Saturday, July 31, 2010

Electronic Entertainment

In a place like Belmopan, where there isn't exactly a ton to do, you have to rely on quite a few other forms of entertainment.  Fortunately, Belize has it pretty good.

Cable - In one of the best surprises, Belize has great cheap cable.  We get 100+ channels with all major American networks and cable channels, including movie channels.  There are also about a half dozen local channels, a dozen soccer channels, and more Spanish channels that I usually see on US cable packages. Our local network channels (now) are from Denver.  Apparently, every few months, the local channels will get shut down and they will change the local market.  There is a pirate movie channel - it literally shows new release films that are recorded with a camcorder in a theater.

The only downside to the cable here is that I can't use a DVR.  I truly fell in love with DVR the last few years in the States.  It is really hard to go from having it to having to actually watch a TV show when it is on.  I also don't have a menu that I can scroll through to see what is on.  I'm actually back to channel surfing.  But, the cable only costs me about $20US per month, so it is totally worth it.

Internet - While cable is cheap, the internet is not.  I just paid the bill for my first month and installation and it was over $300US.  I do actually get pretty fast connection here.  I can watch streaming video - it is not great quality, but I can watch it.  However, the internet company blocks most VOIP, so I can't use Skype, MagicJack, or other such services.  Since I am outside the US, I am also unable to watch Hulu or other TV shows on the internet.  In order to fix this, I had to get a VPN (virtual private network), which gives me a US IP address.  So, the internet thinks I am in the US, which allows me to do anything I can do in the US.  (If you want to get a VPN, I used  It cost me like $55 for the year - totally worth it).

Radio - There is no nice way to put this - Belize radio sucks.  There are maybe a half dozen stations that come in regularly.  LoveFM is the most popular.  Most of the time, they are either talk radio, or the music sucks.  But every once in a while they will play a good hour of music.  It's what we listen to at work and it is the best of a bad media.  The most annoying thing that all the stations do is the DJs cut into the music constantly.  They will just start talking over the music, or sing along, or other crap.  Before I left the US, I bought a new car stereo solely for the input jack.  Best investment I made before I arrived.

Netflix - One of the great benefits of being abroad with the foreign service is my DPO address.  Essentially, I have a US mailing address, which allows me to get DVDs with Netflix.  I've been watching Lost since I got here and I am in the middle of Season 3.  Combined with my VPN, I am also able to watch movies on my computer.  And soon, I will add a router that will allow me to hook up my Xbox to the VPN, so that I can download Netflix direct to my TV.

Overall, the entertainment options are much better than I will see at many other posts.  I can watch US tv, I have good internet connection and I can even rent movies through netflix.  It may be a bit expensive, but I am going to enjoy it while I can.

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