Saturday, February 23, 2013

Belize: new photo round-up

                                                    Storm cloud over Placencia harbor

                  Espiritu remains happily bobbing in the Placencia anchorage here in Belize.

                                  Belize is now independent, but it used to be British Honduras.
                       So English is the official language -- but weirdly, Queen Elizabeth is still
                                                 on the paper money, some 30 years later!

                                           Interesting cloud formation over the Placencia harbor

                                               Another perfect day on Placencia beach

                     We've been riding our bikes all over the area, and getting to know some of the locals.

Our Belizian friend Norman proudly displays his Obama Made in the USA t-shirt...

                                  ...complete with a photo of his birth certificate on the back.

              Regardless of your political persuasion, there is no denying that President Obama
                                                      is very popular around the world.

              I was blown away by the beauty of these giant blooming flowers, dripping from the trees.

            The overflowing blossoms looked like cheerleader pom-poms dropped from the sky...

                                 Young girls frolic in the water on a windy day...

                                                 Chris said they were preening...

                              Well, they probably were. That's what young girls do...   :-)

       I've been dealing with a mild medical issue here in Placencia.  Upon visiting the tiny clinic here in Placencia, they gave me a cup and told me they had to send out the urine culture.

  I pee'd in the cup, and per their instructions we took a small boat up the river, specimen in hand.

                                        The tiny river taxi is called the Hokey Pokey.

    We got off the Hokey Pokey in an even tinier town.  A taxi cab that had seen better days took us to the only lab in town, which was not an actual lab. It was a tiny house at the end of a tiny street.

   We went in, and the nice lady took our $30.00, and told us the specimen would be taken by plane to Belize City, where the culture and sensitivity would finally be performed. The result would take about a week.

  Wow. Things are different down here.    :-)

  We were excited to attend the annual Placencia Art and Music Festival. We were so excited to hear some real Belizian music, live!  We hoped to see these guys:

                                                        Or maybe this guy:

       So excitedly, we arrived early at the main stage on the beach and got a good seat. There were a couple of hundred people in the audience, waiting for some good Belizian music.

     Chris and I looked at each other in shock and awe when we saw these two take the stage:

           Sigh. Oh, my. Let me fill in the sad details for you: the wife (seated at left) does not actually play any instruments. She runs the Kareoke machine. The "act" -- if you can call it that -- consists of the wife pressing the Kareoke button and the husband singing Frank Sinatra songs. Note the little things: the 1964 suitcase in the forefront which carries their equipment (hint: guys -- take the suitcase off the stage and put it out of view for the show. It's called PRESENTATION!); the outfits both of them wore. I mean, OK, this IS laid-back Belize, but come-on -- you're doing a Frank Sinatra routine? Where's the tux, dude?


                                      Sigh. The Chairman of the Board  he was NOT.

         Unfortunately, there is a perfectly logical explanation for the festival organizers to book these guys for the 3PM spot at the music festival. It's about demographics. Meet the largest growing group here in Belize:

                                           Yep. Gringos are retiring here in droves.

 Ah, well. Anyway, back to the Sinatra-wanna be. Chris and I, being the polite people we are, kindly listened to Nice 'n' Easy and New York, New York, after which we tiptoed out as discreetly as possible (we were not alone, by the way).

 But the festival wasn't a complete bust. We saw some amazing artwork by local Belizians.

    I loved, loved, LOVED this rasta Jesus. Isn't he beautiful? But comeone -- where would I put it? It's not going above the fireplace at the cabin, right? Let's be real. So I had to settle with a photo and simply basking in his presence for awhile...

                                                 This one was Chris' favorite...

                                                         Typical Belizian dwelling

       In other news, our friend Peter of Rendezvous lost his beloved wife Francine suddenly to acute septicemia here in Belize just a couple of weeks ago. He is stunned and in shock. The cruising community has rallied around him in a lovely way, though.

                                                            Peter, of Rendezvous

                Prior to returning home to Canada, he wanted to scatter some of Francine's
    ashes here in Belize, the place she loved so much. So we had a memorial service in support of Peter.

           Dave of Cornelia and I performed and sang the beautiful song Pilgrim by Steve Earle.
                                                           It was a real privilege.

           I need to remind myself that when done correctly, travel should be pilgrimage. We should go out of our comfort zone and stretch, learn and grow. We should be using this opportunity to see the world around us from a different point of view than we did at home -- essentially take a much wider, more compassionate view.  So that we can see the world as it really is.

             The other night, Chris and I watched Sam Mendez' 1999 film American Beauty.

                                    I had forgotten how deeply screwed up these characters are --
                                              and sadly, how very American they are.

    Anyway, I got tears in my eyes again at the scene where the (even more screwed up)
                     neighbor kid Ricky waxed poetically about beauty:

 "There is this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wants me to know there is no reason to be afraid. Ever....I need to remember...there's so much beauty in the world. I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."

                                                                            --- Ricky, in American Beauty



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