Tuesday, May 15, 2012

quirky things about Belize

Living in Belize can be quite frustrating.  Things take a lot longer to get done then you can ever plan for, things are hard to find, it is ridiculously hot (the forecast for the the next week is 90's every day!).  To stay relatively non-cynical, I try and notice things about Belize that make my day a little lighter.  Here are some amusing things you can find in Belize:

1.  Randomly, there is a great appreciation for lawn art, specifically bushes carved in the shape of something.  Birds seem to be the most popular.

2.  Horses are still an acceptable and rather normal means of transportation.  It's not unusual to drive by a farmer riding his horse on the side of the road, or to find a couple of horses parked in the shade by the market.

3.  "Babes" is commonly used by men and women, (usually) without any bad connotation.  I am always tickled when I am being serious and businesslike at a bank or somewhere, and the large creole lady in charge comes up and says, "Yes babes, how can I help you?"

4.  Continuing with the non-PC Belizean slang,  there is a large Asian population in Belize, and most of the grocery stores and chinese restaurants are owned by this community.  Belizeans thus refer to all grocery stores and chinese restaurants as "the chinese." (I have to admit I was rather appalled by this when I first came here and stuck to 'grocery store' but... it is a cultural thing and not meant maliciously.) Also, the favorite thing to get from chinese restaurants is fried chicken (I don't know either).  So this is a common phrase: I'm going to the chinese, do you want a fry chicken?

5.  Police methods are a bit different in Belize.  Instead of  hiding on the roads and catching speeders and other rule breakers sneakily, Police set up check points on the highways to make sure the cars are properly insured and licensed.  This is what I like to call the Belize radar detector:  Someone stands in the back of a pickup, facing forward over the cab.  If he sees a checkpoint up ahead, he bangs on the roof of the cab and the driver stops and turns around. 

6.  Instead of police monitoring vehicle speeds, we have speed bumps.  I would say about 70% are marked in some way, with a sign or with yellow paint.  The rest... you have to have sharp eyes, or know where they are.  This is probably only amusing to people like me who have a weird sense of humor, and find it funny when a non- local comes zooming by and hits a speed bump...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

a guide for a new farm girl

So my hard drive crashed last week... things are backed up, no worries, but I will be using my husband's computer for a few weeks which means no pictures.  Instead, I've decided to write some lists.  First up:  things you should know about if you suddenly find yourself living on a farm.  Useful!

1.  Close the gates.  ALWAYS close the gates.

2. Both male AND female cattle can have huge horns.  Use other....signs... to tell them apart.  Or your brothers-in-law will never let you forget it.

3. To catch a chicken:  wait till they are roosting somewhere at night.  Grab them by the feet and hold them with their heads hanging upside down.  For some reason this calms them and they hang there quietly.  My theory is the blood rushing to their tiny little brains allows them to become suddenly philosophical.

4.  Never learn how to do the following: drive a tractor, use a lawn mower, milk a cow.  If you don't know how to do these things, no one can make it your job.  This theory was confirmed when I found my poor nine-months-pregnant sister in law milking the cow one morning.

5. Rubber boots are essential.  They may not look super cute, but I am always thankful when I am wearing them.  This has been a hard lesson to learn.  It goes something like this: "walking in my cute new shoes, la la la... SQUISH!  #*%& COW!"

6. To herd cows/ goats/ chickens/ horses in the direction you want:  stand in the place you want them to walk away from, wave your arms around in the air and make SHH SHH SHH sounds.  You only feel like an idiot the first 50 or so times you do this. 

7. To hold a baby cow while it's mom is getting milked:  Grab it's head between your legs and hold on for dear life.  Be warned: it is very hard to hold a calf once it is older then 4 days or so.... and if you don't know this, someone will try to get you to hold an older calf and then fall down laughing when you get tossed by a tiny little cow.

8. Learn the differences between these: cow, bull, steer, ox, mare, gelding, stud, foal, colt.  Lesson-- a cow is not always a cow.

9. Close that gate.

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