Sunday, December 23, 2007

Twas Two Nights Before Christmas

...and the tourists magically appeared.
Santa wore a blue suit (sorry no pictures).
And the joint was jumpin, not a moment too soon.
We're ready, we have more purified water in stock in 5 gallon containers than most grocery stores, we won't get water delivery again until Thursday.
Bigness did the shopping and Cousin Rose is going to do the cooking.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Learning Curve

I like to write my own stuff, but when Supergirl sent me this, I thought, I couldn't have said it better.

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in...
I've learned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.
I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just jackasses.
I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.
I've learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more screwed up than you think.
I've learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
I've learned that it is not what you wear; it is how you take it off.
I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.
I've learned to not sweat the petty things, and not pet the sweaty things.
I've learned that ex's are like fungus, and keep coming back.
I've learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
I've learned that I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy it.
I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it.
I've learned that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.
I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.
And the real pains in the ass are permanent.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Funniest Thing I've Heard All Day

The new CD from SuperG playing on Reef Radio in San Pedro
The lyrics in the chorus sound like this...

White mon pay de bills
Spanish mon build de house
Chiney mon cook de food
Black mon lay de pipe

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Upside and the Downside

Haad reeeyn aaaaall deeeey
Free baythe
Free ayer cundishun

My new Columbia rainjacket from Angler's Abroad (near the split) got its first real workout today on a quick trip to San Pedro. I'm happy to report that it passed with no drip or rips. No more wearing hefty bags on the water taxi.

Several flights leaving Belize for Huston were cancelled today and postponed until tomorrow stranding more than 300 people in Belize City. Too bad they weren't stranded somewhere nice. The outlook for tomorrow is the same, with weather clearing by Friday. I have to admit, it was dicey on the boat today. A bit like Disneyland without hand rails.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Contentment Cards

Mrs. Drama Queen was in the police station yesterday causing a ruckus. There are certain people that when I see them heading for the station, I don’t even wonder what’s going on. Their life is a constant drama of he did this and she said that. I sigh and shrug and close the kitchen window while I’m mixing up the batter that’s soon to become banana cake. I really don’t want to know. Really. And please don’t come over and tell me what you think I might have missed during the very loud interviewing process.

Living next to the police station on a tiny latino island in the middle of nowhere, has its plusses and its minuses. The plus is that we feel relatively safe, and if there is an incident, the police are quick to respond. The minus is that Bigness and I are unwilling observers of life’s worst events. Or at least the 8th grader’s version of it. We have become the crisis counseling center for every white girl who ever loved a rasta man. I think I’m going to print up my pamphlets for “Lee’s Guide To Dating on Caye Caulker” I could be like the Jehovah’s wickedness and go door to door preaching the word.

I remember one night a drunken girl went to the police station to complain that her lover wouldn’t leave his wife as he promised.

I went to bed and turned the TV up.

The other day I had quite the surprise while walking down the steps to the beach. I should know by now to just put on my blinders, and never look to the right when midstairs. A man was showering himself in the faucet under the stairs, his complete self, soaping up, while a prisoner, some unlucky drunk was sitting in the window of the cell with his legs stuck through the bars outside. All I could see were these two brown skinny legs. They were having quite the conversation. They laughed and laughed, looking only straight ahead unaware of someone to the left. I hurried and finished my descent, I didn't want to be foreced to hail the bathing man, or be labeled stuck up. If they asked my advice it would be that to improve your life you shouldn’t hang out with crackheads and whores.

The island is perking up a little, it’s the week before Christmas, the tourists aren’t pouring in like they have in years past, but its definitely getting busier. I made two banana cakes today. The warmth from the oven welcome in the kitchen. It got down into the 60s last night and only in the 70s today and the breeze is cold. The tourists are asking me if its always like this. I pretend to remember and say, Nooooo, its never this cold at Christmas. I have a bad memory. Every year I say, it was never this cold, this hot, this slow, this busy.

With the U.S. economy in a tailspin, our high season, which is usually bolstered by Americans between the months of December and April, will be slower for business this year. Hotel reservations island-wide are low. Last year at this time we were booked until Easter. This year, our bookings end after the New Year. We don’t take it personally though, everyone is complaining. We are all looking around at each other wondering what happened? Last year Caye Caulker had more marketing as a destination than ever, it should have lead to a booming high season.

The trickledown effect is that restaurants, bars, tour companies and gift shops will be slow for business. There is no accounting for foreign economies or world events.

Belize and Caye Caulker has slowly been chipping away at its bread and butter tourism which is the backpacker crowd. Slowly prices and taxes have been rising to the point where we are not really considered a cheap tropical destination anymore. The cost of gasoline is over $5 U.S. a gallon, yet the minimum wage is around $1.75 U.S. an hour. In the old days, even if a backpacker didn’t spend much money daily, they would stay a length of time so the inexpensive accommodations and local stores prospered.

Caye Caulker is on the cusp. We do not have the numbers of backpackers coming in as in years past, and do not have the numbers of mid-to-high-level tourists wanting nice more expensive digs. Right now hotels are standing empty. The small pie is chopped into smaller pieces. More places opening daily, everyone fighting over the same few tourists.

Bigness says I worry too much. There is a fine line between “worrying” and “planning”. Just like there is a fine line between “information” and “gossip”.
- The pendulum swings up and the pendulum swings down.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- If we are crying then someone out there must be starving.

