Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Postcards from Paradise

Each year for Christmas I like to send out an "Eat Your Heart out" photo to my parents. Healthy, tanned, smiling. Middle Child Syndrome took my photo this year and amazingly came up with about 8 really nice shots, of which I won't share with you... because I think you'll enjoy the out-takes better. I swear I wasn't trying to act like a 3 year old with ADD.

Just Remember Fugly is the New Pretty.

This one is titled "Thuthe thellth thee thells by the thee thore. Say that three times fast"

This one is titled "Bra Strap? What Bra Strap?"
This photo is titled "Rats in Your Pizza Stink"

This one is titled "Can You make My Nose Look Bigger?" or "Shouldn't You See a Dermatologist About Those Giant Pores?"

This one is titled "Lalalalala I Just Won The Lotto"
This one is titled "Kiss Kiss in LaLa Land" What exactly was I doing here? I think Milld Child Syndrome told me to flip my hair like a supermodel.
This one is titled "Stop Making My Arms Look So Fat - Remember My Instructions - Thinner and Younger Only"
This one is titled "I Hate You, You Ruined My Life, I'm Going To Get You Back For That" O.K. since you've been patient I'll show you the Christmas 2005 Eat Your Heart Out Photo. Its a little bit crazy, little bit happy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy and Merry

I heisted this off of Natalie Dee's website.

What will I remember the most about today? No, it won't be the list of food my mother ate today, that she will inevitably email me later on, that will go something like this: This morning your Dad and I had decaf and cinnamon buns that I got at the thrift store 3 packages for $1, then we went over to your Aunt Margies for lunch after church and your cousin Yvonne brought her usual cheesy potatoes, I brought my bread pudding. No, your brother M didn't make it again this year. Your Aunts Tina and Dickie asked about your missionary work (she keeps forgetting its missionary position, not missionary work). Cousin Doug didn't bother to make anything, he brought store bought rolls. Your Aunt Tina is dating again. Your youngest daughter forgot to bring her fruits for her part of the fruit salad, luckily I had some frozen berries in the trunk of the car just in case. Your Dad had to take an extra sugarpill (insulin) and I thought he was going to go into a coma... Tonight I'm making meatless chili and serving it with fat free cheese, and all the grandkids are coming over to play board games. I made a diet apple cobbler with fat free margarine for desert. I tried a new cheese-less macaroni and cheese recipe, but no one liked it.
O.K. enough making fun of my mother on Christmas.
What I will remember this Christmas day is the biggest set of big-toenails that I've ever seen on a normal size foot. I first met The Toe on the water taxi between Belize City and Caye Caulker. It was sitting right next to me and French. My big toe nail is about the size of a nickel, at most, maybe between a penny and a nickel. This guy had a normal size 9 man's foot but his big toenails and accompanying big toes were the size of a silver dollar. I had a hard time not staring. I almost pulled my little ruler out of my bag to measure them. And, did I mention the Frenchness? I wonder if that's a symbol of sexyness in France? It reminded me of the movie with Uma Thurman where she played the girl with the giant thumbs. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues(?)

This is also the first year since moving to Belize that I'm baking a turkey. Even though Middle Child and I are working today, it still feels like Christmas. Whoever said you have to spend a ton of money on Christmas? Baby girl loved her plastic tea set from China, plastic jelly sandles, plastic ring floaty and plastic backpack all bought at the China store down the street.

So, everybody, tell me what you remember the most about today. Have you ever seen something really really weird on someone and thought... "I wonder if they know how weird that looks?"
Don't get discouraged if I don't holla right back, its high season right now and I'm working day and night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Letter From Santa

Dear Baby Girl,
Your Grandma is so smart! When you wouldn't take a shower the other night, after you covered yourself in dirt and sand, and she put you in the cooler with bubble water (and then took your picture) I decided to reward her this year for Christmas. Don't tell her, but I'm bringing a new 1 speed beach cruiser bike with big booty seat, basket and rust resistant chain. If she gets real lucky it will be pink with a barbie horn.
As for you, we'll stick with platic toys made in China this year.
Grandpa Bigness doesn't get a new bike this year. He was a very very bad boy and already lost 2 of them BWI (Bicycling While Intoxicated). Grandpa's getting a new paintbrush and hammer.


