I've just finished reading and enjoying your "Escape from America" essay. I've always enjoyed the Escape from America concept, maybe because I haven't escaped yet. So hats off to you.
Having said that most of what you talked about wasn't a surprise to me. I don't consider myself very well travelled, but by most people's standards I fear that I probably am. I've experienced many of the things you talk about and I've seen enough families of five on a bicycle in my life to be able put most of the whines I hear from people in my "real" life into it's proper context.
However I didn't email you to kiss your ass, which hopefully you'll appreciate. Because there is one thing you put in your writing that you seemed to be describing as a positive thing that I don't think is a positive thing and is thus an irony to the life that you are describing:
"In Belize it's not against the law to drink and drive and there's no speed limits"
My experience is not Belize but Thailand, but the same thing applies. People are free to get fucked up and drive. The medium of choice being "Yaba" which is methamphetamine.
I've been lucky never to lose anyone close, but I know quite a number of people that have and it's become to me kind of the ugly underbelly of Thailand. Sure it's a wonderful country and so free from so much of the bullshit from the West as long as you don't mind the risk of your children dying being quadrupled for the simple reason "it's not against the law to drink and drive and there's no speed limits". So I find the right for people to drive while fucked up kind of tiresome. And this downside seems to be missing from your writing.
See where I'm going with this? It's not to beat up on you and say that you are "wrong" but I did want to point out to you and irony that you passed right over a significant downside of living in a (sorry if this ain't PC) "developing, Third World, whatever" country is their wanton disregard for things like highway safety, that really, despite whatever shortcomings the West might have, are actually a good idea.
This doesn't sound too petit bourgeois, does it?
In no way did I mean to endorse drinking and driving. I was just pointing out that, unimaginable as it may seem to Americans, some places do not bother with such laws because they do not need them. Few Belizeans, other than the regular contingent of street winos, seem to get very drunk at all, compared to Americans. They cannot afford to do so. Beyond that, there are few cars in Belize, compared to most countries. The point was that people can exist quite well without laws most Americans consider absolutely necessary.
In art and labor,