Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I wish I could tell you....

I guess if I'm going to blog, I have to be able to use words to tell you all what I am experiencing. I have to find the words to describe how the screetching birds, the neighbor's reggae, the primary school children's recitations, vehicles bumping down the street, the fella' with the "CORN Fritta's" and the roar of my fan blend together to form the new soundtrack of my life. I have to explain that every evening around sundown the street smells begin anew and the ladies with the meat pies, and the tacos, waft their wares alongside the brush fire someone started to keep the mosquitoes at bay...the odd odor of the Chinese incense thingies, 10 for a dollar, to keep the insects away. But what words would say? The decadent view of the turquoise Sea, dessert for ones eyes. The sour sop sweetness, actual dessert for ones palate. The beautiful colors of flesh, fair Spanish girl children, rich almost red Mayan men leathered from the sun, deep beautiful Guarifina ladies carrying packs atop their heads. I just don't have the words for it all! I'm just too small! This place is a ball!
Nothing blue is like this! What word do you assign God's beauty?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fishing Trip

So this week found us on a fishing trip to the Caye's. For those unfamiliar, Belize consists of "the mainland" and an archipelago of Caye's...mostly private islands, or tourist traps. The largest Caye, Ambergris Caye, is very developed and has pretty well become an area for expats to live and tourists to visit. We were not there. lol We went on a fishing trip with a couple local boys, Norman and Morris. Norman has been working in the fishing industry here since he was just a small boy. During his 24 short years, he has made quite a nice life for himself. At one point, he worked for a German guy who owned 2 Caye's. One of the islands was just a wetland covered in mangroves. This kid brought sand from the mainland in his boat and built up his Caye a boatful at a time until it was high and dry enough to build a house on. As with too many expats, his German boss got in over his head, and had to go back to the daily grind. When he left, he pretty well GAVE the island to Norman. After all, Norman had done all the work to build it. So...24 years old, and owner of his own private island! Gilligan has nothing on this kid!

The guys were kind enough to bring Sean and I along on a fishing trip. The method is absolutely fantastic! No deep water reels and heavy duty fiberglass rods...Just a man and his line...bare handed. They bait the hook, and throw it overboard. When they get a bite, they just pull the line back into the boat! I watched Morris fight and eventually land a 4 foot Barracuda using NOTHING! They had stopped and bought some rubber things to put on our Expat Fingers so we could try to land something. I'm not quick enough...when you feel that first little nibble...act fast! The fish we were fishing were not Rainbow Trout! These fishies have BIG TEETH! They will take your bait before you even realize they are nibbling! Sean was better at it than I was, and he landed a couple snapper....or is it snappers? Snappi?

Anyway...I'm not a seafood eater. In my 41 years, I have mastered the art of polite decline when seafood is offered. After living the fishing trip, I was hooked also! That Barracuda was delicious! Swimming in the Caribbean Sea about 2 hours before it hit my plate! FRESH FISH! ....And I understand that on some of the tourist Cayes all the fish comes in already frozen. But here...in Dangriga, the fish is never frozen! Heck! It is hardly done flopping when you cut it with your fork! We met these guys through a fish monger at the market...he generally buys whatever they bring in that day! It makes me laugh now when I think of the US restaurants serving their "Catch of the Day"...Phhht! Caught where? In the freezer department?

One morning, the guys took us out to show us how they dive for fresh catch too! They just anchor up in a place they know has Conch, or Lobster, or whatever they are looking for...then they literally free dive down and pick up the catch off the seabed. We couldn't keep any of the things they brought up from their dives because the Conch were too small and the Lobster are out of season. They were happy to give us a demonstration though! Did you know that Caribbean Lobsters have no claws!?! I didn't...but I do now! Morris brought me a starfish because he could tell my American self just loved them...THAT they let me keep...a souvenir from my first diving trip. These guys can dive down about 60 feet with no tanks, no wetsuits...just wisdom handed down for ages!

Although I had a fantastic time, I can completely see how hard this work is! Even riding to the Caye in the little boat will beat the heck out of a girl! The strength to pull in Sharks, or Barracuda, or ANY fish with nothing but one's hands is amazing! The guys said they were out of shape for diving. They said that when the season comes in, they stretch their lungs and prepare to dive sometimes up to 5 minutes with no air! I kept thinking of games we played as children where someone would toss a ring into a swimming pool, and you would dive down and get it. A SWIMMING pool with 9 feet of water...wear a person plumb out! Imagine fighting the current under the Sea and going 6 TIMES deeper! Strong guys...HARD work! Beautiful and amazing results!