A few months ago I designed these card and started producing them in my spare time. They have become a big seller in the store. Mostr people don't buy just one int he set, they buy 3 or 4. Its a reminder of where we should be, its a reminder to me of what I should be doing. The images are photos I've taken around the island that have meaning to me. They are hand made using real banana leaf paper as the background with photo mounted on top. They come in a set of 12 different photos and quotes. The cost is $45 plus shipping. In the store I sell them individually for $4 each.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Photo Friday - December 15 - Sunrise

I shot this photo standing on the verandah that then became my office and now is a posh spare bedroom. I shot this before the Fisheries Department built their office dead smack next to the fence, in the police yard, blocking my view to the main water taxi bridge. To see the boats come and go from the main bridge, I now have to stand at the kitchen window on my tiptoes. The building of the Fisheries office didn't affect the rest of the house, just the view from our side.

Even on Caye Caulker, the view changes from time to time.

I like this photo because it has a natural lens flare. A for real lens flare, not something manufactured in photoshop.
In photos where there is an absence of color, for example, in this silouette shot into the sun, I convert them to black and white because it makes the photo more contrasty.
Contrasty is a very official technical term, in case you didn't know. Its listed in the dictionary right next to the whoseywhatsit and the thingamajiggy.

Check out more Photo Friday submissions.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Everyone Loves a Parade

For child awareness week the Caye Caulker primary school organized a parade. Dressed in the national colors of red and blue, and carrying the Belizean flag, a group of older ones led the parade. It stretched on for BLOCKS. And a well organized event it was. Where did all these kids come from is my big question? During the day they are hidden away at school and in the evenings they are dispursed throughout the island. I never guessed there were so many, until I saw the parade. Some of the children I recognized because they were friends and playmates of UNBaby and her crazy cast of characters. More than half of the children were strangers to me. I had no idea.

"Whey Alima deh? Whey she de do?" They shout to me. (Where is UNBaby- what is she doing?)

"She inna de Steeyts, wit she ma" I answer back.

UNBaby will come back a celebrity when she visits from aMerica. Its a small place.

What struck me was the amount of costumes. I could imagine the local seamstresses were busy in the weeks prior sewing skirts and tops. This was a lot of work!

Here we are on a tiny island 20 miles out to sea and we have cheerleaders, baton twirlers, majorettes, and drummers.

I photographed this from our new street side verandah that Bigness built while I was away in the U.S. in September and October.
I felt nostalgic, remembering when this one was born, when that one was bathing in a tub on her mom's verandah, when another was learning to talk and would speak Spanish to his mom and English to me. Bright shiny faces, sweet smiles, eyes alert, bursting with energy. A few bursting with naughtyness, a sign of high intelligence. School teacher is one profession that I could never do.

Mom's and Grandmoms marching right along with their kids in jeans pants and special T-Shirts made for the occasion.

A model of the school rides down the street pulled by a scooter. A model of the new Atlantic Bank rests on the back of a golf cart. I like the two GI Joes complete with weapons that symbolize the bank guards.
Manuelito, my grand-nephew (doesn't that make me sound old?) dresses up as a mestizo fisherman.

Around the island they go, down Front Street which is now named Avenida Hicaco, and up Middle Street. The parade came and went before the rain. No one likes it to rain on their parade. I shouldn't overstate the obvious.
Today I smell white ginger flowers that Miss Barbara brought in from her garden scenting up the gallery. The sun is shining, we've had a couple days of sun after many rainy days. The wood on the house is drying again. The American tourists have left, its mostly European couples here strolling, skipping, wandering down the sand street in front of the shop. I have no big schedule or agenda. I work a partial day today and then have the rest of the day for production. I'm restocking the other stores in Belize that carry my work, before Christmas. Its a little boring right now, not too many tourists, but in about 10 days we'll be crying that we're too busy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Photo Friday - Primitive - December 7

This carved palm stump sits next to the pool entrance at The Inn at Robert's Grove in Placencia. Check out more Photo Friday submissions.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Very Belizean Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner was fabulous, the best since I moved to Belize seven years ago. Not that I had much to do in the preparation of it, just in the eating. Bigness went to the city and got a turkey and a ham and Cousin Rose took over the project. What a feast she prepared. Between our kitchen and hers (across the street), she seasoned, basted, baked, mashed and boiled for the better part of a day. The turkey was stuffed with sweet peppers and onions, the ham glazed with whole cloves, mustard and brown sugar and basted with fresh squeezed orange juice, the stuffing baked with corn bread, the mashed potatoes loaded with cheddar cheese, the glazed carrots cooked with pineapple and brown sugar and I don’t know what else, it was exceptional! Plus the Belizean favorite, rice-n-beans and Bigness’s stewed beans that he had going in the crock pot. I’ve made my share of Thanksgiving dinners, but I couldn’t top this one. We all nibbled on the leftovers for days. Bravo Cousin Rose! With the leftovers I made turkey waldorf salad using turkey, shredded carrots, diced onion, diced sweet pepper, raisins, walnuts and fresh pineapple. The dressing was made from mayo, lime juice, honey, a pinch of yellow ginger powder, a dash of soy sauce, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard all given a whirl. After mixing the dressing into the meat/veggie mixture I served it on a bed of cucumbers and fresh tomatoes.

