Sunday, August 27, 2006

Green Eyed Spanish Girls

Cousin Rose came over the other day with a stack of old old photos from the 50s on up from Caye Caulker back when it was a fishing village of 100. The plan is for me to photograph them with my nice new camera and to burn CDs for everyone. There weren’t roads in those days, the houses were connected with picados, or little trails between them. From Blue Wave Guesthouse to the split it was all mangrove. No roads meant no cars, not that there are many now – just 5 for the whole island. The main transportation around the island was feet. As I sifted through the old sepia tone photos of lovely Spanish girls and babies, clapboard houses, handsome men, happy children. I asked Bigness for a technology timeline, which he confirmed with his older sister Ilna.

It inspired me to do this series of sepia tinted photos of modern day Caye Caulker. (These photos look old but are new, the old photos will be posted on later entry) We’re still about 2 decades behind Ambergris Caye in development (thank goodness), and part of the reason is that there is no, or very little prime beachfront property for sale. Back 100 years ago when Caye Caulker was first settled, 3 main families lived here. The Alaminas, the Reyes and the Marins owned it all, still own most of it and it’s not for sale. Did I mention... its not for sale?

Technology Timeline:

1957 the first outboard engine came to Caye Caulker via Melvin Badillo. It was a 9 HP. Before that it was only sails. If you wanted to go the 21 miles to Belize City and it became calm calm calm, you could spend 3 days paddling.

Belize gained its independence from England in 1981, and it was only after independence that Caye Caulker got electricity. Somehow I don't think that's a coincidence. Bigness remembers his father’s general store, right here on the same spot that the gallery and cafĂ© is on, being lit with coleman lanterns at night.

Phones followed electricity in the 80s and for quite a time, there was only 1 community phone for the whole island. Emergency announcements were made on Love FM radio. I listen to Love FM in the mornings when we are out in the bush and still hear announcements like “Will Mr. Cletus Jones please contact his sister Mary Tillet in Dangriga” announced over the airwaves.

Tourism came to Caye Caulker in the 70s with the hippie trail finding its way through Mexico and Guatemala to this island paradise. Some of the hippies stayed and married locals, had children, homesteaded, some left with their Cayo Hicaco husbands or wives for Canada, England and the U.S. You see them come back at Easter, Christmas and summer vacations, accents diminished, but easily slipping back into Kriole like a favorite sweater, bringing with them green eyed Spanish girls.

Stop Your Whinning You Big Baby

We were in the bush for about a week, and that explains the pause in conversation here. I’ve decided to act like a grown up. I have a show coming up in November and I’m actually painting for it now, rather than starting it 2 weeks before I’m supposed to open. I’m bypassing all the screaming and crying and throwing things and hysterical fits and am dealing with it like an adult, a mature adult, an adult who plans things in advance so that her life isn’t a big drama. (I know my children who are reading this are thinking that aliens have taken over my body and are wondering where they have put their mother.)

Bigness and I came back for the storm that looked like it was headed our way, but in a matter of hours it has veered off north and is no longer a threat to Belize, or to us here on Caye Caulker sticking way out in the ocean. Good news for us, not so good for Jamaica, Haiti and Florida though. We came back because it looked like we might be in the path or at the edge and we didn’t want to make Supergirl deal with boarding up on her own. She’s been down that road with me before with hurricane Iris, Chantal and Michelle in 2001 and although she knows what she’s doing when it comes to storms, it’s a LOT of work getting ready. We were living in San Pedro then, in a strong concrete building, but still on the beach, first floor. We’ve packed the store and cafe in a backbreaking 5 hours. We don’t want to do that though, not unless we absolutely have to because unpacking takes about 2 days.

I really need a proper office, we've already decided that, not a corner of the bedroom, in the aisle way, a direct eyeshot from the verandah door through to Supergirl’s room. Bigness keeps talking about converting the verandah room into an office for me, but I keep resisting. He keeps wanting to make up construction projects and spends hours drawing plans and writing material lists. I love the verandah with its totally manual washing machine, the clothes lines sporting dripping undies and wet towels like curtains, the big hammock for laying down in, the swing hammock for swirling around and making yourself seasick, and the kitchen table on wheels, which makes for an interesting whoopee whoosh splat time when you forget that some of the furniture is anchored on the equivalent of roller skates. I love the fact that the top half of the room doesn’t have windows, but is open air with plastic lattice. UN Baby climbs it like she’s monkey in a cage clinging to it with her death grip little digits, she never falls down or slips. Its amazing. One of these days I’m going to see her clinging to the ceiling by suction cup fingers chasing lizards.

