Monday, March 19, 2012

Day #34 by Eli and Caroline

It is our last day on the beautiful Island of Caye Caulker. We have learned much about the ways and life of the Belizians here. Many similarities of mainland life but because this island thrives on tourism ALONE, there are also many differences . We have developed many friends here on Caye Caulker, some have already headed back home to their lives. (We miss you already Eric and Linda!:-) and others,  we have frequented their resturants, purchased their trades( fruit, cakes, tamales, jewelry etc) many are friends we passed everyday on our bikes, Or like Colin and Linda, we have stayed on their property. We have learned that being called "mama" is a form of respect and my children have been aknowledged accordingly as "son" or "girl" noting that we are connected and respected as a family. It's very apparent after a person spends more time and engaging in conversation and service, there is a level we move beyond and we are no longer just "tourists" we have become trusted and our  conversations have moved beyond the surface. We have truley gotton to know the hearts of many who live here.  We have only been on this island for 16 days but I have witnessed Eli and Ava develop a breakdown of their American ways.  In all three of us, Humility has softened the sheild of self..... and I am in awe of the beauty humility holds. What follows is some observations by Eli; Belize and its simplicity; Work in Belize is primarily for food. Us americans are driven by the accumulation of "things" and our "status". If people can't find a job here in Belize, they create one. Many catch fish or make meat pies , they BBQ chicken or make cakes out of their kitchens and sell them in little carts or they simply set up a table outside their homes. Some pick the flowers of their neighbors and sell them to coffee shops, restarants or for the many weddings that happen on the beach. They make money off stuff they find and turn them into Necklaces of shells, bottlecaps or beads. They scrounge coconuts and bag the meat or bottle the coconut water. The average belizian gets paid between $6- $10 bz ($3-$5US) an hour. If they work in construction or are a maid at a hotel, the average rent here on the island is $200bz a month ($100us).   Work in the states requires many more licenses, certificates, permits, and limitations. So many hoops to jump through in order to work, not to mention the overwhelming need of Americans to claim their almighty status as if their job ultimatly defines who they are.
The living conditions are extremly different. People in the states have property with a nice homes with tv and wifi, they have multiple cars, boats, atvs, sheds full of toys and tools, closets, garages, and storage units full of stuff!! Belizian people live very simply. A small cabana of 600 sq feet is suffeciant for a family. They eat mostly what they grow or catch from the sea, very rarely do they watch or even have a tv or wifi. On the island, nobody has a car or needs a cell phone.   Another facinating idea is that squating exsists here in Belize and has worked for many. If you see a abondoned home, settlement, or cabana thats completely empty with no sign of ownership, you can move in and if the owner does not claim it for 7 years, it is yours. Entertainment is very different than at home. Sure, kids down here have phones with music on them, but  not many and they don't have iPods or kindles or iPads or anything fancy. For entertainment, they play tag, or soccer, or have squirt gun fights in the ocean. They fish or help with the family business, even as young as 3! We had a tiny little girl run down the street to gather more OJ for our breakfast order. Kids here spend no time watching tv or playing videos, they create their entertainment. At the beginning of this trip my sister and I played allot of fruit ninja and plants vs zombies when we were bored, but now we are fishing and swimming or riding our bikes. Yesterday we made neclklaces and harvested and chopped coconuts with a machete. I haven't had the desire to play a game on my device for weeks. ( Beside words with friends:-) Eli Today we will spend our last day doing our favorite things here on the island. We will probably snorkel at the split, we will spend some time saying goodbye to Kenny and his animals at the Animal Rescue, we will probably have a piece of cake from the cake lady and track down the tamale cart. We will most definatly end our day here at "Colindas Cabanas"on the beach talking and laughing with our host Linda who we have come to love. We will chat with the guests who congregate at the beach of this tiny resort and breath in the air of fresh joy as people arrive for small bits of their lives to enjoy this tiny piece of paradise. We will return here in a couple of weeks bringing Troy! We are giddy with anticipation to be able to re-live our experiences and share our new friends with somebody we love:-) Tommarow we start our work with "Marlas House of Hope". A orphanage in Belmopan. We will be working with the kids helping them with their homework. We are excited about this new leg of our education and can't begin to imagine how much greater God will work. Our time here in Belize has been incrediably fruitfull in knowledge, Our eyes have truley been opened and we have seen things that we have only read about or heard stories of. I am gratefully finding with this new level of awarness is where the education of travel, and relationship outside our comfort zones begins. I am so blessed to be able to spend this time with my children leading them by the hand as if I know where I am going, learning just as much as they are... as we venture about...... and journey on. Sending much love back home... We are happy, and healthy and without fear:-) -Caroline