After dinner we promptly went into a coma.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo Friday - Two - November 23

This photo could be subtitled Strawberry and Chocolate. Jelly Bean and UNBaby ramp up for Jelly Bean's birthday party. They have their hair-doos from Miss Myrna's hair braiding and fresh fruit stand, their party dresses bought at the Tucan Giftshop, on and Jelly Bean found some big ole dangle earrings in my jewelry box. They are ready to par-tee. This photo was shot this summer whild Mal was visiting with baby JoJo.

Check out more Photo Friday submissions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Well That's Not Nice

From Channel 5 Belize:
Guatemala bans Belizean commercial flightsBelize’s two local airlines are feeling the pinch following the banning of Belizean commercial flights into Guatemala. According to spokespersons for Tropic and Maya Island Air, the ban, which was instituted on November fifteenth, involves the upgrading of Guatemala’s civil aviation standards: specifically their requirement that all airlines flying to the country have a valid Air Operator’s Certificate. Although Belize’s local airlines, which each fly twice daily to Flores, Peten, were notified six months ago, they have not been able to complete the necessary technical paperwork. Following several extensions, the Guatemalans finally enforced the new regulations and since Thursday Maya and Tropic have stopped flying across the border. Ironically, while the airlines have been forced to refund fares and with tourists either cancelling or arranging ground transport, the biggest loser has been the tourist industry in Peten which has been deprived of around thirty visitors per day, largely to the ancient Maya site of Tikal. Late word is that following negotiations between the two countries’ civil aviation authorities, a compromise is being worked out to give the Belizeans interim landing rights and more time to comply with the regulations. At news time, however, the flight ban remained in effect.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Garifuna Settlement Day in Orange Walk Belize

Take a look at Leonardo Melendez's blog at Take Ur Vitaminz for pictures of Garifuna Settlement Day in Orange Walk Belize.

I spent the morning of Settlement Day painting pictures and draping soggy laundry over door tops, shower curtain rods, backs of chairs and door knobs from the decision to wash laundry during a torrential downpour which lasted into the night.

It looks like Leonardo had more fun and less rain in Orange Walk.
Art Credits:
Left - Jaguar Mask on Silk 20" x 28" $225 U.S.
Location: Belize
Right - Pelican on Silk 20" x 28" $225 U.S.
Location: Belize

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Photo Friday - November 16 - Travel

Illustration Friday - November 16 - Superstition

According to Wikipedia, Superstition is a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.

Superstition indicates something standing above, or set up above. The earliest English uses of the word in the modern era refer critically to Catholic practices such as censing, rosaries, holy water and other practices that Protestants believed went beyond - or were set up above - their own interpretation of the New Testament practices of Christianity. From there the uses of the term expanded to include non-Christian religious practices, and beliefs that seemed unfounded or primitive in the light of modern knowledge.

Many extant superstitions arose before and during the time of the Black Plague that swept over Europe. During the time of the Black Plague, Pope Gregory I the Great passed a law requiring people to say "God bless you" when somebody sneezed; this was said to prevent the spread of the disease and to cure whoever already had it.[1]

According to Wikipedia, again, Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism:
The spirits can play important roles in human lives.
The shaman can control and/or cooperate with the spirits for the community's benefit.
The spirits can be either good or bad.
Shamans engage various processes and techniques to incite trance; such as: singing, dancing, taking entheogens, meditating and drumming.

Animals play an important role, acting as omens and message-bearers, as well as representations of animal spirit guides.

The shaman's spirit leaves the body and enters into the supernatural world during certain tasks.
The shamans can treat illnesses or sickness.

Shamans are healers, gurus and magicians.

Shamans have the ability to diagnose and cure human suffering and, in some societies, the ability to cause suffering. This is believed to be accomplished by traversing the axis mundi and forming a special relationship with, or gaining control over, spirits. Shamans have been credited with the ability to control the weather, divination, the interpretation of dreams, astral projection, and traveling to upper and lower worlds. Shamanistic traditions have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times.

Some anthropologists and religious scholars define a shaman as an intermediary between the natural and spiritual world, who travels between worlds in a state of trance. Once in the spirit world, the shaman would commune with the spirits for assistance in healing, hunting or weather management. Ripinsky-Naxon describes shamans as, “People who have a strong interest in their surrounding environment and the society of which they are a part.”

Other anthropologists critique the term "shamanism", arguing that it is a culturally specific word and institution and that by expanding it to fit any healer from any traditional society it produces a false unity between these cultures and creates a false idea of an initial human religion predating all others. However, others say that these anthropologists simply fail to recognize the commonalities between otherwise diverse traditional societies.

Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living. In contrast to animism and animatism, which any and usually all members of a society practice, shamanism requires specialized knowledge or abilities. It could be said that shamans are the experts employed by animists and animist communities. Shamans are often organized into full-time ritual or spiritual associations, like priests.

I've never encountered so many superstitious people as I have since moving to Belize.

I find it interesting that many Christian holidays fall on the same date that traditional Pagan ceremonies would occour. The Maya believe in the old ways, and owuld be openly practicing if the Catholic missionaries hadn't come in and messed things up. You could call the old ways superstitions, or you could call it an awareness of the spirit world and how it affects the physical world. I am an inbetweener, I believe some things call down Mr. Badlucky, and some things are just human nature and not avoidable.