So while I’m here on Caye Caulker I might as well do something useful with my time. I’m making the street banner template for the Caye Caulker Cool Art & Tastefest coming up soon. The TV is blasting in incomprehensible Spanish and I can’t think. I’m also working on a legal paper for Bigness, yet he’s the problem, laying there with the remote in his hand. The Spanish isn’t really incomprehensible, it just is to me. I don’t interfere too much though with his addiction to Caso Cerrado, Spanish Court TV from Miami and Laura, the Spanish version of Jerry Springer which comes from Peru. I like Laura a little bit though, with the sound off. They always let the emotionally wounded woman knock the crap out of the offending man for a few seconds while the bouncers who are supposed to be protecting him actually hold him down. I find it distracting though when I’m working on “important stuff” to be sneaking peeks of women brawling over their husband’s and sweethearts, and hunks of hair being ripped out by the roots. Although, through the 100 decibel Spanish language immersion, I’m learning more words, just not ones I would probably ever use in a real conversation.

On Caye Caulker, even though we are 20 miles from the mainland, we get about 45 channels on cable TV. We’re not going to ask the question, is it legal or pirated. Don’t ask, don’t tell. But for about $10 U.S. a month we get the weather channel, TBS, BBC, CNN, MTV, HBO, Showtime, TMC, even TNN. When we’re on the mainland we also have a TV, a new addition to our little house in the bush. Although there’s no cable TV or land line phones in our area, we get one fuzzy station broadcast from Belize City 30 miles away. It’s a mish mosh of local news and pirated cable programs. Thank GOD the reception is so miserable we only try to watch anything the local news at 6:30 p.m.

Earlier today…

Me: Are you deaf?

Bigness: Probably

Me: Can you turn the darn (you know what I really said) TV down I’m trying to concentrate here? What are you sticking in your ear?

He pulls a grey stick out of his ear

Me: That’s my charcoal grey eyeliner

Bigness: Oh

Me: Use something else

He picks up a key

Me: No, like a q-tip

Me: Yes, we have q-tips that you can use rather than impaling your eardrum on a key. (I'm always the Mom - so be careful or you'll poke your eye out)

Bigness: Welllllll. . . . . get it then.

Me: Do I have to do everythign around here?

Bigness: It looks so

Supergirl likes it when we’re not here, and can't wait for us to go, so she's being VERY helpful to make sure we can get out of here and off her turf, and no one “reminding” her to do anything. When does it stop being reminding and start being nagging?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Caye Caulker Cool Art & Tastefest Sept.22-23

This is my second year coordinating our big art-and-food festival here on Caye Caulker with my friend Irene Miller from the Lazy Iguana Bed & Breakfast. We're part of the Caye Caulker Village Council Marketing Committee.

For more information take a walk to the Caye Caulker Cool website.

Here are more photos of last year's event shot by Mo Miller

The herb lady (right) that sits by the Swing Bridge in Belize City came and set up a table with her homeopathic remedies.

River Stone Art came all the way from San Ignacio

The Caye Caulker chapter of the Lion's Club set up a BBQ fundraiser

Wood carvings from San Ignacio with exoctic Belizean hardwoods

(left) Amanda Badger from Amanda's Place and Caulker Cabanas getting the sample tables ready, (right) - Maritsa looks on/

Artist Pamela Braun's oil paintings displayed on the bleachers, which make a natural and easy display area.

From left to right, Irene Miller from Lazy Iguana Bed & Breakfast, Noeli Kuylen from Rainbow Grill & Bar, Heather Martin from Tsunami Adventures and Costa Maya Cabanas.

Tataaaa for now, reruns of Laguna Beach are on and its 95 degrees in the shade today with no breeze, so I'm staying on the cool side of the house. If you notice the motto of Caye Caulker is Go Slow, that could be because if you walk too fast, you'll sweat too much, or maybe, life is short, so Go Slow. Today I think its the former.

Illustration Friday - August 18 - Match

A matched set of angelfish.
Painted in watercolor on Arches paper a million years ago. From a series titled "Belizean Reef Collection" available in limited edition print on my website.
For more Illustration Friday submissions.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Just Being Idle

Kodak Moment: I don’t know where she gets it from, but she comes by it honestly, United Nations Baby, yelling at the wild kitties to stop pooping on her beach, got her head stuck. You would think if it goes in, it must come out, but oh no, that would be too easy. She did get unstuck, but it involved sliding her whole body through the slot and being assisted down to the first floor. Remember the first phrase a Cuban Doctor learns in English? Don't do that again! And this time she listened. Later that day it is rumoured that she was asked to leave (kicked out) a local restaurant for trying to serve its customers sand tacos on seagrape leaves.

