Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mars & Venus

A motorized garage sale came to town on this quiet day in November. Click on any image to enlarge, the viewing is much funnier full size..

The Thanksgiving tourist rush is over and we’re getting ready for the Christmas season which starts in mid December. Business has slowed down, we’re taking a little breather, but, times like these make me wish I had my camera strapped to my back at all times. If at first you can't catch the act in progress, you can at least document the aftermath.

You have to remember something about me. I do not go out seeking entertainment, it comes to me, right at my own front door. As usual, Supergirl and I were just minding our own business admiring the super fantabulous electricity hook up we have on this building...

. . . when a golf cart rounded the
corner on two wheels WWWWHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The wife/passenger wasn’t so excited about this fete of kinetic energy and demanded that her slightly sloshed husband, put down one of his beers, slow down, or let her off. He, however forgot to clean the wax from his ears that morning and thought she was really asking him to go faster.

So, she thought she would fix him.

She: STOP! or I’m going to throw these here clothes off the cart.

He: (balurp!)

She: See here? (fling) there goes your speedo (just like a slingshot)

He: … WTF


He: … vroom vroom (how fast can I make this little buggy go, gee this is fun watching her get mad in front the whole world)

She: You’re going to be naked tomorrow

He: … (I wonder if I can jump off real fast and catch another beer) (This is more fun that getting drunk and dancing with a stranger)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Positive Feedback

BLAM! High season is on! And not a moment too soon. The big 3-bedroom Alamina Beach House is 80% booked up until Easter (woohooyeah!). The little efficiency apartment is still available though, but I'm confident that it will book up as I'm hearing positive feedback from the other hotels that this is going to be a bang up year. For the past 2 years our Village Council has actively worked on marketing Caye Caulker as a dive and vacation destination for families with developing an equal opportunity website and attending trade shows like DEMA the largest dive show in North America. As the market changes and Belize becomes more and more expensive to live and do business in, we've had to change who our target customer is. We're losing the backpackers, who have been our bread and butter since the dawn of tourism 30years ago (way before my time here), when the first hippines arrived on Caye Caulker on Chocolate's fishing dory. I have my theories on why this is happening, although I won't whine and whinge on them. Change is like a train, you can't stand on the rails and try to stop a train, it will run you down. You have to jump on it and enjoy the ride.

So, no more messing around in my studio on the mainland, I'm back on Caye Caulker, more or less full time, until after Easter. I'm grateful though that I was able to take the time this year and produce another collection, this time in oil. This new series is called Village Life. I already have an Island Life series in watercolor that I did in 2000.

On Caye Caulker, people come here for vacation year after year for weeks at a time. If you spend any amount of time here, the next trip, the local people will remember you. They might not remember your real name, but they will have your character down pat. ("Hey big lady wid de pretty hair did I just see you? - that IMPRESSED me!) A woman came into the gallery the other day and we struck up a conversation, she was here 10 years ago and even though there has been some building up of the island, it still feels the same. No shirt, no shoes, no problema!

Christmas is coming, its time to change the marley and curtains. Marley is the thin vinyl flooring that we all use in our little wooden houses to cover the floor. Curtains are curtains, but its a tradition to change them once a year before Christmas. I think, because the sun is so harsh most of the year, it fades the color and rots the fabric.

Bigness and I went to the city today to get some house fixer up stuff. He's repainting (neverending) the interior of the house and is back on construction duty. The electric drill is charged and ready to go and we've located the hammer. We'll have to find a replacement door stop though, Supergirl made pumpkin spice cake with the mystery can, so we were using his 10lb sledgehammer that he uses to smash tings with as a door stop/opener. It worked perfect, but alas, construction begins again. In my opionion, there's nothing sexier than a big man with a sledge hammer in one hand and a drill in the other.

He usually goes to Belize City before me on the boat, to pick up the car from his house there. And, also, after years of commercial fishing, he's up before the crack of dawn and itching to get the day started. I'm a confirmed slow poke. I figure why get on the boat before 8:30 a.m., the stores are just barely open, the clerks haven't even cleared the sleep from their eyes.

Going here, going there, first to 3 banks, then to the central market to buy produce for the cafe, I ended my shopping at Mikado Textile Palace. For Christmas the store is resplendent with sample satin fringy and lace curtains on show from ceiling to floor. The only thing is that the curtains run right along the fronts of the fabric racks, so to shop for fabric you must paw through the curtains to peep at the fabrics. I felt like I was in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When you enter the store a doorman asks you if you're having a nice day, and "Welcome to Mikado" You check your bags at the front desk and as soon as you touch a peice of fabric a clerk is there lifting it up for you, asking you how many yards you want of it. I'm the typical Amurrrrrikin shopper who wants to be left alone to comtemplate the beautific colors and hues of stretch polyester all on my own, but I've had to change my ways to accept the help of an earnest clerk to avoid being siungled out as that strange-lady-who-won't let-anyone-help her. The search was on for purple cotten sheeting and "Dive Belize" purple-turquoise-green fishy fabric to replace bedspreadsi n the beach house that had become damaged. Also, I had a bet with Supergirl that I could find blue camoflage stretch denim. I found it, she lost. Sucker's bet. I ask you, how do all these girls wear jean pants and skirts that look painted on...? STRETCH DENIM!

