Saturday, November 15, 2008

Getting Ready to Bust a Move

I’m really bad a finishing a story, and answering the door. If you knock long enough, I’ll eventually answer the door, or the phone, so thank you to those friends who have emailed me asking what is going on.

I've been playing my cards pretty close to my chest as we were making major decisions and turning this way and that trying to figure our way out of this maze.

I feel like Rumpelstiltskin, having woken up from a 20 year sleep with the price of everything doubled. I thought I was going to go into shock walking down the aisle at Brodies where they hadn’t even bother to peel off the old price sticker before sticking down the new ones which were 50% higher across the board. In general, imported foods from the U.S. cost double, but we still indulge ourselves in a few luxury items. Most of what we buy is grown locally, rice beans, chicken, vegetables, fruit. It had been months since I had actually been grocery shopping. Bigness usually does the shopping in Belize City weekly, because prices in general are too high on Caye Caulker. If tomatoes are 1 bzd a lb (50 cents U.S.) at the central market in Belize City, then they are 4 bzd a lb. ($2 U.S.) on Caye Caulker.

He had been complaining of price hikes, but then again he complains about the price of everything. His favorite reminiscence is about Target in the 1990s where he could get a polo shirt for $4.

“Babes, next time you’re in de steytes, get some more of deez shuts fa me. I oonly peey foor dalla fa dis one” and he stretches the threadbare polo shirt over his belly.

“What century was that?” I answer.

I hate that friggin shirt, I think to myself and make a mental note to turn it into cleaning rags when he’s not looking. You know, the burgundy one with a stripe across his chichis and the moth eaten hole conveniently located at his belly button (ventilation).

With food prices up 50% on most of our essentials like rice, beans, and butane gas for cooking. Plus now with the great floods of 2008 detroying large portions of the rice, corn and sugar cane, Belize will have to import all these staples. Tourism reported to be down 25% for the last 2 quarters. Reported, that is by the tourist board, as an average for the country. But I know that for Caye Caulker we were way lower than the 25% drop that our tourist board reported. High season started late in 2007 and Easter came early in 2008. As an example, last year, even with hurricane Dean at the end of August, I still made my break even. This year, for the month of August I was down 75% from last year.

Even with downsizing, I now know I am not recession proof.

I made the tough decision to close my store after having a continuous presence on Caye Caulker for 7 years. I’ve decided to take a year off, close down and wait out the U.S. recession which has directly affected tourism in Belize. I am still going to have my paintings, prints and sarongs available throughout Belize at these fine stores:
Belizean Arts in San Pedro - prints, original art, cards and jewelry
Pretty Ethnic in San Pedro - original silk paintings, prints, silk sarongs and jewelry
Fine Arts in Belize City located near Wet Willy's outside of the Tourist Village has original silk paintings and prints
Caesar’s Place in San Ignacio on the Western Highway near Gerogeville has prints and cards
Art-N-Soul in Placencia on the sidewalk has original art, prints and jewelry
Los Cocos Cantina - in my old location next to the police station on Caye Caulker has prints and a few originals
De java House on Caye Caulker located next to Atlantic Bank has prints and jewelry

In the U.S. you can get my original art at River's Edge Gallery in Wyandotte and in New York City Chelsea District at the Agora Gallery.

In the interim I am only selling wholesale, to art galleries and on the internet and with 7 outlets carrying my art and merchandise, I'm pretty busy creating enough stock and painting almost full time now, when I'm not playing Spider Solitaire on my laptop.

Bigness and I are going to slide 6km over the border to Chetumal Mexico to lower our cost of living to less than ½ of what we’re living on now.

We have emptied out the Little House in the Bush, and put someone there to take care of the property since it has become too dangerous for me to stay there alone. We can not sell the property because we were SWINDLED by the former PUP Belize government (that is a WHOLE other story)... and a class action lawsuit. As we have recenlty found out that the DFC (Development Finance Corporation) has been lying to us for several years.

"Yah, we're going to get you your title, its in proces, the lawyers have it, everything is fine, just keep giving us your money, its going to go through before the election, no, we have to wait until after the election, we're reorganizing after the election blah blah blah." the lies go on and on and on with the DFC. So many rumours and nobody knows what's going on.

The former PUP government who dreamed up this project called Mahogany Heights on Mile 31, did not have clear title to the property before they sold us ours (and to 300 other families), and they knew it, and still did it. Someone needs to go to jail for this. Might I suggest someone with the initials of SM, RF and GG, all former leaders of the People's United Party?

We’ve decided to go to Chetumal to wait out the sale of Bigness’ prime beachfront commercial property on Caye Caulker. We are in no hurry to sell and will be waiting for the right buyer. WHO will the right buyer be? The one who has the money.

Plans for the future? We are not giving up on Belize, but are taking a break. Once the property on Caye Caulker sells. We plan on staying in Belize, but splitting our time between it and the U.S. In the meantime I am setting up my studio in Chetumal and will only be here in Belize when I have to do business, or if friends are visiting, or when we have a check-in to the beach house.


Guyana-Gyal said...

Changes. They're the one constant, aren't they? I'm looking for something new to do too while people buy less craft. I have a suitcase full of hand made goods, I suspect the less expensive ones will sell.

It seems so sad, scary but quite exciting, everything that's happening in your life.

I do hope you keep on blogging, when I hear what other creative people are doing, it keeps me going.

I hope everything goes well for you.

Caribbean Colors said...

Thanks for the encouragement GG, also thanks for posting, when I changed my layout, I lost all my links and need to reconstruct them.

riversiren said...

Howdy! I met you near Christmas time in 2005 when some friends and I were traveling through latin America doing mission-ish work and decided to take a week off in Caye Caulker. I am sad you guys are leaving (or have left), especially because I will be back to Belize this Christmas. I am still inspired by your stories, adventures, and art. Blessing for all your future endeavors!

shadowx said...

This is an interesting story =)
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Anonymous said...

I live near Chetumal, in Calderitas; welcome to Mexico.