Update: We have changed MCS’s name to Supergirl and are getting a set of pink pipe wrenches for her. She’s surpassed her mother in building repair and has moved from using scissors, a can opener or a big screwdriver for a hammer, and actually uses a real hammer. I, however, am not going to change my bad ways and can still be found using kitchen utensils to slam metal spikes into wood. My recommendation for kitchen hammer is a hand held metal lime squeezer.

To Big Tilly: who was a bad boy and is in the Caye Caulker jail cell next door we finally found our “Now It’s A Party” CD and we will supply music for meditation. Just give us a shout out for track 2, cuz you bad boyz bad boyz, whattya gonna do, whattya gonna do when they come for you.

Later that day: Supergirl and I are sitting under the street side canopy outside of the art gallery just wasting time. We’re supposed to be doing side work, making coffee ice cubes, cutting up fruit, and in general making things for people to eat, but it will wait, there’s lots of time, there’s a l w a y s time. Its Eye-tale-eon season here on Caye Caulker so the afternoon parade is like a semi nudist colony of skinny women with softboiled egg breasts and wooly manmoths in-way-too-tiny strips of rubberized fabric to cover their teapots.

The bar across the street has undergone a facelift paint job and we’re wasting time trying to classify the decor (as if the fate of the 3rd world depends on it) and agree that it is vintage Key West circa Ernest Hemmingway sans titty posters but with TVs in every corner. You have to give them credit, they have taken a 50 year old wooden beach house that survived Hurricane Hattie in 1961 and made it into a thriving business.

They have redone their signage, and when I mean signage, we’re not talking about 1 sign, there’s oh, about 50 or more signs, and yes, we counted. There’s “Coldest Damn Draft on Caye Caulker”, which I like because it uses swear words. But, as Supergirl pointed out, they have the same problem I do when I write the chalkboard sign (no spellcheck) “Shrymps” “Ceaser Salad” “Fetticini” “Choclat” With the addition of “Chef” they now accept reservations. The new chef, and yes, his name is Chef, sports a white chef jacket over what looks like swimming trunks and a big smile. The food quality is way above rice-n-beans-n-stewed chicken and has morphed into international cuisine. Last night I had a chicken Caesar salad served exactly the way I like it, fresh lime dressing, parmesan cheese, homemade croutons, cold crisp romaine lettuce and warm chicken breast sliced on top, with a side of garlic bread for about $7.50 U.S. Supergirl had a big burger with all the fixins and fries for about $6.50. Beers are still $2 U.S. The place is real, the food hearty and remember, they have the “Coldest damn draft on Caye Caulker”

Me: Do you think the word Ceaser is supposed to be Teaser Salad or Caesar Salad? Is that grammarically correct?

Supergirl: do you mean grammatically correct? (eyebrows raised)

Me: . . .

Photo Friday - August 11 - Four

A conversation between four chairs.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Illustration Friday - August 11 - Play

A Garifuna drummer moves his hands so fast they are a blur. Click for more Illustration Friday entries. This photo illustration was created using various photoshop filters, mainly rough pastel, watercolor and drybrush. I shot this with my old Olymous Comedia at the Placencia Art Festival in February 2005, the drummer was playing in the band for Brukdown Woman Leila Vernon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hopkins Village Then and Now Continued

A continuation of the Hopkins Village Then and Now post.

Hopkins Village beachfront is disappearing little bit by little bit. Not to beach erosion but to an influx of million dollar concrete beachfront homes and resorts.

Its a shame. In a few years this undiscovered Garifuna Village will be populated by white people with too much money.
The upside is that there are more jobs and money-making opportunities available for residents. The downside is once you sell your inheritance, you can't ever buy it back.

I picked up the following article up from the Channel 5 Belize website

Hopkins riding wave of eco-cultural tourism

Last week we looked at a report commissioned by the B.T.B. that compared the economic impact of cruise tourism with that of more traditional overnight stays. The preliminary conclusion of that study was that overnight visitors made a far greater contribution to the Belizean economy. Tonight News Five's Kendra Griffith takes a look at one community that is experiencing that reality first hand.

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
Tucked away some eight miles south of Dangriga is the laid-back fishing village of Hopkins. This small coastal community of approximately thirteen hundred people was established back in 1942 when residents of nearby Newtown were forced to relocate following a devastating hurricane.

“Every year a celebration is held to commemorate the establishment of the village ... this year is Hopkin’s sixty-fifth anniversary.”

