Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Importance of Being Called Miss Lee

Its been so long since I've written anything more than 50 words, I'm not sure I know how to string 3 sentences together, so let's start with the music first.

"Looking to the sea
Crowds of people wait for me
Seagulls scavenge, steal ice cream
Worries vanish, within my dream
Left my soul there, down by the sea
Lost control to living free
Left my soul there, down by the sea
Lost control to living free
Fishin boats sail past the shore
Most send in mayday anymore
The sun is shinin the water's clear
Just you and I walk around the peir...
Left my soul there, down by the sea
Lost control to living free
Left my soul there, down by the sea
Lost control to living free"
I've been living in Belize so long that the little boy who would visit me at my shop on his way home from primary school is now the traffic officer for the island.... 12 years. When I went on this grand adventure 12 years ago, I thought it was an experiment,that if things didn't work out, I could always go back and work for one of my clients, as I had dissolved my company. I didn't go back to visit America for 2-1/2 years after leaving, and now I've lived here so long, I've lost track of time...

I'm still asked these 3 questions daily, and the price list for answers remains the same.
1.) Where are you from?  Price: $1 
2.) Why did you move here? Price: $5
3.) Do you like living here? Price: dinner & drinks

I get lots of other questions too, many of which are really too personal for strangers to be asking, but they ask anyway, and I try to not be offended any more. The more personal the question, the more creative the answer.

The routine has gotten easier to cope with, along with the heat. My blood has thinned out and my skin has thickened. The days start early with the sun coming up in that unobstructed view of the horizon kind of way. Taking an afternoon siesta, since getting up at 5:30 a.m. is a long day, without the afternoon nap. One of the most important things I learned right away is how to make headway while walking in the sand, and the art of not sweating too much. That is the real meaning behind the Go Slow signs posted everywhere on Caye Caulker. And make sure you walk in the hard sand by the water's edge. Always try to keep to the shadows when walking down the street in the noon day's sun.

In 12 years of shopping in Belize City, the business center for Belize, I've learned which taxi drivers to use, which to abuse. Which stores have what and what stores have shat. Which businesses close for lunch that should really be open straight thru. Boat rides and water taxi schedules, and the little planes that fly in and out won't wait for me, so being on time and not asking for too many favors is important. If you run down the peir, you will be sure to fall as the bridge boards are uneven and you need to keep your eyes on where you place your feet. I don't like to ask for favors, but if I do have to ask for a favor, I make sure its a good one, because people don't like to have to compensate for your bad planning. And always say Thanks.

I've also learned important things like, which windows to close when it starts to rain, and which can stay open. How to kill cockroaches, the big kind, without maiming yourself.

Banking hours, ATMs that run out of money on weekends, especially long holiday weekends, electricity on, electricity off, internet on, internet off. Save your document often. Don't scream when the lights go off, just sit still and listen. Be still and know that sooner or later, they will come back on.

Living in a small place where the energy goes round and round is initially invogorating, for the newcomer, but for the long term resident, it will wear you down. Being in a small place is nice for so many reasons, like the ability to call the hardware store and ask them if its o.k. if I send someone for this and that and I will be by later to pay. I have learned the importance of Being Called Miss Lee., and the fact that I'm the only Miss Lee, so I better behave. Be friendly with everyone, but keep your sunglasses on.


Unknown said...


I so appreciate this today. I have worked on my skills and have refined them quite well. I have to check to see if I am the only Miss Janice in SP, but I do know they know who someone is talking about when they say, you know that crazy blonde woman up north. I have even taught some 20+ year residents new tricks on delivering things and who to bring treats from the US for. I learn something new each trip and for me the learning (now that the difficult lessons are long ago learned) is part of the appeal. One definitely needs to learn to laugh at themselves to live out of their comfort zone. Happy Thanksgiving. Janice

Guyana-Gyal said...

For someone who hasn't written in a while and wasn't sure if she could string 3 sentences together, you've written a glorious post.

Sometimes, Miss Lee, I forget you're American. You simply are you, a woman making her way in the world.

I so wish the best-est of the best for you.

Ale said...

Are you really-really back! :) yey
so 'do you like it here' will take dinner and drinks!? hehe Just remember from over here it looks like sunny sailin on the island. What about this question: What is something you have learned that you never would have being back in the US? or is this going to cost me too?

Caribbean Colors said...

I could say, I've learned how to not be hustled, but every so often I STILL GET HUSTLED!

Cassir said...

I'm glad you're back. I don't trust the Facebook corporation on privacy issues so I don't have an account and can't go read your posts.

I've been reading about the wild adventures of John McAfee and wondering if anyone in Belize has any comments other than "crazy white man". I've never seen a real person work so hard to distort reality, not even Steve Jobs. Maybe more people will be avoiding SP and going to Caye Caulker for the mellow.

I spent time in Belize almost 30 years ago, so so different! Americans didn't even know it was a country then.