I'm struck again by this countries extremes...One of the islands we visited was palatial in it's excess! A Canadian owns it, and he pays a Belizean to maintain it while he is away. Several buildings, a pier, over the water cabanas...and white sand raked every day! Then...the next island is home to a tiny wooden shack, a hodgepodge of repair or disrepair.... 2 young boys run to the dock to wave wildly as the skiff passes! These kids live on their private island too...just a completely different life than the Canadian guy's island. I'm working on a series of blogs about how the rich men and the poor men are so REALLY the same men here. It's tough to describe how...Who said that the Canadian Guy's island is worth millions, but my friend's island is free! And... Would those two boys ever realize the value that the western world has placed on their home? Would they keep their home if some rich expat wanted to buy it? What would make them richer in the end? Money? Their life? Fascinating...

 Bye Bye Dangriga! See you in a couple days!
 Paradise...Riches beyond money!
 Little shack...Little Hut...Built by hand with stuff brought in by SMALL boat!
 The view from Norman's porch...WOW!
 These are my legs...perspective of how small the boat is!

 Money bought it, money built it....but is it more valuable?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Voodoo poem

Skin and bone and blood and breath
Love and fear and hope and death
Water, sun, earth, and fire.
Control it as we all desire.
Christian path will bring God's wrath!
Guard against the gods you serve
Death or life, we all deserve.

I'm fascinated by the voodoo. It has me under it's spell....


These pics were taken within seconds of one another by the same camera. The top one shows the orbs. I'm kind of flattered that they would show themselves to me...but also kind of scared. Sooo many souls. So many souls. So many souls.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Belize Cultures...a drop in the bucket.

Everyone knows, because it just shows,
that I too have a witchy side
Nothing to hide.
But the doctrine I've taken
Gets my soul a shakin'
And fearing God's wrath
If I were to act....

I am meeting new people every day. As the entire country's population totals out at something like 300K, I guess it's an entire country of one big small town. Traditional Mayans, Guarifina, Creole, Mennonite...these cultures have not had science take away from the knowledge of the ages.

The Mennonites live without the use of modern machines, and they have built the largest (perhaps only) dairy and farming business/community in Belize. They produce enough milk, cheese, and even ice cream to supply the country. They have ability to grow crops that the average farmer in Belize can not grow. Potatoes for example...The climate here is not conducive to potato farming...but you can buy potatoes from the Mennonites. Years of farming this land have given them experience enough to expand the farm! The Mennonite houses are also 'Da Bomb! They do a prefabricated home similar to the one I blogged about previously. Except their home comes to your site unassembled. (They will then put it together on your site.) The houses they build are sturdy enough to survive hurricanes! And sensible enough to make the best of what nature has given. Most Mennonite homes are built on stilts. If you ask 10 people why the homes are built on stilts, you will get 10 answers. Some will say because of flood waters, others say it's to keep the critters down below. But the Mennonite I asked....The Mennonite said it was so that there is a place to plant shade crops. Smart.

The Guarifina and the Creole are still tough for me to tell apart. In the states race is based solely on skin color...here heritage also plays a role. I must say...THAT's what's up! I never could take one look at a person and tell what color they are! Here...it matters as much where your ancestors came from as what you look like today. US...take note.

The Guarifina have a celebration in November each year here in Dangriga. There is a high population of Guarifina and it's sort of a Founder's Day party! I have seen pictures if the people reenacting the boats landing on the shore, but I look forward to being there when it happens this year. Even if we end up moving inland, or to another community, I WILL be back in Dangriga for that! I wouldn't miss it for the world!

The Creoles...The Creoles are able to make things happen. My faith in God and the Bible is strong, so I worry that too much admiration of the voodoo will in essence "sell my soul"...but I see how it could happen. I was made privy to some of the rituals of the Creole people. P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L.! I think I might take my chances and explore this further....