Obea is a form of ritual for the Garifuna people of Belize. To obea someone is to call down the bad spirits upon a person, to cause bad spirit posession. I believe you can obea someone, because your intention is wrong, you bring about all kinds of bad feelings and direct them towards a person and that can't be good. I don't believe it to the exent that some do, and they blame every random act and mishap on someone "doing them something" or rather than accept responsibility for bad decisions. Bigness laughs at Obea. He says he likes it when people try to "do him someting" it brings him more luck than ever.

What do you believe?

Art Credits: 20" x 28" hand painted silk "Smoke" $225 U.S.

DJ Play Your Music

Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve rings from the IPOD that we have hooked up to the old DVD/CD machine with surround sound that we used to have upstairs hooked to the TV. When the last CD player went the way of most electronic devices on Caye Caulker (the dump), Carlos from Carlos Eco Tours recommended that I load all the CDs onto an IPOD and use the DVD player as an amplifier. This discussion went on over coffee and banana cake several mornings in a row. IPOD? Amplifier? Yes, he reassured me, his friend in San Pedro sells the IPOD and the hookup and he thinks it just might work, if not we just have to get a set of new speakers.
It worked. Bit by bit he figured it out for us with a cable here and a power adapter there. Every time he would take a snorkel tour out with a stop in San Pedro, he would pick up another component, and quickly we were back in the music playing business which goes so well with the art and coffee business.

Shirl, the new cafĂ© counter girl, is today’s DJ. I just let her pick it and go. She started with Revenge of the Tango by Gotan Project, first thing up in the morning to get us moving, then onto the Verve and as I’m typing its changing to Enya (A Day Without Rain), which seems appropriate for the rain which has been pounding us for hours.

Today Caye Caulker will empty out and refill for the aMerican Thanksgiving week. It marks the beginning of high season for us. I see porters on bicycle carts and golf cart taking people and luggage to the water taxi pier in the rain. Many of the boats are covered, but for those that aren’t, the captain provides tarps to huddle under, which helps keep your head dry, but my can always ends up wet. (in case you were wondering) Every time I get under one of those tarps I feel like asking someone to please pass me the beer.

Its 8 a.m. and Bowen & Bowen, the beer-water-soda truck has already stopped by to stock us up on water and sodas. Its going to be a long holiday weekend on Caye Caulker with Garifuna Settlement Day officially being celebrated on Monday. Most of the celebration activities will happen in the south part of Belize. Dangriga, Hopkins, Seine Beight and Barranco, is where the majority of the Garifuna community lives. Caye Caulker will get weekenders. Sometimes the Garifuna Council on Caye Caulker will reenact the landing of Garifuna of Belize’s shores a long long time ago. Maybe this year there will be a parade. No one is for sure yet.

The internet is slow this morning and I can’t view the satellite image for the Caribbean. Everyone coming in asks me if the rain will last, and I don’t want to disappoint, but it looks like all day rain.
The music changes again and its Harry Belafonte singing Islands in the Sun… and I have to get the broom out and sweep away the growing rain puddle from the front entrance to the gallery. One by one brave travelers dash in from the rain to warm up and drink a cup of hot tea and enjoy the warm vibe from Shirl behind the counter and Harry Belafonte advising us now that “Jackass will jump and bray, let him bray, let him bray.”
Art Credits:
Top left - Blue Vase - 30" x 40" hand-painted silk by Lee Vanderwalker $450
Top right - In the Garden - 30" x 40" hand-painted silk by Lee Vanderwalker $450
Location: Belize

Monday, November 12, 2007

Weather Report

Looks like rain for the next couple of days. Bad for hanging out laundry, good for staying in and drinking coffee (hint hint).

A change of plans came about today because of the weather. Bigness and I were scheduled to be in Sarteneja to shoot photos for an updated website. A last minute call to check the condition of the road, a peice of important information, revealed that the roads in were impassible unless you have a 4wd. The only way into that area would be via boat from Corozal, and no time to make those arrangements. So we rescheduled for later in the month and took the day off, spent the day home, taking it easy, doing nothing. Well not exactly nothing, we had quite the time watching the shitestorm (below) unfold.

On a more pleasant note, the Sandbox Restaurant is now open for the season and I enjoyed a wonderful bowl of lobstser bisque with rice, Bigness had the baracuda steak dinner.

Little by little the island is waking up. Renvations are finishing. Businesses are reopening for the season.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jewelry Party!

If you are in the metro Detroit area, check out the jewelry show.

Caribbean Colors Art Gallery proudly presents its exclusive line of jewelry inspired by the sea, sun and sand of Belize. Please join us for our first holiday jewelry party. This handcrafted jewelry is made with sterling silver, freshwater pearls, crystal and Murano glass. All items shown are for immediate purchase, no waiting for orders to be shipped.

Hosted by: Linda Adkins
Presented by Adriaan Schroeder
December 1, 2007 at 3 p.m.
Location: 3201 Pale Street, Trenton, Michigan, 48183
For directions and R.S.V.P. contact or call (313) 917-6157
To see examples of jewelry that will be shown, click on the Caribbean Colors website.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Illustration Friday - Scale - November 9, 2007

This hand-painted silk painting is available through River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte, Michigan. River's Edge Gallery was voted "Best Gallery in the Detroit Area" by the Detroit News. So, as of last month, they are representing me in the U.S. Check out my newly updated website, several peices are already in the US. and available for sale. I'm scheduled with them for a joint exhibition, that opens the 3rd Friday in May, 2008.

