In the hustle and bustle of the workday, it's hard to imagine a life not dictated by the clock. But in this next story, you'll meet "Mista Thomas" a man who has taken his time navigating the channels of life. His everyday commute looks very different from the highways or the streets of downtown Belize City, but his advice on surviving life's turbulent times is timeless.
Rudy Castillo, Narrator
In his eighty-seven years in Belize, Thomas Green has rarely lived beyond the high water mark of the Macal River. He probably knows this eight-mile stretch between San Ignacio and his home upstream as well as any man on earth. And he ought to, he's paddled and poled this spectacularly scenic route as regularly as most city people drive to work. And while those urban commuters pilot vehicles assembled in Detroit or Tokyo, "Mista Thomas," as he is known, prefers to build his own.
He has crafted over forty of these rugged yet graceful dories. They start from towering Mahogany, Cedar or Guanacaste trees and with a little help from a saw, axe and adze are transformed into transport. At four scoring seven how does he do it?
"If you live a good life you have to have a certain amount of faith or confidence in yourself and try to learn the good and the bad side of you. Let's say...like now I could work with an axe or an adze whole day, and it doesn't do anything. But with the machete, I can't do it. To chop the whole day with the machete, I am not used to that. But the adze or axe I could work the whole day. Do you see what I mean? See the difference?"
Doing work that suits him has taken Thomas Green on a course that flows not only through the centre of Belize's majestic forest, but through the nation's history as well. From rough and tumble Mahogany camps to mule trains laden with chicle. And as today's economy expands to embrace environmental tourism, Mista Thomas, now much in demand as a guide, is going with the flow.
"I go on the river and I keep on working on it and I make a living that day. Sometimes you meet birds or different animals that you see and you explain to them and sometimes you tell them about when they used to pole and paddle the channels change and things like that. Anything that you know you experience or you have an idea on it, you explain that to them. Some of the time they ask question."
And one question Thomas Green has no trouble answering, is whether he regrets the life that he has chosen.
"Here you have no noise, no trouble, nothing...where I could live a peaceful life and thing. Nobody worries you with nothing. You don't have to hear too much noise and fight or nothing. So you could live your life this way. But if you're in the town, you're in trouble because sometimes you're sleepy and you have to be out at night. Not because you want to, but you meet with your friends and you move from one thing to another and you're always getting home late. You don't get your rest."