The Mayans....Wow. The Mayans sort of scare me. Theirs is the most ancient of cultures I have ever seen firsthand. I have never known a people with traditions dating back 3000 years before Christ. Imagine! These folks have been living in the same mountains in the same way for 5000 years! Physically, Mayans are easy for me to spot. They are tiny little people...most don't reach even 5 feet tall! But their presence in a room is gigantic! I have always prided myself on that charisma...that presence...I felt like when I took control of a group that my personality became larger than life. These folks have it in spades! More charisma, more presence, more...just more. I have been warned by my new Mayan friends to never touch things near the ruins. As I do not know the culture like the Mayans do, I will never know what is sacred, and what is not. Best to leave it all alone until someone hands something to me. I have also been warned to never take pictures of the Mayans. I want to know more and more about what they know, so I will follow these simple rules as I gain trust. The Mayans have lost so much in the last 30 years...The children are speaking Creole and dressing like westerners to the heavy disappointment of their elders. The opportunists of the scientific community have removed their artifacts, and put signs to the temples. Such a destruction of the culture in a drop of time! I hope to learn from them without ever trying to take.

There are some Mayan settlements that are not accessible by road. You either hike through the jungle or kayak up the river to them. My Mayan friend has promised to take me there one day, and I will patiently wait until I have built enough trust. The Creoles say that there are Mayan settlements that they only approach naked. Seriously...They will strip off their clothing completely and navigate the jungle so that when they approach these settlements they come in as vulnerable children. Clothing of today's world is only proof that one is of today's world. My Creole friend told a story of approaching the settlement with no clothing on, and still being asked to bend down and open his mouth for the elder Mayan to look inside and be sure that there was nothing hidden in there. These settlements are high in the Mayan Mountains. There is rumored to be gold mines, silver streaks, and jade. After the destruction of the entire culture in such a short time, I don't blame the Mayans for hiding these places...Keeping them unspoiled and untouched. Although it offends our western senses, if asked, I would PROUDLY walk naked into the jungle for inspection by the Mayan elders. I sort of hope to get the chance one day.

And the voodoo of the Creoles pales in comparison to the Mayans...(It is not called voodoo by the Mayans.) But they Mayans can curse a soul worse than anything our "cultured" minds could imagine! They have survived for centuries in the harshest of jungles. Smaller in stature than even some of the Jaguars, yet HUGE! There are stories of Mayan curses that cause bugs to pour from one's ears...Many places in the jungle sacred enough that westerners just never come back from them. DO NOT defile Mayan land. DO NOT anger Mayan folks.

There are stories of a Guarifina boy who stole from a Mayan at school. (Children are children everywhere.) When the Mayan family came to ask about the offense the Guarifina denied any wrongdoing. The Mayan elder knew the Guarifina boy was lying. Within the week, the Guarifina boy and three others who stood by while the lie was told...just dropped dead. It's hard to charge someone with a crime that involved no physical contact. Everyone knew it was the Mayan who cursed them, and it now serves as a warning to the children. A sort of nursery tale for Central America...

Believe it can happen. Belize Something.

I don't have any pics related to this post really....I would not offend and photograph when it was unwanted...so here's a pic of me and some orbs!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

If you know the voodoo's there -Beware.
Beware the voodoo there, Aware.
Secrets of the jungle
Mayan rituals or rites,
Secrets kept for eons
Secrets told tonight.
Secrets in the darkness
Get to the bottom of things...
Turns out it was my son!
What fun!
Ok...my loyal followers must be freaking out! My stuff has been hacked! My Facebook...my Yahoo...I am NOT anonymous! lol....I have been spending my time trying to sort this mess...but all my back up texts are to a US phone...and I'm in Belize! This is getting tricky! I just hope that if they are posting porn as me...I hope she's cute at least! lol....Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I was wrong about the funeral. It possibly was for an Important Person, but it was just as likely for Average Lady...I have now been witness to at least 4 funerals done in the same way. There is a marching band for EVERYONE! Simply astounding. Awe inspiring. If every culture celebrated each life in such a way...The wake is a big deal here as well. I have seen obituaries flash on the television screen's local channels and the wake is sort of "advertised". I have known my new friends to attend the wake and not the funeral of their acquaintances.

My favorite thus far has got to be the one where the band was just a pick up truck with a drum section in the bed, and a lone guy following on foot blowing out the sad melody on his sax. Clear notes echoing off the buildings and flowing out to sea.

