Thursday, March 31, 2005

Caroline is here

I'm sorry everybody, I've had to take my last posting about Skippy off. I just can't stand to have to look at it every time I see my blog. Anyway, she died. And it was horrible.

In the meantime, two more dogs have died around here. It turned out to be tick fever, not bees. Now all the dogs around here are getting preventive medication, so hopefully that was the last of it.

Now, something completely different; My friend Caroline Prothero is here & I'm having a very nice time with her. We hadn't seen each other for about two years! Anyway, we've been to Five Sisters Falls for a swim, had a little horseride and tried to put face masks the other night. The face mask thing did not work out the way we planned it, but was hilarious anyway. I laughed so much my stomach hurt and the face mask cracked and fell off my face.

Caroline is off on a horse ride again this morning & I'm off picking out tiles for our new bathroom (after spending so much time doing up our rental rooms, we are now finally get round to fixing up our own space). Not sure yet what we'll do this afternoon. Would like to do some yoga and a nice meditation. Caroline brought me lots of Deepak Chopra CD's with guided meditations, so maybe we'll do that.

Five Sisters Falls, such a nice place to spend the day

The things we women do.....

Saturday, March 26, 2005

She's still with us...

Still haven't been able to see a vet today, they are all out of town. But I have been in contact with two vets by telephone, which has been a real comfort. We have been giving Skippy aspirin, lime & sugar, egg & milk and lots of water (all by syringe). She still hasn't moved, but wags her tail weakly when you call her name. And about an hour ago she surprised me by eating two slices of cooked meat. So who knows....She might just make it.

Skippy

It's been 3 days now since Skippy was attacked. It looks like she may have been stung by lots of bees at once. I took her to the vet two days ago. She was given a jab then & we gave her a second jab yesterday. But she just isn't getting better. I keep thinking that she is going to die. So we just take turns in holding her and feeding her lime juice & sugar (which seems to help a little). I tried to get hold of a vet again yesterday. But no one was in. I even phoned a vet's emergency number in Belize City, but no answer there either. Hopefully there will be a vet that we can get hold of today, because we just don't know what to do anymore. It's very sad.

Okay, I better get back to her. She is yelping. I'll tell you later how everything went.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


I took a mission group from Las Vegas to Kings Childrens' home yesterday. The group dressed up as clowns, made hats and swords from balloons and painted the children's faces. It was great fun! (this is the second year that this group has visited the childrens' home)

The kids loved being turned into clowns

Mucho info, madness in the jungle

You know what it feels like when the "Inbox" of your email is loaded and disorganized? Well, that's what my life has been like for the last few days. Actually, the desk that I work on is another dead give-a-way; It's messy & disorganized like my brain.

Basically, there are just so many people who want to help/join forces with the Jaden Foundation & there are so many projects that I would like to get involved in. Also, Tella works as our cook these days, so I don't have as much help with Lucas. Our resort is full & we are still training our staff, so a lot of time goes into that.

And then there are unforeseen things, of course. Yesterday we had a crazy emergency going on as Jaimy (one of Banana Bank's former wranglers and father of Lucas' best friends Nicki & Emelda) got arrested in Mexico. He is trying to get across the border to the US & was already traveling illegally through Mexico. His wife (Tella's daughter) was told that she had to send $3000 by Western Union within the next hour to have him released. She was hysterical and got everybody else fired up to. People all put money together and she was about to cross the river to send it off. The problem was, there were too many holes in the story that she was being told. Obviously, she was too hysterical to even notice this.

It turned out that she was told that if she send the money straight away, Jaimy would be released into the United States (we told her that would not be possible), none of the numbers she had been given in Mexico worked, she didn't know who this person was that she was sending the money to, etc. Lucky enough, I managed to calm her down and stopped her from sending this money. Today she got a phone call from Jaimy again and he is no longer in prison. We still don't know what happened exactly.

