Friday, December 29, 2006

A moment of Zen

Well, I can finally relax again. The rooms are ready, the guests have moved in them for the next 4 days, Christmas is over (and I am one year older) and all is well. I can tell you now from experience, working on deadlines in Belize is NOT the way to go! And anyway, that's what we wanted to get away from when we left Europe. So for now, peace has returned and it's very pleasant.

Just a few pictures to get you up to date on what's happened here:

On Christmas eve we gave all the local kids presents (many of which were donated by Ros Grieve and the Coutts family. Thank you guys!)

The kids were delighted and are still very busy with the gifs, especially the 'outdoor' ones like the kits.

And then there's 'The House'. After 10 months of hard work we've managed to get half of it build. We've put up a temporary wall so the work can continue on the living room, the dining room, the kitchen and the guest bedroom, whilst the other rooms can already be used.

Guest bathroom with Mayan carved basin ( a bit hard to see in this picture)

Master bathroom with sunken bath and (unfinished) private courtyard

Shelf unit in Master bedroom

Our new King-sized bed (I'll be able to waive to Andy from my side of the bed), complete with reading lights and build-in bookshelves.
In four days we'll be moving in!!!!!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wishing you a merry Christmas!

Dear all.

I wish you the very best for this Christmas season and let's hope that 2007 will be a year of new beginnings. A year where peace returns to earth and where we all learn to take better care of the environment and each other (I guess that means that I'd like to see George Bush booted out or silenced by the American majority)

"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky

Imagine there's no country
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
and no religion too"

And now for something completely different...we will be getting those rooms ready in time. We had to switch to a 'plan B' to manage it, but that's just how it is. I'm just happy we can breath again.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

6 months to build a house in Belize? I think not!

It's been pretty crazy here the last few days. We are still finishing off rooms in the new house that we're renting out just after Christmas. It's all becoming a mad rush, with several 'plan B's' thrown in to get the project done in time.

Anyway, I'm too tired to blog about it. But here are a few pictures of what's going on:

Friday, December 08, 2006

What we have to teach our children

Most people teach their children things like 'Watch both ways before you cross the road' and 'Don't accept sweets from strangers'. Here at the Belize Jungle Dome the main lessons are 'Don't walk through high grass, there might be snakes' and today's one was 'Don't tease the tarantula, it can be deadly'.

Yes, there was a tarantula on the tree next to the swing this afternoon and Lucas and his friend were throwing pebbles at it. Andy took the tarantula and, whilst it was in the bucket, we gave the kids a little lesson on these spiders. About how the red hairs on their back can be shot at you, how they are poisonous, how they don't like to be teased, etc.

Yep, this is jungle living at its finest!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our happy baby

Isn't he the most delightful little thing ever? I could just eat him!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How a 4-year-old can make your heart melt

Lucas often surprises me with the things he says. This morning he was being rather moody for a while in the car, when suddenly he turned to me and said:

'You are like my sunshine, mum. Because you are always so nice to me.'

I definitely didn't see that one coming. It put the biggest smile ever on my face! You've got to love 4-year-olds; they drive you crazy and make you fall in love with them from one second to the next.

Monday, December 04, 2006

By the way...

I'm so happy with my new Ipod. After blogging about my busted Ipod a while ago I received several emails of people offering to bring me a new one. Oh, the amazing power of the Internet!

Karen bought a Fifth Generation Ipod in Canada for me & I have to say, it is fantastic! Love the video and photo option too. And it keeps Lucas entertained on long boring car journeys ; )

A day on the ranch

After almost 3 weeks of being in Belize my mum has gone back to Aruba. It seems like she was only here for only a few days, probably because we didn't manage to do too much, we were so busy nursing my flu-infected boys (they are better now, thank God)

One thing we did do was a little day trip to Green Acre Ranch on the Hummingbird Highway, a beautiful part of Belize.

The surroundings are so stunning. Shame the sun didn't co-operate much that day...
Oh, and look how big Aidan is getting. I bet he'll be walking soon, although I'm not sure I'm ready for that. Because that's when life really gets crazy! I would be quite happy if he waited until we moved into our new house. Still, it's not up to me, is it? And of course I'm a proud mum with each little milestone.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Learning the lingo

I really have to learn better Spanish. One of our new cleaning/kitchen staff at the Jungle Dome just doesn't understand me. Her English is too poor and so is my Spanish. It's getting quite frustrating. We've been living at the Dome recently and as soon as as any of our clothes are not folded and in the cupboard where they belong, she's grabbed them and will be cleaning them in a bucket full of Clorox. She's already managed to get a cream colored T-shirt of Lucas to be brilliant white (a color I never intended it to be) and my beautiful Karen Millen skirt is not so beautiful anymore since she's had her hands on it. I keep asking her not to touch my washing, but she either just loves washing or she simply doesn't understand me. I think it's the latter as we experience constant misunderstandings.

Anyway, it's just reinforced what I have known for ages; that I need to learn better Spanish. Andy, the kids and I will have to go back to Antigua, Guatemala and do one of those intense Spanish courses one day. I could learn at home with Cd's, online courses, etc. But nothing is better than one on one tuition.

I've had private German tuition before and it really helped a lot. I actually came across the following clip of an old interview of mine the other day and was quite proud as to how good my German had become. Surely, if I can do this in German I can do it in Spanish too?

By the way, I normally place clips on just one of my two blogs, but with this clip I wasn't sure if it belonged on my music blog or my personal blog, so I put it on both : )

Monday, November 27, 2006

I’d like to share one of our many memorable ‘Belize moments’:

Ball foot

A few years ago we bought a lovely Arab/Quarter horse from a man called Walter Friesen, who is the spiritual leader of a strict Mennonite community in Belize.

This Mennonite community is very ‘Little house on the prairie’. They have no electricity, no cars, no telephones & they don’t even have mirrors for everyday use (only small ones that can be used for ‘non-vain purposes’, for instance when something gets stuck in your eye). The Mennonites are very similar to the Amish. I believe they’ve branched off from the same original group and religion. But please don’t hold me to that, as I’m no expert on the matter.

Anyway, as we strolled away from his farm Walter Friesen asked:
“Do you want to take the horse now or shall we bring it in the coming days?”
Obviously, we couldn’t take the horse. We’d come to Barton Creek by car (over an hour’s drive) and had no trailer with us.
“Bring it please,” I answered.
“And just give us a call before you set off”
The moment those words flew out my mouth, I knew I’d said something stupid. “I’m sorry, you don’t have a phone. Do you?”
Walter simply smiled.
“We’ll bring it on Thursday morning”
And that was that, the arrangement was made.

