Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prince Harry and politics, past and present

driving through Succotz

 Prince Harry is coming to Benque and Succotz this weekend.  Or, as officially reported, he will be attending an art exibit at the immigration facilities and exploring Xunantunich with children from the Belize special olympics. It all sounds very fancy... much more so then saying he will be at the border crossing in Benque (with art provided by local school children) and then take a little tour of the ruins in Succotz :)  I'm considering some sort of installation in my front yard, since you can see my house from Xunantunich.  Perhaps some goats eating a British flag?  Cows wearing outrageous hats?  I haven't decided yet if I will hang out at the grocery store in Succotz Saturday -- the store happens to be near the ferry to Xunantunich, so I would certainly get a glimpse of the Prince and his crew.  There is just something fascinating about royalty, I guess... but I'm especially fascinated by the juxtaposition of a figure I've seen in magazines with the humble little village I pass though every day.  I wonder if security will stop the ladies from doing their saturday laundry washing in the river?

vast amounts of red paint have been used to paint every single telephone pole in Cayo

Belize's General election is next week, and the two parties' colors are red and blue, which means the country is looking quite festive for a visit from British Royalty. The Prince's visit will be commemorated with a street in Belmopan being renamed for the Queen, and the unveiling of a new set of postage stamps with pictures of the Queen.  I find this deliciously ironic, since Belizeans are quite vocal with their opinions that all problems in Belize can be traced to it's colonial past.  Never mind that Belize has been independant for 30 years, and self-ruling for years before that.  Also never mind the huge, huge amounts of corruption present in politics.  For example, politicians are pretty open about  buying votes.  What can they do for you?  Some land, pay some tuition, or how about just cash?  The elections were actually called an entire year early, because the opposition party is currently in disarray, so the party in power openly decided to take advantage and hold the elections while the opposition is at their weakest.  It doesn't seem very sporting... It is also interesting to compare the election process here to that of the primaries in the States.  The date for the general election was set only about a month ago, so candidates have been scrambling.  There are no endless tours, or debates. Candidates don't really seem to have positions on issues. Sadly, the only questions for most are what will you give me? And are you red or blue?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


So did you know I live only a couple of miles from Guatemala?  It's actually closer for me to go shopping in Guatemala then in Belize.   Here is a view of Belize from Melchor:

I'm standing in Guatemala in this picture.  The circled area is Benque (in Belize), and that blue squiggle is an amazing artistic representation of the river that separates the two countries.

I think it's interesting that when you cross the border from Belize to Guatemala, everything feels different right away, even though it is no distance at all.  People dress differently, they eat different things, and they treat me differently (ie no one hisses at me, says "hey baby," or makes kissing sounds.  Ah, Belize).  

river border
Aside from enjoying the differences between countries, the big reason why I head over to Melchor is to SHOP.

big grocery store that has things I can't get in Belize.  It's very exciting, ok?
There is a market where you can get your made-in-guatemala-clothes fix.  There is also a second hand store.  Why yes, I do shop at the thrift store in a third world country.  

Also, tacos.

and, if you need some culture after all that consumption, random Mayan relics:

He probably got that skirt at the thrift store.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I don't know why, but small ponies seem to elicit involuntary squeals of delight from everyone.

Here: a clip from Parks and Recreation (it's a tv show, Mom) to prove it:

Anyways, last weekend we wandered down to my brother-in-law's house to borrow something, and happened upon these:

involuntary squeal: omygoshlook! PONIES! [each syllable higher in tone then the previous]

There is  something about small horses that no one can resist.  Even Daniel was taken with them; he has now given me permission to get one and keep it in our yard as the world's cutest lawn mower.

One of the best things about living on the farm is that random animals pop up all over.  My brother-in-law runs a horse back riding business, and decided to stock some ponies for kids to ride.  He didn't tell anyone, he just let them loose in the yard.

My nieces and nephews are coming back soon from a few months living in England.  I can't WAIT for the shrieks of joy when they find the ponies.

Friday, February 3, 2012


unidentified fruit object

I have no idea what this is, but apparently it was planted on purpose by one of the farm workers, as it is a homeopathic cure for something.  I'm guessing it's a homeopathic cure for astronauts.  Or aliens.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

how to ride a bus in Belize

I’m in the process of convincing Daniel that it would be a great idea to take a bus trip through central America this summer, and I was looking at some blogs from expats for helpful travel tips.  Then it occurred to me, hey, I’m and expat and could give helpful tips! So, first up, a topic that I’m pretty good at: Riding Buses: more then you ever wanted to know.

-Buses are a really cheap way to get around Belize, and they go everywhere the highway does.  Don’t expect fancy air-conditioned models, you will be riding in an old school bus, which often still sports that little fold out stop sign.  People sit 2 adults to a seat, and add as many kids as can squish.

-You can get on a bus at a bus station in town, or stop a bus as it goes down it’s route.  Buses have boards in the front that display the end destination, but not the stops.  So ask the driver if your town is on the route.  For example, buses headed West out of Belize City will say “Benque” in the window.  These buses will stop anywhere along the western highway when requested, and make longer stops in Belmopan and San Ignacio before the route ends in Benque. 

-There are two types of bus, express or stop-stop buses.  An express bus will not stop to pick up or drop off passengers along the route.  This can be a huge difference—for example, the express bus from Benque to Belmopan takes about an hour.  A regular bus can take anywhere from 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours.  Express buses are usually identified by a sign in the front window.

- To board a bus from the side of the road, stand on the side where traffic is going the same direction you want to go.  Watch for a bus in the distance. When you see a bus, start waving your arm at it.  When it stops, jump on quickly and start moving down the aisle, but hang on tight cause it will start moving right away.  If buses go by without stopping, don’t be discouraged- it might have been a private or express bus.  One will come along eventually.

- If you have a huge huge backpacker backpack, be polite and get in through the back door so you don’t knock everyone on the way down the aisle.  Or give it to the conductor and he will put it away for you.

- You get your ticket AFTER you get on the bus.  The conductor will come down the aisle collecting the money.  Tell him where you are going and he will tell you the price (try to have small bills, less then $20US).  You may not get an actual ticket but the conductor will remember you.

- Guess what? Paying DOES NOT guarantee you a seat!  Sometimes you will have to stand in the aisle.  Sometimes the aisle will be so jammed packed with people that you can’t even move, which is good cause when the bus stops fast you won’t fly too far.  If you are standing, hold on to the seat.  Don’t try to be all suave and think you can just balance.  This is how you end up in people’s laps.  I may know this from experience. 

- Ok, stopping.  This is where it gets complicated.  If you need to stop along the road (instead of at a station where the bus normally stops) you have to signal this somehow to the conductor and driver. This means you yell, whistle, or pound the roof of the bus loud enough to be heard by the driver.  Or you can wimp out like me and always sit near the front of the bus, and then politely ask the driver to stop.  Wait till the bus actually stops before you stand up though, you don’t want to go hurtling through the windshield. 

-That's all! I might continue these posts if I'm bored some day... I could do "catching a taxi" and "grocery shopping in the third world."  I'm quite the expert.  Any requests?

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