The Bump in the Road

I'm glad I was oblivious of what was going on. I was just ridin de bus and trying to make sure I was there when the plane came into Cancun.
Little did I know what was going down...
Email from Middle Child Syndrome:
Well my trip is off to a great start. I packed up the car and ran into the apartment for one last thing (Halima and my purse) and walked back out to find NO CAR in the parking lot. The shock has not sunk in yet. So I'll call my grandma and proceed to the airport. Lets just hope for a safe flight. So I begin my trip with the clothes on my back and a plane ticket and maybe this is a a chance to start fresh. Things can only get better from here i guess

So here is a holiday toast to new beginings and fresh start
The cavalry was on its way, and someone stole the horse.
Middle Child Syndrome is being forced to dress like me, all boho chic, until she can get some new clothes. Vogue magazine has nothing on US! I've been wearing my clothes inside out with torn hems - FOR YEARS - and I just now find out what a trendsetter I am. She's learning to like tyedye - no really, she said that it doesn't make her want to throw up anymore. Its that or go nekked.

Having no luggage made it easier going when taking the transport from Mexico to Belize.
The bus shuttle from the airport to Playa Del Carmen - 1 hour
The taxi from the old bus station to the new bus station about a mile away.
The bus ride from Playa Del Carmen to Chetumal - 5 hours
The taxi ride from the bus station to the mall where we shopped for new clothes
The taxi ride to the hotel in Chetumal
The walk to the next hotel becasue the first one was full
The next taxi ride to the next hotel because the first two were full
The walk across the park to the next hotel because the 3rd hotel was full
The walk down the street to the 5th hotel and aaaahhhhh, by that time I didn't care if I was sleeping in a whorehouse or not. Hot water and clean sheets.
Taxi ride to the bus station
3-1/2 hour bus ride from Chetumal to Belzie City
1 hour water taxi ride from Belize City to Caye Caulker
Are we there yet?
No, baby girl, leave your shoes on because we're not at the beach yet.
Gramma when are we going to be there?
I have to go potty.

Interesting though, its good to see someone doing their job. We were under deep scrutiny by Mexican immigration when leaving Mexico and entering Belize at the border between Chetumal Mexico and Corozal Belize. The immigration officer actually questioned Baby Girl (3 years old) about "who her momma was". At the time you're going through interrogations, you feel a bit put upon. But after the fact, I realize that they are looking for missing and exploited American children, and human trafficing. Kudos to the Mexican Imigration man doing his job.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Don't Let the Door Hit You On Your Way Out

“Psst.. Miss Miss, how much for a coffee?”

I look around for where the sound is coming from and see the sweet Kriole police officer standing at the vent window next to the café kitchen. The window faces the police yard and is a direct shot into their duty office.

“2 bzd ($1 U.S.) for a small and 3 bzd ($1.50 U.S.) for a large” I answer.
“Its not for me its for my prisoners” he declares.
I look past him and see the backs of two dyed blonde heads in the window.

Bigness’s building occupies most of his beach lot, so when I go to work I pass through the police yard from the beach to the street entrance. This morning I saw two women on “The Bench” but I didn’t notice, or care who it was, I just needed to get that coffee brewing before people were beating the door down. I try not to see who’s in trouble, the knowledge weighs too much on my mind and I’m not going to bail anyone out of jail for what is usually stupidity. When women are arrested they aren’t put into a cell, they have to sit on the bench under the watchful eye of the duty officer until they decide what to do with you. Its like sitting in the principal’s office, everyone knows you’re in trouble. You should be so lucky in the U.S., to be treated so well.

Two mash up ole white ladies got themselves in trouble.
Don’t ask.
Don’t tell.
Cuz you on fakation and don’t nobody know you down here.

But I can speculate.
Smoking weed on the beach?
Fighting with another woman?
Those are about the only 3 reasons a woman would get arrested here. Chasing your man down the street with a stick will only get peels of laughter and shouts of encouragement from the copra.

Decisions, decisions, what to do with 2 mash up ole white leedies who won’t behave.

The sweet Kriole officer reached out and gave me a $5 bill as I passed the 2 coffees through the vent to him. “Tanks Miss Leedy” One small with sugar only and the large with milk and sugar please.

Welcome to our new walk up window.

The two grannies were later seen being “escorted” by a police officer to the water taxi.
Automatic $1000 fine and deportation.
Passport stamped OTL (Ordered To Leave) and shoved back over the border into Mexico.

Welcome to Paradise and please behave.