It was only when we got back home that it dawned on me: Mennonites don’t have trailers. Christ, they don’t even have cars.
“Oh shoot!” I cried “How on earth is he going to get this horse to us?”
That hadn’t occurred to Andy yet either
“Hmm, maybe he’ll ride it here? Or maybe he has some kind of Arc and will be floating it downstream?”
“Haha, very funny Andy”
I actually got quite worried for the old man. Surely he wasn’t really going to ride it all this way? Again, if Mennonites had phones, it would have been easy to find out what he had in mind. But as it stood, we just had to wait and see.

Sure enough, late that Thursday morning we heard the sound of hoofs coming towards our house. And there he was, Walter Friesen walking next to our horse and a bewildered Mennonite teenager on the horse’s back. Walter had walked for over 4 hours in the Belizean heat to get to us! And he must surely be in his fifties or sixties, which made it even more astounding. I felt so bad. This poor man had walked all this way, because I (by being so thoughtless) had actually asked him to do so. Dumb, dumb, dumb, Simone!

I tried to invite them in for a drink and some food. But Walter and his son wouldn’t move; they just stared at our house.
“What is this place?” Walter sighed
“A Geodesic Dome,” I answered, “I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them?”
Walter shook his head. The boy, who turned out to be his 16-year-old son, was trying to keep his head low whilst secretly darting glances up at the Dome’s enormous structure.

I have to admit, our house is unusual even by Western standards and, apart from looking like a big wooden egg in the middle of the jungle, it’s also pretty huge.

“Is this where you live?” Walter gasped
“Yes, it is”
“And how many other people live here?”
“Er…just me and my husband. Just the two of us.” I was a bit embarrassed to admit this. The house could easily accommodate 10 times as many people (that’s why we ended up turning it into a resort)

“Hello Mr. Friesen, how are you? I turned around and saw Andy appearing from his vegetable garden.
“Thanks for bringing the horse. You didn’t walk all this way though, did you?”
“Yes I did, Mr. Hunt. And my boy here rode the horse, which has been a great experience for him as he has never before left our community”
“But tell me, Mr. Hunt, how have you been able to buy a house of this size? It must have been very expensive”
“Well, I used to be a professional football player back in the UK”
“What was that you said? Ball foot? You played ball foot?”
“Football. Soccer.”
Andy scanned Walter Friesen’s face, but there wasn’t a hint of recognition.
“No, never heard of this ball foot. We don’t have games in our community. But people used to pay you money for throwing a ball?”
“Well, for kicking it. Yes they did. They actually paid me a lot of money for it. Footballers earn more money than doctors, teachers or even politicians”
“Well, well, isn’t that strange?” Walter murmured.
“Yes, Mr. Friesen. It sure is”

We later found out that the Barton Creek Mennonites not only are unfamiliar with games, but also with soft furnishing. Walter’s son sat down on our sofa (once we finally got them inside) and acted like someone had thrown him on to a flying carpet, hands levitating in front of him, swaying from left to right and looking both shocked & pleasantly surprised by the experience (we quickly turned off our wide screen television, surely that would have caused the poor boy’s head to explode)

We talked for hours and were once again mesmerized by the cultural diversity of Belize. That such a tiny country can have so many different social groups with such diverse ways of life. And, thinking about the money my husband and I used to earn as an entertainer and as a professional sportsman, it again made us wonder: which society is really the strange one here?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Snotty noses and sleepless nights

Wow, life just grinds to a halt when you have sick children. Lucas and Aidan have a horrible cold/flu & for the last 5 days or so they've wanted me to hold them almost non-stop. It's so sad to see them like this.

I haven't been able to exercise, blog, play the piano or do anything really. All I've done is nurse my two boys. Lucas seems to be getting a bit better, Aidan is still trying to fight off a bad cold. I hope they're over it soon.

I better go. Duty calls....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surprise, surprise!

Hans (my mum's boyfriend) decided to surprise her today. He flew out to Belize from Aruba without telling her. And what a surprise it was!

Both my mum and Hans were shaking, it was so sweet. It's nice to have them here together again.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Off to Chetumal

This weekend should be good fun. My mum, the kids and I are going to Mexico with a friend from Belmopan and her daughter who's in Lucas' class at school. Lucas' teacher and her mum will be in Chetumal too, so we're all trying to meet up there.

I'm looking forward to it.

Adios amigos!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Andy's quote of the day

"It's great, isn't it?"

"What is?" I asked him


: )

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One of the many cool stories on Ecorazzi

I just love the Ecorazzi website. It's one of my faves at the moment. This article is a good reason why....

Bling H20 Rewrites The Book On Foolish Celebrity Purchases

Give the world another 50 years, and I can understand a bottle of water costing $40-$50; but now? In what can only be described as a brilliant play on the wallets of the rich and famous, Kevin Boyd has created a bottle of water called Bling H20 (taken from a spring in Tennessee. IN TENNESSEE!) that costs about $36 in the U.S. and $46 in Australia.
From the article, “Mr Boyd, a writer and producer, said he arrived at the inspiration for Bling H2O working on film-studio lots. He said that, in Hollywood, bottled water was a fashion accessory and people chose a brand that reflected their personality. To capitalise on the market, he produced a glass bottle studded with Swarovski crystals, filled it with spring water and encouraged celebrities he knew to drink it.”

Careful celebrities….we’re watching you on this one. Already, it’s been reported that Paris Hilton bought as case of this stuff for $550. Mariah Carey and Shaquille O’Neal have also lapped it up.
What’s next? Pre-packaged ice-cubes made from spring water?

Forced to upgrade

The downside of living in Central America is the humidity and how it messes up all electronic equipment. It's the weirdest thing, one minute something works fine, the next minute it displays some bizarre behaviour (often stuff that's not even listed in the 'trouble shooting' section of the manual) & some days or weeks later it may work fine again.

I don't even want to start listing all the equipment we've lost over the last 5 years. But the latest victim has been my beloved Ipod. It's busted. I've tried everything. And I have little faith in any resurrection. I am absolutely gutted!

So I'll have to invest in a new one, as I just can't live without an Ipod. Nor can my kids for that matter. All their lullabies are in there, so the bedroom is freakily quiet now at bedtime.

The upside is that the new 5th generation Ipods have video too, so I'll end up with something better than I had before.

I'll just have to find someone who can buy it for me and bring it to Belize. Maybe Karen????