I went down to the cemetery and took a couple snapshots. I hope that the reader does not think me morbid. It is a risk I take as I believe each of us is interested in the end of our own journey. I also passes the coffin maker...I was in a car, and didn't have a chance to get pics. I'll go back one afternoon on Trixie the Scooter and show you all the beautiful carvings on the wooden boxes. I'm sure I like Belize burials better than US burials. Perhaps one day...one day there may come a choice. I guess it would depend on the people I left behind. Either way...I hope to celebrate the lives of my loved ones every day forward.

Sorry about the thumb in the first couple...LMAO! Anyway...I almost forgot until I was adding the pics...I took a couple shots of the guy who paints concrete markers and memorials. I love his work! I'm not sure he thinks of himself as an artist...but his sure should!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday drive, Shells, Cranes in Flight! Beautiful Belize!

Dangriga, Belize!
Sunday drive...
Bettah Believe
you are ALIVE!

I took the scooter for a Sunday drive yesterday. I headed out of Dangriga southbound toward the Commerce Bright Pier. The road was absolutely stunning! As there has not been a bunch of development in that area, there was an untouched quality to the shore, and mangroves. I parked the scooter in an area that must get covered by water in the rainy season. It was high and dry right now, and I see why it is a good recommendation to watch your property for an entire year before purchasing it. This particular piece of land had a realtor sign, and someone who didn't realize it would be underwater in a couple months could be very disappointed in their purchase. Hopefully, the same signs that led me to believe it gets wet would stand out to a buyer....but hey...this is Belize! People who would otherwise make sound decisions can get caught up in the charm, or caught up in the sheer magnitude of coast they could own, and end up putting their life savings into land that can not be built on.

The ground was COVERED by little shells! I mean covered! I'm a crafter at heart, and I kept thinking of all the crafts I could farm from this one little plot! I was on the scooter, and it's tough to transport too much in my little basket. I knew I needed to stop for Da Rum on the way home, so I figured it best to leave the shells for another day. I did pause long enough to craft on the spot! lol
So many shells...so little space in my basket.
New Blog cover pic?
As I was leaving I came across a flock of cranes! They are certainly something! The big one was about 3 feet tall and he was surrounded by his minions...

The click of the camera scared them into flight. But not the big one...he stayed right where he was! I'm going to try to zoom the pics today so that everyone can see the birds better. The pics of the flight are incredible up close! Check back here...or check out my Tumblr for the edits. (Mellyc123)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I took my scooter on an over the road adventure yesterday. I left Dangriga and traveled about 20 miles to the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, more specifically, Mama Noots Eco Resort and Zipline.( http://www.mamanootsbelize.com/) I left in what I thought would be plenty of time to get there before dark, but as with ALL of Belize...things just go slower. I arrived just as the sun was setting for the day.

My first stop on my adventure was at the gas station. Gas here is sole in European Gallons, so I had a little ciphering to do in order to mix my gas correctly. A gallon of gas costs about $12 BZ here...or about $6 USD. My Scootie needs 2 cycle oil mixed gas, like many small engines use. The 2 cycle oil was available in little tiny 2.6oz bottles, or in a quart. I need about 32:1 ratio...for a US gallon that is about 5oz oil...give or take. So...I could have purchased 2 of the tiny bottles, or one of the quarts. I went with the quart, so that I would have it for next time, and the quart of 2 cycle oil cost me about $6 BZ...roughly $3 USD. So for about $20 BZ I will drive my scooter well over 100 miles! I think that's economical.

NOT TO MENTION FUN! I touched on it yesterday, but man oh man is that little thing a blast! I kept thinking back to a couple years ago in the states when I looked into purchasing a little scooter for myself to take when I went to the convenience store. Then I would look around me at this tropical paradise and think, "If my friends could see me now!"

I turned off the Southern Highway and headed back the lonely (bumpy) jungle road about a half hour before sunset. I have read, and heard about how the jungle comes alive at night, but I don't think I understood fully until I was in it as it happened. There is almost a breath of the jungle when the night creatures start to stretch and roam. It is both tangible, and impossible. Real and surreal. Beautiful...but dangerous! By the time I got to the end of the jungle road I was really hauling @ss on my Scootie! But as I said, I made it before darkness took the jungle for it's own. WHEW! I stopped a few times on my way for pics, but it's a good thing I didn't tarry. I think Scootie's motor would scatter the jungle creatures, but what if it just angered them? I could become a 100lb snack...and fast! When I take this trip again, I am going to give myself an extra couple hours so I can stop every time I see something picture worthy....

