Friday, December 31, 2004

Another day, another year.

Wow, it's the very last day of 2004. Obviously, the tsunami disaster has shocked us all over this last week. But it has also shown us the caring side of most human beings. I'm so proud of the general public; often donating more than their own governments are willing to pledge. My hope is the following:
  1. That the relief efforts can ease the suffering of so many...quickly!
  2. That the world does not turn its back again as soon as these places are out of the news
  3. And finally, that these countries debts be forgiven! (There is no way that they can rebuild if they have to continue paying the wealthy nations of the world their old debts)

Anyway, on a completely different note....Andy and I are going to get married in 2005. After 8 years together it seemed about time. And no, he did not go down on one knee or asked me in a romantic or original way. As a matter of fact, I asked him. I was bored of waiting and started to realize that I had to get more realistic about it all. Andy probably would have never asked me. But the funny thing is, he is really happy about it now. He just needed a nudge.

So there you go, that's our news for 2005. May this year be a healthy & happy one for you all.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Christmas morning

I hope you've had a happy Christmas

Well, that's Christmas day over. It was without a doubt the quietest Christmas (and birthday) I have ever had. Still, I don't mind. It was all quietly pleasant & of course it was a joy to see Lucas unwrap some presents.

As far as the resort goes, all is well. We will be fully booked for the coming week. And so far we've been really lucky with the people we've attracted. They have all been wonderful. The Conde Nast journalist and her family (who were just brilliant) have all left again. I hope they liked the trip that I had set up for them & that the article will be saying good things about Belize and our resort, The Belize Jungle Dome.

Things are also going great with Karen and her yoga classes. She's got clients every day & everybody seems to love it! Especially the sessions at the Observation Tower. She's even got the local kids joining her occasionally. To read about Karen's experience her, check out her blog at:
Karensbelizeblog.blogspot.com



Nicki chatting after her yoga class with Karen

Namaste

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Give me break...

Now, just to clear something up...I do not "approve of human sacrifice". Someone send me this bizarre email, asking me if I support human sacrifice (because of my earlier posting about Actun Tunichin Muknal). Duh! Of course I don't. Who on earth does? Still, that doesn't take away from the fact that it's incredibly interesting to see the human remains of these sacrifices, dating back to 600 to 900AD. If that means that I'm supporting these sacrifices, then where does that leave the archeologists? I'm sure they got exited when they discovered the remains for the first time. It's all about seeing part of our human history right in front of your eyes. Brutality is part of our history whether we'd like to admit it or not. It's much more sad to see that we are still primitive enough as a species to be killing each other to this very day. That disturbs me more than these ancient skulls.

Peace on earth & Merry Christmas!
Simone

Sunday, December 19, 2004

One more thing...

Check this out: http://adventuretravel.about.com/od/destinations/a/121804.htm


Actun Tunichil Muknal

Whilst most of you were battling the crowds during Christmas shopping or nursing your hang-over after the office Christmas party, Andy and I were out caving. We joined our tour guide Gonzo on an Achtun Tunichil Muknal trip. It was brilliant! Tough and chilly at times, but brilliant!

To get to the mouth of the cave, you first have to hike through the jungle for about half an hour and wade through the Roaring River three times. Gonzo showed us lots of medicinal plants along the way and encouraged us to eat a few termites (he was right, they really do taste like carrots!)

Once you're at the cave, the real adventure begins. To enter the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave you have to swim across icy cold water and for most of the three hour caving trip, you are walking in this cold and fast flowing water, trying desperately not to slip and land up in the deeper ends (I did several times and could not feel my fingers for much of the trip)

After about hour and a half, you end up on "dry land" again, where you continue the journey on your socks. This is to prevent people from stepping on the artifacts that are all around. I mean, it's amazing. There are just lots and lots of ancient pottery and human remains. Yes, that's right, we're talking skulls and bones here. From the remains of an infant to a young male with a bulbous skull. These people were all sacrificed to the River God, who was believed to live in the cave.

The whole trip is mind-blowing! It certainly isn't for everybody, but that's part of the appeal too, I guess. This is one place where you are sure never to bumb into large crowds of cruise ship passenger. It's only for those with an adventurous mind.

By the way, click here to see the page that Andy has just made for Actun Tunichil Muknal trip.(including a slideshow)

Friday, December 17, 2004

Private moment with a black panther

Oh, how I love the Belize Zoo! When Dagmar and her little boy Rafael said that they were going, I wasn't sure if I wanted to join them as we were there only a month ago. But of course, you're dealing with unpredictable animals, so each time will be different. And it was!

The first hour or so, we were the only people there and we enjoyed some real "private" moments with the animals. I hung over the enclosure of the baby Tapir (Belize's endangered "mountain cow") & started to tickle it behind it's ears. It was loving it! Eyes closed, twisting it's head and afterwards licking my hand. Oh, it was sweet.

A large white hawk tried to grab Lucas. Obviously, it couldn't get out of the enclosure, so it just flew into that (this hawk always seems to have it's eyes on Lucas)

And, the best thing of all was that the black Panther (or is it a black Jaguar?) was lying at the front of the enclosure. It is usually quite shy and I have never seen it come close to the front before. Anyway, he/she posed wonderfully for our pictures and then got it's eye on Lucas' bouncy ball. It started chasing it, the way a little kitten will chase a ball around the house. We had so much fun with this Panther, it was wonderful. We rolled the ball along the enclosure and he/she would chase it (Lucas wasn't happy with this at all). I even held it against the fence, so he/she could sniff it and try to have a little nibble. Dagmar and I both fell in love, we really felt like taking this magnificent creature home with us.

What a brilliant day!

If you want to see more Belize Zoo pictures, check out our fabulous online picture gallery.

who's a pretty Panther?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Good morning!

Wow, I've got my energy back. I just needed to get kick-started again, I guess. Karen & I went to a brilliant aerobics class last night, after having done yoga in the morning as well. All very sporty. The aerobics were tough but great fun. Working out to local Punta music and salsa tunes (Punta is just about the fastest music ever, by the way)

There were all these big black mommas in the class, huffing and puffing through the work-out. But according to the teacher, these women will do three aerobics classes in a row. Almost every night! Absolutely mind-boggling. I mean, how can you work out that much and still be that big? Jackie (the teacher) said that many of these people work themselves so hard, so that they can feel good about stuffing their faces again afterwards. Funny, don't you think?

Although....I guess I used to do something similar. I used to work out and be healthy during the week, so I could go and get hammered at the weekends. We humans...we're odd creatures, aren't we?

Anyway, if the weather clears, I might go on a little road trip with Dagmar and her little boy. Adios! Have a nice day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Mashed potatoes

When you bounce a ball, there is a moment when it has reached its highest point and is no longer going up, but its going down yet either. For a nano-second, it's suspended in the air, unsure of where to go next (according to my tennis teacher, this is the moment when you want to hit the ball)

Anyway, the last few days have been one of these directionless nano-seconds for me. Nothing seems to be happening, I have no drive to do anything specific, I'm uninspired and a bit bored. There is no specific reason for this. I mean, I could be whizzing around the country with Dagmar (our lovely German travel writer) and her son. I could be going to aerobic classes, salsa and other energetic activities with Karen. Instead, I feel a bit mashed potato-ish. I don't join in much & I'm a bit dull to be around.

Oh well, Karen and I are going to the birding (observation) tower in a minute for a monster yoga session. Maybe that will give me a kick up the arse again.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Exotic Caye Beach Resort (our hosts)

Exotic Caye San Pedro

My "jungle man" relaxing on San Pedro

Our view on San Pedro

Okay...it seems to working again (finally)

Just got back from San Pedro. We went on a little mini-break. Lucas was totally excited by everything. The sea, the sand, the plane ride there, it was just the biggest adventure ever for him. I really though that he was going to pop at times, that's how excited he was.

Dagmar Riefler and her son have arrived. She will be writing a book about their experience here. She wrote another book called "Charango" before, which about their travel through Chili. It is just the sweetest book. The whole story was about the trip as seen through her young son's eyes. He was three at the time and is now five years old. The Belize book will be written in the same kind of way.

By the way, Lucas and Rafael (Dagmar's son) are raising hell all around me this very minute. It's very hard to write this way...

