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.

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

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

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

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)

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

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.

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

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:

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing

  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.