Oh, by the way, check out about Ipod flashmobbing on my music blog, it's just the funniest thing ever & something I would have loved to take part in.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

When you listen to the Universe whispering, it doesn't need to start shouting

I hate to say it but I've been taking on too much lately. I feel drained and clumsy & have done so for a while now. It might well be the reason why I crashed the car recently and why I do things like drive to the market with a car full of children when I was meant to drive these kids to school (which is nowhere near the market). I'm constantly losing things, getting annoyed with myself and/or the kids, etc.

I didn't fully realize how much I was doing until I took some 'time out' this morning & started to think things through. This is my recent list:
  1. Raise a 4-year-old and an 8-month-old (including daily school runs)
  2. Prepare the resort for the high season (upgrading the rooms, working on the new menu, bulk shopping, working out new strategies with the staff)
  3. Running two blogs
  4. Building a house (buying materials in different parts of the country, discussing plans with the architect, making decisions on finishings, landscaping, etc.)
  5. Run the Jaden Foundation
  6. Act as the second vice president for the Belmopan International Women's Group (organizing November's day trips)
  7. Aqua-aerobics twice a week
  8. Work out in the gym every day

So, too much. Unless you're wonder woman, which I'm not.

The Universe has been whispering this to me & I've finally decided to listen up. Because, let's face it, if we don't listen to the Universe whispering at us she will start to shout. And the Universe shouting at us is very unpleasant. It's when bad things happen to us. Often these big bad things could have been avoided if only we had learned to listen to the whispers. A good example of that is when you get a cold or the flu, it usually is a whisper to take it easy, to relax. You and your body need a rest. When you ignore this whisper, there's a chance that you will end up with something much more serious further down the line. Get what I mean? So this car crash, me losing my car keys, driving to the wrong place, etc. They are all clear messages: Slow down, focus, you're all over the place. Prioritize.

So anyway, that's what's happening for me right now.

I have therefor decided not to go to aqua-aerobics today and will cancel my gym membership with the Educogym. That gym is too regimented for me right now. You have to stick to a diet, always book sessions ahead of time, work on a schedule, etc. I really can't commit to that.

Instead, I'll just bounce on my mini-trampoline tonight. And the rest of the day I am going to read, watch TV and play with the kids.

My other blog

Make sure you check out my music blog from time to time too. Gracias!

Just a few clips of daily life here...

Look what came flying into our home yesterday. It whizzed passed Aidan's head on his way in. Thank God his beak just missed Aidan's little face. I'm sure he could have done some damage with that.

Just my little boy chilling with me (Andy's in the background discovering toucan poop on the floor).

And the final clip is of Lucas in his new favorite outfit. I don't think he's quite sure yet who he is, superman or tarzan : )

Monday, October 30, 2006

I've been meaning to upload these for ages

Andy has helped me figure out why I haven't been able to upload any photos for a while, the files were simply too large.

So anyway, here are some pictures of what's been happening here in last few weeks

First up, the kids getting ready for the Independence day parade. Several took Banana Bank horses along.

11-year-olds probably should not yet be left in charge of toddlers. Proof of that is this next picture of little Henry. Jessica made a right mess of him (it did make us all giggle though)

I've finished my 12-day introductory program at the new gym in Belmopan. I had to go and work out at the gym for 20 minutes every day & follow a diet. I didn't stick to the diet too well as I didn't really want to diet whilst I'm nursing. So anyway, I'm not sure that I got the full effect of it all, but that's okay with me. It's just nice to have gyms (yes, there are two now) in Belmopan.

And finally, John's living room has become rather crowded with this pool table in it. But he likes it!

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Jaden Foundation this year

There are many things that I should have done for the Jaden Foundation by now that I haven't yet. Amongst them are:
  1. Updating the website
  2. Adding pictures and stories of the new sponsors to the website
  3. Visit all the sponsored families (several in remote villages) to update the children's information and to take pictures
  4. Do the Jaden Foundation accounts
  5. Visit the local schools to get a clearer view of what each school's needs are (mainly for the group from 'FAB' that will be coming from Rochester next spring) and also to find out what each school's privacy policy is with regards to the information we can share about the students online

So there you go. It's a fair list.

What I have managed to do is the following:

  1. Buy and distribute school books to 19 Primary school students
  2. The same for 2 High school students
  3. Supply school uniforms and shoes to 5 students
  4. Pay (weekly) for the school transport of 6 students
  5. Sort out sponsorship for 6 children of low-income families that allows them to attend one of the country's most prestigious private schools
  6. Support the 'Friends of Pediatrics' in Belize, to help finance an symposium on Developmental disorders such as: Attention Deficit Disorders (ADHD/ADD), autism, speech language disorders, mental retardation, hearing and visual disorders. The aim is the help people (doctors, teachers, parents) in identifying these at risk children at an early stage & to share information on how to best help and educate these children (I will add more on this in the coming days)

The reason why I haven't done as much as maybe I should have is because the Jaden Foundation is basically a one-woman show. Karen helps me a few times a year with the accounts, but apart from that it's just me doing everything. Something as easy as 'buying and distributing school books' takes many weeks of my time. Books only become available in drips and draps (so I have to visit the bookstore a few times a week), most the book lists that the children give me are impossible to read, some children are first told that they are in a certain grade and later find out that they are in a different grade, etc. It is incredibly annoying work. I also ask all the children to bring back last year's books to see which ones can be reused, so I have to go through piles of old books too.

Anyway, I do apologize to all of this year's sponsors. Sorry that I haven't been in contact with cute pictures, hand-written notes from the kids, etc. But please rest assured, 100% of your donated money has gone to helping children here in Belize. A big, big 'Thank you!' once again.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Weekly assembly

Lucas' school starts every Friday morning with assembly. I stayed and had a look this week.

The kids actually start every school day with the Belize national anthem. Lucas loves it. He sings the Belize national anthem all around the Jungle Dome, especially in the pool. It never fails to makes me laugh.

Something else they do at his school every day is recide this pledge to Belize

Here's Lucas and his class mates right at the front.

He tries to take part in the songs and the dances, but doesn't totally get it yet.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A 'Feedblitz' oops!

For those of you who subscribe to my blog, my apologies. Those postings that you were sent today were not new postings, but old ones that I had added some labels to. I'm trying to label and categorize my postings so the blog will be easier to navigate in future.

So, the Jaden Foundation is not broke. We're okay. That was a while back. Anyway, I'll update on all the Jaden Foundation stuff on the weekend (much to talk about).

Have a nice day y'all...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Little crash

Yep, I had a crash. Nothing major though. I just drove into another car's bumper as I got out of the car park at the market square. I wish I had a good excuse, but I don't. I just didn't see him coming.