So, more tomorrow. That is, if I manage to upload the blog.

Adios!

just checking

My blogs have not been uploading for a while now. Let me just check if it works now....

On mum's head

We visited the school again the other day. They have been asked to write a "wish list" for goods that they need. Some friendly doctors are going to bring supplies for them from the States.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I almost confessed...

Well, I decided to be bluntly honest with you all yesterday and share one of my (recently discovered) personal short-comings. And what happened? The whole system crashed in the process. Haha! So far for my courage to share everything about my life online. Because there is no way that I'm writing it all again today. I'm too embarrassed now. Maybe another time...

Anyway, Karen is doing her free introductory yoga class in Belmopan tonight. I hope it will be a success. And tomorrow we're off to San Pedro for a night. We fancy sitting on the beach again for a day. Will write when we get back.

Adios amigos!


sunset on Caye Caulker

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Lazy, lazy....

Blogging is a bit like working out. If you haven't done it for a while, it's hard to get back into it. We've been back online for a while now, but I have been too lazy to write. Anyway, I'm back!

In the meantime, Andy has been working hard on putting some new holiday/vacation packages together. Have a look at the horse riding vacation & of course our yoga retreat.

Still doing my (almost) daily yoga practrice with Karen. Just not today as it's wet and grey outside. Today is a good day for faffing. Done a ton of faffing yesterday. Shuffeling furniture around & buying new covers for our sofas (my early Bday present). Our rental rooms are so beautiful now & it started to annoy me that our own living space was still such a mess. So I'm taking action! And already, our house is becoming really lovely.

I'll try and write again tomorrow & get back into my routine.

Karen's poolside yoga

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Lost satelite

I'm sorry for not posting anything for so long, but we lost our satelite connection. The Belize telephone company was down too, so we had no connection at all. Now we're back on BTL, but their upload/download speed is just sooooo slow. Later today we should be getting a new system: Direcway. With that, we should also be able to use webcam and voice-over IP (is that what it's called?)

Anyway, I'll be in touch more again soon.
Adios, we're off to our first Christmas party. Happy December!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Attract what you want in life

During our time in Belize, we've been through quite a few "rough patches". We were hit by lighting, ran out of money for a while, been through floods, broken roofs, untold amounts of power cuts & other inconveniences. So many times I have thought of packing it all in & returning to Western civilization. But you know what? Because of Andy, I have learned the value of sticking to your guns and finishing what you've started (I have always walked away from things, the minute they became a bit unpleasant). So, it's mainly because of Andy that we're still here.

And I am so happy that we are! Life is becoming more wonderful here by the day. Yesterday evening we enjoyed another "magical moment". As we were having our family dinner, we were being serenaded by some of the most beautiful voices ever. What happened was that some of the wedding guests, most of which are professional musicians, were rehearsing their harmonies by the side of the pool. Oh, it was incredible. They were singing a "barber shop" version of that Beatles song "When I'm 64" (I think that's what it's called). What a great way to have your dinner.

It feels like the things we'd been missing here for so long are now simply coming to us, instead of us having to chase them somewhere else. Things like good yoga teachers, live music and a variety of interesting people to talk to. They all come to us now. And if that isn't total luxury, I don't know what is.


Friday, November 26, 2004

Yoga

There's a wedding at Banana Bank Lodge, so we are pretty busy right now. Good thing that Karen is here to help us with the bar. We've been doing poolside yoga every morning since she arrived (this was day 3 & I'm in agony). This morning we actually did the yoga session at the Birding Tower overlooking the lagoon with some wedding guests. They loved it! Karen is such a brilliant teacher. It looks like the class tomorrow will be quite full, as all the wedding guests are talking about it.

We are moving more and more into the whole yoga/retreat direction with our resort the Belize Jungle Dome . And having Karen, our yoga teacher, here full-time is just perfect . Actually, have a look at our retreat web page. We are planning to add more about the yoga soon and to set some dates for specific yoga retreats. Wow, how lucky am I? To have all this right on my doorstep?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Life in the Belizean "fast lane"

Life has been speeding up lately. So much so that I am about 10 steps behind on myself. So...let's see what news I should be sharing with you.
  1. We took Tella (our cleaning lady/nanny) and her daughter Jessica to Hopkins. Neither of them had ever seen the sea. They were in absolute hysterics, battling with the waves & tasting the salty water. We were literally crying with laughter, it was magical.
  2. Karen our yoga teacher from Canada has arrived! And she is brilliant! Not only as a teacher, but as a person as well. I am so happy, because (let's face it) we didn't really know each other before she arrived. We only met once & only for about 5 minutes. Lucky enough, for all of us, we all get on well. She will be living with us for an indefinite time. She has a one-year ticket, so we'll see how it goes.
  3. Yesterday I received a great phone call. I was basically told that I can put a list together of goods for the local primary school & a list for the Children in Need Center (for children with disabilities) that will be build soon in Belize City. As groups of doctors traveling to Belize from the States, have offered to bring goods for me on a regular basis. I was also told that there is an organization that brings container loads of medical supplies for children in Belize & that they can help us with the more specific requirements for the Children in Need Center.
  4. Florian, our carpenter, is leaving us today. He's slowly going to make his way back to Germany. All his work is done here & it means that we are now ready for the high season. So...bring it on!

Oh, and there's more. But we'll get to that all some other day. And I'll write some stuff about the Garifuna as well soon.



Tella, Jessica and Lucas. Having fun in the sea.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Back from Hopkins

We've just had the most wonderful time in Hopkins, a small Garifuna fishing village that is steeped in tradition. I have so much to tell you, but can't be bothered to write. Maybe tomorrow? Got to go and veg out on the sofa now, been shuffeling furniture around since we got back home this afternoon. Will write tomorrow....I think...

Garifunna's settlers day celebrations

Saturday, November 20, 2004


Our neighbour's kitty-cat "Tika".

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Taking the washing back from the river

Still no running water in the village...

It seems that I've hit a brick wall in the fight for water for Young Bank Village. Nothing can move forward until the water company does a survey & lets us know how much it costs to lay the pipes in the village. They have all the necessary paperwork, but are dragging their heels. I have no idea why & they seem to dodge my calls.

Spoke to a gentleman yesterday, who tried to get the water issue resolved in the beginning of the year & was given the okay by the finance minister to go ahead with it all. The only thing that was needed was this same survey. And that's where the brick wall was and obviously still is. This man got so fed up that he build his own system (he has a large house in the village) and is providing free water to some of the families there already. He has spend $22,000 of his own money on this.

As I was talking to him, I got the feeling that there is a lot more going on with this politically. And politics in this country are a mess right now, with one scandal after another. Not something I would like to get too involved in to be honest.

I'll recommend that the villagers themselves are going to put pressure on the water company. Maybe they should just take turns and camp out on the steps of the office buildings, until someone listens to them.

I'll just let them get on with it for now and see how it turns out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Oh, those veejaying days...

A sweet MTV memory

I was on stage in front of thousands of people, doing the warm-up for the MTV Europe Music Awards in the "Ahoy Stadium" in Rotterdam. I can't remember anymore what year it was. As usual, my family were out in the crowd somewhere. I dragged my family along everywhere back then.

My mum and my cousin were sitting somewhere high on top in the arena, on the right-hand side of the stage, in between all the stars (apparently, in between Bon Jovi & U2) and my sister & her boyfriend were out in the crowd in front of the stage (in with "the normal people")

So there I was, chatting to the crowd and trying to get everybody hyped up for the show, when suddenly, down in the arena I saw someone making the shape of a heart on top of her head with her arms (This is a silly way in which we greet eacother in our family). It turned out to be my sister Miriam! I had managed to spot her in this sea of people. So I shouted out "Look, it's my sister". That same moment I caught, out of the corner of my eye, someone in between all the stars get up and place her arms on top of her head in the shape of a heart too. It was my mum! It was such a magical moment. I introduced the whole audience to my mum and my sister. Not very professional, I know. And I'm sure that the audience couldn't care less. But for me, it's one of my dearest moments of my whole MTV career.

Isn't that funny? I've met the biggest stars in the world & my dearest MTV memory simply involves my own family. Guess that shows you what actually matters most in life.

Nice to meet you too.

