Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I got my license!
The greatest journey begins with one step.
This morning I applied for and was given my Belize Driver's License. THIS step makes me somehow feel as if I belong. The people of Belize...and specifically the people of Dangriga, are a very welcoming bunch. Right from the first day, I have been treated kindly, and folks will go out of their way to help me. I was carrying a large bamboo mat one evening and although it was very light, it must have looked heavy as several men stopped me and asked if I needed help with it. I have no real fear when I set out for my long 12 mile journey on my Put-Put. (The expats are astounded that I do this...lol) The little thing only weighs like 45lbs...and even if I did break down, I feel very confident that some kind passerby would haul me AND my Put-Put to the nearest restaurant or Cool Spot as the local bars are referred to. I would just call for help from there, and enjoy a rum drink while I wait! I feel very safe here in Dangriga. I also feel very welcome. As time goes on, I stand out less and less. I am enjoying the feeling of belonging that comes with blending in as well. But to have an official document issued by the Government of Belize...with my name on it...laminated and everything...that's it! I have arrived!
Our cable company has a TV Guide type channel. It scrolls listings on the bottom, and the top part is used for local advertising. (Sean and I live very near the concrete block "factory". CESSA CEMENT! WORLD CLASS QUALITY!) Last week, the Dangriga Town Council began running spots on this channel. They are a mix of public service announcements, upcoming events, and some political issues. The Police are holding a meeting tomorrow evening at 6pm...Please make every effort to be on time. Dangriga will now be charging a fee of $6 per month for trash collection. Property Taxes that are delinquent can result in the suspension of any business licenses located at the address. If a tenant has a landlord who has fallen behind, the tenant can (and is responsible to...) pay the arrears, and then deduct the amount from the rent. There is a big issue between Dangriga and some Department of Something...a dispute over some prime land right on the shore. (I fully intend to learn more about this issue. I don't know how much of my beeswax it is, and I may be treated as a Nose Poker. But...I love Dangriga! I feel like it's a crucial foothold remaining amongst the expat lands....Watch for more information.) ....AND.....The Dangriga Transport Office will begin issuing the "new" licenses on Monday the 13th day of May, 2013. The "old" ($60BZD) driver's licenses are the type of thing you would make for guests to a convention. The NEW ($90BZD) licenses have security features and look more like a driver license that I'm familiar with. I arrived prepared to pay the larger fee, but once there...they were still issuing the Homemade Driver's Licenses and charging accordingly.
I had put tape over some of the stuff...but then I thought again and cut out my address also. The world is a big place...and people from all over it read this blog. lol I love how the lady just touched up my "M" with her pen...she had done my address as well. Funny stuff. When you go, you have to bring with you 2 passport sized photos. So....I went to the photo guy....
I am a fan of the maxi dress...A Big Fan. I got myself dressed to go have this photo taken in a maxi dress. To. The. Ground. MAXI. It's hot here. Maxi dresses are comfy if they are loose, and flowy, and have no sleeves. I am not a Mennonite. I want some of my skin to get air and sunshine! I tell the guy I need photos for my driver's license. He says, "OH! No way! You got all that bare up there and you need to go and get a top with sleeves." Seriously? Well...I hiked the damn dress up to almost my chin, and he agreed to take my pic. I know that I will need more pictures of myself as this journey unfolds, and be sure...I will have sleeves! As funny as that seems to me, I really appreciate that this culture...at least on he surface...is more conservative. Ladies might need to cover their shoulders for official pictures, but the "Damsel in Distress", falling all over themselves to carry my mat, gender stereotype is great to me. By my very nature I don't fall into the "seen and not heard" category. I have no trouble being heard and respected by the local gentlemen. Whereas, their wives might not enjoy such courtesy. Gender roles are clearly defined in this society...that much is sure.
I think that these are photos of the land that Dangriga is trying to keep for themselves. The Department of Something was out with a survey crew looking at an office space. In high school we would say..."If you want me to hate it -I will." We want Dangriga to win.