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The latest Tia Chocolate column is ready for reading!!! Opposites - Part VI
She woke up to a harsh shaking, his rough and calloused hands pulling at her from the depths of her dreamless sleep. Eva’s eyes opened and she blinked to try and adjust to the nighttime glow around her. Surprised that he wasn’t doing what he normally attempted every evening, she sat up. He told her to get up and make something to eat, for him and for her. School was no longer a choice for her, it was harvesting season, and he needed her hands to work too. Money for his drinking, for things that he did not spend on her, he wanted as much as he could get his hands on.

Last night's TV news on Channel 7 and Channel 5
Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and the Dickie Bradley Specials

The San Pedro Sun

Woofer: Resurrection
Can you do me a favor?” Melody asked me. “What do you need?” “I need somebody to drop Davin off at Sunday School and to pick him up when it’s over.” “Why me? You know I don’t do Sunday School.” “Oh, come on. A seven year-old boy needs all the guidance he can get. You don’t actually have to go to church. All you have to do is drop him off and pick him up.” “O.K.” After Melody got him all cleaned and scrubbed and dressed Davin came upstairs to get me. “I’m ready to go Grandpa,” he said. “Wow! Where did you get that shiner?” “What’s a shiner?”

Doctor Love: Why do women cheat?
Dear Doctor Love, I have been married twice and I have had a lot of girlfriends over the years. One thing that all of them had in common was that at one time or another they cheated on me. Why? I know the reasons they gave me at the time were mostly lies. What is the real reason women cheat?

Editorial: Keeping traditions alive while starting new ones
One for the most valuable gifts we can give our younger generation is the preservation of culture. While children can find history to be a bore, it is possible to ‘sneak in’ parts of our heritage by engaging them in activities such as art, dance, song, folklore and festive celebrations that not only entertain but infuse their imaginations with the essence of ancestry. It is not only the children that benefit; as an adult it is always fun to relive such traditions when we find ourselves reminiscing about cultural practices we once celebrated with family and friends. And as a community, when we come together to witness and partake in these activities it can restore our sense of kinship and solidarity. These traditions are the foundation of our ethnic society, and even though they may still live on in our hearts they sometimes need to be taken out, dusted off and polished into a current, not a past, memory.

Misc Belizean Sources

31st Anniversary Church Service & Recognition Program
Feelgood video of the day. The Consulate of Belize had their 31st Independence Day Anniversary Church Service and Recognition Program for the September Celebrations. "The Belizean youths hold the key along with our flag and heritage. They will lead as we mentor and nourish as they take their seat at the table as they continue to teach other about our country and most of all the people."


Salento, Colombia: Figuring Out Why It is Such a Backpacker Hot Spot
We reluctantly headed away from Hacienda Venecia (oh the coffee!) outside of Manizales, Colombia and made our way south. Ultimately I would be flying from Cali, Colombia to Panama City to Cancun (slowly making my way back to Belize) and we needed to keep moving. There was lots more to see. And really not enough time. This map shows the basic route from Medellin down to Cali (and a little beyond). My friends (my ride and my heroes) Danni and Cesar follow a few different blogs of poeple that have done this PanAmerican trip before...and everyone seems to stop in the town of Salento. Okay, let's do it. Salento it is...home to a town that seems sorta cute and has lots of great hiking (I would never put the words "great" and "hiking" together but I'm game.) The road to Salento is up and down, some SERIOUS twists and turns. Though a very short distance, it took us about 3 hours. La Sarrena, the eco-farm/hostel, is about a mile outside of town. Down a dirt road. We pulled in.

