I'd heard about it well before I got here - the Sam's Club in Chetumal. A mere 3 hours away was a store with so many products on the shelves you had to buy bulk. Not only was there an abundant selection, the prices were also low - both in stark contrast to Belize. Since the Men's Club trip to the private caye was cancelled this weekend, I decided to head up to visit this Mecca of Central American shopping.
I was heading up with the two interns, although one of them was just hitching a ride to Mexico as she was taking the bus to Cancun to meet a friend. When we got to the border, the girls had to get out of the car to go through immigration. The driver stays in the car and I just had to flash my dip passport. At the Mexican part of the border, they just waived us through. FYI, there is a river separating Belize and Mexico - I did not know this before.
When we got into town, our first stop was the Jeep dealership. Since I had that flat a few weeks back, I'd been unable to place the spare on the back of the car because the lug nuts were stripped. I'd been unable to find lug nuts in Belize that fit the bolt. Fortunately, the Jeep dealership had the lug nuts in stock and I was able to reclaim my trunk from my tire. After dropping Sam off at the bus station, we headed to the mall.
Chetumal has a full, American style mall. There is a department store, electronics store, a movie theater, arcade, and a plethora of boutique clothing stores. Oddly, while the mall itself was air conditioned, none of the stores had A/C. Our original plan was to see Inception at the cinema, but it wasn't playing. Instead, we headed to the massive grocery store. After almost two months of Chinese stores with dusty shelves, produce from a parking lot, and meat and baked goods in separate stores, this store was a revelation. The bakery was huge and cheap. Large muffins were 5.9 pesos - at 12.7 pesos to the dollar, that was about $.50 per muffin. Bread, donuts, pastries, and tortillas were all plentiful and cheap.
Then, there was the dairy section. This store had more shelf space for yogurt as the entire city of Belmopan has for all dairy products. There were multiple varieties of cheese, along with salami, sausages and olives. I honestly spent a half hour just looking at these options. Hell, the pharmacy was the size of the grocery stores in Belmopan. The produce section - small by American standards - seemed so large and luxurious that I didn't know what to do with myself. They also had a bunch of other products similar to Wal-Marts or Targets.
After we left the mall, we headed to Sam's club. The store was the exact same model of Sams that you see in the US. A few of the products might be different, but mostly it was the same. I had a few things I needed to pick up - beer, wine glasses, drinking glasses, a few tiki torches, and some food. Okay, the tiki torches might have been an impulse buy. Perhaps the best part of Sams was that we ran into one of my co-workers there. It's like when I lived in Shenandoah - we'd always run into people from Shen when we shopping in Omaha. We drive 3 hours to see the people who live across the street.
On the way back, Nancy and I decided to play a car game I played as a kid. Whenever we'd go out to the lake, we'd always guess the number of bikers that we would see on the road. The Price is Right rules were in effect (closest without going over). Initially, I guessed 26 and Nancy guessed 17 - we hit that before we got out of Corozal Town. We upped our bids to 63 (Nancy) and 71 (me). We zoomed past that. Finally, as we pulled into the housing compound, we had counted 118 bikers. It really is the most popular sport in Belize.