Anyway, it's still a mess. Today Jaimy's wife asked me to phone the people in the States who had promised him a job, just to check if they were really serious about this. I tried the number & it is no longer in use. Also, the address is a p.o.box, so God knows where Jaimy is planning to travel to? I hope he'll turn around and come back to Belize. This whole thing is just a mess.

Also, our dog Skippy nearly died today. She got stung by bees last night and lost the use of her legs. She had collapsed onto a nest of fire ants and was covered in them when we found her. Today I took her to the vet, but she was already in anna....bulubu (something or other) shock. You know, where you have such a bad allergic reaction that you can hardly breath and your heart is the next thing to give out. Anyway, I think she's ok now. She's been sedated, was given glucose on a drip and received an injection for her reaction.

Oh...And our cat is about to give birth to kittens. I've already checked her in with the vet for 7 weeks after the birth, so she can get neutered (don't want any more kittens after this)

Right, that's enough info for today. Jay & Jasper, if you're reading this; please send me a digital picture of the two of you. Adios everybody. I'm going to clean my desk now, as I have to start somewhere ; )

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Our wonderful host Mathew Miller (on the right) with his dear friend Christopher Nesbitt. Christopher is an organic farmer and talks about it with such passion that you end up wanting to grow organic vegetables yourself (still...I don't actually think I'll do that....I will leave that up to Andy)

A Mayan woman carrying her baby as she prepares to display her crafts

After visiting the school we went for a swim in this incredible cave. It was so beautiful (very cold water though)

Nice cool down after a hot day

I begged for some Green & Black's Chocolate at their offices in Punta Gorda (these chocolate bars are not available in Belize). They said "yes" and gave me a ton of little samplers & one big bar. Bless them!

We had a little tea party in Punta Gorda at Gomier's vegetarian restaurant with our two new friends Ludwig and John (actually, we didn't know them, but they invited us to join them for tea...and they were lovely)

More on our Punta Gorda trip....

I have to say, I have fallen in love with this Southern part of Belize. The Toledo district is just so unspoiled and beautiful. The mountains, the jungle, the Maya villages, the coastline, it's all stunning. It does feel like stepping back in time about 10 years though, compared with Belize City and the Cayo district. Many villages are still without electricity and running water and the infrastructure is just not what it is in these more Northern parts (and we complain about things here...)

On our drive down to Punta Gorda I noticed that we had not come across any other cars on the highway for over an hour. This stuff just doesn't happen anymore in places like Cayo. Belize is developing so fast, but Toledo is still pretty much untouched.

The inspiring thing is that there are many farmers getting into organic farming in the Toledo district and there is a lot of attention being paid to people preserving their cultures. The organic cocoa industry is growing rapidly in Toledo. There is a brand of organic chocolate in the UK, called Green & Black. Their best-selling chocolate is the Maya Gold, which is grown in Belize. Because it is part of the "Fair trade" deal, the farmers have the security that they will continue to receive an agreed price & they get assistance from "Fair trade" in the form of equipment and expertise. "Regular" farmers don't usually receive these kind of things, whenever the market price of their crop goes down, they are in deep trouble.This Fair trade deal is also encouraging Belizeans to look into growing organic coffee. There is even talk of growing industrial hemp (although this issue is still controversial).

Anyway...got to go. I'm back off to the children's homes with a mission group who dress up as clowns and do face painting for the kids. They did their "clown show" last year & it was a huge success.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Belize is made up of many cultures; the Mennonites, the Creoles, the Garifuna, the Maya, etc. It was great to see a parade in Punta Gorda to celebrate this diversity

The kids at Tumul k'in set up their own medicine trail. One of the students gave us a guided tour. He was just the sweetest! He was so shy, but knew about all the plants and their uses. He did a great job.

