Alberni author writes of 'dysfunction' in Belize

What began as a plan for retirement down south turned into a published memoir of one couple’s eye-opening experience.
Hugo and Tershia Lambrechts had vacationed in Belize in the past and when they discovered an attractive retirement package they decided to return for the long-term.

Hugo, who was 63 and nearing the end of his 40-year practice at Manzini Animal Hospital, never thought he would retire, said Tershia.

“He couldn’t sit and do nothing, so we had to adventure,” she said.

Tershia said they chose Belize because it was a stable, English-speaking country, where they could bring their animals. In January 2003, the couple attended a Belize Relocation Conference and Tour and were sold on the idea when they found out they would be considered the same as residents and could bring in all of their household items and car duty-free.

They sold their house, and when they left Port Alberni in November 2003, they arrived in Belize with their two cats and two dogs.
The couple found a home there and cleared an acre of land with machetes. They made a tropical garden, which Tershia said was one of the joys of living there. Born in South Africa, she was still familiar with tropical plants.

An important part of their stay quickly became evident. The couple’s love of animals inspired them to reach out to provide support, care and housing for neglected animals.

“At first it was all exciting and new,” she said. “But there is a lot of animal neglect and very little compassion, so that bothered us all the time.”
One of the first things they did was become a part of the humane society committee, which was formed by a Canadian woman.
“We tried to do what we could,” Tershia said. “The vet service was appalling and the vets poorly trained.”

They also became aware of the nest robbing of parrots, which are consequently sold to Europeans. Over the ten years, the Lambrechts rescued 22 parrots, many of which had to be hand fed.


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