Thursday, May 20, 2010

To Pack or Not to Pack?

We have come to my least favorite part of our stay in Belize: packing up. I have done this already many times in my life so it's no big deal but still.
Packing means taking some really tough decisions and therefore I have one rule: if I have not used it during two years, I am not taking it. But this is so hard. Am I going to be able to wear that business suit which I have never worn in Belmopan, or not? Is our daughter ever going to make that puzzle again. I am going to use my onion chopper which has remained in its box for our whole stay here? I don't think so. I believe that there are two kinds of people in this world: the keepers and the throwers. The keepers keep everything...because they think 'you never know', and probably end up dead one day with their children having to take out 60 years of kept stuff. I am not a keeper. I am thrower, which mostly means giving away. There is always someone who can use it...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bye Bye Belize...

All good things come to an end. All not-so-good things too - I believe, but that's not what I wanted to talk about. It is true, our stint here in Belmopan has come to an end. We are leaving by the end of this week. So let me take some time to summarize our one-and-a-half year stay in this beautiful country.

What I will miss:

1. Our great fun friends, Belizeans as well as expatriates, with whom we have shared countless great moments: island trips, beach barbecues, theme parties ranging from 'Middle East' to 'Abba' at Belmopan Party Central, organized by Margarita Mena the number 1 party queen of Belmopan, beautiful hashes in the jungle, swimming at night etc. Unforgettable moments...

2. The astonishingly beautiful nature and blue skies every day.

3. The opportunity to get to know so many different cultures: the Maya culture, the Mennonites, especially those who live like in the middle ages with their horses and carriages, their beards and their traditional dresses. I find them so very fascinating but never had (or took?) the chance to get to know them better. The Garifuna's are also very interesting and colorful.

4. The easy-peasy character of Belmopan. Driving to school: 2 minutes, buying veggies at the market: 10 minutes, weekly groceries: 20 minutes, paying utility bills: 15 minutes. No traffic jams, no parking problems, just imagine how much quality time we had left to do other things.

What I will not miss:

1. Sandflies or fleas or whatever they are. We have had our share of itch here, though I must also say that when my sister was here for 10 days just this month, we did not experience any. You can just never tell when and where they'll pop up.

2. The Happy Clappy Jesus Loves You school (BCA). Again, I must say that Soleine had a good time there and she has learned a lot, probably much more than when she'd gone to pre-school in Europe. But why everything has to be with the bible and Jesus, I mean every song, every exercise, even maths, science, language...that is simply beyond me.

3. The Chinese supermarkets. I admit, without the Chinese supermarkets our kitchen cabinets would probably be empty, but I just dread to go into the filthy, dusty shops, with rats and what-not, having to pay your groceries to a totally disinterested and often lunch-eating cashier, and then begging NOT to have any plastic bags. They're good to buy plastic slippers, but perishables???

4. The weekly death toll in Belize. Literally every week we hear about someone being shot or killed in a traffic accident. The murder rate in Belize is 10 times higher than in the USA. The shootings most often happen in Belize city, but it affects our Belmopan community too, as it's always somebody's cousin's neighbor's (ex)wife. Just last week the son of the mayor, our neighbor, got shot in Belize city. He was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Very very sad.

5. Sundays in Belmopan. Yesterday was our last one...

My favorite places - in random order. Oh my, that is really difficult, there are too many!

Pooks Hill Lodge situated at the primary rain forest, I just love the jungle with its immensely high palm trees. I always felt like being on another planet.

Under water in the shark and sting ray alley and the Hol Chan Marine reserve, easy to reach either from Caye Caulker of San Pedro. Tumbling in the turquoise lukewarm water surrounded by the cutest little Nemo fish as well as real sharks and graceful rays is totally fantastic!

Under ground in the ATM or Actun Tunishil Muknal, cave. This is one of the best kept secrets of Belize It is so special that I am not sure if it will still exist in a few years, maybe they will close it off from the public. I hope not because it is the most adventurous 'attraction' I have ever done, both in terms of physical exercise- swimming, climbing - and in terms of beauty. The cave itself is extremely beautiful with its stalactites and stalagmites and the centuries-old artifacts are simply amazing. I can really recommend our guide: Carlos Panti - mobile 669 5552.

Tik'al National Park and Maya City, okay it is not in Belize but it's close enough. You will find a stunning combination of nature and culture. My tip: stay overnight in the park and do an Early Morning Bird trip, climb up the Maya heaven and watch, and listen, the jungle come to life.

That's it folks. I really enjoyed writing this blog, and I am grateful for the many comments I received which encouraged me to keep writing. A big thank you to Jack for helping me out with my English spelling.
I will start a new blog in my new country, so keep checking!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Star Treatment

Hey, what is happening to our poor car? Well, no need to feel bad for it (or like the French say: for 'her' - a car is female). She is actually getting a star treatment!
It's one of those things that I never knew existed. I never had to know. Here in Belize many of the roads are unpaved, and on gravel road the wind screen of your car can easily be damaged by a pebble or a small stone. If you don't fix these small cracks or stars in the windscreen, they can become bigger and bigger and eventually the entire windscreen can burst, which is obviously a dangerous and costly affair. In Belize city there is a small repair shop that does these star treatments. They drill a tiny hole into the windshield, then put liquid glass in it and fill it it up through vacuum pressure. How clever is that? Our car enjoyed her star treatment!