Friday, March 16, 2007

Is Anyone Else Paying Attention?

This really isn't a political blog. No, really, it isn't. This is just the wandering mind.

Today the NTUCB (National Trade Union Congress of Belize) is calling for a protest march in Belmopan. Calling all of the trade unions in solidarity, especially the Teacher's Union, to protest the government budget hearings which do not adequately provide for the barest minimum living wage for teacher's salaries and in solidarity with the communications workers the firing of the 4 BTL workers.

Timing is Everything
The BTL (phone) strike threat is quelled, for right now. Although, when backed into a corner on the subject, Belize's Prime Minister, Said Musa, said yesterday that he was very disappointed in the BTL firing of the trade union negotiator Christine Perriot. Her firing was badly timed because she was in negotiation on behalf of the union with BTL, at a roundtable discussion that the Labor Minister Francis Fonseca was involved in, over the firing of 3 other employees. It looks like blatent union busting. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for that jellybean glimmer of hope that the Belizean government might do the right thing. But will they continue to allow the BTL management to run amok?

Is Anyone Else Paying Attention?
What we hear and what we really hear are two different things. Was I the only one that heard the N.R.P. (National Reform Party - the newly formed political party in Belize) Representative Cornelius Dueck (a Mennonite from Spanish Lookout) say the following:
The U.S. is the best option. I don’t think we should look at Chavez for help. I don’t think he has the solution for Belize. I don’t think Cuba has the solution for Belize. I don’t think China has the solution for Belize but the United States they have the solution what we need.”
“I have savings accounts in different countries that I will bring to Belize eventually and we are not ignorant of the cost. We know that the U.D.P. and the P.U.P. they spend in the area of fifty to a hundred million dollars for an election and we are here to contest them. "

So What is my Point?
Cuba, China and Venezuela all have contributed large amounts of economic aid to Belize, let's not forget that. These countries come up with programs that actually work, and don't try to solve problems by pouring money on them. Am I jumping to conclusions to say that there's a new political party that's formed in Belize backed by the U.S. Government? So how exactly do you bring money from a savings account in "different countries"? Strapped to your belly with duct tape? Or does it come in the diplomatic pouch. My Conspiracy Theory is that there's more going on in that new 50 million dollar U.S. embassy in Belmopan than issuing new passports and traveler's advisories.

Elston Kaseke (the former/fired Solicitor General for Belize), looking worse for the wear, had just come out of jail in San Ignacio after getting drunk and ignorant, had several bashing scrape marks on the side of his head, that the TV cameras picked up nicely, while representing Glenn Godfrey in the DFC Hearings. His head looked like a peeled strawberry.
Check out this link if you want to read about how Elston Kaseke embarrassed Belize when he was Soliciter General.

So What's My Point?
Elston, dude, that's what make up cover up is for. Maybeline makes lots of shades. Use a mirror dude, check out what you look like before you go on TV. (Gosh that's gotta hurt) Learn the hard way like me. I only seem to get interviewed for TV when I'm sunburned, hair not combed, and have mascara running down my face.

I watched the DFC (Development Finance Corporation - Belize's version of HUD or Fannie May) hearings on the local channel and I have to give Commissioner Merlene Bailey-Martinez
kudos for retaining her composure and maintaing order throughout all the rass and crap that was thrown out at her during these lengthy proceedings. I was shocked (gasp!) at how disrespectful men like Troy Gabb, Ralph Fonseca, Glenn Godfrey and his mouthpeice Elston Kaseke spoke to her, yet she maintained order. They obviously think they are above it all, above prosecution. She has a memory like a steel trap, nothing escapes her. Amazing woman. My Hero. Sensible. Belize is richer for it. I could see her as Prime Minister.

Art Credit:
Popeye, Caye Caulker. If you come to Caye Caulker you will see Popeye's art hanging on fences, and propped up here and there and Coco Loco Cafe. His words of wisdom will cost you anywhere between $5-10. His colors are whatever he can find at the bottoms of old cans of paint. The wood is from scraps he finds at the dump and from construction projects. Bigness keeps him well supplied there. We don't sell his art in the cafe, we collect it. So if you come into the shop and see one of our signs and like it, just find Popeye, an old Rastaman, who's best friend is Dodo, to make it for you.

To Be 4 Years Old Again

Oh to be 4 years old again and wearing party hair. UNBaby is ready for a friends 4th birthday party. The group of preschoolers are going out on a glass bottom boat to see the sharks and rays, and then will be coming back to gorge themselves on pink cake and soda pop.

Smart People Don’t Make the Same Mistake 3 Times

What’s a wasles?

It reminded me of the story my grandmother told me about when she was a little girl growing up in Mississippi, on the river, or next to the river, the Mississippi River, or maybe it was Arkansas. My grandmaw Florence was born around 1910, so the story she told had to happen in the early1920s because by the late 1920s she was married and having babies.

Her mother was a cook for the logging camps that worked up and down the Mississippi river, and her father came and stayed long enough to make her mother pregnant, and went whenever he felt like it. So, the kids were left to fend for themselves. And being that grandma, who’s nickname was Dixie, was one of the older girls, she and her older sister Maud were left to tend to the youngins whilst momma went to work.

I’ll skip the part of the story where they were playing with the shotgun and shot a hole in the mattress, and the part where a big rain came and their tent slid down the riverbank in a mudslide right into the river and I’ll start right at the part where they were crossing the train trestle over the river and the train came, so they had to lay down on the tracks and let the train pass over them. She and her little brothers and sisters.

