Dr. Love

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 32            August 10, 2000

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Dr. Love is the island's and possibly the world's greatest authority on just about everything. The Doctor answers questions on almost anything except religion and politics. Persons needing additional assistance or counseling should contact the Family Services Division at 02-77451.         

    You may write to the Doctor at P.O. Box 35, San Pedro Town, Belize, fax  026-2905 or e-mail at sanpdrosun@btl.net

Dear Doctor Love,

    Yesterday I was trying to find a restaurant that a friend had recommended. I stopped two different groups of tourists and neither group spoke a word of English. Then I started noticing people in restaurants and gift shops and I started to hear a lot of different languages. I'm not sure what the languages were but they certainly were not English and they did not sound like Spanish.

    My impression before I came here is that most of Belize's tourists come from the U.S. Is the tourist picture changing here?

/s/ Tourist

Dear Tourist,

    The tourist picture here changes constantly during the year and it can vary wildly from season to season. At one time San Pedro's few tourists were fishermen and divers. Both of these groups of people will go anywhere in the world and reside in any accommodations to follow their particular passion. There were few tourists that could be considered strictly sight-seers. Family groups were few and far between. This is because twenty years ago conditions were still in the primitive stages, with few rooms that a sightseeing tourist would find comfortable. Furthermore, few people outside of Central America knew anything about Belize, including its location.

    The surge of information on television and the Internet has changed the tourist picture considerably. Now we see people who ten years ago would never have considered coming to Central America for a vacation. Europeans often take summer vacations and at this time of year, Ambergris Caye gets its share.

Dear Doctor Love,

    I studied the Spanish language for three years in high school and took courses for another two years in college. I read on the Ambergris Caye Internet site that in San Pedro Spanish and English are often used side by side. One of the things I wanted to do during my month-long stay in Belize was to brush up on my conversational Spanish. I find that when I speak Spanish to the local people it takes them a long time to understand what I am saying and sometimes they don't seem to understand me at all. At first I wondered if I had been misled and the people here do not speak Spanish. I never made anything less than a B in all of the Spanish courses I took and I know I am speaking correctly.

    Can you explain why it is so difficult to understand the local people and why they have so much trouble understanding me? I even have trouble buying vegetables at the fruit stand.

/s/ Spanish at Heart

Dear Spanish,

    You are facing several problems that they do not teach in language classes. First, if you look like a gringo and suddenly start spouting Spanish at the fruit stand no one is going to understand you immediately. This is because they assume you are speaking English. You look like an English speaking person and therefore they expect English.

    When you do establish the fact that you are speaking Spanish, then you discover that their Spanish is different from yours. Every area where Spanish is spoken has its own distinctive words, phrases and idioms. Since we have such a melting pot of Spanish speaking people here, the problem is compounded.

    You, it is assumed, speak textbook Spanish and are well versed in English. If you met a college don from Scotland you would be hard pressed to understand every third word he spoke although both of you speak perfect English. Make your adjustments by learning the local idiomatic expressions.

Dear Dr. Love,

    In recent months, it seems the fashion in Belize is to blame US television for all the crime, violence and trouble in Belize. I watch US TV and I don't kill, rape, beat my wife or children and I don't have a drug problem. What do you think about all this blaming of US TV for all of our  problems?

/s/TV watcher

Dear Watcher,

     It seems no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions anymore; it's much easier to blame others for all their troubles. If US television is the root of all evil in Belize, several solutions exist that could alleviate the problem.            

     One of them is calling all the Belizean cable operators into a meeting and asking them to quit their illegal practice of pirating cable signals and broadcasting programs without permission or payment to the people who own the rights to these programs.  If they do not want to do that maybe they could supply boxes that US cable operators do, that allow parents to be able to block programs that their children should not view. Since both of these solutions will cost the cable operators money, it is doubtful they will agree to either.

    Parents also have a responsibility to monitor what their children view. In the US, channels like Showtime and HBO are sold seperately and cost extra to obtain because of their graphic content. Instead of letting children watch these programs why not sit down with your child and watch something like the Learning and Discovery channels or PBS. This will turn your TV into an educational tool and provide something you and your child can discuss and learn from. If all else fails, unplug it and that should end all of Belize's problems.

Dear Doctor Love,

    I thought I read in the paper that a curfew for school aged children was put into effect. This week the streets were still full of children late at night. When is this curfew going to be enforced?

/s/ Concerned Parent

Dear Parent,

    You are a week early. The curfew was supposed to go into effect this week. When will it be enforced? Probably around the same time that the speed limit is enforced and it starts snowing in San Pedro. Honestly, it has been changed to September 1st because of the Costa Maya Festival.

