REPORT #92 August 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

There hasn't been much competition in trucks on Belize jungle roads. The Bedford 3 tonner and 5 tonner seem to win though. I think it is more from lack of distributor competition. Just plain familiarity with cane farmers and milperos.

Cars are another story. Funny enough, while Landrover enjoys more sales, due to links with the U.K. and well established distributor dealership situation. The landrover in some people's minds is inferior to the Volkswagon Rabbit Diesel of older years.

The roads in Belize have improved tremendously, but still not reached the level of convenience of Canadian roads of 60 years ago. There is a fairly good road linking the northern Mexican border, with the old port town capital on the coast in the center of the country and from there westward to the Guatemalan border. Parts of it are even paved. Even a stretch of the southern road are not bad in places. But all around the country, roads are what you can expect. Usually, dirt, mucky with mud holes in the southern part of the country and sticky and slippery from limestone marl in the northern half of the country. Nor has the local University system started to teach a civil engineering degree yet, though one would think it a higher priority than an MBA which they do teach.

One wag, partial to his Volkswagon Rabbit diesel talks about the mechanical disasters that Land Rover's are. Not to mention the many other American style cars that struggle to maneuver around the country. Shocks going, springs breaking, oil pans being bored, flat tires by the hundreds. You haven't really drived if you haven't tried Belize in the two rainy seasons.

In favor of the Volkswagon Rabbit diesel, is the lightness. 50 mpg mileage doesn't hurt if it is lightly loaded either. The front wheel drive gives good pulling power, superior to the four wheel drive of the landrover in tricky situations, so I am told. Then the narrow wheel base helps maneuverability around potholes and boulders. A good pry, cut from a nearby jungle tree will let you push and pry your vehicle out of a flooded mud hole. When the flood waters rise and wash out the bridges, you do not have to stay stranded for a week with few food supplies. In the old Volkswagon Rabbit diesel car and most other models, you simply drive across. You might have to swim behind pushing, but you can do it. I know that from my own experience crossing flooded rivers in the Peten jungles with an old 1969 VW camper. You can't do that with the landrover. That one, you have to wait for the flood to subside.

Yup! I sort of agree with the old wag back in the village of Xaibe, Indian country, commenting on the best vehicle for Belizean roads. The old Volkswagon Rabbit diesel! Better than a Landrover anyday.

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