Oct 7, 2007

Flags and Flags - You work it out

After the hurricanes and then moving back into our house, we have been recovering. It has been a very hectic month for us, but a very quiet time for San Pedro. We have two seasons here – high season and low season. These are determined by the number of tourists that visit and the number of tourists that visit can be severely affected by the number of hurricanes that visit us. Whether or not the weather is nice, low season is very low here. We love it, but we don’t have a business to keep running. Every year at this time, most of the businesses close. Restaurants and hotels shut up shop and their staff gets time off. Some places shut for the whole of the season. This time of year is a struggle for everyone who depends on tourism. The beaches are empty, the streets quieter than normal and crime goes up. We don’t have a lot of crime here, but desperate times call for desperate measures. That said, two women we know have been victims of crime in the last month or so. One of them scared the burglar so badly with a butter knife he ran away and left his bicycle behind. The other one grabbed the mugger’s hair until he had to bite her to get her to let go. He got caught of course and her stuff was returned. So, advice to all of the bad guys – us girls on San Pedro are tough. Don’t mess!

Speaking of messing….once we moved in, Maya had to face the dreaded bodega. A bodega is a name for a storage shed. This shed had been used for storage for a long time without having ever been cleaned. Rats had been living in it as well as a 3 foot long iguana. Colette removed a dead rat, nearly threw up into her hand and refused to set foot into it again, so it was left to Maya and she was truly heroic. We now have a clean a fully functioning bodega for all of the junk we have collected in our short time in Belize.

Even though it is quiet season, we all find plenty to keep ourselves occupied. There have been a number of parties, including our own. We had a combined birthday party with about 8 other people. We’d all had our birthdays ruined by the storms and decided to have one big birthday bash. This was on a Monday night at the Roadkill Bar. For those of you who haven’t been to San Pedro, the Roadkill Bar sits on a road junction. It is outside of a nightclub called the Barefoot Iguana. It consists of a bar, an 8 foot gap, and a fence to keep you from falling into the road. On Monday nights, they play bluegrass music. Our lovely friend Drummer Dan was recovering from a gallbladder operation – more on that later – and a local accountant (who really does look like an accountant) took his place. We were all a bit stunned to see him setting up the drums and he did a damned good job as well. San Pedro is like that, people surprise you all the time. Drummer Dan did turn up to show his face and his belly to all and sundry. Here are a few pictures of one of the fundraisers – this was a yard sale, which in San Pedro tends to involve the recycling of junk like the stuff in our bodega – that ensured that Dan was able to pay for his surgery. Just another reason why we love living here.

Of course we don’t have pictures of our party because we were too busy having a good time. And while we were having a good time a golf cart full of stunning women went by. By stunning, I mean they were dressed up like glamour goddesses, made up like drag queens (maybe that should have been a giveaway) and they received plenty of hoots and hollers as they putted by. Given that this was the most rocking place in San Pedro that night, they turned around, came into the party, danced, posed for pictures and disappeared into the night. When they left, many men had smiles on their faces as women here don’t often dress up in sequence, high heels and mini skirts. We found it amusing that most of these guys didn’t notice (or did they choose not to notice?) that this was a group of women who averaged about 6’6” in height. Still not getting it?

Ok, we’ll have to crack and get to the point. 150 gay, lesbian and transgendered divers spent a week in San Pedro. They were from all over the world. Aussies, Brits, USA ‘ers, Dutch etc. They belong to a group called Diving for Life that does a big dive trip annually to raise money for HIV and AIDs charities. So far they’ve raised over half a million dollars just by organising dive trips and having a bloody good time. They made a substantial donation to the local Aids charity, spent a lot of money on the island, tipped (from what we hear) extremely generously and generally brightened up low season on San Pedro to no end.

On their last night, they held a costume party and of course, we were invited. Now some of these guys and gals brought a whole suitcase just to hold their costume. So, we were certainly not disappointed. We have to admit, our birthday bash was great, but this party was fantabulistic.

We mustn’t forget that during September is Belize’s Independence Day. Everyone is very patriotic and flags fly from every golf cart and house. We examined some of the flags and found them to be rather odd. Belize’s flag is the only flag in the world with human images on it. So that makes it kind of unique. The two human forms are supposed to represent a Mestizo person and a Garifuna person, but the flags that arrived from wherever they were making them cheap and in bulk, made it look like they were both Chinese, just one coloured brown and one coloured yellow. We did some research into the flag of Belize and discovered that the Latin phrase, sub umbra floreo, on the flag means ‘in the shade we flourish’, which is very apt we think. Have a look at some of the flags we saw and if you really want a giggle, log onto the Belize Government’s home page and note that the flag is backwards for some reason. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to comment on the politics of our host country or make any comment on the backwardness of the flag on the Government website, which by the way is http://www.governmentofbelize.gov.bz/ .

We want to dedicate this blog to John, Krista and Gerrard. They have gone back to the freezing, icy cold of Canada and left us here. John was Maya’s best fishing friend forever fishing buddy. We miss you guys!

Also, a big shout to Capt Jeff. Always a wonderful host and a great friend.