Check out more Illustration Friday submissions.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Shaken but not Stirred

“How was your trip back from aMerica?” my friends all ask.
“Inconsequential except for the bus accident in Mexico.” I reply.

Bigness has accused me in the past of being a drama queen and making a big story out of a little thing. Well, he would say that as he’s usually the driver of the vehicle hurtling down the road with me as the paralyzed scared passenger most of the time. I find its best to take my glasses off and just look out the side window. It helps me to relaaaxxxxx if I can’t see what’s coming at me.
I travel up and down the Chetumal-Tulum corridor all the time. I am on that road on a bus no less than 6 times a year, without incident. I ride ADO, first class express busses which have a bathroom at the back. I like to sit at the front, behind the driver because in the back you can smell the bathroom, and in the front there’s more leg room. This trip I sat in the second row behind the driver.

Accidents are a numbers game, and my number was up. It was after dark and about 2 hours south of Tulum, the road is very narrow, barely 2 vehicles can pass each other, and no shoulder to speak of. I was jolted awake by the sound of screeching metal and breaking glass and the bus swerved around for a few seconds. Lots of screaming in Spanish going on, and the bus kept on going because there was no shoulder to pull off on. We were sideswiped by a double semi’s side mirrors. No one was hurt, just a lot of broken glass projected back from the windshield and the side windows in the front where I was sitting were shattered. What saved me from being cut was that the side curtain next to me was closed, and I had turned my hoodie sweatshirt around and the hood was over my face as I was trying to stay warm and to sleep. The driver was a little bit cut and pulled over a few miles down the road to assess the damage and call into the dispatch.

No announcements were made, the driver shook the glass off of himself, got back into the bus, but the video back on and drove on. I have no complaint about the driver, he was skilled and professional and certainly calmer than his passengers.

It reminded me to BUCKLE MY SEATBELT, a day late and a dollar short.

I would like to take this opportunity to caution traveler's coming on the bus at night between Cancun and Belize. It has nothing to do with the skill of the drivers of these bus lines, they are all amazing and professional. The road south of Tulum is under construction and in many places there is no shoulder, or they have sand and gravel piled up right next to the road. They say the road is in bad shape from hurricane damages from Dean. I think they are in the process of widening the road on each side and it is in the preliminary stages. There isn't a problem during the day, but at night these big rigs with double trailers run full bore blasting up and down like hogs. You will not catch me again traveling at night on this road until it is fixed up.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Cousin Alvi was out on Caye Caulker the other day complaining that I hadn’t updated my blog in so long he thought I was still in the U.S. When he rode by on the golf cart he thought he saw a ghost. He also chastised me for watering it down, as you all know I’ve let up on the hard copy gossip because Bigness was getting phone calls and complaints from people with no sense of humor at all. I take certain creative liberties in my stories, some of my characters are composites. This is my opinion and you can choose to agree or disagree with me, no one forces you to read this blog. Most of the people reading this blog do so for entertainment purposes only and do not take it as a CNN broadcast of current events on Caye Caulker. If you have close ties to Caye Caulker you may or may not be able to tell who I am writing about, and if you think I’m writing about you, then stop your bad behavior and I’ll stop writing about it.

More Fan Mail
Bigness wondered why Cousin Rage would turn his face away from him when he passed on the beach and thought that he’s becoming a “Sometimes Crazy” person as opposed to being a “My Friend Sometimes” person.

I hadn’t told him about the email I had received until then, because (Life is short) and I didn’t want to get his panties in a twist over something so juvenile and jr. high school behavior is not on my list of things to do these days.

But since he brought it up… what a perfect time to bring things to light and as we all know, timing is everything.

Cousin Rage informs me via email that he wants me to stop blogging about him, that I have my facts wrong and no one in the ENTIRE Alamina family likes me. And that he speaks for everyone and that not a one of them thinks I’m fit to carry the name.

Bigness laughed and laughed at this. (Now is the time for my daughters to close their eyes and ignore the next sentence) Then gave me a big smack on my behind for being a very very very naughty girl and we danced naked around the room to tango music. (O.K. daughters you can open your eyes now)

I didn’t reply to the email as I didn’t want to dignify the ranting with an answer. I also know the golden rule of the internet… “Don’t put anything into an email that you don’t want one million people to read” So, stop giving me your bad behavior to write about and I’ll stop writing about it.

Bad Mindedness:
Typical bad mindedness comes from jealousness of other’s accomplishments. Cousin Rage likes to complain to the village council about other people's tables on the beach saying they are infringing on Queensland, but neglects to let them know that he built his building 15 feet into Queensland, stealing beach intentionally. Should I tell them? Naw, its none of my business and my rule of thumb is don’t bother me with your sillyness and I won’t bother you. I try to not pay him any mind at all, after all there are starving American Tourists in Belize dying for a good cup of coffee and I am the only one who can save them.

Revisionist History:
What Cousin Rage fails to recognize is that any stories that I’m telling that happened prior to 2000, I’m just repeating like a parrot as it came straight from Bigness’s mouth to my ear. He’s objecting to revisionist history. But of course he would never dare to approach Bigness to his face as he’s a coward.