Lucky enough, we're dealing with Belizeans here. So no shouting matches, no dramas, it was all dealt with in the most civilized way.

He followed me to my insurance company & the whole process took about 15 minutes of our time. A quick pictures of the damage, exchanging of information, we shook hands and that was that. He went on his way, the insurance company will cover the repairs bill and we, most likely, won't even lose our no-claims bonus (that's what I've been told anyway)

So, big up to Mrs. Pinto and Regents Insurance! They do a great job. We were once involved in another car crash (which wasn't our fault & which was a lot more serious). Regents Insurance paid us out at lightning speed & then battled with the other insurance company to get that money back. How's that for great service?

I just wished all insurance companies were like that....

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bloody ants

There are always some annoying critters around here. For a large part of the year it's mosquitoes nibbling at you (not now, thank God!), Sand flies and/or Doctor Flies (both dreadful creatures) & right now it's ants! Bloody millions of them. They are everywhere.

I have never seen so many sugar ants and fire ants in my life. The sugar ants crawl onto every plate, cup, spoon, anything you put down for more than 20 seconds. And as soon as you run the plate (or the cup or whatever) over to the sink, the little buggers are all the way up your arm and in to your neck. I absolutely hate that feeling. You could use that as torture on me.

You also have to check where you stand these days, as fire ants seem to have claimed much of Belize. It's crazy.

Anyway, all these critters come and go. It's a bit like avocados and mangoes here. They all 'come in season' for such a short period of time. But I'm sure another annoying insect will take their places again.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Belmopan social scene

One of the hardest things about living in Belize (and Belmopan especially) has been the lack of a social life. It has always been hard to meet other women here. I mean, you see a lot of the same faces in town, but you hardly ever have a chance of meeting them. There are no fun little coffee shops to hang out in or nice bars, restaurants or clubs to go to. So where to meet each other?

The solution: An International Women's Group. I know, it sounds a bit crap, but it has been the best thing ever! It started about a month and a half ago & I believe that we already have about 40 or 50 members. It's great, because now when I see other women in town, I actually know them (it does mean that every little thing I do in town now takes twice as long, as I'm so busy chatting ; )

Anyway, it's a very vibrant group of women and lots of stuff is being set up by the group. For instance, water aerobic classes twice a week. I went yesterday and it was one of the best thing I've done in Belize for a long time. It was so much fun. The setting is heavenly, the women are all having a blast of all...we end the morning with eating cake! Isn't that a wonderful contradiction?

Oh, and I have been given the title Second Vice President of the Women's Group. Which sounds very official, but all it means it that I'm in charge of organizing daytrips (weekday trips for women only and weekend daytrips for all the family), plus I will be the Poker instructor and host the first Poker night.

By the way, for those of you who'd like to read about other people's experiences in Belize, go check out the blogs of our dear friends Maya & Colette. They have settled on San Pedro and are living the beachy kind of lifestyle. So quite different again from ours. Their blogs are really funny. Have a read: & their animal shelter blog:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The chase is on!

Yes, Aidan has started 'crawling'. Well, not actually crawling, but he's moving forwards. Guess life will get a bit more complicated now. Time to start child-proofing.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Typical expat culture shock

My husband Andy and I had only recently arrived from the UK to Belize, Central America and were trying to figure out how to make friends here. Inviting one or two local cowboys to a movie night seemed like a good way to us.

That evening, as Andy was putting some bowls of popcorn on the table, I was scanning our rather extensive DVD collection. All of our stuff had arrived from London a few days before and we were still getting to grips with how much stuff we actually had. As a matter of fact, the unpacking of the 20-foot container had been a rather embarrassing experience. All the Mayan families had gathered around our house to watch us unpack. With each item that was lifted out of the box, they let out a loud “Ooh!” and “Ah!” I had never felt ‘filthy rich' before, but I did then. Out of shame I ended up giving away quite a lot of things. The families grabbed anything we didn't want. Down to the boxes themselves, which they apparently turned into wardrobes.

“So babe, do you think they will like 5th Element or The Matrix? Or will those movies be too far out for them? We don't have any John Wayne movies, do we?” I just didn't know what DVD to pick.

But before Andy had a chance to answer, the cowboys arrived with a knock on the door. And they hadn't come alone; our deck was filled with what looked like a complete Mayan village. There were the cowboys, their wives, their wives' parents, their children (lots of them), their nieces and nephews, babies suckling young women's exposed breasts, even their dogs had come along. This surely wasn't what we had been expecting. And they all looked like they were going to a wedding, with the little girls in frilly white dresses and the little boys with shirt and pants and freshly washed hair, that their moms had glued to their heads in tight side-partings. Looking at these clean and proud Mayans, I felt like a total slob. To me, movie night always meant ‘T-Shirt, sweatpants and no make-up'. But obviously, things were slightly different here.

“I'm sorry,” I said, as everybody poured through the door in near silence “We don't seem to have enough chairs for everyone”. But nobody seemed too bothered about the lack of chairs; they just squeezed as many people on the sofas as possible (nursing mums and grandparents on the comfortable seats, the kids sat down where ever). The grandmother looked ancient and dignified. I thought that she was at least 80 or 90, but found out later that she was in fact only 57. I guess the years of hard labor, the Guatemalan war and the many children she had, had taken it's toll.

Whilst I was attempting to be a host to the women and children, Andy and the guys had taken control of choosing of the night's movie. Pretty soon they reappeared with their choice of the night; “The Godfather”.

I blocked the guys from moving towards the DVD player, saying: “No way! We can't watch that. That's way too violent for these children.” Andy shrugged his shoulders “They said it was okay with them”.

”No, no, I'm not having that” I snatched the DVD out of Andy's hands and walked back to the rest of our collection, followed closely by the cowboys. “We don't mind. Our kids watch movies like this at home too.”

I wouldn't budge and asked them to choose again. They picked “Die Hard”. I said no. They picked “The end of days” I said no again. I picked “Peter Pan”. They said no. I picked “The Wizard of Ozz”. They didn't even answer me anymore.

Andy, in the meantime, was getting annoyed with me.
“Simone, what's your problem?”
“They don't care about their kids watching violent movies, so why do you?”

“Well, whatever the policy is in their house is their problem. I can't change the policies in my house. And my policies are no violent movies for young kids”

We eventually settled (grudgedly on my behalf) on Star Wars. They got their bits of violence & I hoped that the kids would at least enjoy the funny aliens.

