Doctor Love

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 11, No. 10            March 8, 2001

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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

Dear Doctor Love,

    What in the world is going on with all of these people painting each other? Someone told me it is because of the celebration of Carnival but I don't think so. I have been to Carnival celebrations in many countries and in New Orleans and it has nothing to do with painting each other. Some of those paints are not water-based paints and when the oils get on anything they are going to be hell to clean up. Even the water-based paints can dry quickly and will not come off of wood or cement.

   Is this some kind of a local custom?

/s/ Visitor

Dear Visitor,

    What you are seeing is a perversion of the true custom of the island. Years ago in the week before Carnival there were masquerade dances in the streets at night. On the first day of Carnival people would use white flour or face powder to paint each other. Eggshells were filled with perfumed water and cracked on people's heads. They were never thrown.

    On the second day certain other colors were allowed and on the third day all colors were used. During the three days of Carnival, comparsas (group street dancers) were performed by different groups such as school children, married ladies and the men who dressed up like women.

    On the Wednesday after Carnival a big fiesta was held on the beach featuring games like canoe races, tug-of-war, the greased pole and the grand finale was the burning in effigy of Juan Carnival. His will was read and this will left humorous legacies to the local people.

    My, my. We certainly have progressed here. Now, we just get drunk and paint each other. A lot of us even do really stupid things and wind up in court.

Dear Doctor,

    I think my daughter is pregnant but she will not admit it to me. For the last two months she has been moody and is upset all the time. She is only fifteen and her boyfriend is sixteen and she already told me she wants to marry this boy. I told her to wait until she is eighteen and then we will talk to her about getting married because sixteen is too young. She only just turned fifteen, too.

    Anyway, I have warned her and told her not to have sex because she will get pregnant and then she will have to get married. It will ruin her school and she will not get to graduate. She tells me that she is old enough to decide what to do and that she is too smart to get pregnant. I have always trusted her up until now but because she has changed so much in the last few months it gets harder to trust her.

    How can I get her to tell me what is causing her trouble? I don't want her to be pregnant but if she is, I do want to know it.

/s/ Upset Mom

Dear Upset,

    The teenage years are usually the most troubled time of a person's life. Because their bodies and their emotions are constantly changing, their entire world is in turmoil. Some teenagers can get depressed for months just because of their facial complexion or because they need braces or whatever is the most important thing in their life at the time. If your daughter is moody you should try to talk to her but do not just automatically assume that she is pregnant. A fight with a boyfriend or a friend can bring on depression and moodiness. All of us go through certain amounts of this behavior and some of us are affected more deeply than others are.

    Try to draw her out and see if you can find out what is troubling her. Before you do so, clear your mind of any ideas that you may have about the problem. Your chances for success will be much better.

Dear Dr. Love,

    A few weeks ago you said that we did not have much crime on this island and the very next week we had a murder and at least one theft that I know of where thieves grabbed a cash box at a beach bar-b-cue. Also, that week a thief beat up a little old lady and her husband while robbing a store. There were a lot of other crimes too that we probably did not get to hear about. Are you ready to change your tune and admit that we do have a crime problem on this island? We do have crime here and I think it is time that you wake up to the facts.

/s/ Ripped Off

Dear Ripped,

    The Doctor has never said that we have no crime on the island. The Doctor's position is that the crime we have is negligible compared to other places. We have a tremendous amount of crime compared to ten years ago; probably twice or three times as much. On the other hand, we have two or three times the number of people living here that we had ten years ago. When people arrive, they bring problems with them.

    Our crime is different than the crime of other places. We have had domestic disputes that ended in murder before. We have even had robberies that resulted in murder. Still, the record shows that compared to other towns of the same size in this country, the problems are minimal and most of them are still petty. If you want to see real crime, go to any large city in the U.S. They wrote the book on it.

Dear Doctor Love,

    We hope that you will print this letter although it is more of a comment than a question. When my husband and I moved to San Pedro two and a half months ago we started reading your column. We found it amusing and insightful most of the time. Since then we have been disappointed to find that you have put down other countries to such an extent that it is

offensive. We have even found some of your comments racist and xenophobic.

    The two most heinous comments we are referring to are these: First, during the New Year celebration a person wrote to you asking who was to blame for the firework problem in San Pedro. You responded that we should blame the Chinese who invented fireworks. The second and most recent, which prompted us to write, is your response to "Ripped Off". R.O. was upset about the crime on the island especially after he read from you that there was not much crime on the island. You responded that if he or she wanted to see "real crime" they should go to a "large U.S. city as "they wrote the book on

it". Both of your comments might have been tongue in cheek or sarcastic but we have found them offensive none-the-less.

    We believe it is unfair to insinuate that a whole country is responsible for the firework problem on the island. We feel that you skirted the real issue of who is responsible for boating the explosives to the island and then selling them to unsupervised children and inebriated adults. We feel you did this by putting the blame on a whole ethnic group whom thousands of years ago invented what we now call fireworks. We find this behavior racist and immoral. In addition it gives the impression that the only benefit that China has had in this world is fantastical displays of color and light. We hope that you would also point out the wonders that China has exposed the world to (such as standardized public education, organized countrywide government, organized monetary system, The Great Wall and noodles) instead of pointing the finger of blame.

