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Freeways to Flip-Flops



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Freeways to Flip Flops


Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island 

“A suburban family discovers that trading materialism for a simple life on a tropical island helps them reconnect in unexpected ways.”

What do you do when life in sunny Southern California starts to seem plastic, materialistic and just plain hellish?

For Sonia and Duke Marsh, the answer was to sell their worldly goods and move to an unspoiled, simpler life with their three sons in Belize, Central America, a third-world country without all the comforts and distractions of life in the developed world.

Sonia hopes the move will bring her shattered family back together. She feels her sons slipping away from her, and her overworked husband never has time for her or the boys.

This is the story of one family’s search for paradise.  In this memoir, Sonia chronicles a year of defeats, fears and setbacks – and also the ultimate triumph of seeing once-frayed family ties grow back stronger from shared challenges and misfortunes. For Sonia, paradise turned out not to be a place, but an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures – a close-knit family and three well-adjusted sons with a global outlook on life.

We ferry our 10-year-old son to school on our boat

Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island

In 2004, my husband, Duke, and I were so fed up with life at home, we decided to chuck it all and move to Belize hoping to reconnect our family. We uprooted our three sons— ages sixteen, thirteen and ten—and moved from a materialistic life in Orange County, California, to a hut on stilts in Belize, Central America. Our life was out of balance. Duke worked long hours, then spent additional hours commuting back and forth to Los Angeles each day. I was upset by the entitlement attitude of teens and pre-teens in our neighborhood and wanted my kids to experience life in a less affluent part of the world, just as I had as a child in Nigeria. We decided to sell the house, our cars and everything else we owned to start a new, simple life in a third-world country without TV, gadgets or teenage girlfriends.  (Read Chapter One)

View from our house on Ambergris Caye


Most of us dream about getting away from our hectic life and finding “paradise,” but something stops us. We find excuses not to act: This is not a good time, we tell ourselves. We’ve got kids in school, bills to pay, a job, a house, and so on. So we continue getting more stressed at work, more exhausted and frustrated with life. We put everything on hold until retirement, as if something magical happens on retirement day that frees us from our burdens. Except that it doesn’t, because life will continue to throw obstacles in our way. We’ll face emergencies, more bills—and fear. And we stay put, because it’s much easier to continue our daily routine than to explore the unknown.

Our first rental hut in Consejo Shores, in northern Belize

Duke and I asked ourselves, “What’s important in life?” We wanted to spend time together, rather than let life slip through our fingers while we were amassing “stuff.” So we opted for a no-frills life in Belize, at first renting a hut on stilts in Consejo Shores, then to a beach house on the beautiful island of Ambergris Caye. (see view from our house in the middle photo).

We lived in two different parts of Belize during our one year there.

I  share our family adventures, misadventures and how my sons changed as well as what I discovered about “finding paradise.”

Thanks for reading, and please share with others if you like my story. I’m happy to answer your questions about Belize, blogging, writing, indie-publishing or anything else you would like to know. Feel free to contact me.

Here is a direct link to my author page on Amazon.