 Southern Highway...nothing but me and the open road! THIS is what makes me feel like a biker! LOL
 Welcome to the Jungle!
 The teak farm at dusk...eerie...beautiful!
One of my nighttime jungle pics...they will be better with some editing...Watch for more soon!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Busy. Busy. Like a bee.
Leave the hive to go and see.

I have been spending the last few days going from one thing to the next. I'm so full of new experiences, it might be hard to make sense of this particular blog. Sean and I spent the day in Placencia on Thursday. It's "touristy" for sure...but I liked it better than Hopkins. It was rich with crafters, and tough to keep my cash in my pocket! I, of course, bought a few handmade items...I can't resist the crafter!

I purchased this bowl from a young couple in Placencia. He does the carving, they both do the polishing, and she's one heck of a salesgirl! There is no Varnish on this piece...just elbow grease and water followed by olive oil gives it the beautiful shine!

This wooden carving was the one that spoke to Sean. The pic hardly does it justice, as the detail is not showing up well. The way it balances on just 4 little feet is so cool! The fact that Sean was moved to buy art is even cooler!

But my favorite Purchase from Placencia was not a handcrafted item at all! It is a loud, obnoxious, all American....scooter! I have been watching the ad on a Facebook page since before I left the states. It looked to me like someone bought it thinking they would be able to use it for actual transportation, but it didn't work out for them. Let me say that unless you weigh 100 pounds, it would NOT be the way to go places....fortunately...I weigh 100 pounds. It's comfortable for me and I LOVE my new Scootie-Poo! I realize that when I ride it, I stick out like a sore thumb, but I don't care. Sore thumb trumps sore body from bicycling or walking! It gets something like 100 miles to the gallon. With gas costing upwards of $12 a gallon, it was just not cost effective to have a second vehicle for only one family in Belize. Not this little Scootie-Poo! It hauls me everywhere I want to go for about a capful of gas! I stopped in the department of transportation, and was told that it's motor is too small to need a license plate. They said it's a child's toy and I can ride it like one would ride a bicycle here! Yield to passing traffic, keep to the right because I'm slow, and scoot on down the highway! FUN! I have only used it in Dangriga so far...no highway travel yet. But today, I plan to Scootie-Poo myself to the plant nursery...down southern highway about 4 miles. I'm looking forward to it! I understand now how my biker buddies in the states felt about the freedom of the open road. (I realize that to compare my 20mph Scootie-Poo to someone's Harley is simply laughable...but hey...I'm a biker chick now...don't laugh too loudly.)

I saw a CRAZY thing on the highway the other day...one that would stop me and Scootie-Poo in our tracks. It was a house being moved on a truck. Not too crazy -right? In the states, people buy prefabricated homes and have them delivered to their home sites every day. But in the states, they generally don't use a pick up truck and a couple ratchet straps to hold it down.


It was bobbing and swaying. The trucks tires were squashing and ready to explode! When a bus passed in the other direction, I thought for sure that was IT....the house will crumble. But nope...keep on trucking. No flashy oversized load pace cars, no wide load capacity tractor trailer...just 2 straps and a prayer. I know their was a prayer, because we were behind it for several miles and I WAS PRAYING!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The People I meet in Belize

Blogging every day is hard. Harder than one would think. It's difficult to think of interesting topics, and more difficult to keep the determination to share them with you all every day. I have a request for a Firearms Blog...and it is forthcoming. I would like to speak to a few humans who have firearms licenses before I blog it. I have researched what the government has laid out as laws, but here in Belize... laws are sorta'...flexible. I don't mean to say that a person could bribe their way out of a murder charge or anything. But one can certainly circumvent some government hoops if the right wheels are greased.

In keeping with the Real People of Belize topic I started yesterday, I would like you all to meet my new friend Snake...