    Now, in regards to the United States being the representation of "real crime" we say this: Have you been to Belize City recently? That would have been a much better example of bad crime within the country border. Of course the large U.S. cities have a great problem with crime. Coming from one of these cities we can tell you of those dangers ourselves. We can also tell you that the emergency crews and care are vastly better than what are available currently on this island. In fact, had the stabbing (which led to murder) occurred in a large U.S. the poor young woman would not have died.  Also, not only would there have been an ambulance, a fire truck and several police cars, they would have arrived within minutes. As we understand it she died because no emergency equipped personnel were available. That in it's self is a crime. Especially in a town which not only boasts a Lions Club, an Emergency Evacuation Plane (Wings of Hope), and a health clinic, but also a Medical School. Many of the students of which come from E.M.T. (Emergency Medical Technician), Paramedic, and E.R. (Emergency Room) nurse backgrounds. I might also mention the M.D. (Medical Doctor) professors who teach at St. Matthews, which could have been called.

    As far as we can see the crime on this island is no different than other places, there is just less of it as there are less people. It is our hope that in the future, instead of defending your own words and in effect downplaying the magnitude of the crimes on Isla Bonita by pointing to an area of greater crime and population, you might rather offer words of assurance to the writer. The writer, who was obviously afraid, appalled and in need of hearing how much is being done to prevent further occurrences of such horrible magnitude here in San Pedro.

    We thank you in advance for your understanding and awareness on this issue. We also look forward to reading your future column where you offer warm insightful, if sometimes harsh and real, responses to people in need.

/s/ Offended but Hopeful

Dear Offended but Hopeful,

    The Doctor commented that perhaps we should blame the proliferation of fireworks on the Chinese since they invented them.

    Centuries ago jesters carried an inflated pig bladder on a stick. If you did not laugh at the appropriate places you could expect to be whacked over the head with a pig bladder.

    Are you so humorless that you do not recognize a joke when the pig bladder is being applied to your head? Get real. You won't last very long in Belize if you can't develop the sense of humor necessary for survival here. Thank God that people like you cannot dictate what is and what is not funny for the rest of us. We would all be tension ridden, anal retentive milque toasts afraid to make a joke because it might be politically incorrect.

    Relax. You're in Belize. If you don't relax you are in for a real shock when you hear someone referred to as a Chineeman, a gringo, a coolie guy, or a turk. These are not derogatory remarks; they are merely descriptions that make our lives easier. Please keep your knee-jerk, bleeding heart do-good attitude to yourself until it wears off. It will.

    As for crime; please pull your head out of the sand or wherever it happens to be and look around. We live on an island. We are surrounded by water on all sides. Of course our crime is different here and there is less of it. A fellow colleague says it is because you can't do a drive-by shooting from a golf cart. We also have had no golf-cart jackings. Our neighborhood of San Pedro has had a store robbed by force and everyone is shocked. Is anyone shocked by this in your neighborhood back in the US? It's doubtful. No one holds up the gas station. Our only gang activity is the gang of schoolchildren fleeing the primary school when the bell rings. Our postal workers haven't come to work with machine guns and no one has tried to assassinate the prime minister when he visits us. Get real!

Dear Doctor Love,

    My boyfriend and I never have a place to go to be alone. I'm not talking about sneaking around someplace to make out or anything. We could always find a place for that.

    He lives in a house with a large family and so do I. Whenever we want to just sit and talk there are always people around. We usually end up going out on one of the docks and then people talk, especially if it is at night. We just want a quiet place to go where family and friends won't interrupt us.

    Do you have any suggestions?

/s/ Need Space

Dear Need Space,

    Have you considered one of the deck restaurants at the hotels? These places are open to all and you never see any school kids at them. These are great places for those after-school get-togethers for a soft drink and conversation.

Dear Dr. Love,

    I write in hopes that you can use your credentials to answer the following question. What is the expected budget required to equip, staff and operate the proposed hospital in San Pedro? And rather, more importantly, where will these funds come from? It is a hard fact that the building itself represents one of the smallest components in the delivery of "hospital" services. There is no doubt that everyone involved has the best of intentions; but without credible answers to these additional questions-well, perhaps we have to look no further than Belize City for an example of what to expect.

/s/ Worry Wart

Dear Worry Wart,

    The Doctor will use the credentials of a lifelong experience as a wise-ass and sort of answer your question.

    First and most important is not where will the funds come from but where will they go? For that matter, where have they gone? The building was started because funds were appropriated for it. What happened to those funds? Why did the money run out? Why was the building started if there was no money to finish it? What makes you think everyone has the best intentions?

    The truth is that the San Pedro Lions Club has named a committee for this special project. This team has made careful studies on the proposed hospital and the financial reports are available from them. They have nothing to hide. Like everything else that the San Pedro Lions Club gets involved with, transparency and accountability is assured. Unfortunately the money ran out and although the building was started without enough funds to finish it, the Club felt this would encourage others to donate.
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