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.


Guyana-Gyal said...

Keep at it, Caribbean, business can be like this, up-down-up. Before I was in advertising, I used to knock advertising, thought it was some sort of 'prostitution'...but after writing ads for 5 years I learnt how good, creative work can help businesses grow. Keep it up!

wayne said...

The same is here on la Isla. I have never seen such a low high season. We have our first high season booking on Dec 28! But then we are booked solid til April so I'm not complaining. Waiters here make 80 pesos a day for a 10 hour shift. (about $7.50 USD) I don't know how they survive. Love the cards by the way!

Caribbean Colors said...

Thanks so much for the encouragement guys! We're just now getting inquiries for January and beyond. Its dry dry dry here.
Writing about it on the blog is like confessing sin. I write about it so I don't jave to obsess over it any more.
Anyone else like that?

MB said...

I love the cards too! I will pick up a bunch when I'm there. Keep up the good work. The cream always rises to the top. MB

Hayden said...

the cards are great! especially like "what makes us discontented...." but then, I'm cynical.

Really sorry biz is bad, but the economy here sure does suck. ugliness. it's like a social disease: it spreads.

sevnetus said...

I use a backpack more than you might think, and a bicycle too. And never say never about visiting your gracious quarters. The dollar falls and still the lucky, lucky people lay de pipe down there.

Mikeywaz said...

Great observations! I look forward to experiencing your adopted home when we're there in February. I'll be sure to stop in!

Caribbean Colors said...

Definitely stop in and say HI!