We got mail! File it under: Be careful what you wish for . . .

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It took five weeks, but our first forwarded mail from the U.S. has arrived. Guess who the first piece of mail was from?
It took five weeks, but our first forwarded mail from the U.S. has arrived. Guess who the first piece of mail was from?

Be careful what you wish for …

Our first bundle of forwarded mail arrived last week.  It had been about five weeks since we set up a forwarding address and, so far, the one piece of mail that had arrived was a letter from Spain from Rose’s daughter, Caira.

I was getting kind of anxious.

Caira’s letter was sent directly to our new address in Miami, not forwarded. So we knew that part of the system worked. But what about all those utility bills and bank statements and political mailings from California? Where were they?

Before leaving the States, we’d set up a forwarding account with Rob Henke at San Pedro’s Mail Boxes Etc. This gives us a U.S. address in Miami — actually, a PO box and a street address, which I thought would come in handy for online purchases. The account also gives us an address in San Pedro, at Rob’s business, to which all our Miami mail is sent on Thursdays.

Don’t look so startled.

I like the idea of once-a-week mail delivery. It is so “African Queen” meets “Island in the Sun” meets “Only Angels Have Wings.” Now, if I could winnow Facebook and e-mail down to only once a week. OK, once a day ….

Poor Rob. Even though he promises to e-mail you when you get mail, my sad disappointed face that kept showing up to open the empty mailbox must have got to him. He promised to run a check on our mail.

Rob, like a patient bartender, kept saying “It sometimes takes a while for the mail to start flowing in. But after the first mail arrives, you’ll be deluged. You’ll see.”

So the dam broke last week.

Ironically three of the letters were from the U.S. Post Office to Rose, asking her to confirm that her forwarding address is correct. But the letter on top? The first one I saw when Rob handed me the packet?

From the IRS.

And it was kind of thick.

Oh, crap.

C’mon, TurboTax, what happened? You and me, buddy, we worked so well together this year. You with your constant reassurances and gentle prodding and me with my exhaustive research and documentation. You said we would get a refund! Not a thick, ominous (Is there any other kind?), letter from the IRS!

Thankfully, it was no biggie.

It took five pages to point out that a single 1099 form was missing from my filing. I don’t know how, since it was all-electronic. A quick photo copy and letter drop in the San Pedro post office and the form was on its way.

And I was back to riding my bike,  imagining myself as Cary Grant in a rickety mail plane flying through tropic storms to some  remote South American outpost where a world-weary Jean Arthur (as played by Rose Alcantara) anxiously waited for me.

By the way, our direct mailing address is:

Bob Hawkins or Rose Alcantara

c/o Mail Boxes Etc.

Suite 186

San Pedro Town

Ambergris Caye, Belize


Or, you can reach either of us by e-mail:



I know that some day we are going to want a local phone but so far the need hasn’t been that great.

Our iPhones are on permanent airplane mode for now. We use them pretty much only as WiFi communication devices and cameras. WhatsApp is great for WiFi-based  texting, voice messages and even photos. Rose and I both have Viber for phone calls but I haven’t tried it yet. Rose uses that and iPhone FaceTime to keep in touch with her kids, Jon and Caira.

For a guy who spent more than a decade snorkeling in the deep end of the digital pool as a technology writer/editor and online news editor, well, I’ve become pretty ambivalent about it all.

Outside of this blog, writing weekly postcards to my three-year-old grandson, Brody, is state-of-the-art communications for me.


11 thoughts on “We got mail! File it under: Be careful what you wish for . . .

    Julia Sugimoto Smith said:
    April 1, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Yo Maureen, Mike says to tell you to hurry up buy a big place in Belize and we will see you all real soon!


    Julia Sugimoto Smith said:
    April 1, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Oops, meant to post this on Rose’s blog. Sorry!


    patcor22Corina said:
    April 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I have been following your blogs for awhile now and it’s been giving me a great inside to living in Belize. My husband and I thinking of moving to Belize but we are still doing our research. Please keep up this Blogs, There great. Thanks!! Also the pictures you put on are awesome. I can’t wait for our first visit to Belize this year sometime or the beginning of next year.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      April 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Hope your research goes well and as you can imagine, this is nothing like being here to test all that you have learned. Good luck!


    bruce losee said:
    April 3, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Your blog is great we have been following it now for the past few weeks and am keeping notes. We have bought property and are building our home with the intent of moving there full time this winter. I have wondered about mail and keeping a US address for internet purchases as well is this what you recommend?
    Should we get a land line phone when we get there? Thoughts?


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      April 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Hi Bruce,
      The best way, I think, would be to have children with an established address who could forward mail! Half of ours are always moving and I didn’t want to impose on the “established” kids who are busy enough!
      The Mail Box Etc.(MBE) route seems a good transition setup for forwarded mail, as we had to get it done before we moved here. It is also good for folks like Amazon which will sometimes not ship to post office boxes. MBE also provides a street address here in an Pedro as part of the package. So far, it works for us.
      As for a phone, do you know if landline service reaches your building lot? Most everyone we’ve talked with says buy a cheap local cell phone (or bring one from home and buy a local chip for it). We haven’t done that yet.Best to get on the local forums ambergriscaye.com and expat.com and ask those questions of longtime residents!


    Joe Chung said:
    April 12, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Hey Bob and Rose! Met you at the theater last weekend; love your blog! Pretty accurate and a good insight for anyone looking to make the jump here. About your phones, do you want them unlocked so you can use them here or wherever else you travel? I got the inside scoop on how to make it happen 🙂 Let me know! joeinbelize at gmail.com


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      April 12, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Hi Joe, good to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. I’ll shoot you an e-mail! Both our phone plans with AT&T have expired, although I’m still keeping them up. Love to hear the details!


      bruce losee said:
      April 13, 2014 at 7:27 am

      I am interested as well if you could share ..I also have ATT but can switch now if that makes sense


    Emily said:
    April 14, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    We used (and continue to use) St. Brendan’s Isle mail forwarding service out of Green Cove Springs, Florida. They scan the envelopes and you only forward what/when you want. And they shred all junk/nonprofit mail, so you end up with a small, manageable amount. While we were in Belize, we had everything forwarded to a family member once a month or so. He opened, scanned, and emailed it to us. There’s always more mail when you first move from a place (final utility letters/refunds, etc.), and then it drops off. Now that we’re back in the US but traveling full-time, we have maintained the SBI service but have the mail forwarded to wherever we happen to be once a month. We typically get no more than 6-8 pieces of mail a month now — more at the moment only because we are changing health insurance providers. Cannot recommend SBI enough; they have been GREAT for we travelers. It’s fun to get less mail in a month than most people in the US get in a day!


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