Elephants in Belize

The circus is in town and all the animals are roaming around freely in a field behind the market. We decided to say "Hi" to one of the elephants. Can you believe that they're just roaming around like that, with no one keeping an eye on them? A bit scary actually. I mean, animals will always be unpredictable, no matter how well trained they are. Still, this elephant was ever so polite and even shook my hand. So cute!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Long live the long-distance sisters!

Haven't felt much like writing in these last few days. So what's happened here? Oh, not much really. Got a bit of food poisoning the other day & we've just found out that someone we knew quite well and liked ("isn't he just a lovely man? He's so humble") is actually an American convict. He apparently has scammed US investors out of millions of dollars & has been hiding out in Belize for the last few years. I tell you...people are just full of surprises.

Oh, and God bless the internet! As I had a a lovely MSN messenger chat with my two sisters last night. I was chatting with my sister Miriam in Aruba (on her day off), when we suddenly were joined by our little sister Iris who's on holiday in Thailand. Iris was about to get ready to meet the hill tribes on her jungle adventure. How cool is that? Isn't the internet just the most magical thing in the world? Distances just evaporate online...it's incredible!

My dad, Iris & Miriam

Friday, November 12, 2004


Garden in bloom

I'll be my own censor

Right, I've decided to take my two earlier postings from today off the blog as they were just full of "he said, she said" hearsay & I've decided that I do not want to dwell on any of that nonsense any longer. So off they go...I'm deleting them. It's onwards & upwards from here. I'm going to go back to "looking at the beautiful things in life" & I hope that you're all having a nice evening. Talk to you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Say cheese!

Jimmy & Nicki

Lucas and Robbie. getting to know eachother...

Our child-friendly resort

Yesterday was a day filled with children. They were everywhere and pretty much trashed our house. But we don't care, as long as they keep Lucas occupied. That's the thing once you become a parent...if your child is happy, you are happy. If you're child is unhappy, your life is hell. So parents want nothing more than to keep their children entertained.

We pride ourselves on being a child-friendly resort, with our big pool, a variety of animals or of course tons of other children to play with. Yesterday, a couple arrived with their two-year-old boy Robbie. They were quite surprised as to how child-friendly we actually were. We all spend the evening in the bar, surrounded by toys, bags of crisps, two manic toddlers and Barney on the television (both the boys are obsessed with Barney and danced along to the songs). It was a wonderful evening. Today we've offered to baby-sit Robbie, whilst his mum and dad go horse riding. So I better get mentally prepared again for lots of high energy action around the house later.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A bit of a fright!

Great, I nearly stepped on a Tarantula this morning. It was crawling around our front room, but I didn't notice at first as I thought it was one of Lucas' toys. How creepy! Anyway, Andy (still half asleep in his boxer shorts) caught it with a colander and threw it outside. I checked it a little later and saw it edging back towards our house again, so I went out & threw a pan over its head (waiting for Andy to get up & deal with it later). But guess what Andy did? Instead of taking it away from our house, he brought it back in and put it on our dining room table to take pictures of it. He really isn't right in the head. I might as well be living with that bloody crocodile hunter. Anyway, Andy thinks that I'm the crazy one for telling him to be careful all the time.

Still, these Tarantulas can shoot poisonous little "darts" of their back. You can see these things sitting on their back, they're like little red spikes. But lucky enough, the Tarantulas here are generally too dopey to do anything. I know this guy who had tried to get bit by a Tarantula once (in the name of science), but he couldn't get the Tarantula to do it, no matter how hard he tried. It's just that laid back attitude that's part of Belize. It's obviously even part of the Tarantulas lifestyle. Still, they are very creepy, aren't they?

Just like that "Crocodile Hunter" guy

Monday, November 08, 2004

A little later on monday.....

Actually, it's hot again now. I've taken the jumper and fluffy slippers off, as it's 27 degrees Celcius. Guess it's just the mornings that are lovely and chilly. Oh well....

Wooly jumpers in Belize.

You can feel that winter is coming, as it's getting lovely and "cold", even in Belize. I just checked the thermometer and it's 20 degrees Celsius, apparently. I'm absolutely loving it. I'm wearing a wooly jumper, jeans and fluffy slippers. Isn't funny how 20 degrees Celsius feels cold to me now? Anyway, it's quite weird that I've ended up living in a hot country, as I'm not a hot weather person at all. Of all the seasons, summer was always my least favorite. Isn't that odd? I don't know why exactly. I guess it's because summer time has always felt too distracting to me. I always feel like I can't get anything done when it's too hot.

But anyway, Belize's winters are really lovely. They're like perfect spring day, repeated every day for 3 months. With blue skies, a light breeze and mild temperatures. I guess that's why most tourists chose to come to Belize in the winter. We are getting booked up rather quickly now. Oh, for those of you who haven't seen our resorts website yet, go to www.greendragonbelize.com and check it out. And if you want to come this winter, you better hurry up and book your room. See you soon?

Friday, November 05, 2004

singing surgeons

People often ask me what the healthcare system is like in Belize. Well, I have to say that I have nothing but good experiences. I mean, some hospitals are lacking in equipment and for certain treatments you'll have to leave the country and go to Mexico or Guatemala. But the good thing here is that you get so much personal attention. Back in London, I often felt that doctors just didn't have the time to listen. Here doctors will easily spend an hour with you in a consultation. Often they start the "session" by introducing themselves in the most elaborate way; they'll tell you where they're from, where they studied, etc. All very nice. And if they don't know what's wrong with you, they'll call in their collegues to help with the assesment. This personal attention is more assuring to me than any piece of equipment can ever be.

Belmopan hospital, where I gave birth to Lucas, is one of the smallest and most basic hospitals in Belize (at least, from the ones I've seen). At this hospital you have to bring your own pillow cases, sheets, toilet paper, etc. Still, Lucas' birth was an absolutely perfect experience. Again, because of the personal care I received from Dr. Raju (he's a hero in our family). Anyway, I won't go into that whole story.

What's much funnier is what happened to me in La Loma Luz hospital in San Ignacio. It's a 7th day Adventist or Baptist hospital, I believe (not sure what the difference is between the two). Anyway, I had an operation there about 5 months ago and had to spend the night there as well. We paid an extra $45 and booked a private room with AC, television and two beds (so Andy could stay in the other bed).

Anyway, the next morning we woke up as all the hospital staff crowded into our room with a guitar and started singing to us. It was the most bizare thing I have ever experienced. Here was my surgeon from the day before standing in front of me with a huge grin on his face, singing "Every day with Jesus is better than the day before". After about 3 songs (beautifully sung, I have to say) they all bowed their heads and thanked the Lord for a succesful operation. Isn't that just the sweetest?

Andy and I exchanged many surprised glances at eachother throughout the whole thing, but both thouroughly enjoyed it. It was just another one of those strange Belize moments.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

What's this "ball foot" that you're talking about?

There is this journalist who's coming over soon and she wants me to show her some of the more colorful characters of Belize. Well, one person that she will have to meet is Walter Friesen. He is the spiritual leader of the Mennonite society in Barton Creek. We once bought a horse of him, which really was quite an experience.

After galloping round the fields and doing a little bit of bartering we decided to buy the horse. "So, will you take him or do you want us to bring him to to you?" Walter Friesen asked. We didn't have a trailer with us, so of course we answered "Well, it would be best if you could bring him". See, Barton Creek is quite a long way from Belmopan. It's about an hours drive. So how could we take him back without a trailer?

Anyway, it wasn't until we got back home that it dawned on us that Walter wouldn't have a trailer either. The Mennonites don't use cars, they have no electricity, no telephone and of course they wouldn't have trailers. How dumb of us to not even think of that. How on earth would he get this horse to us?

On the agreed morning, Walter did show up with the horse. His son was on the horse's back and Walter had walked next to the horse all the way! We couldn't believe it. That must had taken him hours.

Anyway, he and his son were as stunned as we were. They looked at our house and couldn't believe their eyes. Here was this huge round house and there were only two people living in it! (Lucas wasn't born yet)

Walter asked how it was possible that young people like us could afford a house like this. Andy tried to explain that he used to be a professional footballer and made a lot of money with that. "What is this ball foot that you are talking about?" Walter asked. Andy tried to explain again, but Walter really wasn't getting it. "You kicked a ball and was given lots of money for that?" It totally baffled him. "We don't have games in our community" He said.