Snake showing off his Peppa's!
Snake is one of the fella's who holler out to passerby to hawk his wares from his little cool spot snack shop in his yard. I was walking along the shore one evening, and as I headed back to town, Snake got my attention. I stopped at his little shop to check out his wares, and he seemed like a nice enough guy. I bought a couple little friendship bracelets from him (He claimed to have made them...I'm crafty...I'm not sure he made them. lol) But we hit it off...so the following morning I brought Sean with me and we went back. Snake makes Cashew Wine in addition to the little prepackaged items he sells. He had asked me to try it when I met him, but I'm a 100 pound woman! I don't leave my drink unattended at the bar, and I don't consume concoctions cooked by creoles. lol Sean does, however. So when we went back, Sean took a couple sips of the Cashew Wine, declared it to have quite a punch, and bought a jug from Snake. Now we are all friends forever.

Snake's Snack Shop
So...drink a little wine...get to talking....Snake is 50(ish). He has 4 children with his Guarifina wife. The kids are aged 6 through 14. The three youngest are still in school, but the oldest (a boy) graduated from primary and will not be attending high school. He is looking for work. Snake had visited the states. He was in California years ago learning electrical and plumbing skills. He had some type of injury and no longer works in in the field, but had worked for the Belizean government as a contractor. Now, he just sells his wares from his little shop and makes friends. Good gig if you ask me.
The 14 year old son is much like any 14 year old boy...VERY interested in the girls! Snake is trying to get him to focus on finding a good job first, then the good girlfriend will follow. Ahhh the plight of ANY parent of a teen... Anyway, the son had found himself a girlfriend, in spite of his father's urging. And the girlfriend had found herself another boyfriend...The son and the new boyfriend got into a heck of a fisticuffs! Son's eye is blackened for him, police arriving to find the son...What a mess! Poor Snake! No father wants his 14 year old son to be picked up by the police! But...keep in mind, dear reader, that if this was happening in the states, the child would be whisked away to some safe little boys facility, given a uniform, tennis shoes, 3 square meals a day, a comfy cot to lay his head on, and probably even a couple hours of TV! In Belize...The son is taken to the same holding cell that an adult man would be taken to. If convicted he would be sent to the same prison that hardened criminals would be sent to. I understand Snakes urgency to assure that this didn't happen.
The wheels of government here turn slowly...One could apply for a permit for something, and not hear back for months. But Snake's boy was brought before the magistrate almost immediately. I'm not familiar enough with this type of government to give accurate information on this, but I assume it was some type of arraignment. Snake was there....On it....Watching out for his eldest son...Very sweet. The judge decided that "bail" would be set and the boy released to his father. Snake joked about "Good thing I brought my Savings Passbook!" And (Literally) kicked the boy in the seat of the pants! I'd say it's a safe bet that Snake's boy gets a job before he gets another girlfriend. And I REALLY like this family.....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meeting the Real People of Belize!

So much to blog
Mangy Dog.
Mosquito, Mojito.

Meet David. David is the young man that I made the bartender book for. He is 19 years old and married with a child. He said to me, "Babies don't feed themselves." In the US...far too many babies feed themselves. Not by means of employment, but by the many social programs a 19 year old father would be signed up to receive.

David and Sean enjoying a cold Belikin after work.

David was raised in a small village in Belize. He lived in a wooden shack typical of small town Belize life. His father was a hard working farmer. That is one of the most amazing aspects of this country to me. People work SO HARD! When someone from the US sees the tiny shacks, with no electricity or running water, we assume the people living there are lazy, or not motivated to get out and better themselves. This is just simply not true. These must be some of the hardest working people I've ever known. They just don't put the value on modern conveniences that Americans do. David's parents have electricity now, but they didn't when he was growing up. In David's home, there is no electricity right now. He does have water to the sink...all cold of course. In the US, if a young man like David were to live in a wooden shack with his wife and child and no electricity, the government might step in and take the child away! Or worse...the government would step in and social program him until he lost his motivation to work!

David's family was poor. Poor in a way that poor US families could never understand. If you're poor and hungry in Belize, you don't pull out your EBT card and wait for the food stamps to roll in then go to the grocery and buy your soda and snacks. If you are poor and hungry in Belize, you climb a mango tree, or shake the coconuts to the ground. If you've got a hard working father, like David had, you are blessed with chickens in the yard. You could then eat the eggs, or butcher the chicken for Sunday dinner. But what will NOT happen...the government will not buy your food. There is no reason for a person to go hungry here, and even the "homeless" guy that sleeps on the dock is eating. He fishes, and is usually surrounded by a pile of coconut husks. (He sleeps with his shirt over his head though...I don't get it...must be excruciatingly HOT!)

