Out with the old…

There is an old Irish tradition of cleaning house on the last day of the year to dispel any bad luck that might be hanging around, and while I haven’t cleaned house, I’ve had enough bad today to cover a full year.

It started this morning at breakfast. I generally use the time over breakfast to check my emails., etc., so it is really part of my work day. Except, this morning the restaurant’s wifi wasn’t working, which put me behind by about an hour for the rest of the day.

In addition, the ‘music’ – reggae crap – was turned up so loud I could hardly hear myself think.

So far, I was batting 0 for 2.

After an abbreviated check of my emails and reports, etc., I head downtown to get my lunch and dinner from the lady before she closed at 2:00.

Third strike coming up.

The side-‘walks’ are all misnamed in San Pedro. Firstly they are far and few between, and secondly they are more ‘stop-and-block-walks’ than anything else. People stand in the middle to chat, and bicycles lay halfway across them – All fine and dandy unless you’re pushing a walker around.

Well, this morning they were setting up for New Year’a Eve (yikes!), so in addition to ignorant chatters and strewn bicycles there were also stacks of tables and awning supports.

Okay, I’ve grown adept at squeezing around things and even stepping down off the sidewalk if I have to, but so are the Belizeans at coming up with new and creative ways of challenging me. So, this morning they had a deliver truck park in the middle of an intersection so that neither traffic or pedestrians could get by.

Enter the local constabulary (the “brown shirts), four of them – one to direct traffic, and the other three to watch – but did they remove the truck … NOOOO. Neither did they stop the traffic (golf carts, Mo-peds, scooters, etc which were squeezing by where the pedestrians were also walking.

I finally got by by taking my life into my own hands, and when I arrived at the Church Square there was a sound truck blasting out reggae crap loud enough to be heard in Tierra del Fuego. It was literally painful, but it seems this current generation can’t be a minute without their cell phone or ‘music.’

Will I be happy to see this old year out? Yes. Will it change anything. No.

Sigh.

Traffic Jam, Belizean style. The delivery truck parked in the intersection is PARKED. The cop in te background is directing traffic, and there are three others watching. Meanwhile, traffic is backed up for half a mile.
Traffic Jam, Belizean style. The delivery truck parked in the intersection is PARKED. The cop in te background is directing traffic, and there are three others watching. Meanwhile, traffic is backed up for half a mile.
The wind has calmed today, but in the meantime it has piled sea weed and garbage on the beach. Note the plastic bottles, etc. It makes you wonder how much other garbage out there.
The wind has calmed today, but in the meantime it has piled sea weed and garbage on the beach. Note the plastic bottles, etc. It makes you wonder how much other garbage out there.
Another shot of the garbage. I generally take this route to get to the street, but now I go the long way round.
Another shot of the garbage. I generally take this route to get to the street, but now I go the long way round.

A little calmer today…

A little less windy in Belize today. Someone suggest the winds of the last 6 days may have been caused by the full moon, and judging from the height of the sea it could be so.

One of the outcomes is that everything is coated with a fine sand and salt, which makes everything sticky.

Another outcome is that they shoreline is knee-deep with seaweek and plastic garbage. It is shocking, and one wonders how much garbage must be left out there.

In a few minutes I will make my daily trek down to the square to buy my lunch and dinner. It’s about a half-mile jaunt (there and back), so it serves as my exercise as well.

Temp: 29C (82F).

suddenly the island is crawling with tourists….

Latinos, which basically means there’s three kids and a set of grandparents for every one you see.

There is a contingent of Americans as well, looking lost and blocking the sidewalk while they figure out where they are.

In case you’re saying “you’re a tourist too,” not true. I’m a paid-up, temporary citizen of Belize, and I have my receipt to prove it.

The winds continue to howl, twenty-four hours a day, and the surf is eroding the only path I hasve to get in and out of the hotel. In addition, sea weed has washed ashore a good thirty feet from where it generally is. The Town of San Pedro generally employs crews to rake it up and carry it away, but it is useless under conditions like these.

I have just come back from my food-run. It’s about a half-mile trek, but it saves me about $30 – $40 BZD. Lunch and dinner (I buy both at once) costs $10 ea. BZD – compared to $28 for one.

I am getting royally T’d off with my breakfast restaurant. It is operated by a Jamaican whose management style is to sit back and give orders.

The single girl who is on duty for breakfast is nice enough, but waitressing is not her long suit. She is slow, forgetful, and she gets flustered if a large table comes in. If she had to handle the Sat. and Sun. crowds at Grover’s they’d be leading her away in a straight jacket before the morning was oiver.