So this was one of our first introductions into Central American culture & it taught us two important things:

First of all, be cautious when inviting people in Central America. In the US or Europe you may invite 200 people to a wedding and expect 100 of those to show up. In Belize you invite 50 and can expect 200. It's just the way things are here. Invitations are a kind of free for all & people love to bring their extended families along.

Secondly, even though the Maya community seems very friendly, innocent and peaceful, they do expose their young children to violent images and movies & the children's play often reflects that. They may run around with fake Ninja knifes and pretend to slash each other's throats. But even in the midst of their “throat slashing” sessions, they will waive at you and smile the sweetest, most innocent of smiles.

So, will we ever fully understand our local community? And will they ever fully understand us? Probably not. Still, this is what makes living in a different country and culture so interesting. We all look at each other, shake our heads and smile. And even the most mundane becomes interesting when done in such a different way from what we were used to.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Info gatherer

I've come across a very cool service recently. It's a site called Infogatherer & it's like having an online Life Coach or your own Genie in a bottle. What that means is that Infogatherer can help you achieve your goal/dreams. How? You tell them what you want to achieve. And this can be anything as random as finding a publisher for your book, getting your foot in the door at a radio station, finding a job in another country, setting up alliances with others in your field of expertise, etc.

You tell Infogatherer what your dream is and in 24 hours you'll be given tons of relevant websites that can help you achieve this dream. Obviously, you still have to take action yourself (like in Life Coaching), but at least you now know which way to turn. And what they come back with is much more than what you could ever Google by yourself.

Pascal from Infogatherer recently offered me the service free of charge & did an amazing job. I didn't quite understand what the service entailed to start with or what I was going to get back. But I am totally impressed. So even the usual fee of $4.95 is incredibly cheap if you consider what you get back for it.

So go ahead, dream! And then go make that dream come true. Have fun!!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Two blogs

My Belize blog has become so random lately that I feel like it is developing a multiple personality disorder. So to make things easier I am starting a second blog, called Simone's Music Blog. I know, not the most imaginative of names. But I believe that my mate Ferdie was right all those years ago; he said that it's best to have a crappy name for anything you do. Better a crap name and a clever pretentious one. His label was called 'Go Beat' (he was always embarrassed to say the name & people often misheard him, thinking he said 'Goby') & his good friend was/is Norman Cook, who of course is known under a rather stupid name himself, namely Fatboy Slim.

So...just for you Ferdie. Two blogs with crappy names: Simone's Belize Blog and Simone's Music Blog.

Simone's Music Blog is not properly set up yet, but my plan is to put all the MTV clips on there (with stories on each clip), republish the Veejay updates & add anything else that's connected to music. And my Belize Blog will feature my every day Belize adventures.

Guess I better get to work....

In the meantime, feel free to check it our already. Just keep in mind that it's still a work in progress:

Friday, October 06, 2006

Backstage at the MTV Europe Music Awards

I had been working for hours at the MTV Europe Music Award, doing the countdown to the Awards, the Red Carpet and backstage interviews and all I wanted was to join my partying friends. But I was told that there was one more thing I had to do, I had to play 'Tabloid Journalist', going around finding gossip and make up some myself as well.

Of course, my gossip had to be rather far-fetched. But do you think anyone helped me come up with some good lines? Not a chance! I had to think of stuff myself. Problem was, I was exhausted at that point & couldn't think of anything.

My best attempt was 'Did you know that Kylie fancies you?'

I thought that that was far-fetched enough. I mean, every guy fancied her, but I assumed that these guys would all understand that she would never fancy them back. Still, I was wrong. It was taken seriously.

So a few weeks later my phone rang and it was Kylie Minogue. She was pretty pissed off with me. Aparently, my stupid gossip had got her into trouble with Jay Kay from Jamiroquai and his girlfriend (who turned out to be a friend of hers)

I apologized to her then, we issued a press-release & I believe (I hope) that I was forgiven.

Here's the clip:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

MTV's Partyzone clips

We've finally got the old Partyzone clips digitized. Here are two short ones. The thing that makes all these 90's MTV interviews even more special is that most of the MTV Europe footage from that time got burned down at a fire at MTV's library. Guess we were the lucky ones...

So on this blog in the near future, expect the following clips:

  1. The only ever Aphex Twin TV interview (with a rather shocking revelation)
  2. The tape that got me in trouble with Kylie Minogue many years ago (I never meant to upset her and did apologize afterwards)
  3. Shaun Rider on poisoning pigeons
  4. Looking like a drag queen with Junior Vasquez
  5. Moby unplugged, plus Moby and I cross-dressing
  6. Our mate Justin getting stung with a stung gun (on his own request no less!)

And much, much more...

So let's get started. Let's go back to the old school!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Richard Branson rocks!

Wow, I can believe what I just heard on BBC Radio's Global Business show. Richard Branson is always full of surprises & this time he's topped it all (for me anyway). This guy really is serious about fighting global warming. In the 'Global Business' interview he explains why he is planning to invest 3 billion dollars (all the profits of the Virgin transport groups of the coming years) to fight climate change and describes his hopes for his newest venture, Virgin Fuels. Are we slowly reaching the tipping point with corporations now taking this problem seriously? (If only the world wasn't being held back by Bush and his buddies...)

Anyway, at the Belize Jungle Dome we've also been wondering what we can do to fight global warming & we are hoping to set up a partnership with a Belizean reforestation project soon. We are planning to offer our future guests Carbon Neutral Travel. What that means is that we will calculate how much carbon dioxide is being produced by our guests flying to Belize, us driving them up & down the country, their AC use, etc. & then to offset these greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing 'carbon offsets', in our case that will be trees planted as part of the reforestation projects and we also might get involved in the production of biofuel. We're having a meeting about it some time in the coming days. I'm so excited! My dream is that Belize will become the world's first Carbon Neutral travel destination.

To be continued....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why do we love living in Belize?

“So why did you move to Belize?” It's the question that everybody asks when they come to our jungle lodge. The strange thing is that we haven't got a straight answer to that. We just had enough of living in London. After the worlds of television and football, we wanted a change.

But why we chose Belize I don't honestly know. It could as well had been New Zealand, South Africa, Costa Rica, or any of the other countries that we researched online. Belize just sounded attractive; it's the only English speaking country in Central America, only a 2-hour flight from Miami or Houston, politically stable & part of the Commonwealth as a former British colony (back then known as British Honduras)

By now, we have been living in Belize for 5 years and have moved from loving it, to hating it, to learning to like it, to loving it once again. Only now it's a much deeper and more sincere love.