In the meantime, his son was frozen on the spot, staring at our big-screen TV. It turned out that this boy (17 years old) had never set foot outside of their small community yet. We invited him to sit down on the sofa and then noticed that he was acting kind of strange. He was moving his body from side to side with this weird grin on his face. Walter explained that he had never sat on soft furnishing before. "We don't have that in our community either" he said.

Wow, how different lifestyles can be. Andy drove them back (Mennonites are allowed to get lifts from others, they just aren't allowed to drive themselves) and they talked some more about "Ball foot".

I'm looking forward to visiting Walter and his family again. Who knows, they may have started to play ball foot themselves?

Monday, November 01, 2004


No...it's not a wedding.




Happy Berdy

Sugar rush & wedding dresses...

So, off we went to the zoo. The idea was to take 4 children only, but ended up with 8 anyway (I told you everybody wanted to go). Anyway, it was great fun. Some of the girls were so excited, they showed up in what can only be described as little wedding dresses. Totally surreal. Especially seeing them all sit in the back of the pickup. Oh, and one other thing that I totally enjoyed yesterday...the spelling on the birthday cake. I've never seen "Happy birthday" spelled that way before. I love it. By the way, the cake tasted great, but what a sugar rush! Wow, I felt shaky and dizzy and Lucas become more defiant than I've ever seen him. I tell you...sugar is bloody dangerous stuff. Talking of which, can you believe that the local people actually give coca cola to infants? It completely baffles me. Little kids drink tons of coke, they drink coffee in the mornings and eat sweets throughout the day. So how is it possible that they are so calm most of the time? I just don't get it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Wow! Daddy, I like that!
Posted by Hello

The "almost Bday" boy

It's Lucas' second birthday. Well actually, it isn't really. His birthday is on Wednesday. But we're celebrating it today. We're taking the kids to the Belize zoo today. It's going to be such fun! The local children are not used to outings, so this is a huge deal to them. I'll have to be quite strict though, because everybody wants to come. So I'm limiting the group to those children that actually come over to the house to play with Lucas on a regular basis & not all their brothers and sisters.

That's always a problem here, whenever you invite one person, they show up with all their friends, their grandmother, their children and whoever else they meet on their way to your house. Privacy is quite a foreign concept here. And what I am doing today; taking just a few of the local children, must be considered as quite rude (I guess). But there you go, rather that than having to take 20 children.

We gave Lucas his new bike today. He was sooo excited! He kept saying "daddy, I like that...daddy, I like that" (so cute). He's still a bit little for it though, he can't reach the peddles yet. But he'll grow into it.

By the way, we've decided to give Lucas just one present a day (he has 3). That way, he'll really appreciate each one. Plus, he gets too excited sometimes when there is too much happening at once, so this is probably a better way of doing it.

I'll let you know tomorrow how the zoo was.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Get Blogging!!!!

I just want to say that Blogging is brilliant! I mean really, it's incredible what can happen when you start Blogging. People that you've lost touch with over the years show up again (Leeroy, please leave me your contact info next time you visit :) And it makes you realize how small a world this really is. I get emails from people who's partners have worked with me in the past, I get emails from people who want to move to Belize and I get emails from travel writers (Yippee!) who want to come and visit. Now, I have tried in the past to get travel magazines to come here, but nobody even replied to me. And now they all show up from everywhere, because of the blog. How cool is that?

See, I believe that we create our own reality. And we can do this by working really hard on something and/or we can do this by simply attracting what we want in life. Blogging is a way to do the "attracting what you want" part. People mysteriously seem to find your blog and hey presto! There is the reality you want. Isn't that just a lovely way of creating?

So Blog my friends! Blog & blog & blog some more.... and let the magic unfold.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


English lessons for Tella & Nora
Posted by Hello

Life is great!

The last few days have been good fun. First of all, I met a brilliant massage therapist. She will be our resort therapist from now on and hopefully she will come and teach reflexology as part of the yoga retreats that we're setting up for 2005. Absolute bliss! I love it when people faff around with my feet.

Secondly, Lucas has impressed us yet again. He can swim! I mean, he doesn't cover any great distances yet, but he moves forward under water. He's such a star. Next week he will be two years old, so he's getting a trycicle. Let's see how he does with that.

Then yesterday, we started the English lessons for our Spanish speaking staff (beginning with the women). It was such a blast. I’ve never heard the women laugh this much. The teaching approach is all about role-playing & covering what’s relevant. So, Mahri (the teacher) will work on how to greet our guest, how to answer the phone and some basic communication skills. I really think that we made the right decision here. Apparently, the women have been practicing all of last night & today they greeted me in English for the first time ever. One of the ladies has never been to school in her life, so this is the first time that she has the chance to study anything. And by the looks of it, she loves it.

Oh and finally, I had a really enjoyable Life Coaching Session yesterday. It’s great when things seem to “click” for a person. You know, the thought that your presence has actually helped someone. This is exactly why I wanted to become a Life Coach.

Life is great, don’t you think?
Let me know how your day has been....email me!

Monday, October 25, 2004

My aims for the Jaden Foundation

Lucas already has his own charity. At least, he has one named after him. The Jaden Foundation! (Jaden is his middle name). I decided to register as a charity, even though I haven’t got the official non-profit status yet. But that will come. Anyway, my aim for the coming year is the following:
  • 1. To continue to support the children that have been sponsored this school year (making sure the transport works out & helping the kids with their homework)
  • 2. To help build an after-school center for children in need in Belize City, with the International Women’s Club. The center will be for the disabled (including those who are blind or deaf) and for those who care for them. It will offer vocational training and information on how to best care for people with disabilities. At the moment there is nothing like that in Belize.
  • 3. To continue to support Young Bank village in their fight for water. The request for the survey is apparently “being processed”. Let’s hope it moves along soon.
  • 4. To support the safe house for abused women. We will be spending some money (probably about $1000 US) on renovating the building and making it a happier place to be for these women and children (by painting the rooms, hanging up curtains, etc.)

I know that that looks like quite a list, but all these things move fairly slowly. So I don’t think I’ll end up being swamped. And the kids are getting on okay anyway. All that I have to do at the moment is help them with their homework. Apart from that, they simply go to school and all is well. And their big sponsors from Aruba (Hans and some of his friends) have already told me that they will sponsor the kids for 3 years, so that is all taken care of. Anyway, I’ll let you know how all these things work out.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Silence

Silence is so powerful. This morning I went on a silent jungle hike with a woman who’s doing the Life Coaching Retreat with us. It’s so funny, silence always starts off as something uncomfortable and scary, but after a while you “sink in to it” and it becomes something very sweet, intimate and pure. And it really is the best way to experience nature. When you’re talking, you miss so much of what’s going on around you. Silence forces you to be more present. We watched the early morning mist rise over the river, we listened to the birds and the howler monkeys waking up and we watched the intricacy of a spider web covered in dew. It truly was a wonderful way to start the day. I left her at the Observation/Birding tower for a mini-Vision Quest; it was so beautiful and peaceful there, I didn’t want to leave. But then, I can go there any time. I just hope that she will enjoy her time there as much as I would. And I hope that in the silence, she will find her own Inner Wisdom and sense of peace.
Someone once asked God: “God, who do you talk to?” And his answer was: “The question is not to whom do I talk, but the question is who listens”.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Lucas :: How cool is he?
http://www.greendragonbelize.com

I used to hang out with Pop Stars :: Now i live in the ancient world of the Mayans and watch Andy catch Snakes!

Sometimes I just giggle to myself when I look at how “normal” my life has become. I mean; I used to be such a rebel. First, by hanging out with shady characters in Amsterdam as a teenager and after that by hanging out with popstars and going to parties around the world. Nowadays, I bake my own bread, go through the trials and tribulations of potty training and I’m usually in bed by 10 pm. How normal! But on the other hand, I watch my partner catching snakes, I hear my little boy speak Ketchi (ancient Mayan language) & I pull myself across the river in a little boat on a regular basis. So maybe my life still isn’t that normal. Maybe someone can tell me what normal actually is?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Pooh in there please, no in there, no in the...never mind

Trying to potty-train Lucas. He told me that he had to go, but nothing happened at the toilet. So I turned around and talked to Andy. In the meantime, Lucas crawled into the tumble dryer today and peed in there. Do you think that’s progress?