International Sources

Belize enters the world of terrorism
The Belize Ministry of National Security has launched an investigation to determine how a Lebanese-American imam—said to have key Hezbollah links and who was wanted on a Texas warrant after skipping parole in the US—found his way into Belize and stole the identity of a dead Mennonite by obtaining an official copy of his birth certificate, which he used to obtain a passport and then a driver’s license before absconding to Mexico, where he was picked up over the weekend in a heavily armed operation by Mexican security officials aided by US intelligence operatives. Days before the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers, Mexican state police and immigration agents descended with high caliber weapons on a house located in Francisco de Montejo in west Merida and detained Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, 44, an imam from the Shia Association Bay Area (SABA Islamic Center) in San Jose, California. The Islamic spiritual leader has allegedly been linked to a radical cell of Hezbollah agents operating in the US and Central America, who FBI authorities in the US are now investigating for alleged links to the 9/11 incident. Mexico’s National Immigration Institute (Spanish acronym INM) reported in a bulletin on Monday, September 10, that Rafic Labboun—who had allegedly skipped parole and fled to Mexico on a Belizean passport fraudulently obtained under the name Wilhelm Dyck—had been apprehended in Mérida, Yucatán, on Saturday, and returned to the USA for charges. The Mexican institute said that at the time of his arrest, Labboun was accompanied by Samer Youssef Safa, 34, who holds Belizean citizenship. Belize National Security officials say that the third man arrested, Justin George Abdallah Elters, Belizean by naturalization, has been released from custody, but Samer is still in detention and Mexican authorities are interested in questioning his elder brother, Yasser, as well. Both Safa brothers have been in Merida on business.

Realtor's work with Belizean children earns her national nomination
Charlene Brennan is one of 10 finalists for the National Association of Realtors' Good Neighbor Award. The program recognizes Realtors who improve the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. Brennan has years of experience. For the past 27 years, she has traveled to Belize to help assist in providing orthopedic care for Belizean children under the age of 18. The Belize Children's Program was established by her uncle, Gene Verdu, in 1977. Five winners for the Good Neighbor Award will be selected in October. Brennan recently talked to business writer Will Buss about being a finalist and metro-east Realtor: How did you get involved with helping children in Belize? "My uncle Gene Verdu, started helping them out and went to serve in care-coordinating positions. We travel with the orthopedic surgeons to Belize once a year and conduct clinics for those children." "How many children have been helped? "Over 340 kids have been treated over the last 35 years. It started in '77, and Rotary International took it over in '80." How did this program get started? "Basically, everyone in my family was asked to help. Gene started as a missionary in British Honduras and he started all of us in service to humanity from a very early age. He encouraged and enlisted all of us to deliver for Meals On Wheels and reach out to our parish or church. Basically from his example and his guidance, we all moved forward to make sure we all reached out to other people, in our own family unit or people in the community. He had managed the program himself until 17 years ago. It had grown so much that we were bringing 30 to 35 kids a year, which is a lot of management. At that time, my family and my boys were old enough that I could slip out of their world for about a week to go down to Belize with doctors to do this. It's very similar to what I still do in the real estate industry. There is case management, file management, photography, coordination and problem solving. It's the same skill set you apply to help someone purchase or sell a home. You're just basically managing it, and that is what we do." How? "We go down with doctors and identify 15 to 20 children a year as potential cases that we can give greater quality of life to. Those children are put into the pipeline to start the process in Belize to come with us for medical care. Applications are completed in Belize and sent up to us. We submit them to Shriners Hospital. The Shriners Hospital in St. Louis is the only Shriners hospital in the U.S. that accepts international patients. That is because of the very strong advocacy of Dr. Perry Schoenecker. He has traveled to Belize a couple times with us, so he knows how the system works and how the program runs because we have a very solid system in place.

Richmond group helps Belize infant born with defect
Aura Chacon hasn't been getting much sleep lately, but she's not complaining. She's just happy that her 6-week-old daughter, Hanna Castillo, born with a birth defect that prevented her from eating, now has an appetite and has latched on to breastfeeding so quickly. "Every day, all day, she wants to be fed," said Chacon, who is staying at Hospital Hospitality House in Richmond. "She will sleep 20 minutes, then she wants to eat." Chacon, 27, is from Belize, and she and Hanna came to the United States in August through the efforts of World Pediatric Project, a Richmond-based philanthropic health care organization that does mission and outreach work in the Caribbean and Central America. One of the charity's established programs is in Belize, where U.S. doctors go to do surgery clinics. It's also where the charity partnered with the country's Ministry of Health in a program to see that all rice, a dietary staple, is fortified with folic acid as a way to reduce the number of babies born with spina bifida and other neural tube birth defects. World Pediatric Project's efforts there also have focused on developing a protocol to identify babies such as Hanna who are born with a condition in which the esophagus does not develop completely. The technical name is esophageal atresia. Globally, it occurs in about one of every 2,500 to 4,500 births, researchers say. It is fixable, but it has to be identified early.