You can compare it to a long-term relationship/marriage, as this usually goes through these same stages; first you fall in love, then you fall out of love, you learn to like each other again and eventually, if all is well, you end up truly loving each other. It's actually a shame that so many people never get beyond the ‘falling in love/falling out of love' stage. They seem to take it as a sign that this relationship isn't for them after all. What they often lose in the process is experiencing the deeper (if less fiery) type of love that's just beyond that phase.

So why this analogy? Because the same thing happens to so many who immigrate to a (developing) country like Belize. They never get beyond the first falling in love/falling out of love stage. As soon as the honeymoon period is over, they are on the next flight home or off on another exciting adventure. The locals have seen this over and over again, so they take everything newcomers say with a huge grain of salt. Only once you cross the 2-year-mark, do they begin to accept you and will consider to taking you seriously.

Why do we enjoy living in this funny little Central American/Caribbean country? (Belize has a minor identity crisis; it sees itself as a Caribbean nation, when truthfully it's Central American) Well there are many reasons. Mainly the sense of freedom that you feel when you live here, the fact that our children can play outside without us having to breath down their necks at all times, the unending supply of sunshine, the relaxed attitude of the locals, the astounding natural surroundings, the reef, the caves, the Mayan temples, the wildlife, the sweet and juicy fruits that readily drop from the trees, the fact that we can live like kings and queens on a reasonable budget and the simplicity of life that is a constant undercurrent in developing nations.

Once you've experienced life in a country that doesn't rush, you start to see the insanity of this very Western habit. Why do people in Europe and America rush all the time? Generally they are busy making money to buy stuff and to build ever bigger houses to put all their stuff in and then they end up with debts to pay for the upkeep of these houses and their stuff in it, so they have to work harder yet again & round and round it goes.

In Belize we get to enjoy the simple pleasures that don't cost anything or at least not much; like watching the sunrise and listening to the jungle awakening, climbing trees with our 3-year-old, taking him cave tubing & snorkeling, shining flashlights in the garden at night, catching frogs and tadpoles (big hit with young boys), enjoying fruits and vegetables from our own garden, etc. Stuff that many people in Western society just don't have time for anymore.

The funny thing is that we actually have managed to make a decent living for ourselves here whilst doing all this. Simply by sharing this lifestyle with others. We generally eat with the guests of our jungle lodge, their kids (when they have them) run around with ours and with all the local Mayan children, we all walk (on bare feet) to the edge of the garden to admire groups of howler monkeys, we enjoy the fresh produce from our gardens together, play board games, float in the pool at night whilst stargazing, etc.

It's wonderful that people actually pay us to experience this lifestyle with us for whatever period of time they are here, as this enables us to continue living like this. So it's another catch 22, but quite a pleasant one.

Still, as idyllic as this all sounds, life is far from perfect here. After years of trying to find perfect…(fill in the blanc) I have come to see that perfection is nothing but a trick of light, a mirage, like the end of the rainbow. It simply doesn't exist.

See, reality can also be harsh when you surround yourself with as much nature as we have. Mother Nature, in all her beauty, can be a rather fierce lady; you simply don't mess with her. When the river floods, it floods, when lightening decides to hit your house 3 times in as many years you deal with it, when biting insects attack, you get used to it as best you can, when it rains, it pours and when it's hot it can be unbearable.

So will we ever go back to Europe? Who knows? Right now I wouldn't want to give up the great life we have created here, but I know that nothing ever stays the same, so it's possible that one day we may want to. What I do know for sure is that living in Europe will never be like it was before. The world has already changed too much for that in the last 5 years. We emigrated from England to Belize on September 11th 2001, the day the world changed into the mess it seems to have become. I try to keep positive and to see the metaphor in it all. The world can never go back to being like it was before 9/11 and neither can we.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Plans of our new house, the Riverside Cottage

Oh, our house is going to be so nice. I keep walking around at the building site and image what life is going to be like once we live there. It is so exciting. Today the floor of the second level has been poured. So it won't be long before the roof will be getting build.

The house is going to have some nice features. One of my favorite is our sunken bath, made out of natural slate with a floor to ceiling window behind it that looks out on a private tropical courtyard. It's gonna be great!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Happy 25th birthday MTV

So, apparently MTV has celebrated its 25Th birthday recently. Happy Bday MTV! Soon you'll will be older than most the people that work for you. We always joked that there was a black hole that everyone got sucked into once they came near the age of 30 at MTV. So most MTV employees got the boot before they ever reached that age.

Of course there are exceptions to that rule, especially within management. My old boss Bill Roedy, for instance, is now the big, big boss of all the MTVs. All over the world. Actually that's not totally correct, he's the vice chairman these days. But still...he's a big wig, you know? I giggle when I see him interviewed on TV or read an article on him. I remember us running around at the staff Christmas parties together, with him looking like a bad Rod Stewart imitator (my fault, I made him wear a dodgy wig) and singing "We are family" in bad harmony at another one of our staff parties. He was definitely the coolest boss anyone could ever have. So I'm happy that he's still at MTV. He deserves all the success he has.

Now, talking of old Partyzone shows are being digitized at the moment. I should be able to have them on this blog by next week. So watch out for some real old school moment!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Together with my 7-month-old baby and our resort’s security guard (I didn’t fancy driving through the jungle by myself at night) I went to church last night. This is not something I do too often, but boy did I enjoy it!

I was going to watch Deborah our babysitter at the graduation of her bible studies. But the church service I ended up seeing wasn’t at all what I had expected, it was actually rather odd. There was no preaching going on, just lots of very loud Hispanic Christian music, beautiful singing and frantic dancing.

It actually reminded me of my old MTV days when I used to spent a lot of time at raves (illegal house parties where kids took XTC tablets, drank gallons of water, danced for up to 12 hours straight, hugged strangers and told them they loved them). Just like the ravers did back in the nineties, these churchgoers were working themselves up into a complete frenzy. Waving their hands in the air, singing at the top of their lungs, swaying, shaking, jumping…brilliant! The only thing that struck me as rather strange was that people were ushered to the front of the church once they started their wild dancing and they would be held or closely followed by another church member, probably to make sure that they wouldn’t fall over or something. Especially the women were acting like they couldn’t control their own bodies (looking at them I suddenly understood why Freud thought that women were rather hysterical). The men would also dance wildly, but they were in much less danger of falling over, apparently. I mean, a church member would still hover near them, but never actually touch them.

I was so tempted to join the dancers at the front and do my ‘MC Hammer’. But I realized that that would probably been seen as very inappropriate, so I suppressed my urges (very Christian, don’t you think?) and stuck to swaying in the ail with my flabbergasted baby in my arms (He was as dumbstruck by the whole experience as I was).