Friday, March 16, 2012

"Da" boat! by Ava

In the beginning, we were worried that the rain squalls that had been pounding us all morning would threaten our sailing, snorkeling, and spear fishing adventure. Between the rain bursts, we made our way over to "The Little Kitchen" where our guide, Roy lived and worked. We were anxious to ask him if we would go out today, By his enthusiastic response of " ya man" in his rastifarian accent with braids whipping around his face we knew we had a adventurous day ahead. We were fitted for flippers and ventured off through the trees on a rickety old bridge to the dingy that would zoom us out to the sailboat. The sailboat was a medium size craft that was painted red, yellow, green, and black. The Jib was made out of a thick piece of bamboo and the sail looked as if a bunch of thick sheets were sewn together to make one big Sail. While we were motoring out to the sea, the sun was peaking out of the clouds and eased our thoughts of rain. When we were far enough out of the bay, Roy flipped the motor off and hoisted the sail. We sailed for about 20 minutes out to an area where we were a pool length distance from the barrier reef. The barrier reef here is the second largest reef. It spans 108 miles long with a few channels for passage. Roy explained sharks can come through those passages, but it is rare. We anchored and before we knew it, Roy jumped in with his spear Eli was instructed to follow along close behind him with the "catch bag". The rule for lunch is "Ya eat what ya catch." While Roy and Eli were spear fishing, the rest of us were snorkeling. Santiago, our other guide was keeping watch on "Da" boat. My mom and I stuck together. We saw a green spotted Puffer fish and many other brightly clored fish in all shapes and sizes. By the time we hopped back onto the boat, Roy had caught 3 Yellow Snapper and 2 Conch. We had a total of 7 people on the boat, So we decided to do a little bottom fishing with lines for more grub. It is custom to just take a long piece of fishing line, attach a hook, stick a sardine body piece onto the hook and swing the line around like a ferris wheel and let it go and sink to the bottom. Our first catch was by Roy and the next by me, my fish was HUGE but luckily with my strong muscles, I was able to pull in the big "pogey" the next fish again was by me and it was a monstrous Snapper. Nobody else caught fish but Roy and I. For our late lunch Roy cooked up some white rice and steamed veggies, with no barbecue on the boat, Roy cooked the fish and conch in a big pan and with tomato juice and some water, like a Gumbo. Our lunch was delicious! Roy finished our lunch with some amazing cookies that were chocolate and lemon. After lunch, we sailed over to another snorkeling spot to finish off the day. When we made it back to the island, Immediatly upon our return to the dock, it started to dump rain on us, We quickly learned it had been all day....We found that funny because just a mile away on the Carribian sea, our day had been perfect! -Ava

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today is day #23 -Caye Caulker-Belize. This morning we were riding our bikes around the island and stopped when we saw a little sign that read "Kenny the Cat Man" and one below it saying "Animal Rescue and Adoption". We stood at the gate talking to the dogs and cats who greeted us and waited until Kenny came out, we introduced ourselves and asked about the possibility of helping out. Kenny explained that he has been rescuing dogs and cats for over ten years here on the island. Kenny has no funding and has been feeding and caring for the animals with the money he makes from a small bicycle repair shop run out of the same yard. Kenny told us he has 28 cats and 5 dogs, he said to come back in two hours, that we could help with washing dogs. When we arrived Kenny had prepared a place for us to wash the dogs on an old board spread across the sand, he filled 2 five gallon buckets up with water. He handed us a bar of medicated soap, a small brown comb and a pair of tweezers. Our first dog to wash was a little shaggy haired dog named Vicious. She was one of the sweetest dogs I've ever met however the poor thing was covered in fleas when we applied the medicated soap, it instantly killed the fleas and eggs on her body. We washed at least 150 fleas from her and hand picked 50 with the pair of tweezers. When we were done, she was so happy! The next dog was "Brownie". She looked like she was in heaven as Ava and I dumped water on her and my mom lathered soap. While we bathed her, she squeezed her head in between moms legs with her eyes closed like she was in paradise. Then we washed "Chida"she was a small white dog that loved to be pet. She was the easiest to wash because her hair was coarse and not matted. Dog #4 was "Roxy" and she has fur like no other dog I've ever encountered, when washing her, the water would roll off of her like a duck. Our last dog to wash was "Maya" and she is DEATHLY afraid of water. She took about 30 minutes to wash because as soon as we put a single drop of water on her she would try to dart. Because she is so hard to wash she was extra infested with fleas and we had to do some serious scrubbing. The way the medicated soap works, is it explodes fleas and their eggs on contact so washing Maya was a little gross because it turned the suds red from the blood of the exploded bugs. When we finished all the dogs seemed very happy and layed on a cement slab in the sun. We told Kenny we would be his helpers for the days we are here on the island, he invited us to bathe them again next week and to stop by anytime as there is always something to do:-) Tommarow we will stop by with some treats. -Eli

