, rented

Whew---have I forgotten anything?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Holidays--Be Prepared!

So our conversation with our new friends covered Belizian holidays. They marveled at how the holidays in the US were celebrated by the few, while many still worked. They cited stores remaining open during the holidays and employees being required to work.

In Belize a holiday is just that--a holiday, no work for most. These celebrations can last more than one day!!  Everything is closed for the duration! More time to party! 

 Words to the wise: "Be prepared"

Make sure you have enough food and beverage to last. Shop before noon the day before the holiday to make sure you have a good selection and variety of choice. I guess it's like shopping under a winter storm or hurricane advisory here in the states--at the last minute everyone needs bread, milk and toilet paper!!!

Holidays can be subject to arbitrary last minute changes by local authorities! Example - The Cabinet of Ministers of Belize agreed to declare March 7, 2012 as a "one-off" bank holiday to coincide with the election day. Rumor has it that Columbus Day may be moved to October 15 this year.

Here's a list of Belizean national holidays for the remainder of 2012:

Many of these are new celebrations to US expats, so I've added a brief description of the "why" for each holiday.

October 2012
    12 and/or 15 - Columbus aka Day of the Americas or Pan American 
         Celebrated by fishing tournaments, parades, beauty contests and music. Most
            festivities can be found in Cayo, Orange Walk and Corozal where the Mestizo
            culture is predominant.
  • A national celebration of Mestizo culture, takes place annually on October 12. I heard it may be moved to Monday, October 15.....
November 2012
      19 - Garifuna Settlement Day
            Celebrated by parades and presentations of Garifuna culture and music, 
            especially in Dangriga.
  • This national holiday celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna people to Belize in 1832, takes place annually on November 19.
December 2012
      25 - Christmas Day
            Celebrated traditionally, by gift giving, tree decorating and family feasts.  
            Uniquely Belizian is the introduction of Deer Dance, cultural foods and music.
  • This national holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus, takes place annually on December 25.
     26 - Boxing Day
            Celebrated in Belize with parties, concerts, horse racing and door-to-door 
            neighbor visiting.
  • Also known as St. Stephen's Day, this national holiday has it's roots in long-ago Britain with a tradition of giving gifts to the less fortunate, often coins in a box as a Yultide "tip"--gifts to equals were exchanged on or before Christmas Day. Takes place annually on December 26.
Thanks to:;;