We're here and we're ready. The coffee's made and Supergirl made a rum raisen pound cake and triple chocolate espresso brownies, so come on back Big Gial Wid De Pretty Hair.

UNBaby is getting over her cold because finally we were able to tape shoes on her feet and zip up her sweater. She spent most of the day yesterday in prison, upstairs with Crompa. He got the fun job of wiping green baba off her face awhile Supergirl and I worked. She's better now and reading me the pictures from the story book "Midokio," which is Pinochio said with a cold.

The weather isn't looking too great for the next few days, but any day in paradise...

Paintings: Click on any image to enlarge
Untitled (located near the Split where Destiny Tours used to be is house #69, although we don't have house or street number here, I always wondered what went on in house #69)

Spin's Bike leans up against Tia Ilna's fence

Miss Ophelia's House (right across the street from us) was put together by Bigness's father from the parts of 5 houses after hurricane Hattie blew them down in 1961. Bigness's sister isin her late 70s and still lives in this little old house.

The peir on the west side of Caye Caulker near Motel 1788

Laundry Day at Pepe's

Peach on the Beach, Tia Ilna's House, UNBaby and Jakey play in the sand as Mariette (the massage therapist for Caye Caulker) looks on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Weather Report

Its cold
Its supposed to get down to 61 degrees F tonight after midnight and a high tomorrow of 72 degrees F.
Thanks a lot you frozen northerners.
Uh huh.

Bigness is excited. He calls it free air conditioning. (He said we'll HAVE to snuggle tonight)

I'm wearing my hoodie sweatshirt to bed, and the only pair of socks I own (pink sweat sock)
Oh, way sexy, I know!

I'm not complaining though, these "cold" days make us sell about 4x the amount of coffee we usually do.

I remember as a kid going to Florida with my parents for Christmas and swimming in the oceanwhen it was only 65 degrees F outside and seeing the local Floridians walking around in their winter coats and hats, thinking, how strange that they would feel cold when it feels so warm to me. Now I'm one of the cold people.

How cold is it where you are?

Question for the Cosmos

Why oh why is it, that out of the 10,000 hairbrushes we have in this here house, the only one in MY bathroom is the Bob Marley Dreadlock Rasta Ripper brush? You know it... its the one with the tiny stiff pirannah teeth bristles meant only for short hair or brain torture. The one that you THINK you can use if you're real careful, cuz you're in a hurry and can't find the 10,000 other hair brushes or wide tooth combs. But alas, you can't use it, because it wraps those pirannah teeth bristles around your hair and yanks it out by the roots, and you end up CUTTING it out of your hair. (OUCH! DON'T DO THAT AGAIN! big frown)

Note to self: I wonder if UNBaby using my soft, cushy, long-hair brush on stray dogs again? Maybe my non-torture brushes are in the same location as the 5,000 pairs of flip flops, slippers and tennies that she's lost this year.
(Big Sigh)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Garifuna Settlement Day

"Iunraha Wamei Irisini Higiru Wayunagu Waba" means "Lets Uphold the Values left to us by our Ancestors" in the language of the Garifuna. Its BRUKOUT time on Caye Caulker and in all of Belize on November 19. This commemorates the 174th anniversary of the Garifuna people landing in Belize. Garifuna Settlement Day started as a national and bank holiday in 1943 with big celebrations, drumming, traditional food, and dancing. This weekend we're also celebrating Neice Rosanna's big four oh and MY birthday with a family celebration. I'm actually a turkey baby, born the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll use any excuse to party. The photo above is part of the early dawn (Nov. 19th) ceremony where a reinactment takes place of the landing in Belize.

We'll be drinking Pantyrippers, a delicious combination of fresh pineapple juice and coconut rum over crushed rice and eating traditional foods like fish seri and hudut. Fish seri is a spicy stew with a coconut milk and white achiote base poured over dumplings made of grated and boiled green and ripe plantains.

The Garifuna originated from the Yellow Island Caribs who occupied the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela, South America. In 1220 the Caribs invaded and conquered the islands in the Lesser Antilles and parts of the Greater Antilles and intermarried with the Arawaks. This mixture gave birth to Island Caribs.

In 1635 African slaves were shipwrecked in the islands near St. Vincent. They intermarried with the Island Caribs; this resulted in the birth of the Garifuna. The Caribs and Garifuna populated these islands but soon after encountered many conflicts with the Europeans. The Garifuna strongly resisted European control, maintaining the tradition of the earlier Caribs. They fought against the Spanish, British and the French. The Europeans had guns and were eventually able to overpower them and they were forced to move to the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras.

