Hi, this was on the Belize forum message board, just thought I would copy and post it here since it is about Caye Caulker and her residents.
Member # 9731
Rate Member posted 01-13-2005 03:13 PM
Ho ho ho…On Christmas Eve afternoon, Santa rode through the streets of CC on the back of a cart dressed in his red suit and wearing a red and white stripped umbrella hat. Kids were scrambling for the candies he was passing out. Didn’t make it to the Christmas party at RastaPasta’s so anything I might repeat here would be hear say and inadmissible. On Christmas Day, a group of ladies passed out toys to the children again trying to make sure that everyone got a little something. No way. What I heard for the children was “I don’t want that, give me something else”. Or taking something they wanted from another child. No respect for self or others IMHO. Despite the cold front that blew in Christmas night, the fireworks went off until the next morning and the next day and the next night and the next day and the next night. Well you get the picture.
Happy New Year’s On this first morning of 2005, there is little evidence of the storms that howled over the island yesterday. At noon it started raining. Not just rain but down pours with terrible winds. It continued like that until 6 in the evening, let up of two hours and started again. Needless to say, all of this rain put a damper on the midnight fireworks. Unable to give you a report on the parties because I’m not a party animal anymore. The music, all kinds, could be heard until around 2 am so the parties bringing in this new year must have been grand. I’m guessing the rain last night is the reason the fireworks are being shot off this morning, lots of them.
On this second morning of 2005, the British Army’s Life Flight helicopter has taken a child who has lived all of her short life on Caye Caulker to the hospital on the mainland. A small fair-haired child who suffered a fatal asthmatic attack that neither modern medicine nor her parents’ homeopathic approach to well being could prevent. A small fair-haired child I have seen playing on the beach with siblings these past weeks. A small fair-haired, blue-eyed child with the tattletale long eyelashes of an asthmatic I’m told. This is the second time in three weeks someone has been airlifted from the island by the British Army’s helicopter. It’s 5:30 am and they have just left. As yet, there isn’t a single hint in the sky of the day that is to come. The nights are getting longer.
Listening very carefully to the locals speaking creole you will be able to get the drift of the conversation. It sounds to me like creole is made up of one or two letter words and the word “the” is replaced with the word “da”. If you buy a roasting hen at Chon’s the plastic wrap is likely to say “Da Wi Fi Chikin” and that means you have just purchased a chicken with the feet in the cavity with the liver, gizzard, etc Another example is “I da ho” (sorry you potato growers, the devil made me do it). And then there is the obligatory f word that precedes every noun, pronoun, verb, adverb, adjective and anything other article of speech out of the mouth. Well, almost every word. Speaking very loud, even yelling and very fast is the norm. Often out walking in one of the three streets on the island, I am greeted with a yell of “good morning mommy” or “hello grandma”. But no f word for me.
Some locals work, some don’t. Just like the world over. The young man who works for BTL and received his IT training at NYC has been a God send; could not have gotten online with my BTL internet card without his help. And his childhood friend has a business just below my bedroom window repairing damaged boats. He does outstanding fiberglass work. And then there are the friendly fellows who drive those green and yellow tractors pulling the wagons who deliver my five-gallon jugs of Crystal water. Then there are the locals who live to drink. It appears there are a number of gringo women from many different countries here who are supporting local men and having their illegitimate children. That’s an arrangement that for the life of me I can’t understand. And old, older gringo men paired up with Belizean women. That I can understand; they need to have someone wait on them hand and foot and/or the women own property here. They remind me of the laboratory experiment on learned helplessness with mice in cylinders; after trying for so long to get out and failing, they stop trying. There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head.
There is a rumor going around that being here is “living in paradise”. Well, maybe that depends on your definition of paradise. The weather is great. The sun is almost always shining. The sky is clear and there is no smog or other annoying pollutants. As we used to say in the olden days, you can come here and “drop out”. No social standards to live up to, no dress code to adhere to, or laws of other countries you have broken to worry about, well almost. Just float through life. That sounds a little like college paradise; just make sure you get to class and make passing grades or Dad stops sending money. But as George Carlin says, “If you have stuff, then you have to have a place to put your stuff”. No stuff, no need for a place. That’s pretty straightforward and simple. There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head again.
The “front” of this paradise is kept somewhat presentable with an occasional beer bottle or disposable diaper seen much like the parking lot of any Wal-Mart. Then there are the stretches on “the back” that look like the garbage soughs from Hoboken have just offloaded. I live in an area the counts tourists as one of its natural resources and they keep the place very presentable. And yes we have our backside also. IMHO, its money, money, money and only the money that Belize is interested in and if you come into their country, they are going to get it one way or another. As Miss Bessie of Eufaula, AL once told me, “One tourist equals two bales of cotton and a damn site easier to pick”. Miss Bessie ran the only cotton gin in town and raised horses that occasionally ran at Churchill Downs. Miss Bessie was a real live steel magnolia. To date, haven’t identified the Belize equivalent of two bales of cotton. The locals smile at you, especially if they are drunk, and yes, they appear to be friendly. But somehow I get the impression that they barely tolerate foreigners and just want us to drop off our money and then get out of Dodge. Wonder if that’s why most expats live in clusters here rather than out among the locals? There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head again.