8 Green Ways to Experience Belize
As far as Central American countries go, Belize has not always been known as a “must-see” travel destination as compared to its more famous neighbors, Mexico and Guatemala. But over the last 10 years, Belize has built a reputation founded on its determination to protect the rainforests and farms of its land. With the rise in the popularity of ecotourism, Belize has positioned itself as a leader in the field, with the government protecting 40% of the land for conservation purposes. It’s hard to find a hotel, lodge, or service that is not eco-friendly in Belize. Though it may be impossible to know how much the locals focus on “being green” in their daily life, connecting with indigenous Maya people through education programs or learning about sustainability efforts from guides indicates a commitment to protecting their land, even as tourism grows. Here are eight of the ways you can experience green travel in Belize: Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave, Xunantunich, Organic farm at Chaa Creek, Cyrila’s Chocolates, Lamanai Outpost, Maya homestay, Splash Dive Center, Jungle tours

Imagining a Belize hurricane: “Sea Change” is my third short story to see publication
It’s fitting that my five copies of The Caribbean Writer arrived in September. In it (pages 139-141) appears “Sea Change,” a short story based on the horrific hurricane that struck Belize Sept. 10, 1931. A hurricane is bad enough today. Imagine a ferocious storm arriving with little warning, striking a small town where nothing of its kind had hit in living memory. Add the fact that most of the town’s residents were out and about celebrating a national holiday. The hurricane struck Belize City and the north coast of British Honduras with winds up to 125 miles per hour The storm surge swamped the sea-level town An estimated 2,500 people died Did the colonial authorities fail to warn the populace of the impending danger? Did people simply ignore the warnings, unable to conceive of the the potential devastation? READ: A news report about the facts and myths surrounding what happened on Sept. 10, 1931 “Sea Change” is my imagining of that day, based on a story told in my family. As I understand the tale, my grandfather Clive Tucker and his younger brother Arthur Tucker–both children–were part of a celebratory seaside crowd when the first signs of the storm appeared. Granddad did not know exactly what was about to happen, but he had a sense of foreboding and headed home, Uncle Arthur in tow. The story is not online, but you can order copies through journal’s website. The Caribbean Writer is refereed literary journal founded in 1986 and published by the University of the Virgin Islands.

"So I stumbled upon a parade today...."
The Battle of St. George's Caye Day parade, as seen from a tourist's view. There are some decent pictures posted. "There are a lot of different celebrations in Belize every September - the most important two being The Battle of St. George's Caye day on the 10, and Independence Day on the 21st (celebrating 31 years of independence this month)- but I have no idea what today's parade was all about. I heard something about Carnival Day... but I haven't been able to confirm that information... Further up the road, though, where I noticed people standing in groups on the side of the street, I heard marching band drums and saw a police truck idling in the middle of the street with what appeared to be a parade behind it, so I ducked down a side street and watched it go by for a while."

A Wonderful Trip to San Ignacio
Here's a well written travel article about Cayo which makes for a great Sunday read. It has many colorful pictures, many from houses around town, along with some pictures from downtown, and the Mopan river. Bullet Tree Falls, 'deep into the jungle' as the author puts it, is shown in pictures, as well as the Parrot Nest, which is where they stayed. Mr. Greedy's get an honorable mention too. "How an Unexpected Delay Led to a Wonderful Trip to San Ignacio, Belize. Sometimes, when it seems like things are going from bad to worst, all you gotta do is hang in there for a bit until the sun comes out again... Something you immediately notice upon entering Belize are the colors of the residences. If you're from the USA and ever wondered whatever happens to all those always-on-sale-at-50-percent-off cans of loud, garish paint, I have a theory about where they end up."

Edited by Marty (11/17/12 09:48 AM)