I thought I’d include a few thoughts on things that I perceive aren’t so great. A year from now, or two, it will be interesting for me to see how my opinions have changed.
Before I continue, let me address my Belizean friends who are reading this. Please don’t interpret any of my comments as criticism. For Steve and me, first and foremost is our goal to integrate into your community. I know I will grow to love your jewel of a country as much as you do. However, this blog is written for a wide audience, primarily for my friends and family in the US. Because they are all SO jealous of us, we try to fill them in on all aspects of our lives.
No “Adopt a Highway” – Like many urban areas of the United States, usually places with a high population of those who live below the poverty line, some parts of Belize have trash strewn around. There are a few public trash cans and dumpsters available for residents to use. I don’t know who empties them and how often they are emptied. In the rural villages, where we live, and in Belmopan, the capital, one can see litter in parks, all along the roads, in people’s yards, up on the roofs and under the houses. It’s quite common to see people throw trash out their windows onto the yard, or dump garbage from their cars onto the highway L
In Belize, the percentage of people living below the poverty line is approximately 43%, one-third of all households, with the majority of them in the rural areas. Maybe priorities are different when you are living at a subsistence level, but I believe that pride in the neatness of your surroundings goes a long way toward increasing self-esteem no matter how many worldly goods you have.
Just to let you know, there are many areas of Belize that are clean and green, pretty vistas of low vegetation and interesting configurations of hills or mountains. We have yet to see the rain forests, so we’ll be sure to include pictures when we go.
Air pollution – Compared to the US, the air is very clear of vehicular and manufacturing pollution. However, there IS an amazing amount of smoke all the time here in our village. People burn their trash (from the inside garbage, I guess, not what’s lying around on the ground), and the farmers burn off the stalks and other waste products from the fields. The field fires are huge, with flames reaching 8-10 feet high. If you’ve done any reading up on Belize, you know that we are now in the dry season. The trash fires are largely untended. I haven’t been close enough to find out about the field fires. The smoke is very irritating to all those mucus membrane-y parts, and leaves me with a dull headache pretty much all the time. Also, our clothes hanging out to dry pick up the dirt and smell of the smoke, so they ain’t so fresh when we bring them in.
Time to Get Up! – We get up at 6:20 most mornings because that’s when our neighbor gets up. Her house is about 75 feet away, but it seems to be right beside us when she starts blasting (SERIOUSLY blasting) her music. On Saturdays, it’s from about 7:00 a.m. till after midnights. Loud music is also played on the buses, the market, and many shops. A lot of people listen to “radio-TV,” that is, a TV station that broadcasts a Belizean radio station with different announcements displayed while the music or news is played. Sometimes, the only thing displayed is a Windows desktop, complete with icons and Start button J
On a side note regarding radio and TV news, the Belize reporting is the epitome of “If it bleeds, it leads.” Not only are the fights, murders and arrests reported, they come complete with gory details. “The murder victim was pronounced dead from seven gunshot wounds – one to the left ear, two in the cheek, one in the mouth – “ Well, you get the picture. My least favorite was the description of the machete fight . . . .
No SPCA – Here the chickens (the ones that lay eggs) and sheep seem to have the best life; dogs, cats and horses have the worst. Sheep and chickens run free and fend for themselves as far as sustenance. Dogs, cats and horses get their food and water and are ignored.
It’s common to see dogs chained with no shade. They get about 5 minutes of human contact max per day, when the table scraps and water are brought out. Some are allowed to run free, but those may be the ones that don’t belong to anybody. Almost are ALL mangy, flea-ridden, with tumors and infections. The stray dogs are called potlickas.
Many people have horses. They, too, are kept on ropes, tied to a different tree or fence each day so they can get enough to eat by grazing. I’m not sure where they get water. I have seen people riding horses, but not any of the ones around our house here.
That’s IT for any negatives. Our experience here is SO limited; many more things to see. This weekend, I believe we are going to San Ignazio to the big maakit. I’m hoping we’ll have time to see the two big Mayan ruins that are in that area.