Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ettikit Lessin

I'm at the internet cafe because our connection at home isn't working again, and again and again, The little boy who sells the salty popcorn on the street after school came into the cafe and very politely went around selling his wares. He's such a sweet little boy, so polite, (I dont' know his name, we just call him the little popcorn boy) We always buy from him no matter what, the plastic bags are evenly packed in clean packets tied at the top displayed in a clean plastic tub. So of course I'm going to get my afternoon snack, and of course its too tempting to wait until I get home to much it down. And of course I'm using my fingers to eat it with, the fingers that have been touching the public keyboard, and of course this keyboard wasn't just doused in bleach water right before I started using it. Munch munch munch. I'm so grossed out at what I did. I hope I don't get gangrene. Its the oral transmission of disease again....

So here's the ettikit lesson. Its NOT O.K. (IN PUBLIC) to fish the popcorn out, that has dropped down into my bra and is hanging around the underwire. Ladies, you ALL know we do it, its like the balls scratching thing that guys do. And we know THAT'S JUST WRONG.

I think I'll leave it for a midnight snack. But first I'll wash my hands.

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.

The Rain She Come

YAY! Our water well and our dusty sandy streets thank you rain clouds. Caye Caulker has no municipal water and sewer system. We rely on wells and cisterns for our fresh water, and soak aways and septic for waste water. We are one of the few villages left in Belize with no municipal water system and frankly, we are running out of water. After such a dry, dry season and low low tides we are grateful and happy to see the rain, even if it comes down in bucketfulls.

Beach Party

UNBaby Turns 5. Ah you gotta love it, the kind of photos you can blackmail a girl with when she turns 16. Her real birthday is May 1st, a May Day baby, but we wanted to postpone her party until Auntie, Uncle and Cousin were here to join in on the festivities. Keeping her real birthdate a secret was impossible, of course, but she was patient waiting for the big day. We had about a one-month work up to it as her birthday didn't take place until after mid May.

And what party is complete without a king?

Supergirl got the kind of pinata that each child takes a ribbon and pulls open a trap door, because wisely she felt that 5-year olds with bats was a VERY BAD THING.
At the end of the day, after all the pizza was eaten, the orange fanta drank, the sandy candy collected from the pinata and the cake cut, I retired upstairs , because I'M THE GRANDMA DAMMNIT, its up to the mommy to clean up all the mess!

Feeling Inspired

We picked up my oldest daughter (Adria), her husband (Jay) and their 6 year old daughter (my granddaughter May) in the morning in Cancun, close to being right on time and headed south arriving in Belize at our house in the bush at around 9 p.m. It was a long, long day and I’m grateful that Bigness loves to drive for the trip would have taken 3 days if left to me. I would have driven a little, had lunch, wandered around a bit, driven a little bit more, stopped for a snack and a bathroom break, then driven a little more and at sunset, its time to stop and rest at a hotel with a pool. I reiterate, I’m glad I’m just the passenger in these excursions. Upon leaving Chetumal Mexico I announced to Jay, that’s the last MacDonald's you will see for the next 10 days. He looked a bit worried and probably wondered what he would eat all week. After a good night’s rest at our little house in the bush, we headed for Caye Caulker the next morning to start their island vacation. I got to wear some of my new threads that I had ordered online from and had sent to their house to be stuffed into a suitcase. So for now I don’t look like I’ve picked my clothes out of the missionary rag bag. Plus she came like the cavalry with new art supplies!

There was no big agenda. No real plans. We went inland to the zoo and to a butterfly farm one day, they went with Supergirl to San Pedro one day and snorkeling on the Glass Bottom Boat one day. The rest of the time was as follows:


-Beach walk or Sports bar to watch the game

-Morning nap in the hammock or Sports Bar to watch the game

-Lunch AND Sports Bar to watch the game

-Swimming or Sports Bar to watch the game

-Afternoon nap in the hammock or Sports Bar to watch the game

-Dinner AND Sports Bar to watch the game

-Other activities included walks to Chan’s Mini Mart to buy salsa casera to add to the guacamole, and one time to buy linguini for the pesto pasta. Walks to Albert’s Mini mart for cans of Diet A&W Root Beer and Diet Dr. Pepper.

A couple of evenings were spent "fishing" with hand lines at the split and from the main pier (after the game at the Sports Bar). We had more success the second time fishing when we switched the bait from steak fat and french fries to sardines. UNBaby and Maya loved it, for about 5 minutes and then fell asleep in chairs. I don’t know what we would have done if we had actually caught something, it was fun teasing the fish though, and we saw some BIG ones at the split after dark.

Art Info: The new paintings are on silk. The top 3 square ones are for tile designs that will be available soon on The blue morpho painting has already sold, the jaguar painting "El Tigre" is available for $175 U.S. and is approx. 19" x 27". The square fish painting originals are available for $125 U.S. each (plus shipping) and are 16" x 16".

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Funniest Thing I've Heard All Day

Bigness: WOMAN! The root of all evil!
Me: You're misquoting the Bible again, its MONEY is the root of all evil.
Bigness: I don't see anything wrong with money.
Me: Tru, not as long as you have some.
Bigness: (peeling a banana, eats it in 2 swoops) A banana a day keeps the doctor away.
Me: Again with the misquotes
Bigness: I like bananas
Me: Obviously

Funniest Thing I Saw All Day
A little old old old mashed up granny wearing a pink tank top with the word "NAUGHTY" spelled out in rhinestones on her chest.