Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Name That Tune

She’s lost the sun

She’s come undone

She didn’t find what she was looking for…

And when she found what she was looking for, honey it was too late

This song from the 60s winds through my head over and over as I watch my friend unravel before my eyes. A woman that I’ve known for 4 years is going off the deep end and there’s nothing I can do to help her anymore.

And another one bites the dust.

What does it take to be successful in Belize? I get asked this question at least 10 times a day in the store and via email.

Come with enough money to sustain yourself for at least a year. Whatever you estimate your living expenses will be, double them and you’ll be more accurate.

Be patient and kind to everyone.

And very important… be able to adjust. Roll with it. (Yea, sure you think you can roll with it, but spend a long, still, hot night with no fan because the electricity is off all over the island and the mosquitoes are ON. Then we’ll talk.) Oh, and by the way, don't say "I live here" until you're spent a full hurricane season here. People who winter here during high season (November-April) when we have money sloshing over this island in basketfulls from tourism don't live here, they winter here in their second home.

Be prepared to have to work hard. If you can not do hard work, then don’t move here.

You must be able to be content with keeping your own company.

And last of all, don’t forget to abide by the rules of Lee’s Rough Guide to Dating on Caye Caulker.

For me, moving to Belize was an experiment that worked. I was one of the lucky ones. I came here with a deep seated unhappiness about MY life in the U.S. and wanted a change, not only a change of scenery, but inside I WANTED TO CHANGE. And I did. I didn’t come here to change Belize, Belize changed me.

We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” –John Steinbeck

I’ve been through this with friends before. They are unhappy, they are not making enough money in San Pedro or San Ignacio, they think I have the magic answer for them, that on Caye Caulker things will be different. And being the nice person that I am, I make the mistake of hiring them or housing them or both. Friends are hard to come by, especially here. The first 2 weeks are great, I have a loyal hard working employee and a friend to hang with, but after about 2 weeks, its back to the same whining, complaining, miserable attitude, except now, I’m saddled with them.

Fortunately they find a way to leave Belize either by getting friends in the U.S. to spot them a plane ticket or in one case found an internet lover to advance it to her. Then they leave and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. I don’t fire them in the weeks preceding their departure, even when their behavior and attitude (read screaming psycho hissy fits) goes over the top because by now I feel somehow responsible for them financially. (Why?) Now, that I’ve learned my lesson (again) I think that is part of their unconscious lifelong strategy of engaging and then dumping. The human problem of biting the hand that’s feeding you. Unless you are willing to do the work to change, you will live the same story over and over and over.

“There are two kinds of discontent in this world. The discontent that works, and the discontent that wrings its hands. The first gets what it wants. The second loses what it has. There’s no cure for the first but success and there’s no cure at all for the second.”

-Gordon Graham

Before moving anywhere you need to ask yourself these questions:

Why did you leave the last place you lived?

What were the things that irritated you there?

Why do you think those same things won’t get on your nerves here?

Is your unhappiness situational or terminal? When I say terminal, I mean, are you terminally ill with the sickness of unhappiness and will eventually die from it?

We make it look easy, those of us that live here and have learned how to go from point a to point b without skinning our knees. If you want to move here because you think we don’t have to work hard, you’re wrong. And just like the hustlers on the pier, you will probably not end up doing lasting long term business with the first people you meet. The genuine ones sit back and watch you, for a long time. I am less and less willing to share secrets after a spectacular debacle in 2003 where I nearly had to have a friend repatriated. I have all but stopped encouraging people to move here. Its hard for me to watch failure after failure. For myself, I am grateful to the people who, along the way, pointed me in the right direction, and I am also grateful to myself for listening to their advice. It’s a shame because the people who legitimately need help will never ask for it, they just work harder.

Bigness has a great way of dealing emotionally with other people’s failure. He calls it the “Drop Thru” He does about a 30 second analysis of the situation and pronounces “Drop Thru” or “Champion” recognizing character flaws instantly. He does not waste his time trying to encourage, or attend to, in any way, to the “Drop Thru”. He simply ignores them and laughs a little while placing bets on their actual date of demise. The first question asked is “Who is she/he dating?” Mind you, he’s not totally without compassion, he’s compassionate with detachment.

I’m learning this too.


DCveR said...

Once I got to the end of your post I had a good laugh on Bigness' way of dealing with "drop thrus". I got that way too some years ago, after spending much time trying to help some people. Sometimes people do need a hand, but some people will only drag you down while they sink if you try and help them. Yup, some are really "drop thru".

Anonymous said...

Great work, keep it up.....

Caribbean Colors said...

I'm really conflicted on this, it takes so much energy.

Ann (MobayDP) said...

Excellent post. I think people often move to the Caribbean thinking that they're moving to Paradise.

They forget that even Paradise has it's problems.