BTW, Cousin Rage, since I know you stalk me and read my blog (obviously), I’ve done a family poll and with the exception of one person who doesn’t even live in Belize, everyone else is on my side. So there.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Promised Myself

I promised myself that when I was in aMerica with all those good DSL connections and easy access to technology I would update the blog regularly. Yea, right. I was lazy as ever chilling my brains. I avoided buying long pants by not going outside, glued to the TV watching reruns on A&E of Dog the Bounty Hunter (Dontcha luv him? And what about his wive's ginormeous boobs, aren't they amazing? A story in themselves) Several nights Adria and I were up past midnight glued to the TV, she had a hard time getting up for work the next day, it was reminiscent of high school days. And don't get me started on Rock of Love with Brett Michaels, I'm making myself sick thinking about all the trashy TV I consumed right along with Dunkin Donuts.
Leaving was bittersweet. 6 weeks in civilization was more than nice, but I needed to get back to Belize and clean up the usual dirt bomb that explodes in the store during all the construction. I hated leaving all of these grandbabies and let's not forget about the Cinnabon stall in the mall. k(keeping our priorities straight) May-the-seven-year-old was happy to get her bedroom back, Jelly Bean was glad I wasn't there bossing her around, but Malibu Mal Mal and Adria miss my company already, and I miss theirs. BTW UNbaby is loving school in aMerica and is all civilized wearing shoes and all now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I’ve set up a temporary studio in my oldest daughter’s sun room on the back of her house. The light is northern and very constant. With so much sunshine, I've ben able to log quite a few studio hours preparing new work for the gallery to start the season off. It’s 3:45 p.m. and I hear the front door to the house slam, clomp, clomp, clomp, books being deposited, refrigerator door opens and then closes, the TV plinks on and it’s the Disney Channel. The back door slams and May appears at the door to the sunroom giving a tour to another blonde blue eyed 7 year old.

May: That’s my Gramma
Me: (I look up and smile)
May: she lives in the jungle
May: Belize is an island and they have monkeys there
May: she lives with Grandpa Bigness on the beach, he’s not my real Grandpa but he’s my biggest
May: She’s a painter
May: She’s famous, right Grandma?
Me: I’m a legend in my own mind
May: her paper is silk… look (as she holds up an unpainted scrap and wraps it around her like a skirt)
May: that’s my tiger ears (and points at the headband on my head with the furry tiger ears sticking off the top)
May: my dad got it for me at the tiger’s game
May: Grandma why are you wearing my tiger ears?
Me: to keep my hair out of my eyes, is that o.k.?
May: sure
Around the table they circle, May showing and interpreting my paintings, the girl's eyes big as saucers.
May: That one’s called Maxi and the Motorbike. There’s Maxi, and here’s Midi and Mini carrying the drums.
Girl: How much does this one cost?
Me: $950
Girl: oh... I’ll tell my mom to come right over and buy it

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Perfect Roomate

I've come to realize that my perfect roomate is a 7 year old girl. That's the thing about being homeless in aMerica, you never know where you're going to crash. When I sold my home in aMerica in 2001 I didn't worry about where I was going to stay when I came to visit. And here I am bouncing from daughter's home to daughter's home, being homeless aint so bad is it? At my oldest daughter's house I share a room with May-the-seven-year-old. She and I have the same philosophy on life.

1. Neither of us like to pick our clothes up off the floor, much to her mother's chagrin.
2. Getting up for school (or work) sucks, but I do it anyway, because its not worth hearing Mom complain
3. Cartwheels in the livingroom are o.k. as long as I don't bump into the furniture, and Mom's not around
4. Sleeping on the livingroom floor in front of the TV is way better than the bed
5. A Slim Jim snack in the afternoon is just fine
6. Ballet is fine to watch, but not to do. Hip hop is much better.
7. My career as a rock star is just about to take off... if I could just meet Hanna Montana.
8. Hair brushing is optional
9. Boys are icky unless they are doing something useful like removing the dead bat from the sun room.
10. Mom says no Pepsi for breakfast, but she just doesn't know what's good for her.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


With the exception of very agitated and agressive TSA agents in Miami who nearly shoved a wand up my whoseywhattsit, the trip back to aMerica was almost unremarkable, however long and uneventful.

I can blame it on the fact that I live in a cave and only watch MTV (The Hills), Channel 5 News in Belize, the Caribbean News Roundup from Barbados and Bravo TV, but somebody forgot to tell me about the No-liquids-allowed-on-flights because-you-might-light-someone-on-fire policy. And the people in Duty Free were liars also, btw. Chug-a-lug.

Anyheeww, I'm here in Michigan, unjetlagged by now, and having a great time chilling my brains. UNBaby is cold and walks around with a blankey around her shoulders. She can't wait to see snow, we've described it to as just like sand but very very cold. I'm like a bag lady going from daughter-to-daughter's house cooking Mexican Chicken soup. In the past week I've had KFC, Subway, Steak and Shake, McDonalds (2x), Wendy's and I can't button the top botton on my pants.

One last travel tip:
All conch shells must be with your baggage. No carry on blunt trauma weapons allowed.

An Experiment on Ebay

I'm trying something new. I'm selling a couple of paintings by Nelson Young, a local Caye Caulker artist, on Ebay. Click on the painting title below and it will take you right to the ebay page.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Taking a Vacation from my Vacation

The Last Days of Summer
Friends came for a little going away party and Supergirl took some photos I'll share with you. You can't help but feel nostalgic.