In 1832, many Garifuna left Honduras after a civil war there and settled in Dangriga, Belize on November 19th. They were led by Alejo Beni. Between 1832 and 1900 the Garinagu in Belize consolidated their settlements and spread from Dangriga to Seine Bight, Monkey River, Punta Negra, Punta Gorda, Barranco, Livingston, Hopkins and Georgetown.

The Garifuna have their own language, music, dance, food and religion and are very distinc from any other culture in Belize.

This year, Pen Cayetano, Belize's most famous Garifuna painter and musician, along with his wife Ingrid, is having an exhibition at the House of Culture in Belize City. Its titled Ubagari or Life Art. The centrepiece of Pen’s collection is called “Belize 2005” a rendering of the civil disturbances that rocked Belize.

Delvin “Pen” Cayetano, Artist
“These pieces that I brought along is mostly about what happened the other day among the cultural and political movements that happened last year, 2005. And I did also some paintings pertaining to the deaths of the kids in Belize as well as Garifuna paintings and historical paintings like the landing of Lindbergh. For the total exhibition here, I want to show the people here that yeah, life is not a dream, it’s a hard reality and we are passing through it right now.”

Check out this link to hear music samples from Andy Palacio, Belize's most famous and accomplished Garifuna musician.

The Story of My Life

I was born
Then I had computer problems
--- to be continued ---

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Oh, So That Explains It...

Full Moon... the next day

Did you hear de joke bout de hit and run?

Me: No, what?

Juanita: Miss Puneesha stone Cousin Rageo with her slipper, on de street, lasss night pon midnight.

Me: What?

Juanita: That's the joke.

Me: What joke.

Juanita: She call he chancey beca he live with he wife AND sweetheart.

Me: She took up for her daughter.

Juanita: That's the other joke

Me: Tell me...

Juanita: Dey say wife no noh bout de sweetheart. Hmp! Must be he like young ting!

Me: I was asleep at 8, I didn't hear a THING! I always miss out on the action.

Illustration Friday - Nov 3 - Smoke

I painted this original on silk a few years ago and it is based on a Mayan glyph of a female ruler.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Domestic Goddess

As high season approaches in a few weeks, we also celebrate the American Thanksgiving here in Belize. No, really we do. Maybe its the fact that the American Thanksgiving week is the first really busy tourist week we have in the new season, or its just fun to have an excuse to eat turkey. Its not quite the same, take a plate of turkey and mashed potatoes and gray, add plenty of rice-n-beans and stovetop stuffing and canned cranberry relish, and voila! Last year I made pumpkin pie from almost scratch. I found cans of the filling in Belize City, opened them, added the ingredients listed on the recipe on the LABEL, (poured into the frozen pie crust cuz I'm lazy, then baked for 50 minutes) found some cool whip at the same shop that the King of Coolwhip shops at and again... voila! I bought two extra cans in the hope that I would somehow make it again, and just in case the next container ship with imported canned goods from the U.S. didn't get here for 2 more years, we were set. Well, we have the cans... but they have joined the ranks of cans-sans-labels (thanks to UNBaby's prying fingers) and we are now using for doorstops. So, I'm steeling myself for what looks like a round of Russian Can Roulette. It could be yams, it could be whole kernel corn, it could be... salsa casera. At any rate, the food won't go to waste because we eat everything here, (except I don't eat the feet or eyeballs of anything) after all, its a 3rd world country, and we can't afford to be too picky here.

Tales From the Evil Waitress

I bet you're wondering where I've been. Last time I disappeared for this long I came back married. I stopped announcinng my departures a few months ago. Too many people on Caye Caulker read this blog and behave badly if they know for certain we're off the island. We never intended to be gone so long, but the check in calls went just like they did the last time I left to paint and paint and paint.
Me: Sooooooooo what's goin on...
Supergirl: Nothing
Me: How's business
Supergirl: sloooooowwwwwww
Me: Uh Huh, so do you need anything sent on the water taxi?
Supergirl: No
Me: You sure?
Supergirl: Yeah
Me: O.K., well you know where I am if you need anything. (Note to self: nexst year we're closing down and going somewhere to let our brains cool down)

High season starts in 2 weeks, so... in this interim slow period I've figured out

What Women Want
...on their bagels, of course.
French women want peanut butter on the side
Englander women want jam (sorry we only have jelly) or cream cheese and cucumbers
German women want cream cheese, not so much of it
Dutch women want cream cheese, lots of it
Italian women want cream cheese on the side and then seconds for free
Belgian women want cream cheese and salami or tomatoes
American women on the east coast want a schmear (what's a schmear?)
American women from the west coast want the cream cheese spread on then scraped off so there's only the essence of cream cheese. Is that too much work? Is this non-fat cream cheese? Do you have skim milk? I answer no to all of the above. However, I can put water in the milk and make it like skim milk if you want...

What Men want...
Something with meat and quick