Monday, October 18, 2004


Belize Island Water taxi
http://www.greendragonbelize.com

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Our All Inclusive Packages get even better

We have decided to start offering more all inclusive vacation packages. From next year onwards will be working together with our friends in Merida and we will be offering trips that include Mexico, Belize and possibly even Guatemala. There is a lot of organizing to be done, before we can dive in. We need first class vehicles, brilliant guides (for the Mexico part…we already have fantastic guides in Belize) & we need a few more great resorts to work with. I’m totally looking forward to it. It will be good fun. And of course, we have to go on more research trips to Mexico. Now that’s the kind of work that I like!

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Belizes finest Gringesses

Bad hair Days :: They never end

16th October 2004 - Okay, I’ve just had it with bad hair days! I mean; they were bad when we still lived in London, but at least you could go and see a good hairdresser there. In Belize, we don’t have any good hairdressers. So if you don’t like your hair, you get out the scissors and you try and do something about it. Obviously, the results aren’t great. And most women in Belize, including me, have crap hair. So please…if there are any hairdressers reading this…COME TO BELIZE! We need you. Save us from our bad hair years! Honestly, I could get you so much work here. You’d make a fortune. Send your CV to: simone@greendragonbelize.com

Dr Raju and Simone at Belizes biggest Rave
http://www.greendragonbelize.com

Friday, October 15, 2004

Finally a party

By the way, we had a very funny karaoke party at the British High Commission last night. It was yet another leaving-do for Simon & Mary. They are moving to Washington, where Simon will work for the English government’s anti-terrorist’s department (I’m already having visions of them wandering around the Pentagon…very weird). Anyway, my highlight of the evening was singing the song from Flashdance, with my gynaecologist as my disco dancer. Absolutely hilarious! Dr. Raju…you’re a star!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

What next for the dynamic duo Batman :: Andy and Robin :: Simone

Living in the Belizean jungle makes you very aware of the rhythms of nature & you become part of it. I mean; you always know whether it’s new moon, full moon, mating season, wet season, dry season, etc. It simply is all around you, you can’t miss it. And I’ve started to become very aware of the natural cycle of “nature’s breath”. There are all these things that are like the inhaling and exhaling of Mother Nature. For instance, the waxing and waning of the moon, the ebb and the flow, day and night, life and death (and some form of rebirth) and the coming and going of seasons. It all goes round in circles.

And I’ve also started to realize that our lives are being lived accordingly. For instance, Andy & I were on one big “exhale” for most of our twenties. We were out in the world, meeting thousands of people, going on exciting adventures, traveling, working, etc. It was all “exhale, exhale…go, go, go”. Moving to Belize forced us to “inhale”, it forced us to stop and to go inside. There was nothing else we could do. And for a long time, it felt like we were doing something wrong. We just weren’t used to this. It was like moving into the twilight zone for a long period of time. It was quiet, it was weird and it was unfamiliar territory. Yet it was exactly what we needed (even though we weren’t consciously aware of this at the time)

Anyway, this “inhale” has lasted several years now, also because of the birth of Lucas. Becoming a parent forces you to do this same kind of “inhaling” that I am talking about. Once you’re a parent, you can’t be “out in the world” all the time the way you were before. Your life evolves around this little being and your big world becomes pretty small for a while. But you know what? That’s fine; it is that natural cycle. It simply is the “in-breath” that’s needed before you can breath out again.

We are now moving back out of that quiet phase of our lives. We are ready to face the world again, with a new excitement & with a new level of energy (And with a wild 2-year-old in tow).

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Charity work in Belize :: Who are we empowering?

Charity work is a minefield. How do you help people and empower them at the same time? How do you prevent the person receiving your help from becoming too dependent on you? And how can you stop that person from becoming lazy and from expecting something for nothing all the time? It is a really tricky business. I have been helping our local community by getting sponsorship for their children’s education and, on top of that, the sponsorship money pays for the school transport for the children. But yesterday I nearly canceled the whole deal.

This is what happened: I agreed to pay $150 a week for transport, but the driver wants us to pay $200, so all the parents agreed to pay $6 a week themselves (per family) to cover the extra $50. Anyway, people just weren’t paying on time & it was starting to become a problem, so I called a meeting yesterday afternoon. And guess what? Hardly anyone showed up, but when I had called meetings before (about paying the children’s schoolbooks) people had been coming out of the woodwork, with children I’d never even seen before. And now, no one showed up. I got really angry and told Tella (our cleaning lady) that I was just going to stop paying for the transport. I told her that these weren’t even my children, why should I be the one sorting out these problems? I couldn’t sleep last night, because I just didn’t know what to do anymore. Should I just take the sponsorship money and spend it elsewhere? Or was I being too hasty? Well, this morning all the parents showed up at my house and we all had a really good chat. We spoke about the sharing of responsibilities, about working together as a group and how we could solve certain problems. The parents all came with suggestions and as a group they came up with a plan on how to proceed from here. We have agreed that I am stepping back from the whole process and that, from this moment on, the parents themselves organize everything. All I will do is give the $150 every week. So anyway, I feel really good now. Because I feel that these families are now going to take charge themselves. They will (hopefully) no longer just look at me and ask me to come up with the solutions to their problems. So hopefully I am achieving my aim of helping people to help themselves.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Grandma at 36 :: The British Diplomatic Core :: hurrah lets have another drink

One of the things I love best about living abroad is experiencing our cultural differences. We are all so alike in many ways, yet so diverse at the same time. Yesterday I took one of the Mayan women to hospital, as she was about to give birth to her 4th child. No one came with her. Her mother continued sowing, her husband went off to catch some horses and everybody was very matter of fact about it all. She simply threw a bag over her shoulder and off we went (she wouldn’t even let me carry her bag). I know she was having contractions, but she didn’t make a sound. Not even her facial expression changed! Isn’t that incredible? Does make you realize that we’re all a bunch of drama-queens, doesn’t it? By the way, this will be our cleaning lady’s 6th grandchild and she is only 36 years old (She first became a grandmother at the age of 29). I can’t even comprehend that. I’m just starting to get my head around being a mum, let alone being grandmother before the age of 30.
Now, last night I also got to enjoy the real quirky English traits again. We had a party at the British High Commissioner’s house and several people got up to do speeches. I just love the walking contradiction that the British are. They are so proper and traditional; yet they love to fill their speeches with innuendo, sarcasm and bits of self-ridicule. They just crack me up. Obviously, the wine flowed effortlessly last night (aren’t the British just the most incredible drinkers?) It’s such a shame that we had to leave early again, all because we had to get back across the river by boat. We need that bridge to get finished!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Rain, Rain, Rain.

It’s raining. And not only that, but it’s been raining for days on end. I haven’t really experienced anything like this for years. Whenever it did rain a lot in Belize in the last few years, I was always abroad (my timing is usually impeccable). Anyway, it really makes you want to stay in doors, especially as we can’t just step into the car and drive into town (yes, the ferry is down again) So we have to walk to the boat crossing at Banana Bank, walk down the now quite slippy and muddy steps, get into the boat and then climb the stairs again at the other side. And obviously, when you’ve done your shopping you’ve got to do this whole thing in reverse loaded with shopping bags (and sometimes with a toddler in tow as well). Very unpleasant. I also feel quite sorry for our guests. This lovely couple arrived yesterday in these nice summery outfits. Still, at least they must be happy to find out that they have satellite television and high-speed Internet connection in their suite, now that the weather has turned out to be so bad. I think I’ll invite them up into the tree top café tonight (it’s pretty much ready now) & offer them a free beer or something. This seems like a good time for a few beers or nice Belizean rum.

Monday, October 04, 2004

TV the Drug of a Nation

Being a parent of a toddler is hard work. Lucas is now in the “no” stage. First he’ll ask for something & then, when you try to give it to him, he screams “no!” and decides that he wants something else (this is often combined with complete tantrums) It is driving me absolutely insane. And he has the most amount of energy I’ve ever seen in a kid. He is always on the go. The only thing that stops our little “wind-up doll” is water (either being in the pool or finding puddles outside) and television. I hate to admit this, but he watches way more television than I had ever intended him to. I mean, it’s all educational stuff (PBS kids, etc.), but still…I have always been so high and mighty about this & was pretty judgmental of parents who would just stick their kids in front of the TV. But now I understand. It’s the only way to save your sanity. I keep wondering if things would be easier if he had someone to play with, like a brother or sister. But then it dawns on me that I could also end up with two high-energy “wind-up dolls” and that prospect is pretty scary indeed.