Corozal was more than I expected. Quiet, bustling little town. Clean streets and well cared for homes and yards. There is a lot of new construction going on in Corozal. I’m told there is “foreign” money coming into town and it is showing. New buildings going up everywhere. There is a sense of pride and self- respect in the people I met here. Some voiced anger at their government because more help in the form of money was given to the tourist areas than cities like Corozal following the hurricanes.
Corozal was hit just as hard as the cayes. Others, also of Mayan decent, are very concerned about the lack of management of Mayan historical sites.
We stayed at the HoK’ol Kil’ Guest House and Lan is right in describing it as “highly recommended” and an outstanding value. Carol, Marty’s daughter will be returning to the States with her daughter the first of April and Marty tells me she doesn’t want to try to run the place by herself. This is a remarkable guesthouse and restaurant facing the Chetumal Bay. There are solar panels providing electrical needs. This is truly a turnkey operation that is listed for less than a million with a Belizean realtor living in Miami. Marty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 501-422-3329 or fax 501-422-3569. No, I’m not getting a commission for telling you about this property. Marty is a very nice lady about my age and is ready to come home and they asked me to tell about the sale.
Café’ Kela’ has been closed since July 2004 and Kevin doesn’t know when he will reopen, if he reopens. He has two babies to take care of now so that means he has his hands full. Remodeling of the Nestor is awesome. The new owners from Alaska are pouring in the money and it is showing. Charlotte’s Web and Cyber Café was so busy we had to stand in line to get to a computer station. You go girl.
Something great is going on in Corozal. There is a growth atmosphere I haven’t seen elsewhere in Belize.
The 12 months prior to taking this 30-day trip I spent time researching and also reading the message boards. And this was not my first trip to the cayes. Seldom, if ever, does anyone talk about the dark side of this country. There appears to be two socioeconomic levels, the haves and the have-nots. And the have-nots far out number the haves. You are born to privilege by virtue of your family name or like those of Chinese decent; you work 24/7 and acquire your holdings as a result of the work. And we aren’t even going to discuss the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Association. Several who have relocated in Belize often give very good advice on the message boards to those who might be thinking of making the move, “It ain’t paradise and you had better have very deep pockets, filled with lots of money and be willing to spend”. Don’t come to Belize thinking you are going to be able to make a contribution to improve the infrastructure or school system or share technology. You will always be an outsider. Only the money of foreigners is welcome, not their know-how. If you really must come here, IMHO, write and get a grant and come down to work on the material for your doctoral thesis. Or another option you might consider, join the Peace Corps. And a third, you may be independently wealthy and have lots of money to spend. And then there is your inheritance you can blow down here. Belize reminds me of the city I grew up in, New Orleans, a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. As a foreigner, if you are thinking this is the place to come to fulfill your dream of living on an island in the Caribbean, get real. That is unless you are running away from something or someone or you are intent on spending the rest of your life on drugs and/or drunk and always looking for your kilo of cocaine to float up on the beach. This blanket opinion, this very personal blanket opinion, does not cover those expats who have come to Belize, bought property, have gone into business and are leading successful, productive lives to the extent they are allowed by the Belizean government. But you can ask any of them, it hasn’t been easy, one obstacle after another to overcome. Like the local authorities searching your home and finding a shell casing and you don’t even own a gun. Maybe you are an expat who has become too successful. Go figure. There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head again.
For those of you who are Belizean and are so loyal to your beloved homeland, I applaud you. But for pity sakes, get your heads out of the sand and looked at what is happening to your beautiful country. Ignoring, looking the other way, pretending it doesn’t exist and not addressing a problem doesn’t mean it isn’t there. More tree-huggers and environmentalists is not the only answer to the problems your country faces. Those are powerful rose-colored glasses you wear. Lead (with honesty and integrity), follow or get out of the way. A recent comment I overheard made by a slivered-hair gentleman on a water taxi to the slivered-haired lady sitting next to him was “My God, there are only 22,500 people in the whole country. Why can’t they get it under control?” Have no idea which “it” he was referring to. There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head again.
YAHOO…..You Always Have Other Options, and that means everyone. We, as Americans, as citizens of the world, cannot change the world. By far, we are in the minority and should not try to change everyone to our way of living/thinking. The American way is not THE way to live. It’s just another way to live. And there are many “ugly Americans” running around the world, some do-gooders and some making terrible impressions on those around them. I have lived vicariously through the trips reports of “fizzy-navel” posted on this board and have marveled at seeing the wonders of Belize through her eyes. This is not an ugly American but an extremely talented young woman who has made a lasting impression on me through her writings and I feel sure also upon those with whom she has come in contact with in this country.
During the past 30 days I have had conversations with people who were born on the island; some have never been off the cayes, city dwellers and with vacationers and expatriates from all over the world. It is not my intent to judge others, just to make and record observations
So in closing I’m thinking, be it ever so humble, there is no place like it so, Texas gulf coast I’m coming home never more to roam. When I use imperatives I usually end up eating them. Let me say it is unlikely that I shall evermore roam. There goes my Anglo Saxon protestant work ethic raising its head again.
And everyone said, “thank goodness and good riddance”. Can I get an AMEN?
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Posts: 27 | From: Hondo, TX | Registered: Aug 2004 | IP: Logged