Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guests and Fresh Fish

We’re having visitors! I find it always exciting when people take the time and effort to come and see your new country. I realize it is not for everybody to just leave your life for a while and hop on a plane like we do all the time. Especially when it involves a journey of almost 2 days and multiple airplanes. So I was happy to welcome my brother in law and his wife and daughter from Belgium. Soleine was all excited to have a room mate, even though she did not remember her 10 year old cousin Sarah at all.

They arrived with 6 suitcases stuffed with children’s shoes, liver pate and Belgian chocolate. Seriously, at least 10 kilo’s of the finest Belgian Leonidas pralines have been ‘smuggled’ into Belize. Upon their return, the family exported 10 liters of hot pepper sauce for their friends in Belgium. That’s fair trade…don’t you think?

One of the nice things about having guest is that it’s a great opportunity to see the country. We all know that those who live in a country know it the least. How many French have climbed the Eiffel tower, how many Dutch have seen the colorful tulips in the Keukenhof or looked at Rembrandt’s Nachtwacht? How many Americans have climbed down the great Canyon or gone up the Empire State Building? Exactly!

For almost three weeks we explored Belize. And have not been disappointed. Creepy jungle trails ending in bright blue rock pools, climbing Maya temples to enjoy 360 degrees views, lazing in a hammock on Placencia beach…Belize is surely a beautiful place.

Good as it is to have guests, I am also always secretly happy when they leave. In Dutch we have a saying where we compare guests to fresh know what they have in common? The both only stay good for a few days, then they start smelling. Ouch…that is not a nice. My dear brother and sister in law…it was great having you. To all future visitors: don’t take it personally!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Clappy School

Let me tell you a little about my daughter. She is four (going on ten). In Sri Lanka she used to go to a preschool named Stepping Stones, a great school for little people.

As soon as we arrived in Belmopan, I inquired about schools. Many people pointed to BCA, supposedly the best and only 'international' school in Belmopan. So, on our first Thursday we went to check it being as excited as Soleine.

My first impression was okay from the outside. A dozen small wooden buildings on stilts, one for each class, painted white, looking like a cute holiday village. Inside though, the classroom was very small and not half as neat as Stepping Stones in Colombo. Old plastic toys, wobbly furniture and awfully dirty and ripped floor covers.

BCA stands for Belize Christian Academy. That was my second uneasiness. It is a very Christian school: with crucifixes in its logo, God in its overall objective and compulsory clapping to Jesus on Fridays. It's just not my thing. I find that schools should not be involved in preaching one single religion only. But according to the Belize government, all schools are required to have a religious affiliation.

To be very honest: I was disappointed. Was this the best school of Belmopan? Then I met Soleine's teacher. She is Chantelle, and she is a star. I respect anyone who can keep 14 toddlers busy from 8.30 to 15.30, but if you can keep them busy in a meaningful and fun way, you're a super star! So I asked myself: what is most important for a 4 year old: proper facilities or a proper facilitator? And, will the religious 'brain washing' have a permanent effect on her 4-year old psyche?

What do you believe?