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day #20 I can't believe 20 days have past. Our family has done soooo much! One of the many things I have learned these past weeks, is that not to judge based on the outside appearence of things. For instance some of the juiciest limes are brown and bruised on the outside but a beautiful surprise on the inside, some of the places we've seen on the outside look horrible and run down but are pretty and cozy and clean on the inside. We were recently invited to our hosts Harry and Fern's birthday party( in Placencia) there were lots of local Belizians invited as well and All were so nice but from the outside some looked like pirates and had no teeth, I was a little uncomfortable at first but it didn't take long for me to realize they were just mormal guys with no teeth :-)Everyone was so nice and friendly. It was a potluck so we brought a traditional american dish of peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches and potato chips. On Sunday we made our way from Placencia to Caye Caulker, it was a wild ride! First we rode on a school bus which is Belize's most popular local transportation. On The bus, people were snoring, listening to rasta music real loud, selling cakes for a dollar a piece, there was a yipping puppy sealed in a brown box and I also saw a few cockroaches crawing on the floor. At each stop the bus became more crowded. At one point I was looking down and what I saw as my head popped up was an elder man's toushie right in my face! I wasn't very happy at the time but after it was all over, I thought to my self "this was a great experience!" We took a taxi from the bus station to the water taxi, The taxi was a super beat up old mercedes and our driver had big dreads. The seats bounced you up so high that often my head hit the celing, it was like bouncing on a trampoline. On the water Taxi, we scored the "up top" seats by the captain! Eli and I were leaning in the wind and it held us up!! After 5 hours of traveling we finally made it to Caye Caulker. There are no cars on the island, just bikes and golf carts. We all smooshed ourselves into the back of a golf cart taxi to our new place at "Colindas Cabanas .It had been a long day so we quickly unpacked and headed to town to feed our hungry bellies. We will be on the island of Caye Caulker for 16 days. We hope to see what lives under the sea at the barrier reef, explore island life and possibly help out at the humane society. -Ava Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android

Friday, March 2, 2012

IN! Dang thang!
Considering I've been un the indystry for over 20 years, the food in Belize is a curiosity for me...not to mention it's my love language, anyone who is close to me knows that to win my heart, all you have to do is feed me... Actually wine and dine's no wonder I have fallen in love with a chef:-) The food in Belize is plentiful, the way the zoning works is that it appears there is none. Anyone can just put up a sign and open their doors OR you can stop anywhere on the street put up a umbrella, fire up the BBQ or open the cooler and sell ANYTHING! Fresh fish and Conch are sold right off the docks or inland found at the market under a umbrella in a fastly melting cooler of ice, tortillas are found from a open window of the tortilla makers kitchen, tamales, empanadas or tacos are found in a open door in just about every neighborhood...three doors down. In Placencia the kids and I have explored much of the fair... We tasted quesidillas and fish Tacos at the "shack" YUM! We tried a roadside stand ran by the towns miss congeniality, "Brenda" it was delicious but after we ate we were warned not to...oops! Our stomachs managed just fine:-) we dined at the beachside cozy corner and Pizza at the Pickled Parrot on the junction of "PampAss" and "DaggTeet" street...( no joke thats the name of the streets) but our favorite so far was our afternoon in our own cozy Cabana dining on grill cheese sandwiches we made on our coffee makers burner.. Meals here run between $4-$26 belizan.. Depending on the time osf day:-) Tonight we will try a place called the "Thatch" a beach side cafe claiming the best Seafood in Placencia:-) Soon we will report on the "gibnut" it is a rat/rabbit/ giant gerbil type thing that lives in the wooded areas of Belize apparently is delicious...if we muster up the guts to try it, we'll let you know:-) Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android