Now, I do have to add that Lucas is also a very funny and entertaining child and whenever he hugs me or gives me kisses, I just melt. Plus, I once heard the father of Michael Dell (from Dell computers) talk about his son. He said that all the traits that have made his son so successful as an adult, were also the things that drove his mum and dad crazy when he was younger (His determination, his energy, etc.) So I try and keep that in mind whenever Lucas is being high-maintenance.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

BBQs in the Bank :: Dead Horses on the street :: sounds like a song

3rd October 2004 - Have you ever walked into your bank and instead of finding a teller behind the counter, see a big black lady there making a huge pot of coleslaw? Right in between the computers? Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday. The Belize Bank was having a BBQ out in the car park and the ladies were preparing the food inside of the bank (So if there’s mayonnaise stains on my next bank statement, I know where it’s from). You know, it’s such a funny thing, Belizeans just love having BBQ’s in car parks (right in between the parked cars), even though we’re surrounded by beautiful nature here. Don’t you think that’s a little weird? Oh, and I saw a dead horse lying by the side of the road on my way home, quite disturbing. Straight after that, I saw a guy trying to make a new headlight for his car by attaching a flashlight to a stick and pushing that into the hole where his old headlight used to be. Just a few typical Belize moments… I think that from now on I’ll always have to have a camera with me, so I can take pictures of these things (not of the dead horse, of course).

For today’s picture, I’ll just use another “typical Belize moment”, a birthday party I went to last year. Check out the knife that little boy is holding. Kids run around with machetes here when they’re about four years old. And then there’s us, child-proofing our houses like crazy. I wonder who are really the crazy ones?

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Cahel Pech :: Andy and Lucas
http://www.greendragonbelize.com

Temples to ourselves

30th September 2004 - There is very little happening here at the moment. There are no guests at the resort (it’s the middle of the low season), most our construction work has been done, “my kids” are all in school and doing well & the first steps have been made towards helping Young Bank village in their fight for running water (now we have to wait now for the surveys to be done by Belize Water Services). Anyway, this is obviously a good time to start doing some more family outings, so we went to the Mayan temples of Cahal Pech yesterday. It was the absolute opposite experience of the one we had in Mexico. At these temples we were the only visitors! It was pretty incredible. We climbed the structures; we sat inside of them and made up stories of how life used to be there at the Mayan times. We had such a wonderful day. I think we’ll go on some more Belize adventures in coming weeks. Soon we won’t have time for things like these anymore

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Life and Adventure at the Belize Jungle Dome

29th September 2004 - Occasionally we can almost pretend that we’re back in Western civilization. Like yesterday, I played tennis with some friends in Belmopan, had dinner and took a salsa lesson (All really lovely). These are the kind of things I would have been doing had I still been living in London. The only difference here is that I had to get across the river in the dark afterwards on this “pully boat” (where you pull yourself across on a rope) So, off I went in my nice skirt and shoes & as I tried to get into the boat, I slipped and landed on my arse. Great! Covered in mud and aching I pulled myself across the river and hobbled over to this Mayan family’s house where my little boy was fast asleep on the floor between some other children. I picked him up and under the beautiful full moon (thank God it was full moon as I forgot a flashlight) I carried my sleeping toddler, my tennis racket and my sports bag through a field of horses and just giggled to myself “Okay…this is Belize as I know it”.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

TV the old Days

28th September 2004 - I’m listening to James Hyman’s interview with Liam from the Prodigy. They’re talking about “the olden days”. Funny to hear Liam say “Yeah man, Simone…she was a good girl” (whatever that means?) Still, it makes me miss that part of my life a little. Just a little though, I have to add. As I can’t really see myself go out there again, working until deep into the night, traveling around the world & everything else that came with that lifestyle. I’m too happy being a mum and hanging out with my little boy, with Andy, our animals, etc. By the way, how cool is this picture of Tika? (She is Banana Bank’s pet jaguar). Steve Backshall from the BBC’s Really Wild Show took it when they were here filming for their TV programme.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Chichen Itza Mayan Temples

27th September 2004 - Just wanted to share one more thing about our Mexico trip. And that was our visit to the temples of Chichen Itza. It was the craziest thing…we arrived there and thought we had ended up at Disney World. The car park was full of buses and there were thousands of people trying to get into the park (all following tour guides carrying large umbrellas or feathers on a stick above their heads). In Belize & Guatemala the temples are really quiet and not all that developed. But in Mexico there are stores, ice cream stands, etc. And apparently Chichen Itza gets 60,000 visitors a day in the high season! Can you believe it? Wow! Still, we really enjoyed our visit. The temples are absolutely amazing. And, as Andy pointed out to me, these temples used to be surrounded by thousands of people in Mayan times as well. The fact that the temples are so accessible is actually very nice for people who are traveling with little children, the elderly or those in wheelchairs. We pushed Lucas’ buggy around without a problem.

In Lak’ech (Mayan greeting, meaning “I am another you”), Simone

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Booh - Vacation is over

26th September 2004 - We’re back! Merida was absolutely delightful. With beautiful plazas and majestic courtyards (all great places for Lucas to run around in). The plazas seem to always be surrounded with music, jugglers, clowns, markets, etc. And I tell you; no one appreciated all this more than we did. I mean, living in the jungle is great, but these are the kind of things you miss sometimes. You know, just sitting out at night, eating ice creams and watching people stroll by. So we had a most magical time and feel ready to face our jungle life again, with all its interesting ups and downs.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Yeah we're going to Merida

17th September 2004 - Right, we’re off on holiday. We’re driving to Merida, Mexico today and will be there for about a week. So no blogs for a few days. Adios amigos!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I'm a killer

15th September 2004 - I drove over a snake yesterday; a beautiful green vine snake. It may have even been the same snake that was hanging out in our thatched roof the other day. I felt so awful, it all happened so quickly. The second I realized that there was a snake on the road I’d driven over it already. I looked back and saw that it had curled up and was having violent convulsions. What to do? Drive back over it again to make sure it dies quickly? Or would it be able to survive? I never came to a conclusion and just kept driving. About five minutes later, I managed to stop for a turtle crossing the road, so that made me feel a bit better. Still, I wonder what happened to that poor snake.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Sufi Poem

13th September 2004 - I’d like to share a wonderful Sufi poem with you, that can offer an interesting perspective on the things we call “problems”.

I asked for strength
And God gave me difficulties to make me strong
I asked for wisdom
And God gave me problems to learn to solve
I asked for prosperity and God gave me a brain and brawn to work
I asked for courage
And God gave me dangers to overcome
I asked for love
And God gave me people to help
I asked for favours
And God gave me opportunities
I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Financial Freedom

12th September 2004 - I’ve just read a most amazing book “The Soul of Money” by Lynne Twist. And I encourage everyone to read it. I will make you appreciate your life more than ever & will completely change the way you view money, success and the society we live in. If you’re like me, you will have also been driven by the constant quest for more. More fun, more excitement, more knowledge, more money, more shopping, more love, more, more, more. Whatever it is, if we like it, we want more. Because we believe that “more is better”.