If you look closely...you can see the guy sleeping....
But back to David....Here in Belize, education is not a pain in the neck to the children. It is NOT FREE and parents often struggle to keep their children in school. The students appreciate their classroom time. David's family could not afford to send David to high school. Many youths never graduate from high school because by the time a person is 14 or 15, they could be working to help support the family, not costing the family additional tuition. David's family was in no position to pay for his high school education. But David got lucky. He was awarded a "scholarship" and a benefactor paid his high school tuition for him for all four years. So David has his high school diploma. When he speaks of it, he gets choked up and big tears come to his eyes. He feels like he was chosen by his Benefactor and by God. I'm sure he was.
That's another thing about the culture I'm noticing. People don't take credit for their blessings. David never said anything about how HE worked so hard to graduate, or how HE wowed the benefactor... People seem to believe that their path in life is guided by God. That's something I have in common with Belezians right from the start.
David's dream is to spend about 10 years working and making enough money to build his life. He would like to go to the States. I believe that God will lead him to his dream.
...But just in case, I have been looking into a Visa to allow David to work in the US. The requirements are reachable, some hoops and paperwork. (I am getting so good at jumping through government hoops, I'll be a circus sideshow before long.) Sean and I have some very good friends in the Sates who are also business owners. There is one guy in particular who has a resort and uses seasonal labor. There is a special visa for seasonal labor, one that seems doable. This guy is also a good HUMAN. They type of man who would look out for a young foreigner and not leave David high and dry.
Maybe our paths crossed by chance. Maybe our paths crossed by God's own hand. I just know the step that connects our paths is a special one. I admire David and will continue to learn the lessons that I am supposed to learn from him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not my shining moment.....

And while I'm on the Etiquette Forgetiquette roll....In spite of my neighbors repeated warnings, I insisted on forgetting to bring my bike inside before dark last night....Gone. It's soooo my own stupidity that I'm not even reporting it. Sigh.....

It looked just like this one...even the color is right. I still have Sean's men's version...but...I could just kick myself. Sigh.....

Animal Control Belize...Who decided it was cruel?

I love Belize. I want all my readers to share in the beauty of this Caribbean gem and fall in love with Belize as well. But if I only ever show the rose colored version of Belize, it is not fair to you. For those of you looking for a pretty, polished, pampered Belize, I'll spend many blogs showing you your manicured options. Today...Etiquette Forgetiquette...We will look at one of the ugly parts of Belize.

On one of the forums, a particularly nasty forum in my opinion, there has been a thread about how the Government of Belize handles stray dogs. There is a practice of putting out poisoned food to eliminate unwanted animals in the streets. Our Stateside Sensibilities are inherently offended by such a practice. The tree hugging dog lover expats are up in arms about this. They call it inhumane and cruel. Who are we to judge? This has been going on here for years, and a few immigrants with high horses can not stop it.

Here's my take on the practice of poisoning unwanted stray dogs in the streets...First and foremost, if you have a dog, do not allow it to eat stuff left in the street. That alone will prevent your dog from becoming a victim of the Big Bad Belizean Government.

As for the right or wrong aspect of this practice...well... I can't say that I'm opposed to it. Belezians keep pets, but not in the way that Americans keep pets. A cat is generally kept to keep down the critters and a dog is for protection. I'm not saying that NO ONE of Belizean decent loves their pets. I'm sure many are caring and cuddling their animals right now! I'm just saying that more pets have a purpose here than in the States. As such, if the animal no longer serves the purpose it was intended to serve...well...there is just not much reason to keep it around.

Specifically, when we moved into this house, there was a dog who had been abandoned by the previous tenant. The house had been vacant for 4 months, so this little guy was pretty well fending for himself during that time. He is ragged, and rough, scared and still tough. Poor Mangy Dog. In the States, animal control would have been out and captured him and taken him to a shelter where (most likely) he would have been euthanized eventually. Here in Belize, no one even took a second look at him. He wandered starving and unhealthy through the streets for months! Would it have been inhumane to put a little pill into a piece of meat and feed Mangy Dog his last meal? Not in my opinion...it may have been a mercy. It didn't work out that way for Mangy Dog...