The Hopkins Day tradition began seven years ago and allows residents the opportunity to highlight their Garifuna culture. It also serves to attract Belizean and foreign tourists to the area, an activity which is growing in importance.

Charles Miller, Arts and Craft Vendor
“There’s a lot of people come--buy places and getting involved in the tourist business here. And I think they are going to make it. Hopkins is one of the popularest place you could ever find that people come.”

Christine, Tourist
“Yesterday we arrived here, and we finally knew today is Hopkins Day, so we feel really lucky. It’s nice, Belizeans, everyone is very friendly. There is great seashore and really good.”

Kendra Griffith
“What are you looking forward to doing while you’re here?”

David, Tourist
“Relaxing, everything is about staying calm, going slow, trying food, meeting people, talking and swimming. We did some snorkelling. Just anything to have fun.”

The residents of Hopkins are responding to the village’s growing popularity, many by becoming tour guides ...

Neal Arriola
“I used to do fishing and farming, diving for lobster and conch, planting citrus, but things go bad with them, so I leave and go to the marine part of life. The things that I do most of the time is taking people out snorkelling like today and driving the boat that we have for the divers.”

Selling crafts ...

Charles Miller
“It’s very popular with the tourists to hang out with, and they come and buy a lot. So sometimes I have to go out and sell my products wholesale to the resorts them.”

And opening restaurants and guesthouses ...

Jabbar Lambey has been attracting tourists to his Lebeha Drumming Centre for over a decade. He recently renovated and expanded to include low-priced cabanas as part of his business.

Jabbar Lambey, Owner, Labeha Drumming Centre and Cabanas
“We stared with one hut and now we try expand. We go—we were trying we go to business place ... loan us some money that I could keep this tourism-ment business for our country. Getting more expanding, expand that we can keep our tourism-ment in Hopkins.”

The village uses its miles of beach, Garifuna culture, and unique proximity to a wide range of tourist destinations to its advantage.

Richard McCaulay, Dive Shop Mgr.
“Drumming is one of the biggest attractions. At King Kassava they drum, we would get Lebeha dancers and drumming here to entertain the guests, so drumming is one of the things that people like other than the tours. We do kayaking, we do hiking in the jungle, bird watching, SCUBA diving and also we snorkelling, which a lot of people like to do. Diving, we go out to Southwater Caye or we do Blue Hole, Glover’s and Turneffe. We go to the Maya Ruins in Cayo. We do cave tubing, we go to Cockscomb, Mayflower.

And 2006 has been an exceptionally good year for Hopkins.

Neal Arriola
“This year we are very, very busy. Sometimes we take out three boats, up to four boats, sometimes even hiring other boats from different villages that we have around for us to take out the rest of the guests that we have here, so it’s really busy for us this year.”

A lot of people believe that Hopkins is the next big thing ... and construction has expanded both north and south towards Sittee River as developers try to capitalise on the influx.

For many of the residents, more resorts and hotels mean more tourists, which translate to more jobs.

Neal Arriola
“Well for us here it is really good. Most of us are working with the tourist, some people doing fishing from the village, we have a couple of them, and most of the people that is working here for the resort is from the village nearby, Hopkins Village too.”

George Ramirez
“We have some developers here north and south of Hopkins. They hire Belizeans, so we have a lot of Hopkinites employed at those resorts.”

The boom has residents feeling optimistic.

Richard McCaulay
“Hopkins is growing and it’s growing pretty fast. I believe that in the next three years, three to five years will be one of the destinations tourists would like to come.”

And they are hoping that next tourist will be you.

George Ramirez
“Hopkins is beautiful and attractive and it welcomes anybody.”

Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Photo Friday - August 4 - Private

Private thoughts from Malibu MalMal as she reflects on the meaning of life and that her mother is an aging beachhouse hippie (bippie), or rather daughter of hippie, which makes her granddaughter of hippie. Except her grandparents weren't hippies, they were squares who made a round peg, so what does that make her? A triangle? Private thoughts go round and round.

Malibu MalMal is my baby and 23. She still looks like 14 and ready for gym class. You might recognize her, she was the model for Dragonfruit Girl a photo illustration that I did last year.

A difficult preganacy (she liked to kick), I was sure she was a boy and back in those days it wasn't common to have an ultrasound. I'm still getting over the trauma of her older sister's birth (big square head). I've almost recovered from the post traumatic stress disorder :-> Her nickname was Mouse when she was a little girl, because she didn't like to talk. Then when she was 5 she changed her name to Vanessa for a couple of months and wore a brown wig. I let her do it. As a parent you have to pick your battles.