Update: Middle Child Syndrome and Baby Girl arrived safe and sound. Only one little bump in the road. (next post)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Changes in Plans and Missionaries on the Move

4:30 p.m. the phone rings - Is this Mr. Bigness? Be at the international airport at 10 a.m. tomorrow, you're going to Cuba.
4:31 p.m. What?

With Bigness in Cuba for eye surgery, I'm leaving today to go to Cancun to pick up Middle Child Syndrome and Baby Girl. I'll be back on Sunday. Notice to would-be burglars, I've left the wild kittens and sand crabs in charge of security.

Perhaps you don't know my feelings about missionaries, unless you've heard me rant and rave at the giant spectacles in the village park where happy (American) teenagers are bringing "The Word" to heathen children, several times a year. Maybe you've seen me scowl at the big evangelist production shows that come here to entertain the savages and to "Save" Belize. (Given my status of Missionary that I've been elevated to by my Mom and Dad - I might seem like a hypocrite) I watch in horror - teen missionaries painting faces and clowning, doing big Jesus shows, and I think - how much medicine could have been bought with one of those plane tickets, how many people donated so that their teen missionary could have a vacation on the beach?

If you want to be a missionary bring: medicine and tools. Be ready to help. Bring skills that we don't have here. Build a school, build a clinic, even build a church as long as it has a school or clinic atached to it.

Well these guys are doing that. They made a side trip stop on Caye Caulker for a few days of R & R and needed to drink some Iced Cafe Mocha and Chai Lattes - that's how I met them. But are leaving for Honduras via Guatemala today. I'm sure they will find plenty to do in Guatemala.
Interesting kids (anyone under 30 is a kid) They aren't afraid of anything.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Photo Friday - December 2 - Experimental

This photo is called Market Day in Belize City.

Hallooooo, You Reach Da Caye Caulker Compleeyn Depaaatmen

I'm thinking about putting a comments box and questionaire outside my door so I can stop answering the phone. I'll paint a sign that says "Comments? Suggestions? Complaints?" with a big arrow pointing to the box.

The police choose from time-to-time to not answer their phone.
I can hear it ringandringandringandring until the phone company shuts the ring off after about 20 rings.
How can nobody be home at the police department?

Then my phone starts to ring.

Frantic Caller: Miss Miss I'm sorry to bother you but can you look out your window and see if the police is home.
Me: uhhh, one sec K? (I wrap a towel around my drippingness)
Me: I can't tell, the lights are on, but I can't see if anyone is there. Maybe they are out on a call. (I'm squinting because I don't have my glasses on)
Frantic Caller: well blah blah blah and the police doesnt do nuttin about it blah blah blah and he be harrass me and I jus wan he outta my house blah blah blah. What's da numba ova der anyways, mebbe I dialed wrong.
I think to myself - uh... no they just aint answering.
I look in the phone book under Caye Caulker and Police and it says refer to page 109 - I go to page 109 and Caye Caulker ISNT EVEN LISTED. But they have 20 numbers for Orange Walk, 30 numbers for Belze City, 10 numbers for San Ignacio, 15 numbers for Belmopan. Why can't they just print the number?
Me: Have you tried dialing 90, its the emergency number for the phone company and they will put you in touch with whoever you need.... or you could walk the block down here, or you could call Belze City.
Frantic Caller: and I said blah blah blah and he said blah blah blah and I said blah blah blah....
I'm recalling my "Reach for the Top Training by Roger Mellot" for stress management and dealing with people who are over the edge - from 1989. It was a cassette series that I listened to, while working as a supervisor of a graphics/marketing department at a major university full time, having 3 small children at home, single mom, no help fropm the ex, and trying to cope with a boss that would call me at home on Sunday screaming at me.
Do not give back emotion.
Be a brick wall and it will bounce off.
Apologize without owning the problem.

Me: I'm sorry you have to go through this, uh huh, yep, I'm sorry that this is happening to you. Try the 90 number, if the operator can't get through, then they will forward your call to whoever can help you.
Frantic Caller: O.K. den.
Bigness: who dat?
Me: nobody, you don't even want to know.

