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.