That was what ran through my head when the Cessna Caravan nearly mowed me down on the airstrip the other day. Git yourself down girl, throw down that bike and hit the durt afore that propeller chops your head off. Do like granmaw said. And I did.

It wasn’t the pilot’s fault though, I tried to smile and give a little wave to reassure the pilot as he nearly had a conniption fit on landing. I think it was a fit, I would hate to think he was aiming for me as he headed straight down the runway.

After Yoga class I decided to take the shortcut down the airstrip, rather than take the coco-jarring bumpity bump beach path, the long way around the southpoint of Caye Caulker to the new Yoga Center that my friend Sally and her husband have built up on stilts with a stunning sunset view. On a sunny breezy afternoon the ride/walk is nice, but after an hour of sweating and rolling round on the floor tied up like a pretzel, I just wanted a shower. The sun was going down and the mozzies were revving up. So I did the right thing, I called Tropic Air on Caye Caulker to ask if they were having any incoming flights from International or San Pedro. They answered, yes, one JUST LEFT from International. O.K. I say to myself, I have 15 minutes, now haul yer azz gial. The runway is a little more than ¼ mile long and about 20 feet wide. So I started biking down the runway, riding West to East, having covered about 100 yards, I barely hear a low buzzing chainsaw kinda noise, because the breeze was blowing the sound back East to West. I look over my right shoulder just in time to see a giant pelican looking thing (painted cream and burgundy) about to plop down on me. And then granmaw told me to hit it, swamp to the left of me, airstrip on the right, dive dive dive. Its accurate to say that their interpretation of JUST LEFT was different than mine. JUST LEFT means within the last 2 minutes to me. JUST LEFT to them must mean when the airplane is about to land on your back, JUST DIVE LEFT.

Whew! Close call. The wingtips flop over the edge of the tarmack left and right by several feet so its not enough to just get off the pavement and into the swamp ditch. Standing up straight, the wingtips would hit me about mid throat. And I wont mention the propeller.

I should have gone back to the airstrip entrance on the west side, if I hadn’t been brain damaged, until the plane had taken off again. But I continued on my merry way, back up on my bike, la di da. What's one brush with death? What I was slow in realizing is that, in airplanes, what comes down must go back up, but first they had to taxi back down the airstrip (over my ducked body) to get to the west end, then rev their engine and get a flying leap to take off into the wind which blows east to west. Three times over and back, each time the pilot (who I’m sure is a very nice person in real life) scowling.

So if you’re a Tropic Air pilot based in San Pedro, the fat lady on the red bike promises she won’t do that again. And I mean it.

Art Credit: Popeye, Caye Caulker.

Photo Friday - March 15 - Heat

Habanero peppers on a handmade raku plate by Belizean artist Phillipe Zetina. Shot in the late afternoon on a grass mat by the back door with my old Sony Mavica about 3 years ago.

Habanero Salsita
Coarsly chop 2 cups of fresh tomato, squeeze in the juice of a large lime or 2 small limes (about 1/4 cup) add about a teaspoon of salt, or salt to taste and black pepper, then pulse in the blender, leaving the tomatoes chunky.
Add to blender 1 cup of coarsly chopped onion and sweet green pepper, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and 2 seeded diced habanero peppers.
Pulse the blender to mix a little and leave it a little but chunky.
Serve with tortilla chips for duiping

I like to have this salsa over an omelette. You can also add avacado to make it creamy. I've also added sour cream to make a creamy, spicy dip.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Chef Toni is making carrot cake this morning for the cafe. I'm getting myself awake and stirring around to shake off the cobwebs of last night. Her startled voice juks my brain as she announces that on KREM Radio, the Communications Workers Union has given the BTL phone company until noon to reinstate the workers that were fired last week. After noon, they have not announced what will happen, but we all know... already, the internet is running real slooooooowww. We all know what will happen, they will shut this country down. I'm not mad, I think I'm prepared. The most important thing is to have enough cash on hand, and I believe I've done this.
Well, I better get a move on and finish my emails.
My question is... should I pay my phone bill this morning? Naw, I'll wait and see if we even have a phone company after this is over.
Sayonara my friends!

Friday, March 02, 2007

No One Ever Expects the Spanish Inquisition

We're staring down the pike at an impending phone strike here in Belize. What that means is not only no phone service, but also no cell phone service, no long distance to the U.S. or the rest of the world, no internet or email, for however long it takes for the Communication Worker's Union to settle with BTL (the local phone company) which is short for Belize Telecommunications Limited or Beggars, Theives and Liars, depending on which side of the fence you're standing on. So if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know why. The last strike in May 2005 snowballed into a general strike with many of the unions in Belize in solidarity, and then that snowballed into rioting in Belmopan, police special units in riot gear, the Dragon Unit being called in, troops, etc. etc.

I don't blame the people on strike, they have legitimate grievances against the company (BTL). No one wants to strike and lose pay, but sometimes its the only way.

What this also means is no electronic transactions, like credit card processing. So on the day-to-day level, we have to resort to knuckle busting charges manually, and saying hail mary's when we are eventually able to put the charges through, key entered, weeks later.

The last time this happened I swore I would get a satellite system, but time dulls all memories, even of the sharp pain in the pocketbook.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Illustration Friday - February 23 - Communication

This is essentially a watercolor on Arches paper that I've added oil pastel and prismacolor pencil to. Its one image in a series that is called On the Shaman's Trail which I painted a few years ago while traveling through Guatemala and parked myself in a little village called San Marcos on Lake Atitlan.

Photo Friday - Feb 23 - Textured

Tye dyed silk sarongs cast a translucent shadow on the stucco house.

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