Supergirl, UNBaby and I are going to cool our brains in aMerica for a while. UNBaby is going back to civilization to start school. Quite a change from being a wild girl living on the beach to a being a city girl. I don't think she remembers what snow is. Supergirl and I are going to civilization to eat IHOP Fruit Crepes, and to see all those new fangled fancy cars they have in aMerica. So we packed the store up like a hurricane was heading for us. It was easier this time, practice makes perfect. This 6 weeks trip will refresh and rejuvinate us. Bigness told me not to come home unless I bring him a bucket of KFC Original Recipe. Awe... he's so romantic. He'll need some rejuvination when we get back because he's on a big remodelling project and roof replacement project. every year at this time he repaints everything and if there's anyting big and important that needs to be done with hammers and drills, he does it in September and October. Can I compare him to a pig in shit on this or will someone call him on his cell phone (again) and tell him that I'm calling him bad names on the internet. Anyhow, you get the picture. He's in his glory, there's lots of drywall stacked everywhere, piles of brick pavers and roofing. Cans of paint and mud paste stacked in rows like soldiers waiting for orders. And I'm so glad I'm going to miss out on all the "fun".

On Being A Bag Lady - A Cautionary Tale

I had a big throwing out party (with myself) today. I am an admitted pack rat. My theory is that mentally I'm very organized, so my environmnet doen't have to be. I appreciate organization and I try to surround myself with organized people, because lawdy, I don't need anyone else like me junking up the place. Today I threw away 5 garbage bags of old clothes and junk (some of it was good stuff but I did it anyway) My excuse has been that its so hard to get anything here that if something was slightly broken or had a little bit of coffee on it, I could fix it or dye it or remake it into something useful. Well, that just silly. I have so much stuff that's been hanging around taking up space. Supergirl promised me that if I threw away some of my old tiedye painting t-shirts that I've had since 1998 she would tell me where she hid my black and white lizard print stretch capri pants that I like to travel on airplanes with, because they are so comfy. But it turns out that she's a BIG LIAR. A BIG BIG LIAR AND PROUD OF IT!

Don't Do That Again

Its been 2-1/2 years since I've been back to aMerica, 2 years for Supergirl. I'm looking forward to using my new e-passport. You know the one where they implant the computer chip so they can track you. I'll let you know how that turns out. I'm not a glutton for punishment so this trip I'm NOT going to pass thru customs entering aMerica wearing a tiedye t-shirt, flip flops and a silly straw hat. Maybe it was the picture of the 5 leaf plant painted on the back (just kidding). They weren't buying it that I was just a starving artist living and working in Belize. That wasn't fun, let's NOT DO THAT again. I tried to pull strings telling them that my parents both voted for George Bush, but they didn't care and wanted to examine EVERYTHING. I knew I was in trouble when the agent put on latex gloves...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Deserted Island

We tired of our own company, so Supergirl, UNBaby and I headed back to Caye Caulker on Friday morning. We expected to see lots of locals taking the plywood off their windows and resuming life as normal, and instead we met an island that looked like a hydrogen bomb had gone off. Lots of empty buildings and no people. It looked like everyone else had the same idea and didn't rush right back either.
Yesterday was a little better, plywood coming down here and there, more foot traffic and a few tourists showed up. A boatload of of tourists coming in was big news on the conch shell telelgraph making its way from the peir down to the split. Today more people, and now there's a local volleyball competition going on at the beach next to the police station to get the juices flowing again. The base from the boom box DJ on the beach is deep reassuring noise that we're gaining speed and not teetering to fall.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm O.K., You're O.K. but Nicaragua isn't o.k.

The second time in two weeks that we evacuated ran nearly the same only quicker than the first time. Practice makes perfect. I'm glad the government and The Weather Channel errors on the side of caution and we won't have the likes of Hurricane Keith (Sept/Oct 2000) sneaking up on us again.

For another point of view south of us in Honduras, check out La Gringa's Blogicito.

I feel sorry for the poor people of Nicaragua. Its such a poor country, much poorer than Belize. Its been 2-1/2 weeks since Hurricane Dean and the reconstruction effort by the Belize Government and other disaster agencies in Corozal is well on its way. At least that's what I'm hearing on local news, as I've not been up there to see it myself.

After Felix we decided to not hurry back but to give ourselves a couple of days down time, mental relaxation. Maybe we'll go back to work tomorrow, maybe we won't. Let's see how the weather fares. UNBaby has a cold and fever, Supergirl is crocheting a baby blanket for a friend due in a couple of weeks, and I'm using my time wisely of course, re-reading all the back issues of The New Yorker that MB has sent over the years. No one is on the Caye right now, the whole island emptied out again and this time of the year it's mauger season (translates into "hungry") so it will be days and days before we get any new tourists.

Friday, August 24, 2007

What, Me Worried?

You better Belize it! I was sweating bullets for a while.

Bigness and I were already on the mainland with UNBaby when the evacuation order came down on Sunday. A couple of days before we had decided to give Supergirl a break and take UNBaby with us to our little house in the bush. She promised not to color on the walls with green crayon again.