The kitchen of the Tumul k'in school, which was build by the students

A perfect metaphor for mixing the old with the new: the energies of the Mayan calendar described on the computer lab's walls

Each day caries its own energy on the Mayan calendar.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Tumul K'in school

We went to visit an amazing school in the Toledo district of Belize on our road trip a few days ago. It is a boarding school for "disadvantaged" youths from the rural villages (especially the Maya villages). The school teaches these children about ancient Maya practices, not just in a class room, but by actually "living it". They harvest according to the Maya calendar, they do rituals and pay close attention to the moon and the energy of the seasons. Next to this, they teach the kids about modern life; computers, the eco-tourism industry, how to run Quickbooks, use of the Internet, etc. They try and blend the old with the new. And they teach these young people skills that can assist in the survival of their villages, whether it be through sustainable development, (organic) agricultural practices, building techniques, research methods, traditional medicine or eco-tourism. It is an incredibly inspiring place & I really want to try and help them reach their goals.

I'll write more about the school and the rest of our trip soon. For now, I've included part of the school's brochure to explain some more about the Tumul k'in school:

'Tumul K'in Centre of Learning is an innovative educational institution located in the heartland of Toledo on 500 acres of land neighboring Blue Creek Village. It was established in response to the high poverty rate among the Maya people of Toledo; high levels of unemployment among young people; lack of educational opportunities for rural youth and communities especially Maya; the lack of culturally relevant education and; the need for innovative education that will reach students who have been failed by the education system. Most importantly, it was established to harness the hope and potential offered by the wisdom and knowledge of the Maya and the synergy produced through the integration of this wisdom and knowledge with modern science and technology.

GOALS:
1. To provide alternative, empowering education that prepares caring, critical and reflective persons capable of making optimal and wise use of their cultural, natural and personal resources for a sustainable development
2. To research and develop practices in the areas of land and natural resource management, agriculture, sustainable technology and education based on the integration of Maya and modern knowledge and wisdom.
3. To become an autonomous, self-sustainable institution through the sale of services and products and other income generating activities.
4. To strengthen Maya cultural values"

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My precious little nudist

Lucas has finally allowed me to put waterwings on him today (You won't believe the hysterical episodes we've been through over this). Anyway, you should have seen his delighted little face when he realized that he doesn't go under water with them. So he swam around the pool today, deep end and all.

It's funny....parents (and grandparents) have this certain "look" sometimes when they are gazing at their offspring. We've all seen that "look"; it's the one where they smile heavenly and look as if their child is either the messiah or simply the most divine being ever to have walked this earth. Well, I had that goofy smile on my face today. Several times even; first when he swam around the pool by himself, then when he said " I love you & I miss you" on the phone to my mum and then again when he went for a naked horse ride (he's becoming quite the nudist)

Ok, I'm going to hang out with Lucas some more. I'm off for a day-and-a-half tomorrow without him, so I want to spend some extra time with that little monkey today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Slacker!

Well, well.....I've been quite the lazy blogger lately. So much has happened but, apart from the few pictures of our San Pedro trip, I have not had the discipline to report any of it.

Anyway, things are good here. The business is going fantastic. Our website now gets 500+ hits a day. Andy and I also added some pages especially for cruise ship passengers. It seems that there are many cruise ship passengers who do not want to go around in large groups & are happy to pay a little extra for something a bit more exclusive when they get to Belize. Check out our Belize Cruise Ship Excursions page to see what we offer.

Been to another great piano lesson with Miss Bunny today & discovered that the ring finger of my left hand has a hard time operating independently. Whenever it moves, my little pinky moves with it. They are like these "out of control" kids. They simply go where ever they want, but never where I tell them to. So my task for the coming weeks is to get control of these two fingers (funny assignment, don't you think?)

Oh, and far as the non-profit status for the Jaden Foundation goes....
Looks like I may not go for it after all, as it turns out that it will cost me about 2 to 3 thousand dollars to set it up. I went to the Ministry of Human Development today to find out about it. Having a non-profit status in Belize will not result in tax deductions for foreign donators & only helps to import goods into Belize duty-free. But I don't need help with that, as I am already working with government departments & they can just sign waivers for me anyway. So...I think I will leave it for now.

