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

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