Sunday, October 31, 2004

Wow! Daddy, I like that!
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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
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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 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 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?

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

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:

Dr Raju and Simone at Belizes biggest Rave

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 cafĂ© 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?