I would have Bigness answer the phone, but he doesn't know how to lie (except to me) and say... "I'm sorry but she's unavailable at the moment, may I take a message?" He just hands the phone to me anyway.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Illustration Friday - Dec 2 - Blue

This peice is called Eyes of the Medicine Woman its 45" x 45". It is hand painted silk using the French Serti Technique of fencing in areas you want to paint. You first stretch the silk like canvas on a stretcher frame, then you treat the silk and paint. Its controlled chaos. The results are usually surprising.

A few years back I went to see a medicine woman. A real live Belizean medicine woman way out in the bush, because I needed help. Something was going on within myself and I had no idea what or why. Before I went to see her I had a dream and painted this image. I saw a mature woman, with eyes coming through the jungle and blue behind her.

I had had a series of mishaps, a devastating run of bad luck, jam packed into a 6 month stretch.
- was brutally assaulted.
- contracted spinal meningitis and became very very sick, and couldn't walk for a while. Or do anything except lay in bed very very still in excruciationg pain, except when I was sleeping knocked out from the narcotics they were giving me to control the pain.
-had a gun held to my head as I knelt on the side of the road in Mexico while 3 cops shook down the driver of the vehicle for mordita.
- won't even begin to describe the revelations regarding my now ex-husband.
-2 near drowning experiences.
-lost everything in a fire which turned out to be arson (landlord didn't want to fix the property so he burned it down) Lost Every Thing, 3 years worth of artwork, 53 original paintings, etc. etc.

I was in such a funk when I moved to Belize that I was afraid for the other people on the plane, because I was sure that it would crash because I was on it.
I'm not being a drama queen.

A close friend in Belize (a massage therapist) recognized some of the symptoms and referred me to the medicine woman. Beatrice Waight is her name. She practiced with Rosita Arviga (Rosita wrote the book Sastoon and 100 healing Herbs). Beatrice's father had practiced with the famous medicine man Don Elijo Pante, although he wouldn't teach her anything because she was a woman, she learned from her grandmother who was a Granny Healer.

I took the 8:30 boat from Caye Caulker, then the 10 a.m. express bus from Belize City to San Ignacio, arriving at noon. I caught a taxi to Bullet Tree Falls and 45 minutes later arrived in a little compound. The place is magical. Its like you're transported to another place and time.
Beatrice took me into her stick and pimento thatch examination room and had me lie down on a massage table. She lit copal which is an aromatic resin that produces a white smoke when placed on charcoal embers. She placed some herbs on my wrist and took my pulse. After a few moments she started praying in Mayan and Spanish and moved all around my body placing her hands and chanting. I felt a big rush of emotion and a gushing release. She ended the treatment with cupping her hands and blowing onto my chest.

Her diagnosis: a hex had been put on me and I needed to take the cure.

The cure was 7 herbal baths, over a period of 7 weeks, a herbal tincture with woman's herbs that you drink every morning (in a ginger wine base) and special prayers. The 7 baths were a ritual and had very curative effects. Some of the herbs were fresh white sage, marigolds, john charles, polly redhead, hibiscus, basil and the secret herb which I didn't recognize. I would pick a pigtail bucket full of herbs then add water and shred and crush them, letting the power of the sun soak into the mix. I would go into an outdoor wooden shower stall and pour and rub and scrub, leaving the herbs on my body. There was also 1 session of uterine massage to adjust my uteris and place it back into the proper position and to change my menstration so that it did not fall on the full moon. (does the picture of coyotes howling at the full moon come to mind here?) I would leave the sessions with grass in my hair and with what looked like oregano all over me, drying in the bus on the way home. Quite a site.
She told me who had placed the hex and why.
She sent it back.
The person died of stomach cancer 3 years later.
True story.

I feel so self conscious

I've been nominated for Best Caribbean Latino South American Blog
Vote for me!
Vote every day!
I want that free trip to Good Mornin Uhmerika!
I guess I'm over my shyness.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Shake It You Won't Break It

BLAM! I hear, and the house shakes.
What happened? I call from the bedroom where I'm uploading files on my computer.
Nothing. Bigness answers sheepishly.
A few minutes later I walk out to our kitchen and look at the sliding glass door that leads to the verandah. I see a greasy face print about 7 feet up the glass. He's lucky he didnt break his nose, knowing how he walks full tilt all the time. I realize too late... Oh, I forgot to put the tape X on the glass after cleaning it this morning. It was just like the windex commercial.

I'm frustrated, I can't get into my Yahoo email account. It keeps telling me that my computer is rejecting cookies. I've checked all the settings and restarted a few times. Anyone else have this experience?