Lynne argues that “better does not come from more, but from deepening our experience of what’s already there”. Isn’t that beautiful? She also mentions that money and finances can be a tool of personal transformation. She challenges us to look at our checkbook and see where our money goes, as it will tell us exactly what’s most important in our life. What do we value most? Are we just accumulating more “stuff” for ourselves or is the way we spend our money an expression of our highest ideals, beliefs and commitments? What’s the financial legacy we leave behind? Did we just spend our money on things that have no lasting value for the world (and may have even harmed the world) or did our financial contributions help plant seeds that will grow and blossom for eternity? Think about it.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Belize 3rd Anniversary

11th September 2004 - Wow, I’ve only just realized what day it is. Exactly 3 years ago today (the day the world changed) we emmigrated to Belize. Well obviously, we never made it to Belize on that day. We got trapped at Miami airport & it took us over a week to get to our “promised land”. But that’s a whole story in itself. I might go into that another time. Right now, I just wanted to say that I’ve been back to Young Bank Village today to visit with some of the children who’s education we’ve sponsored and also to discuss the “water issue” (there is no running water in the village). It’s such an insane situation. I mean, Belize is no third world country or anything. Yet there are still so many people without water or electricity. But cable television is all over the place. What’s going on? It’s time to take a stand and to take action. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. I’ll keep you posted

Thursday, September 09, 2004

My first Life Coaching Speech

9th September 2004 - Great, hurricane Ivan is moving away from Aruba. I was a bit worried, as my mum and my sister Miriam live on Aruba. But all is well, thank God. So I’m off today to talk at the International Women’s Club meeting about my Life Coaching. It will be my first taste again of public speaking after 3 years in the jungle. I think it’s going to be fun. Oh, and we’ve started to get my retreats listed everywhere, for instance on Retreats online. I have also found the perfect spot for doing the Vision Quests (part of the retreat packages). I’m going to go and do a mini Vision Quest myself there soon just to see how it would work. Oh and finally, I am having a meeting with our district’s representative next week to discuss the water problem of Young Bank village (as I wrote in earlier blogs, they receive cable television but no running water). I hope that I can help them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hurricane season is here

8th September 2004 - Just received an email from my sister Miriam. Aruba (where both my mum and my sister live) is on hurricane alert. Ivan is coming their way. This is highly unusual for Aruba, as it is meant to be outside of the “Hurricane Belt”. I’m quite scared, more so than I would be if Belize was being hit by a hurricane. That’s annoying thing about being away from family, moments like these. Oh well, I hope that everything will be okay. I’ll be following the hurricane’s progress throughout the day. I may write some more later….

Monday, September 06, 2004

Kids first day at School

6th September 2004 - It was so fun watching all the kids go off on their first day of school. Most the parents were there to waive them goodbye; everybody seemed excited. The mums kept straightening the children’s uniforms and combing their hair. The Belizeans are very proud people and take great pride in their appearance, no matter how rich or poor they are. As is usual here, there was all kinds of confusion, with some kids not showing up initially. But in the end, we managed to get them all into the minivan and off to school. Once again, thank you to Hans and all our other Aruba friends for making this possible

Friday, September 03, 2004

Attacked by a Scorpion

3rd September 2004 - I had the biggest scorpion ever on my back yesterday! It was the size of my whole hand, from wrist to tip of fingers. A big black beast! It was holding on to the yoga mat that I had thrown over my shoulder. Anyway, we used to be so nice to the local scorpions; we never killed any. But becoming a parent makes you more violent in a way. I mean, now we kill any scorpion we see around the house. Just the thought that they might get to Lucas fills me with anger; it’s the weirdest thing. Anyway, considering that they seem like these scary beasts, they are as easily killed as a little fly, which surprises me again every time. One tap on the head and they are dead. I know it’s not good to kill, but I just want this to be a safe place for Lucas to play. I hope there’s no Karmic boomerang out there for people who kill scorpions.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Life Coaching Teacher

1st September 2004 - Great, it’s a new month and lots of wonderful stuff is happening! Our tree top café is pretty much done now; we’re just waiting for the varnish to dry. It looks amazing! Also, the kids are off to school in a few days & the transport has been organized. It’s going to be great watching them all go off in the mornings with all their schoolbooks and in their new uniforms.
And, something else that I’m very excited about, I’m going to be the guest speaker at the International Women’s’ Club meeting next week. I’ll be talking about my Life Coaching and about the fact that we’re going to be offering Life Coaching Retreats at the Belize Jungle Dome. From mid-November onwards we’ll even have our own personal fitness trainer and yoga/pilates teacher here, so we can put together personalized retreat programs that include daily health/fitness routines as well. I’m also planning to offer the usual Belize daytrip, but with a personal growth “twist”. So we can do meditations at Mayan temples, over win our fears at the Black Hole Drop, do yoga and then spend a night camping in a cave, etc. There are just so many great things to do here; I’m totally excited about the possibilities.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Andy is Steve Irwin

31st August 2004 - We had a small snake on the deck yesterday & we watched it eat a frog. Pretty cool. Andy grabbed the snake after a while and took it away from the house. He seems to think that he’s Steve Erwin, or something. What a crazy man, my “Crocodile Hunty”. Let’s hope Lucas doesn’t start imitating him. By the way, I’ve been working on my Life Coaching website for the last few days and it will be being uploaded by the end of the week. We’re going to be offering Belize Life Coaching Retreats This place is so perfect for spiritual growth & personal development, quiet and peaceful and surrounded by nature. The ideal place for a kind of vision quest & self-reflection

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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Mum leaves today

29th August 2004 - Today we have to say goodbye again to my mum (or, as Lucas calls her, Bimma). It’s going to be pretty sad. And Lucas will probably be quite confused for a while. He loves her so much! Anyway, I better get ready to go.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

My mum is leaving

28th August 2004 - So, the driver (for the school runs) did show up yesterday & he wants more money than originally agreed. I didn’t get a good feeling from him. He kept eyeing up our house. Guess he thinks we’re millionaires. That’s the thing in Belize. No matter how much money you have in your pocket, if you’re white…you’re rich. End of story. Anyway, there’s another guy coming today who’ll do it for a more reasonable amount (apparently), so hopefully we can hire him. Oh…and my mum is leaving tomorrow. Lucas is going to be so sad. He is totally in love with her. Andy, Tella and I don’t exist anymore in his eyes. Anyway, we’ll have to make sure that we have a nice last day with her today

Friday, August 27, 2004

Back from Vacation

27th August 2004 - We’re back from the islands. Such a lovely break. It’s one of those things, where we always say “we really have to do this more often”…and then we don’t (you know, like going to the theatre). Anyway, it was nice. Today I’m delivering schoolbooks to the kids in the villages. I’ll upload the pictures tomorrow. One family lives way out in the bush. I hope I can find them. The dad has gotten into a lot of debt over the last few years to pay for his kids’ education, so he must be well happy to get all the books for free this year. By the way, the new driver hasn’t come to see me yet & he’s meant to start driving the kids to school on Monday. Oh well, he’ll probably show up today.

Travel and Tourism in Belize

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Aaaah Tropical Vacations

25th August 2004 - We’re off to San Pedro, Ambergris Caye! We all need a little Vacation from this place, so we’re gonna park our bums on the beach for a day. It’s great, you drive to Belize City and from there you hop on a 15-minute flight and Bob’s your uncle…you’re on a tropical island. When we get back here the tree top café should be ready…finally! It’s all quite exciting. Okay…got to go…the beach is waiting!

Monday, August 23, 2004

The last Schoolbooks :: I hope

23rd August 2004 - Today I’m picking up the last schoolbooks (for now), one more week before school starts. I still have to find out what grade some of the boys are in. The school is withholding their report cards as last years fees hadn’t been paid yet. I’ll see if there’s anyone at the school today that I can talk to. There are now 40 children sponsored for the coming year (Thank you everybody! Especially Hans and all our other Aruba friends) & the transport has been organized for 17 of the children. Once the kids are all back at school, I’ll start focusing more on getting the after-school youth/education center set up. I’ve already written to lots of companies (makers of educational games, bilingual books, school furniture, etc.) to see if they’d donate some goods. I’ll keep you all posted!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Running a Jungle Resort

22nd August 2004 - Oh, the trials and tribulations of running a resort… We’ve just had some crazy “toilet problems”. Basically, I had bought this blue cleaning stuff that you squirt underneath the rim of the toilet. I thought that it would be a good idea to leave it for a while, to get the toilets really clean. What a mistake! We couldn’t get the blue off anymore and when I asked one of our cleaners to use some bleach on the toilet, the blue turned to gray. I then asked her to use one of those metal scrubbing brushes, but that made the gray spread even more. It looked awful. And the next day the apartment was going to be rented out, so we had to find a solution quickly. Well, the cleaning lady had a brilliant idea. She would simply paint the toilet bowl white again. This seemed to work, but the next morning (the day of check-in) the toilet looked like a half-eaten bowl of mush. Just smears of white paint in a gray bowl. My mum decided that we should paint it one more time, but now with oil paint. Only, we didn’t have any white oil paint, so she painted it a lovely cream (just the inside of the bowl, the rest was still white). This toilet was looking more bizarre by the minute & our guests had already arrived at the airport. I looked at the toilet one more time before our guests checked in and decided that I was simply going to avoid them whilst they were here. I was just way too embarrassed about this freaky looking toilet. Andy was cool about it & I believe that our guests actually were pretty happy with everything. They’ve just left again today after a 2-night stay. Anyway, I’m ripping that toilet out. It’s beyond saving (even though my mum thinks otherwise). No more painting for me.