In other words, she’s NO Patricia.

I have started the second round of edits on Two Irish Lads: Second Edition, which includes sizing all the vectors and illustrations to the exact size. It’s a lot of work, especially with this small format machine. I have just about pulled my eyes right out of my head working on it.

PS: A lovely family of Latinos has just moved in beside me: Mother, father, two kids and a toddler, and grandparents. Oh Joy!

The locals hardly ever sit to drive their boats. Most stand and go-like-hell.

 

belize scene copy

Looks lovely and peaceful, doesn’t it? …And for brief interludes – when people just let the sounds of nature prevail – it is.

However, as is the wont of the Millennial Generation, both the tourists and the locals can’t seem to abide tranquility. For example, I have just suffered through a loooong jungle drum episode with a lot of pseudo-authentic babbling and beating of drums. It was about as entertaining as listening to a jack hammer for half-an-hour.

Last night (and early this morning) we had some middle-aged juvenile running about with a ghetto blaster cranked to the max with some rap crap. This was off and on from about 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM. Oh, and in between we had some potty-mouthed females screaming obscenities at one another.

However, geographically it is gorgeous.

We have had near gale winds for the past two days. I think it is part of the system that gave Mississippi tornadoes the other day. The winds are not strong enough to do any damage here, but they sure do howl around the corners of the hotel.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas, and enjoy.

Gerry B.

The brood from hell…

Ambergris has a large population of Latinos, which basically means that kids outnumber cars.

If I had my druthers, though, I’ll take cars – pollution and all. For one reason, their quieter, and if not you can put a muffler on them.

In addition there seems to be a international trend going about these which involves screaming – high-pitched, gratuitous screeches, that can puncture ear drums.

Such a brood has moved into the room next door, and it is like living in a romper room. The parents do nothing about it, of course (a gaggle of kids gives them carte blanche to go anything short of murder. So the mere fact that they are driving others nuts while paying good money for it, means nothing to them at all.

To escape this brood from hell I finally went to the restaurant next door, and by god they followed me up there – That is, until I yelled for them to shut up.

_________________

I finished the rewrites to Two Irish Lads: Second Edition today: 243 manuscript pages (388 printed) and 118,878 words. There is still a lot of work to get it ready for publishing, but I should be well on schedule for March 1st. The cover, designed by Reese Dante (http://www.reesedante.com/portfolio/) will be ready February mid February.

__________________

The following is an assortment of photos I have taken over the past few days.

It has been raining off and on all day. I like the rain if it comes straight down. In addition, it keeps the drunks and kids inside.
It has been raining off and on all day. I like the rain if it comes straight down. In addition, it keeps the drunks and kids inside.

 

I finally got a couple of photos of Manta Rays. They hang out close to shore to take advantage of the fish cleaning stations.
I finally got a couple of photos of Manta Rays. They hang out close to shore to take advantage of the fish cleaning stations.

 

The second photo - same ray.
The second photo – same ray.
And, of course, wherever there is a cemetery I have to explore it. The gave markers are quite elaborate, and most have a shrine incorporated.
And, of course, wherever there is a cemetery I have to explore it. The gave markers are quite elaborate, and most have a shrine incorporated.

 

Hmm ... I'm not certain whether this a temporary situation or not.
Hmm … I’m not certain whether this a temporary situation or not.
There are a lot of water fowl, of course, but so far I have only seen 2 varieties of shore birds. This is a crested great blue heron.
There are a lot of water fowl, of course, but so far I have only seen 2 varieties of shore birds. This is a crested great blue heron.

Tip-Toeing through the traffic…

I went for a walk inland, yesterday, looking for some cheaper prices.

A typical Belizean street with golf cars angle-parked.
A typical Belizean street with golf cars angle-parked.

Taking a walk in San Pedro isn’t exactly like taking a walk in most North American towns and villages. For one thing, the are almost no sidewalks anywhere in town, and so you must take your chances in the traffic. Secondly, there are no rules or stop signs or lights. It is just hang on and go like hell. Throws in a few cars and taxis – that think nothing of driving the wrong way on a one-way street –  a few stray dogs, and you’ve got organized chaos!

However, surprisingly enough, there are very few accidents and almost no fatalitie.

It just proves that half the rules we live under in North America are unnecessary, and are probably just gratuitous, and/or a cash-grab.

I saw a couple of Manta Rays today, close to shore, but didn’t get any pictures. They’re there pretty well every day, so maybe tomorrow.

I also took a walk through the cemetery. It’s interesting for the culture it reflects, but no very old. I will post the latter pictures in an update.

