Tuesday, September 28, 2010

a before and after!

the only reason why this post deserves an exclamation point is because I finally remembered to take a picture of the ($1, silk) shirt before I ripped the seams apart to remake it.  This is the only time I have remembered to take a before picture....

Monday, September 27, 2010

the hurricane that wasn't

I don’t know if US news reported this, but last Friday Tropical storm Matthew looked like it would become a hurricane, and looked like it would hit Belize.  Fortunately it fizzled out and became a tropical depression which dumped some rain on us and then left.  But before it downgraded Belize prepared for a hurricane, which mostly consisted of closing schools, buying a few pounds of extra beans, and listening to the radio.

When a storm is forecasted for Belize, the country’s major radio station, Love FM, switches from playing 24-7 love songs to continuous coverage of the storm.   It is a truly Belizean phenomenon.   EVERYONE listens to this station during a storm.  It becomes the central clearing house for all the country’s information.  The national emergency organizations, weather forecasters, Red Cross- they all call in and report flooding, bridge closings, shelters open, etc.  The best part though is anyone can call in, not just important people in charge of things.  So every few calls you hear one like this:
            dj: hello
            caller: hello? hello?
            dj: go ahead caller
            caller: hello?
            dj: go ahead caller, you’re on the air
            caller: [yelling as if into a microphone] can you tell my Tia Maria to call her family in                  
                      Orange Walk?  She’s not answering her cell phone.

Sometimes they broadcast the audio portion of the TV news, which results in highly informative sessions such as this:

broadcaster: ok now we’re going to show you some more pictures of the flooding area. [silence] Yeah look at how high the water is there. [silence] There’s that wall again. [silence] hmm that looks bad there. OK thank you and moving on…..

My all time favorite call-in was a few years ago when hurricane Dean threatened Belize. It went something like this:

irate female caller:  Would you remind those tourists who I just saw kayaking on the Mopan river that this is a STATE of EMERGENCY! They should not be KAYAKING!!

Dang tourists.  Don’t even listen to the radio while they kayak.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a visit to the jungle

A few days ago we got to go visit some friends who live "back a bush," as the creole speakers like to say. (on a side note, I once saw a bus that had that listed in the window as the destination. I wondered how people knew which back a bush the bus was going to?) Anyways, Daniel used to go and visit this family when he was a little boy- it took him 4-5 hours by horseback.  There is a road now, so it takes about 45 minutes from Benque.  Then a few miles after their farm, the road ends.  


The farm is literally carved out of the jungle.  They have no electricity, but manage quite modernly with some solar power and propane.  They host tourists and archeologists who are studying a mayan ruin that is about 5 miles away and only reached by horseback.  There are still many mayan ruins and caves that have yet to be formerly explored in this dense jungle.  We took a brief horse ride out to some hilltops, and as far as you could see was undomesticated wildness.

Belize is s small country, relatively speaking, but being on that hilltop and seeing the miles and miles of uninhabited and mostly unmapped jungle made me realize how relative that really is.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

morning scenes

Our obnoxious dog (who just needs to be fixed, I think that would calm him down) has been barking and howling at 5am and waking me up.  The silver lining is that I have seen some spectacular sunrises.  This is the view from the side of our house.  The mist was so thick that the sun looked like the moon rising at first.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

living with a pig

One thing I never realized about pigs is that they are very noisy.  I have yet to hear Penelope ‘oink’ though.  When she is alone she talks to herself- grunting and softly squealing as she digs up more mud or eats some grain.  When she hears Daniel pull up in his pickup, she has this penetrating shrill squeal that reminds us that she is starving over here, bring food quick for resuscitation attempts.  But the absolute worse, drop-everything-you-are-doing and run to see who is being murdered sound she makes when she is angry.  The screaming sounds disturbingly  human, only it is somehow dimensional, like 5 humans screaming bloody murder at the same time. 