Something I'm quite excited about; on Thursday I'm going on a little road trip with Matt Miller (head of the Peace Corps), Karen and maybe a few other people. We're going to Punta Gorda, which is in the South of Belize. And we are visiting several Maya villages down there. The Southern part of Belize is by far the poorest region of the country & I've been wanting to go and find out what is needed there with regards to education. Matt will be introducing us to the principal of a special "Maya school" there. This school is dedicated to preserving the Mayan way of life (next to the standard curriculum) by teaching classes in the Mayan language and teaching the kids about the old religion, etc. It should be very interesting.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


On the boat with Jeff & Brenda Deval and their kids Marshal and Shelby.

We made some wonderful new friends on San Pedro and had a blast! By the way, look at these 2 kids (Marshal & Shelby)...don't they look like they could be the brother & sister of Lucas?

On the glass-bottom boat in San Pedro to see the nurse sharks. Lucas loved this trip!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Lucas with his new stickers!

Route De Maya

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

My goodness, it is absolutely boiling here today! Lucky enough, we have a wireless connection so I can sit outside and work on the computer. It's just unbearable inside the house right now.

Anyway, all is good here. The Route De Maya came and went. It was nice having so many people around. Andy drank a bit too much and fell asleep outside on a wooden chair (how does he do that?) And we ended up with a bar full of slightly rowdy (but funny) women. It was quite enjoyable.

Lucas had a fever last night and kept us up a bit. The weird thing is, he won't have his afternoon sleep today. I thought he'd be knackered (I am). It's gone past 2 and he's still charging around. Very strange.

Now, Lucas has 2 favorite "toys" these days:
  1. A football
  2. A broom (sometimes substituted by PVC pipes)

So I've decided that it's no use buying him expensive toys, because he doesn't play with them anyway. At least not for long. A toy can hold his attention for up to 5 minutes, a broom can keep him entertained for at least half an hour. The same with a football. He can play football for hours, but plays with his cars only for minutes at a time. Cuddly toys don't seem to do anything for him. All he does with them is throw them around the house. Actually, that's not totally true...he also tries to "feed" cuddly toys with whatever he is eating. If I don't spot it in time, we end up with moldy teddies stuffed underneath the bed or the sofas . Quite disgusting, really.

His favorite thing is copying the other men around the house. So if David is cleaning the pool in the morning, Lucas does the same a with a broom or a PVC pipe later (I prefer the PVC pipe, because it doesn't make the pool dirty). If John is shoveling, Lucas is shoveling. If Andy waters the plants, Lucas waters the plants (and then tries to destroy the plant). And of course, he sees them playing football, so he wants to play football. He now tries to keep the ball up, which is too hard for him of course. Still, it's funny to watch.

Oh by the way, I did something really exciting today (exciting for me....I'm sure it won't sound as exciting to anyone else...) I've started piano lessons! I have been wanting to learn to play the piano for years now, but never actually got round to it. The lady teaching me is called Miss Bunny. She is a Creole lady in her fourties, who plays the piano in the Anglican Church. She is a most amazing teacher. I can't believe how much I've already learned in just one lesson. I guess it's partly because I learned to read music before with my singing lessons (I had lessons from the age of 12 to 18). Still, I can't do that anymore...look at some random notes on paper and then sing them (we did try and it was disastrous). But there is obviously some part of my brain that still remembers this stuff & I'm sure it made the piano lesson a lot easier. Miss Bunny and I had so much fun and laughed so much, I can't wait to go back next week.

I'm also going to check out rehearsals for a community choir in Belmopan. I'm going a bit stir-crazy, not singing or dancing or acting. I need some kind of creative outlet again.