The streets are all very narrow, reflecting an earlier time and mode of transportation. They are quite picturesque, however.
The streets are all very narrow, reflecting an earlier time and mode of transportation. They are quite picturesque, however.
What, with golf carts, cars, pedestrians and stray dogs, one takes their c hances. However, there are very few accidents or fatalities.
What, with golf carts, cars, pedestrians and stray dogs, one takes their c hances. However, there are very few accidents or fatalities.

The honeymoon is over in Ambergris…

I’m beginning to dislike Ambergris with a considerable passion – The loud, obnoxious, drunken tourists, the mooching locals, and the petty thieves. Oh, and did I mention the so-called ‘music’? I swear to God that if I hear another reggae tune I will quite literally puke.

Regarding the drunken tourists, they were already warming up at 9:30 this morning, and they are at about middle gear presently. By 6:00 o’clock they will be in full bloom – and voice – and another sleepless night will ensue.

The obnoxious set includes women, who are probably the loudest of all. No shrinking violets these. The men are generally loud, but the women go out of their way to be loud, hooting like banshees.

Re: The mooches – Hardly a day goes by when I am not approached by some sad-faced mooch asking for a handout. Today there are two separate women making the rounds (mother and daughter, I suspect). They are carrying some sort of letter – in the same handwriting – and even assailed me in the restaurant at lunch.

And then we have the thieves. You daren’t put anything down no matter what it is, or whether they can use/sell it or not. Someone swiped the cord for my 17” computer off the veranda – which only fits that model – plus two cans of bug spray. The result is that they have doubled my work.

The 15” will allow me to continue writing, but the keyboard is smaller –causing typos – the screen is smaller, and it is waY slower. In addition I have to pack everything up each time I move out of sight.

I am also nervous about working outside after dark, but to work inside involves putting the computer on the walker seat and using the bed as a mousepad.

All this because some self-entitled punk stole a power cord he/she can’t use.

I hope to be able to leave the island on January 5th/16 (I’ll bet Christmas and New Year’s Eve are going to be a noisy hell!)

 

 

Why me, Lord?!

From this distance this catamaran looks small, but the mast is about 30′ tall. It’s a beauty, but I’ve only seen them take it out a few times.

I think they must have left the doors open at the Belize Zoo, today. From some idiot that was trying to start a fight at the sports bar next door, to some black woman whose entire vocabulary consisted of “f*ck” interspersed with a word or two of pigeon English.

Needless to say, you could hear them all over the island, but nothing is done quietly here. Even talking on the telephone is done at 110 decibels (the level of a rock band!)

Then, if that wasn’t enough, a pack of rug rats decided to use the front yard as a playground.

catamaran

Why me, Lord?!

Temp: 26C with an onshore breeze.

I am now a paid-up, temporary citizen, of Belize…

Well, I am now a paid-up, temporary citizen of Belize (until Sept 29th, that is.)

It was not without its challenges, however.

The dirt alleyway. Surprisingly it isn't the slums. It's more-or-less average.
The dirt alleyway. Surprisingly it isn’t the slums. It’s more-or-less average.

The first was finding the revenue centre which is up a dirt-alleyway, only to be faced with a set of STEEP stairs. Verdict: NO F’ing WAY!

There was no f'ing way that I was going to risk these stairs just to pay the government money!
There was no f’ing way that I was going to risk these stairs just to pay the government money!

Being a government revenue agency, however, I was certain they would have a way to get this done, so I sent my cab driver, Jose, upstairs to inquire.

Yes, I could send Jose upstairs with passport and money ($50 BZD) and they would stamp it. Now, Jose was from the hotel and highly recommended, so up the stairs he went and I became a temporary citizen. 🙂

fish cleaning standThe 3rd photo is of a fish-cleaning stand. The chap in the red sweater is Tony, and he and his partner (opposite) have a thriving fishing-excursion business – enhanced by their own lobster traps ($600 BZD).

When they return, they clean and cook the fish and lobsters and have a shore-lunch at Jambel’s (the patio-restaurant I frequent.)

A frigate bird.
A frigate bird.

Needless to say, with all the fish guts etc. being tossed around, the birds – frigate birds, gulls, and pelicans have a feeding frenzy (photo #4). I am amazed by the size of the frigate birds. Originally I thought they were the size of gulls, but they are much bigger.

A wondrous bird is the pelican; his beak can hold more then his belly can!
A wondrous bird is the pelican; his beak can hold more then his belly can. I don’t how in hell he can!

The 5th picture is “Herman” the pelican. He has his own perch, and woe to any gull that dares occupy it. 🙂