That's how a Belizean primary school principal describes the discovery of oil in her Caribbean country. Oil is going to change things, that is for sure.
Belize (British Honduras before independence in 1981) has long served as a supplier of desirable exotic goods to wealthy foreign countries. But sugarcane, citrus and bananas don't thrust you into the eye of the storm the way black gold priced at over $60 a barrel does.
Annual per capita income in Belize is $3940. Less than in Mexico ($9600); ahead of neighboring Honduras ($2800). Certainly not affluent.
Aside from its agricultural exports, Belize's main source of income has been tourism, especially ecotourism. (Yes, that's how I came to take the picture above.) Belizean's are proud of their own efforts to preserve and display their natural environment. The national Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) explains:
Now it is easy to wonder whether there may be a little more talk than walk in PACT's description. Much of the coral in the barrier reef is dying, victim of global warming and too many cruise ships. Demand for hydropower has led to dam construction that intruded on protected forests. But, all in all, Belize has remained out of the maelstrom of international development politics, a slightly sleepy, somewhat protected backwater.
Nonetheless, this is about undreamed of wealth in a very poor place. "Minister of Natural Resources John Briceno calculates that at current prices, the government's take from even modest oil production of around 60,000 barrels a day would cover the entire national budget."
Belize is a lovely country. Let's hope oil makes most Belizeans' lives better, rather than destroying a difficult, but sustainable, way of life.