A couple from the states (us) rented the house he used to live in and started setting out their cat food for ol' Mangy Dog. When it became clear that Mangy Dog would survive, we went and bought him some dog food. He now lives on the landing of out stairs and doesn't run when we walk by him. Sean would like to capture Mangy Dog and get him to a vet...but baby steps. Mangy Dog is starting to trust us, and it will be a few weeks before I trust HIM enough to even pet him. (Dogs in Belize are notorious! DO NOT PET THE PUPS!) Once we fatten him up a little then maybe we'll catch him for a doctor visit.

Within the week, Mangy Dog's fur started growing back. He has an awful limp, probably caused by his toe nails growing into the pads of his little feet. His eyes are clearer. He seems to be recovering. But not all Mangy Dogs get this type of break. A few more weeks and he'd have been dead. WHY is it cruel to end his suffering? Why shouldn't the government eliminate dangerous and diseased animals? I'm posting a pic or two of Mangy Dog and I'll keep you posted as to his recovery.
This is mangy dog the day I started feeding him...The white on his back is from the paint on our stairway.

Ol' Mangy Dog's eyes are clearing with regular meals...Poor Poor Mangy Dog!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Emergency Services in Belize- Pictures and my very limited knowledge....

I have been meaning to blog about the Emergency Services here in Belize. Having been a 911 Dispatcher in a former life in the States, I have some readers who will be interested in Disaster Recovery and the like.

In Belize, when you have an emergency, you would dial either 911 or possibly 90. That will connect you to a human being. Depending on the nature of your emergency and also on your location, this person may or may not be able to help you.

In the cities, like Dangria where I'm living, there is usually a Fire Department. The fire department is very poorly funded, and relies on volunteers. Fire departments can have more than one truck. The quality of the fire truck greatly varies. Some are donations from US fire companies who have retired a truck, others are beat up old pick-ups with a pump knocking around in the bed. Air trucks, tanker trucks, brush trucks, and any specialty equipment that firefighters in the States use, are pretty much unheard of in these parts. A lot of the houses and buildings are planks, worn, weathered, dry like matchsticks. It would stand to reason that a fire could get out of hand quickly. That does not however, appear to be the case. I am living just a stone's throw from the Fire Station and have heard the alarm sound twice. It starts like a school or church bell, and as the men respond, someone starts up the siren on the truck to use as a Blaring LOUD Fire Whistle...Seems effective. BOTH times I heard the fire bell thingie...no one was hurt in the said fire, and no HUGE loss of property. The people have spent enough time fighting local fires that they KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING! Just as in the states...stand back and thank whatever God you believe in that there are men willing to risk their lives to save yours. There is not much in the way of  fire hydrants. If the pressure is anything like my shower, they will not be very effective. Mostly, the fire department pumps water from one of the many inlets, streams, or rivers. I have also read about local firefighters who have traveled to the US, Canada and even Japan to learn new fire fighting techniques. So...although funding is poor and service is centralized around the cities, I would give the Fire Departments of Belize a passing grade.

Just to put it out there...I'm sure donations would be accepted. If any US Fire Company is looking to unload some old respirators, or protective gear, or even an engine...There would be hoops to jump through on this end, and I would be willing to jump through them to assist.

Police response is also more centralized. Of course, you can report a crime anywhere in the country. But I heard a story from a lady who said she had to drive into town and pick up the police man and run him out to her place and let him investigate her burglary and then run him back to the station. Needless to say, her items were never recovered. The police force is overworked and understaffed. I have avoided Belize City like a plague, but they say the police presence there is strong. That's reasonable, as it has the reputation for the most violent crime in the country. I am also to believe that Belize police people are honest. Most will not accept bribes, unlike other Central American countries. I have not had any interaction with the police other than a friendly "Hello!" on the street. I am less than 100 yards from the Dangria Police Station. I like that. Very much. Very Much Indeed.

Ambulance service is provided by a non-profit http://www.bertbelize.org/6.html. They have something like 7 ambulances and several airplanes available for transporting patients. If you are rural, you would head out on your own steam as EMA could take hours to get to you. Here in the city, I have seen several doctor's offices and Red Cross centers. Most are tiny, one room bandage stations, but it is good to know that they are there. I took a picture of one of them...this one has dental services.

 All in all, Emergency Services are not what we would have in the states, but are acceptable for Belize!