As a teenager she would defend me when we were on vacation. "Mom works hard and if she wants to drink too much and act like an idiot on vacation then you (Mal's sisters) should just stop criticizing her."

Thanks MalMal for always encouraging me to drink more than my limit (2 beers)

I'm just catching my breath from 2 visits, the first from MalMal in June for a week, then the super secret wedding, then my Mom visiting for 2 weeks in July.

Shot with my old Olympus Comedia, 2 top photos were made into a duotone with black and cyan, the bottom photo I messed around with the color settings and filters in Photoshop and can't quite remember how I did it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Always Tomorrow

Always tomorrow I'm going to update my links
Always tomorrow I'm going to photograph the pottery
Always tomorrow I'm going to fix my website
Always tomorrow I'm going to start excercising
Always tomorrow I'm going to start that new art site
But for right now, I'm tired and feel like there are not enough hours in the day to finish what I started.
I'm supposed to be retired, but I find that mostly I'm retarded.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Photo Friday - July 27 - Portrait

Let Sleeping Dogs Lay

Beth & Patrick's wedding, one of my favorite shots, and as usual the best things are not planned.

And the Groom Wore Shoes

Because the Bride made him do it.

How to Have a Wedding for Under $500

Tip #1 - Do not invite anyone
Tip #2 - Do not tell anyone
Tip #3 - Do not serve beer, serve rum-n-coke or coke-n-brandy for the men and Boone's Farm margarita wine coolers for the ladies.
Tip #4 - Do not even know about it YOURSELF until the day before.
Tip #5 - Photographer, schmatographer, who needs a professional photographer? Just point and click click click and something should turn out right.
Tip #6 - Flowers? Forgettaboutit. You only hold them for 5 minutes, let's just pretend they are there and save a ton of money. But don't forget about the little teensy tiny ribbon roses for your hair stuck in with a gadjillion hairpins (ouch!)
Tip #7 - Honeymoon = Moneymoon, just go home, gosh darn it and go to bed!

Tuesday, July 4: I told Bigness that when I finish this dress, there's no more excuses because I found my shoes and you have your Guyaberra (fancy Spanish dress shirt) that you bought in Chetumal.
Wednesday, July 5: started sewing my dress. I had ditched the idea of a silk oranza fru-fru- floaty ruffle dress, because its so hot to wear (nothing worse than a sweaty bride) for the cooler comfort of white cotton Mexican eyelet bride's dress fabric. 4 yards ($50)
Thursday, July 6: Woke up in the morning, Bigness said "Gial let's just go and get the damn paper one time" Called MCS and had her send my sandles, jewelry, his guyabera and dress pants. We went to get the marriage license and chased around all day for it ($25), stopped at Sav-U and bought a cake ($25) on the way home. Bigness called his Neice in Belmopan and her husband, who love a party, and let them know to get the ice-a-chillin and the karaoke machine warmed up. They called a caterer who made some finger foods ($200), and found a police inspector in Belmopan who is also an ordained minister, to officiate.

Friday, July 7: a.m. finished my dress, in the afternoon I got bride's hair ($15) while Bigness was going around buying drinks and mixers ($150), and at 7 p.m. got married. And most important of all... do not forget about the nap on the couch between 12 and 3 p.m. At midnight we went home becasue we're old geezers and let the youngsters party till dawn.

Hey, check out the nervous rash on bride's neck

Headline News: Bride aquitted of maim for attempting to bite groom's finger off.
"It just got in the way, I was going for the marischino cherry" she said in a statement later that day.Bigness picked the rings out. Inside the bands are our initials.Sign on the Dotted Line Please

My neclace and earrings, I make these for the store. The earrings are not exactly as I wore that night, but pretty close.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

True Confessions

This post is inspired by Denny Shane’s post from June 30. After a year of mocking, making fun of and in general sneering at my friends who have all bought those plastic gay looking clogs in neon colors. . . I have to admit it, I did it, I bought a pair online and had my mom shove them in her suitcase to bring to me.

I also bought the butt ugliest pair of Earth sandals and as my punishment God has made me walk funny and given me a backache. This is what happens when you only get to shop once every 12 months, little mistakes seem to last A YEAR.

I wear my new powder blue crocs with white tube socks, in case you’re wondering. Its either the crocs or my old Teva's that smell like fungus.

I saw a boat captain wearing a neon green pair with jungle fatigue print shorts. Glamoflage!

Oh, also while I'm confessing things, I’m addicted to Laguna Beach, The Hills, Pimp My Ride and reruns of Sex in the City.