    You must realize that the Doctor has answered numerous letters over the years about underage children in bars and children on the streets at two and three a.m. There has been plenty of opportunity to do something about the situation. Now, because a gang of pre-teen children burglarizes a business, a gesture must be made. Take it for the gesture that it is and realize that it is only for appearances. The bars will still serve teenagers and only certain children will be kept off the streets for a while.

Dear Dr. Love,

    I am writing to you about my son. He is thirteen years old and is going completely out of control. He comes and goes at the hours that please him and he never says anything that is not a curse word or something bad to say. My husband wants to lash him but I think he is too old for lashing and I try to punish him in different ways like not letting him watch television or play video games. I also tried not giving him money. Then he goes over to a friend's house to watch TV or play games.

    He was always a good boy until last year. How can I get him to behave again? Don't you think he is too old for a lashing?

/s/ Unsigned

Dear Unsigned,

    It should be obvious to you that your methods of control are not working. Perhaps it is time to let your husband give it a try. A child is too old for a lashing when he moves out from your house. Until then, he is answerable to you.

Dear Doctor Lover,

    I understand that the town board is imposing a curfew on children. It is supposed to be nine o'clock unless the child is accompanied by an adult. Is this for real? Is someone trying to tell me that I can't send my child to the store for a loaf of bread unless I go with him? This is ridiculous. Why not put a reasonable time on the curfew?

    I think this curfew is being put on just because a gang of children broke into a local business at three o'clock in the morning. My son didn't do it. Why should he be punished? The parents of the children are the ones responsible for the crimes because they are responsible for their minor children. Why not arrest the parents who let their children run the streets at three a.m.? Start fining them and incidents like this would come to a quick halt.

    Will my children be arrested if they decide to stay and see the entertainment at the Costa Maya Festival? All the town functions like Miss Chiquitita, Miss San Pedro and such never start until at least eight. Are children going to be banned from going to their own functions unless they are chaperoned by their parents? How is this curfew going to be enforced? Will the police round up truck loads of children like they do with the illegal aliens and haul them to jail. What is going on here?

/s/ Disgusted

Dear Disgusted,

    Yes, there will be a curfew and the curfew hour does seem ridiculously early. In case you were not aware of it, we have had curfews in the past with the usual hour being set at ten o'clock. These curfews were as unenforceable as this one will be. If we can't keep fifteen year-old children out of the bars how can we expect to keep them off the streets?

Dear Dr. Love,

    I have been seeing somebody for six months now and I have been using birth control pills. Now the doctor says I am pregnant. How can this be? For a long time when I was married, my husband and I used the rhythm method and I got pregnant then. The doctor told me that the rhythm method was not to be relied on and that we should use something else. He gave me the prescription for the pills and I took them just like the directions says. Now I am pregnant again and I do not want to be. Have you ever heard such a thing before?

/s/ Pregnant

Dear Pregnant,

    Yes. It happens more often that you would think. None of the birth control methods is one hundred percent fool proof except possibly the sponge method. To use this method place a small kitchen sponge on your left knee when you go to bed at night. Hold it firmly in place with the right knee.

Dear Doctor Love,

    Can you tell me why a box of cereal that costs three dollars in the US sells for fourteen dollars Belize here? I am used to paying more for things here but that is almost five times the price that it should be. Is this caused by greed on the part of the merchants?

/s/ Cereal lover

Dear Cereal Lover,

    It is caused by a combination of   things including greed on the part of the seller and stupidity on the part of the buyer. If you are dumb enough to pay these prices for cereal you are getting what you deserve. Here is a clue. Stop at some other stores. You buy the same cereal for almost half the price. That goes for any product from vegetables to soap. Prices vary wildly. There are at least three small stores on this island that sell nearly anything you can buy at the big stores. The difference is that they sell for two thirds the price of the big stores.

    Shop around. You'll find them.

Dear Dr. Love,

    Like everyone else who moves here, I like to go barefoot. Now I am paying the price. About three months ago, I got what felt like a little splinter of glass in my foot. I tried to dig it out with a pin but I found nothing there. Then a hard ball like a callus started to form around the area of the splinter and every time it hits stone it feels like a nail is going through my foot. I tried to dig it out again but the flesh grew back harder and more painful. A friend of mine told me it is called a fisheye. He says to kill a scorpion and stick the fisheye with the poisonous scorpion's tail. It will kill the fisheye and the ball will disappear. This sounds dangerous but I am willing to try just about anything to get rid of it.

    Do you have any advice or knowledge about fisheyes that you would share with me?

/s/ Limping

Dear Limp,

    Sure. Go see a doctor. A fisheye is what is known as a plantar's wart. A doctor here can remove it in a few minutes with a knife and a local anaesthetic.

    The scorpion treatment is a bush remedy and it has been known to work, but I wouldn't reccomend it. Scorpions here, by the way, are not deadly. They just have a painful sting.

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