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Belize Jungle Resort :: Adventure Vacations

Friday, August 20, 2004

Politics in Belize

20th August 2004 - Yes! The ferry is working again! Oh, and those 7 ministers who resigned the other day are back in office again. What a joke! Politics have just gone insane here. There is a protest against the government next week in Belize City. I’d like to go, but wonder if a foreign woman like myself has any business at a Belizean political protest. Well actually…our son is Belizean, so I guess I could go for his sake. I feel like loading up our car and heading down to the city with lots of local people (they probably wouldn’t go of their own accord). Oh well, I have 7 days to decide whether or not to go.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Jungle Driving Adventure

19th August 2004 - Lucas is a bit poorly today. He had a high fever last night; the poor boy was burning up. He seems a bit better today, but not great. The ferry still isn’t working, but Andy managed to get some petrol for our car yesterday & took the “jungle route” (the long way round to the other side of the river). So at least we now have a car on the other side of the river, which means that we can go shopping. Yeeha! The downside is that we have to take our shopping across the river in a little boat and then walk to our house from there. Still, as far as exercise goes, it’s as good as using the Stairmaster.

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Belize Jungle Dome Travel and Adventure

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Tell me a Goverment that isn't corrupt

18th August 2004 - It’s chaos in Belize. Millions of dollars of social security money have gone missing & because the prime minister refuses to fire the finance minister, 7 other ministers have resigned yesterday. Since then the funding for the ministry of works has been frozen. This is a nightmare for us, as the ferry is down again & the ministry of works is meant to fix it. So God knows how long we’ll be stranded on this side of the river now. Also, no one appears to be working on the bridge today. Does that mean that the future of our bridge is in jeopardy? (Like some people say). Are there going to be re-elections soon? What’s going to happen to this country?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The Parrot is back

17th August 2004 - I receive newsletters from a parenting website & today it was all about making life with a toddler easier. There are actually parents out there who are in such a hurry, that they have to dress their toddler before they go to sleep at night, to save a few precious minutes in the morning. And other parents who cut their child’s food with scissors, again, to save time. Everybody seems to be in such a hurry nowadays. Thank God, we moved to Belize when we did. No rushing around for us, just lots of precious time with little Lucas. Oh, by the way, the parrot is back again.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Anyone seen a Parrot

16th August 2004 - I just realized that I haven’t seen our parrot for a few days now. I wonder where it is. Normally it nose dives out of trees and swoops right over your head (freaks many people out, including me sometimes), but for the last few days it’s been quiet outside. I tell you, this parrot is bonkers! It fights with our dogs over the dog food (and usually wins) and when we used to go jogging, the parrot would fly next to us the whole way. It’s a funny creature…annoying but funny. I hope it shows up again soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Helping People

15th August 2004 - You want to feel like you matter? Move to Belize! There are always a million and one good deeds to be done every day & driving to and from hospitals in one of those. In the last two weeks alone, we’ve picked up a new mother and her baby from hospital, driven a young worker to hospital in the middle of the night because of an asthma attack, driven 2 more people to hospital to see their sister who’d just been in a car crash & lent out our car to pick up someone who’d just fallen from a horse. Wow, I hope that’s it for a while. Oh no, I just remembered, I promised to take another pregnant woman to hospital today for her ultra-sound. Oh well, at least we make good use of our cars.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I can watch TV but can't have a shower!

13th August 2004 - Yesterday I spend some time in Young Bank Village, visiting families that were looking for sponsors for their children's education. As I was walking around, people kept asking me if I would please help solve their water problem. This village receives cable television but has no running water. How insane is that? I've started to make phone calls already, as I know some people in politics in this country. The only problem is that the government is in the middle of a huge embezzlement scandal (again), where lots of social security money has gone missing, so their attention is on that for the time being. But don’t worry, I’ll keep on making noise until this ridiculous water problem has been solved

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Cleaning the Belize Jungle Dome :: Who wants to do it?

12th August 2004 - “So what work do you want to do when you grow up?” I asked little Jessica. “I want to clean your house” she answered. Well, that just broke my heart. Jessica is a bright little 10-year-old Mayan girl & I was convinced that she would have higher hopes than that. But her response was typical. All the local kids seem to be convinced that they will be a gardener/handyman, kitchen help/cleaner or cowboy. That there actually is life outside of the Belize Jungle Dome resort and Banana Bank Lodge, they don’t yet understand. And that’s what I’m trying to get through to them. But will it work? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Broken Ferries and Tree Top Cafes

11th August 2004 - The ferry is down again & my mum is starting to get frustrated with how slow things move here. She’s over from Aruba to help us set up our Tree Top café, but it’s starting to look like she might miss the opening of it. But that’s the thing with Belize; you’re always busy, because each little thing takes you forever. Still, I’m not complaining. I believe that it actually makes life more relaxed. I mean, if I’m running errands and someone along the way wants to chat with me for an hour, than that’s fine. Hardly anyone here works on a time schedule, so we all have time for each other. And isn’t that how life should be?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Termite Terror

10th August 2004 - Oh no, the termites are back! Those little buggers are trying to munch through our house. I tell you, it’s hard to keep your home to yourself here. We’re constantly being eyed up by rats, ants, bats, termites and scorpions & they all want to be our “flatmates”. It’s a constant battle. The weirdest thing is when the army ants move in. It looks really freaky, as the walls & the ceiling slowly turn black with ants and there is nothing you can do about it. You simply have to get out of the way and let the ants do their job. They clean your house of insects, eggs and larva & once they’re done, they move on. Thinking about it, we could do with them now. They could take out the termites for us. So how does one attract army ants?

Monday, August 09, 2004

Sexing a cat?

9th August 2004 - By when should you be able to see the difference between a male or female cat? Our kitten is about 10 weeks old now & I can’t see a thing. No balls...no nipples…nada. So what does that mean? We are assuming that nipples are harder to spot, so we’ve decided that it’s a girl & called her Queenie. If it is a tom, he won’t be too happy with us in the future. We’ve never found out what our parrot is either. I mean, it does get very protective over me around the mating season & attacks anyone who talks to me then. Does that mean that it might be a boy? How confusing!

Belize Jungle Dome

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Birds waking up and Early morning Mist

8th August 2004 - 5.30 AM. I’m sipping my coffee, watching the early morning mist rise up over the jungle. This is one of my favorite sights in Belize. All you can hear is the birds waking up & the occassional nickering of our neighbour’s horses. How peaceful life can be. Obviously, Lucas hasn’t woken up yet. Yesterday’s B-day party must have tired him out. What a great way to start a relaxing Sunday!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Lucas new friend

7th of August 2004 - Lucas made a friend today. Out of all the kids at TJ’s birthday party, he picked the cheekiest little 3-year-old girl & the two of them went on a rampage. Whenever we looked away they would be climbing in the fountain, throwing bits of BBQed chicken in the fountain or try to destroy any of TJ’s new toys. The little girl’s mum told me that she recently grabbed their goldfish out of the bowl, put them on a plate and scrabed the scales of them. “I’m gonna cook these for you mommy” (frightening!) And that, when she had a headache a while back, she smeared a whole tub of Vicks on her head (took her mum a week to wash out of her hair). Funny how this is the one kid Lucas could relate to best. Does this mean that these are the kind of things we’ll have to go through with him one day?

Friday, August 06, 2004

School Books handed out

6 August 2004 - Today was a big day! Many of the children received their donated schoolbooks for the coming year. The boys all showed up in matching T-shirts and looked incredibly smart. Actually, all the kids looked very smart today. I guess they were excited. The money for the books was donated by a group of bar and restaurant owners from Aruba. This has been a great help to all the families here, as they can ussually only afford to send one of their children to school. So, thanks to all who donated! Adios…