I guess I should have realized that I was in the wrong church, because our beloved babysitter was nowhere to be seen. Still, I was enjoying this bizarre display of worship, this celebration of life (especially once people started to use whistles and the BPM was steadily being raised) when suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Deborah's brother, bringing me the bad news; the graduation was actually in the church around the corner.

I was sad to leave ‘the ravers’, but made my way over to the other church none the less. There, I took pictures of the graduation, allowed my baby to be passed around from person to person (People from Central America love babies) and listened to people rambling on in Spanish on stage. I had no idea what was being said, just as I had no idea what had actually been going on in the other church. Still, it was great to watch Deborah on this evening that meant so much to her and it was a great experience to witness all these faithfuls, in both churches. This glimpse of Central American worship was something I will never forget.

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This was at the begining of the church service, before the dancing started...

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And the people slowly started to move more and more (I didn't have the guts to film them when they started to do the 'trance dancing')...

But look at how different the next church was. It was all much more serious. Although, in Central America there is always some level of chaos going on, even during church services (see the kids roaming around)

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy 25th birthday Belize!

It's Independence day in Belize, a big national holiday. When I told Lucas that it was Belize's birthday, he said "Sure mum, but Belize can't eat birthday cake though, can it? It doesn't have a mouth". Bless him.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Jungle survival

Oh yeah, we're barely hanging on in there...Nah, just pulling your leg. Life in Belize is good. Kayaking on the Belize river with Lucas and Andy last weekend & horse riding through the jungle yesterday. The wrangler leading the group and I both ate a termite to show the others that there really is nothing to it (Termites actually taste like spicy carrots & according to the tourguide there are even ones that taste like peppermint). The whole ride became one culinary jungle adventure, with us eating certain sticks, nuts and other things we knew were okay to eat. But this evening we ate something much nicer: Fried breadfruit, straight off the tree in our garden. Very good indeed.

Oh by the way, our house is starting to take shape now. I walked through it today and felt so excited. It is going to be amazing. I can see the finished version already & I am absolutely in love with it. That's the good thing about designing your own house (with help from a good architect. In our case John Simpson): the house will be perfect for your specific needs. And I think we're achieving that.

I'll film the house in the coming days and will upload it here.

Oh, and something rather silly: At 3 o'clock today, Andy said "Wow, I can't believe how late it is. Where has the afternoon gone?" To which Lucas quickly shouted "I didn't take it daddy, honest!"

Friday, September 15, 2006

A lovely average day...

Friday, September 15, 2006

What did I see at the Jungle Dome today? A vine snake dangling from our Mango tree, Lucas making friends with a praying mantis and walking around with it for ages & a 5-year-old chopping the branches of a fallen-down tree with a huge machete (surrounded by toddlers).

Childhood is just slightly different here than it was back in Europe.

Home schooling

People always told me that as a parent you fall in love with your own kids, I thought that was nonsense. Well, it turns out they were right all along.

Take Aidan's eyes for could I not fall in love with him when he looks at me with those gorgeous blue eyes?

Still, in Holland we sometimes say that we want to stick our children behind the wallpaper (achter het behang plakken) & that's quite true as well. They often drive me bananas. Especially the noise levels sometimes get to you. Andy really suffers from that as well. And guaranteed they both start whining when Andy's on the phone taking a booking (very professional...not!)

We often get asked if we're considering home-schooling our kids. So the answer to that is no. Not because we don't believe in home-schooling (I know many children who thrive on home-schooling), but because Andy and I need to have a break from our kids for at least part of the day. If they were around us all day long, we would end up freaking out I think.

Lucas is now going to the Belize Christian Academy (BCA) and he's loving it. I've actually been quite surprised with how 'grown up' he already is. I mean, they are learning to read and write and count and the whole approach, though playfully, is quite academic. Even for the pre-schoolers. So no more going to school to just play around.

He looks so funny in his school uniform. I can't actually find anything in his size (he's too small), so he's sporting the ultra-baggy look at the moment. Still, he'll grow into it.

A few days ago Lucas came to me complaining of a sore throat. This is what he said: "Mum, I have a gun in my throat. It's shooting me and killing my throat" An when his stomach hurt, he said that he had prickly sticks in his stomach. I just love his imagination.

Lucas also, apparently, is an architect. He says that he mainly builds snakes. Trees and jaguars too, but mainly snakes. He then comes up with family names for all the trees that he sees (all his design, apparently) and also points to the mountains in the distance, saying "See those mountains? I build those too".

And with him hearing so many different languages (Dutch, English, Spanish & Creole), he has now made up his own. He'll proudly tell me what everything is called in this made-up language & then announces that no one taught him this, but that he taught every one of these words to himself.

Anyway, enough rambling on about my kids.

Have a nice day y'all.

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11, five years on...

We immigrated from London 5 years ago today.
September the 11th, 2001

Half way through our journey we changed flights at Miami airport. Walking from one gate to the next (to board the plane to Belize), I said to Andy "Wow, this whole immigration thing has been so easy". That must have jinxed it, because the next moment the gates closed. No one gave us any information, only that the gates were closed and the flights canceled. We had no idea that at that very moment planes were flying into the World Trade Center.

Andy sat down to read a magazine. He was very relaxed about it all, but I knew something was quite seriously wrong, as slowly but surely Miami airport was turning into a ghost town. I mean, there were still a lot of stranded travelers, but all the shops were closing down and the stewardesses disappeared from the counters. I walked over to the American Airlines ticket desk (there was still one lady there) to get some information, but she wouldn't give us any. All she said was "Watch CNN".

The whole situation was getting more bizarre by the minute. I started to hear people whisper "America is under attack" and "They've bombed the Pentagon". As I told Andy what I had heard, he didn't blink. He simply did not believe that there was anything to worry about.

"I'm sure that's not true. They'll open the gates again in a minute. Let's just wait here"

"Babe, look around you. The whole airport has been closed down. There are no personnel left. Why do you think that is?"

"I don't know. But I think we should just wait"

After a lot of nagging, I finally managed to get Andy to move (he can be so bloody British sometimes. They are always politely waiting for their turn. They can queue up/stand in line like no other)

In the meantime, the airlines had send back all luggage that had been checked in that day. Heaps of bags came out at once. It was pandemonium. People had started to panic by now and were scrambling to get their bags, dying to get out of the airport. We all assumed that if America was really under attack, the airports surely weren't safe places to be, right?