Two days ago Penelope got out of her pen and started chasing the goats.  This was highly amusing, but after 15 minutes or so we were worried that the pig would get heat stroke or have a heart attack from all the exercise.  So Daniel lured her over with some grain and grabbed her ears and started hauling her back to the pen.  This doesn’t hurt her, but she did NOT want to go back to that pen, and boy did she scream.  I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call the police to report human torture on our farm.  Of course, as soon as Penelope was back in her pen, she reminded us promptly that she was starving, and why is it so difficult to get service around here?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

september celebrations

Belize celebrates two national holidays in September.  I think they arranged this to save on labor- everyone puts up decorations at the beginning of September, and they stay up for both holidays.
Since I had to study (a condensed, 18-page) history of Belize recently to take my nationality test, I actually know what is being celebrated this year.

September 10th was St George’s Caye day, which celebrates the battle where British pirates fought off Spanish invaders.  They did this a lot, but this last battle was special cause after that the Spanish gave up.  According to my official history book, the Spanish never really liked Belize anyhow because it was swampy and full of mosquitoes. 
September 21st is Belize’s Independence day, which celebrates the day in 1981 when Belize got it’s independence from those dang pirates…. I mean England.  Of course  Belize had been governing itself since 1964, and by 1981 England was pretty much begging Belize to get out!  but Belizeans like to be more patriotic about it and talk about the rights and freedoms and so on that they gained.  The Queen’s profile is still on the money though…  Anyways, these holidays mean dances and parades and fireworks and a day off from work, and of course lots of decorations.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

in training

My sister is in Russia, and wrote to us about a circus she went to where there was performing cats.  The cat stood on the back of a dog, and then a chicken stood on the cat’s head.  This impressed me, so I decided to train my cat for the Belize circus.

She is a born and bred Belizean though.  We made it half way through the first ‘roll-over’ before she fell asleep.  Maybe I’ll start with the chickens

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

making clothes

When I moved to Belize, I went through shopping withdrawal (I used to dream all the time that I was shopping at Target or the mall…. totally would ruin my day when I woke up and realized I hadn’t actually found that great sale).  There are no malls here, no recognizable clothes chain stores, no cute little boutiques.  You have a few choices when it comes to clothes shopping: used clothing (typically Salvation Army rejects), poor quality and hideously expensive new clothes ($50 for a t-shirt anyone?), or find another country to shop in.  Since I’ve had my sewing machine, though, I’ve found a way to satisfy my new-clothes-craving.

At first I tried buying material to sew some stuff.  I quickly ran into a few problems:  first, no one sells clothes patterns here, and second, fabric is expensive and very, very limited in what you can get.  The largest fabric shop around here caters mostly to conservative Mennonites, which means you can choose between sober solid-colored cottons, or if you are a little more progressive, flowered polyester prints.  I asked an (English-speaking) sales clerk if they had any linen fabric, and she responded, “what is linen?”

Then I realized that there was s huge source of fabric easily available and cheap at the 
Saturday market.  People get huge barrels of used clothing shipped from the states or other countries, and then sell it at the market.  They just open the barrel, dump everything in a pile on a tarp on the ground, and then sell everything at $1bz a piece. I stopped thinking about it as used clothes and started just looking at the fabric available.   This means that I get many weird looks, because I often buy men’s clothes or absolutely huge sizes.  Plus, what is a gringa doing rooting through the cheap used clothes?

All the pictures are stuff I’ve made from clothes I’ve bought and then taken apart and used the fabric.  The nightgown was a huge men’s shirt, the tank tops from t-shirts, and the skirt from a huge jersey night gown. I never pay more then a dollar for anything.

These pants are my favorite find so far.  They are XXL 100% pure, soft, gorgeous linen, still with the (Nautica) tags on.  Those are a pair of my pants next to them, so you get an idea of how huge they are.  There is 2 + yards of material in those things, which I plan on making into a skirt and some pillows.  
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