Oh, and finally, I now know where to go to get the non-profit status for the Jaden Foundation. I'm going to the offices on Friday. But first we're off to San Pedro for a night tomorrow. See ya!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Route De Maya

I always forget to check my comments. Just looked at them this morning for the first time in weeks and noticed some lovely comments and advice from Jaime & Bill Erickson about the "non-profit" status that I'm trying to get for the Jaden Foundation. Thank you both. I will read through the Belize Companies Act & see what it says about it. And Bill, please send me your email address or email me at Simone@greendragonbelize.com . I would love to hear about your experiences with setting up a non-profit in Belize and in the States.

Oh, and it's the Route De Maya today. Which is the big canoe race that goes from San Ignacio all the way to Belize City. It's a 3-day race and the first stop is at Banana Bank later today. So I believe that we'll have a very full house tonight. Lynwen is following the racers as part of the rescue team. She is staying with us, so is Sharane, our massage therapist and our tour guide Gonzo (and who ever else shows up). It will be a fun evening, I think.

Anyway, that's all later. I first have to do another "drop-off" in Belize City. One of our guests is checking out. Of course, we have lots more are arriving too. The rooms downstairs are all booked out. So we'll all be very busy. It's gonna be a crazy one....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The meeting

Had a wonderful meeting yesterday with Mr. Mustafa Toure. He is the head of the IT department of the Ministry of Education. I brought him the educational software that was donated by the InterVol medical team. It was perfect timing! The government of Belize is starting a teacher training program soon and did not have any software yet to work with. So now this software will be used as part of the program. Isn't that great? And, of course, the programs will be available to schools too.

Mr. Toure was very impressed with my digital camera (Fujifilm Finepix S700). It has 12 mega-pixels and is just the most perfect gadget. I can take pictures and then edit what I shot in the camera, zooming into people's pupils or in to a raindrop on a flower petal, without hardly losing any picture quality. Anyway, Mr. Toure introduced me to almost everybody at the Ministry of Education and made me show off my camera by taking everyone's picture. It was good fun.

The Ministry of Education now wants to include the Jaden Foundation in the charities that they officially work with & will post an announcement on their website about The Jaden Foundation. I'm very happy about that.

By the way, the thing that's most challenging to me is being diplomatic. Although I have to say, I'm getting better. Yesterday I kept saying to myself "you can never be too polite, you can never be too polite" & I think it worked. Usually when I meet government officials I slap them on the back and crack stupid jokes, but this time I reigned myself in. You see, in my old MTV job I had to do the opposite. I had to treat famous people like they were my old school mates. But I had already discovered that in a place like Belize, that type of behavior is not appreciated. Especially not in politics. So anyway, I'm getting better. It's quite a funny challenge, actually.

Right, that'll do for today. I was quite moody before I started writing this, but I feel better again already. Or is that the effect of the coffee?

Mr. Mustafa Toure from The Ministry of Education

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Little update

It’s raining. I don’t mind though. It’s been so hot the last few days, it’s nice to have a cooler day in between.

Received a phone call from the Ministry of Education this morning. Their IT department will help me with the distribution of the educational software. They also want to know more about the Jaden Foundation and hopefully list us as a charity that the Ministry of Education officially works with. In this meeting today, we can also look at how to get the donated computers from Rochester shipped to Belize.

Now, the Belize Jungle Dome is doing great. We’re pretty much fully booked through the month of March. And since we cook meals for the guests too these days, it means that we will all be very busy.

Oh, and we've booked our flights to Europe! We are really going! We fly into the UK on the 7th of May and leave again on the 26th of May. I am so excited. We haven't seen our friends and family for much too long. And I'm planning a charity dinner for the Jaden Foundation for when I'm in London (some time between the 10th and the 16th).

My dad will celebrate his 60th B-day round that time as well, so all my brothers and sisters (there's 6 of us in total) will be together in Holland again for that. It must have been at least 4 year ago since we were all together. Miriam is flying in from Aruba to be there as well. We haven't seen her since she moved away from Belize, which was April or May last year. We have to find a way to see each other more often....