As Andy tried to relocate our belongings, I attempted to get us booked into a hotel. But they were all fully booked. I looked outside and noticed that there also were no taxis left, no hotel shuttles, no cars at all for that matter. It was all getting rather scary.

I eventually managed to get us booked into the Howard Johnson. It was a crappy hotel, but at least they send a shuttle to pick us up. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when we finally pulled away from the airport. We had been amongst the last people there.

So there we were, in the Howard Johnson for about a week, watching the images of the towers going down over and over again. It was all we could do. Like most people, we were in a daze.

And every day we'd go back to Miami airport (hell on earth, as far as I'm concerned) to try and board a flight to Belize. After one week and countless frustrating hours of standing in line, we eventually managed to get away. Not to Belize, but to Cancun. That was the nearest we could get.

Another day later we finally arrived in Belize (planes, train and automobiles, I’m telling you)We fell to the floor and kissed the ground. We had made it to our new home.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Top 10 tips for surviving a trip to Belize:

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  1. Leave your fancy designer clothes at home. This country is laid-back to the max, where flip-flops and a bikini or hiking boots and shorts are as fancy as you need to get.
  2. Take off your watch. Simply go to bed when it’s dark (anytime after 6.30 pm) and get up again with the sun (anytime from 6 am onwards). Your daily alarm clock will be the breaking waves on the shore or the tropical chorus of birds and howler monkeys in the jungle.
  3. Realize that when people in Belize tell you ‘right now’, they don’t actually mean ‘right now’. They are actually asking you to wait a minute (or two or three). Try not to stress, things will get done.
  4. Slap on the SPF to protect your skin from sun damage and pre-mature aging. Your tan will develop anyhow!
  5. Bring mosquito repellant. We have good nights and bad & it’s impossible to predict when the mosquitoes will appear.
  6. If you are hooked on junk food, get your fix before coming to Belize. You will not find any KFC’s, McDonalds or Burger Kings here. Our fast food is chicken, rice & beans.
  7. Be prepared to fall in love in with this odd little country (secretly eyeing up the real estate signs and casually asking people about local property prices)
  8. Unless you are a diving, sun bathing or sea fishing fanatic, do not spend more than 5 days on San Pedro or any of the other Cayes. You will have seen all there is to see and will end up going stir crazy.
  9. Leave your hair dryer at home. With all this humidity and sunshine you’ll be fighting a losing battle anyhow. We all have terrible hair in Belize…join us!
  10. Try out things you’ve never done before. Abseil, kayak, dive, drink from a coconut and enjoy being away from what you call ‘the real world’. This place is actually more real than most of Western society, as what you see is what you get. No billboards no catch phrases, just Mother Nature at her finest.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thank you!

The Jaden Foundation needed help and you all came to the rescue. Thank you!

Candice McCarthy (Karen's mum) made a quick donation, so did Linda Meneghini (who had been to the Jungle Dome as the winner of the Scooby Doo, Maya Mayhem competition and who's planning to return with her family in April), also Kevin Nelson (Karen's friend from Canada who came to the Dome recently) and James Hyman (my old MTV producer)

I also received a cheque by post yesterday from Cynthia Adine Kirkwood and her son Caladon. Thank you guys! I will contact you with details of your sponsored child soon.

It will still be a challenge getting the remainder of the books. This time not because of lack of finances, but because the book stores never have all the books available at once. It always ends up being a long drawn-out process. Still, at least we're now able to buy the books when they are available.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Power of the Internet

How cool is this? I just posted a request for sponsorship and former guests of the Belize Jungle Dome, Satoshi (Tosh) and Wendy from Santa Rosa, California have already donated US$200 to the Jaden Foundation. Thank you so much!!!!

I just love the speed of the Internet. It is amazing how much can be achieved by it.

So I'll be off buying more school books first thing in the morning.

Anyway, let me try and upload the picture of some of the Jaden Foundation kids again....

No luck! I'm not sure if there is a problem with Blogger or if it's our connection. Will keep trying.

School sponsorship

It turns out that the Jaden Foundation (my personal little charity) does not have enough money to buy all the school books needed this year. The Belize Jungle Dome has already given it some extra money, but we're still about $500 short. That means that there are now children going to school without school books, or with only a few. Is there anyone out there that could donate some money? (I'm looking especially at all my close friends and family, many of which have promised me sponsorship money for a while now ;)

If possible, I would need to take payment by creditcard to get the money asap. I really want these kids to get their books. So far, about 25 kids have been helped by the Jaden Foundation this year & four of these are going to a private school. Some families just requested school uniforms and shoes, others needed all their books and school supplies.

In the coming weeks I will travel the Cayo District to meet all the families and to take pictures of the kids. For are some of the local children with their donated books.

Hmmm...blogger won't upload my picture. I'll try using "Hello". Otherwise, the picture of the kids will follow a little bit later (I'll keep trying)

Monday, September 04, 2006

First day of school

That's great. Took Lucas to pre-school today to find out that there are now 32 children at the school, but only two teachers. Obviously I checked with the principle what the plan was; were they going to hire more teachers? "No" was the answer "We are deviding the group into two and there will be one extra lady assisting the two teachers (moving between the two classes). So that would mean 16 pre-schoolers for one teacher. That's just insane. I can't even look after one pre-schooler by myself, so how on earth could one person look after 16 of them?

So anyway, I'm trying out another school tomorrow. Let's just see how that turns out. Lucas won't be too excited about it, but there you go.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The new social network, called Urth TV

Whilst I should have been blogging, I've been hanging out on

It's a great new social network, a bit like MySpace and Utube. But then for the ''socially conscious". So it feels much less like a cheap dating agency than MySpace. I personaly love it, because so many of my dear friends can be found there.

It has a nice look, easy navigation, lots of media and a good market space (high quality products and services). They are still working on the technology to make the uploading of clips easier, but I'm sure that that will come soon.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned Urth is the future. Go check it out:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sharing a moment...

Oh how I love this terrible little monster!

My mum and Miriam on our way to Palm Island.

Lekker knuffelen met mijn mamma (this just sounds better in Dutch to me...)

It's so nice to have so many of the family here. On the sofa are my dad and his wife Ina, my sister Miriam and her husband Laurenz and my two younger (half) brothers Vincent and Floris. Oh, and little Aidan of course.

A day at the Waterpark on Palm Island. It was brilliant. By the way, see that big bucket in the middle of the picture at the top of that waterpark? Every so often it would be filled up with water and then, without warning, the whole load would crash down on the people underneath it. Scary, but good fun!

Sunday, August 20, 2006