At noon on Sunday hurricane Dean drifted downward and directly in the path of Belize. Supergirl called me with the news as we have no internet and get one TV station (sometimes). So I advised her to get the plywood, and guess what? No plywood... again, so she bought the last 4 sheets of beaverboard (a thin masonite) and charged up the drill. She and Miss Barb had the store packed up in 3 hours, her suitcase packed and everything stored upstairs in our safe room.
Whew! I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

Sunday afternoon we went into Belmopan to Brodies to pick up a few things, just of in case of... and I bought comfort food like chips, diet soda, a bag of chocolates, cookies. Not the real evacuation hurricane foods, just the I'm-starting-to-feel-sorry-for-myself foods as we contemplated and discussed what the storm turning towards us meant. Brodies was completely empty. I joked with the clerk that we were the only ones worried, she and me. We stopped by Cousin Carlos' house to look at the satellite on the internet and I made a quick call to Supergirl to confirm what we were seeing. Yes, we were going to get a whopping, do what you gotta do and get out of there. No posessions are worth lsing your life over.

We are adequately insured on the contents... and that helps me sleep at night. What we can't get is building insurance, because we are a 40 year old building on the beach. It is a reality that we live with every day. What would we do of in case of...? We would do the best we can, collect whatever we can from the insurance and start over. You can take the proof of talent away, but you can't take the talent inside of a person away.

Supergirl's been through a few disasters in the last couple of years, when my studio and gallery burned to the ground along with the rest of the block in downtown Wyandotte, Michigan, a fire at her own house a few years later in Detroit with a total loss, a few hurricanes, some scares here and there. A seasoned pro, she works through the list and prioritizes, not stopping until it is done.

Monday morning the sirens started at around 4:30 a.m. on Caye Caulker. Supergirl and guests from the Alamina Beach House had purchased their water taxi tickets the day before knowing they would try and leave on the earliest boat out. Supergirl peeked out the kitchen window and saw OJ (who is the disaster guy for Caye Caulker) talking to the police Sarge and noted that the sarge was completely dressed, not just in his underware as sometimes happens when disaster strikes and he's hauled out of bed to deal with it. (his apartment is on the second floor of the police station) OJ turned as she was coming down the stairs and asked her if she was bringing all those bags with her. She had a big suitcase, a big plastic bin with all the business papers in it, the laptop case and her carry on bag. He informed her that locals were allowed one medium size bag, plus your purse tourists were allowed their regular luggage. They were trying to pack as many human bodies on these boats as possible. So back into the house she went to repack. Gleefully she tossed the plastic bin with the business papers into the safe room, (and said "Woo Hoo to You!) and then packed the laptop into her suitcase. She and the beach house guests arrived at the peir at 5:45 a.m. and when she got there there were about 3 boat loads of people waiting already so they lined up and as soon as it was light enough, they loaded the boats to go. Every water taxi available was lining up and they would only release as many people onto the end of the peir as could fit on that particular boat. It was very well organized and mayhem did not break out.

Spin went to the city to pick her up and when she arrived at our little house in the bush I had already determined that I had bought the wrong foods. (duh) So we headed off to Belmopan again to fill the car's gas tank and to make another trip to Brodies and this time the place was packed. The same clerk joked with me as I asked where the D size batteries were and I mentioned to her that I forgot to buy ice cream. I bought all kinds of crappy food that I owuld never ever eat. Cans of beans because you don't know if you'll have cooking gas, cans of little weenies, cheeze whiz, saltines, cans of tuna, tins of meat, canned milk. You get the picture right? Food that makes you eternally constipated. Oh, don't forget the room spray!

We had a couple of extra people who came prepared and well organized as they have been through this many times before. We listened to LoveFM on the radio all that day and into the night. I gave up eventually and went to bed waking from time to time hearing Ernest Vasquez or Rene Villanueva's voice reassuring us that we were still here, that we still existed.

We had evacuated far enough aaway from the storm that we didn't even get any wind. It was dead calm and sprinking rain. Spin started calling around in the morning to see what the damage was and was happy to hear that it was storm surge and some wind but we did not get the battering like they did in San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye just 10 miles north of us. Cousin Ragio's beach had washed sand onto our beach. We actually gained beach during the storm. Turnaround is fair play because during hurricane Mitch in 1998 Bigness lost about 10,000 bzd in sand to cousin and it wasn't returned. I can see the sand wars are going to start soon.

We came back on Wednesday morning after they turned the electricity back on Tuesday night. We decided not to open right back immediately but to repaint the interior and do a general de-junking, after all how often is this store completely empty? Oh, about once every 3 years.

We opened back up all clean and sparkly this morning and a few tourists have come back to the island and are wandering around.

We're grateful to be here. Thank you to everyone who emailed me. All is well.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Long Walk Home

Caye Caulker in Black and White
After shooting a sunset wedding way down the beach, I started walking home... with the late afternoon sun behind me, its my favorite time of the day to shoot.

The Civilization of UNBaby

In an effort to get caught up on all the news, here are photos from UNBaby's preschool graduation (Miss Sue's Preschool). And as you can see from the photos, she sat still and did everything the teacher told her to do, patiently waiting while mayhem and hysteria erupted all around. She totally disproved Bigness's theory that she has chiggers up her batty and can't sit still. She looked to sweet AND CLEAN! It was a proud moment!

She's made some real strides in becoming civilized this year. Through the suggestion that she watch out to not slam her tail in the door, Bigness has taught her (and me too) to close the door when you come into an air conditioned room, and to knock before entering. One day I overheard her telling her cousin Jelly Bean "What's de matta gial, you fraid you slam yer tail inna de dowa? Close de dooowa!"

Of course most of the credit for the "Civilization of UNBaby" should go to her preschool teacher who is the kindest most patient woman you will meet.