Friday, January 23, 2009

I am blogging? That must mean that I am traveling again ; )

Yes, it's true. We are traveling again. Andy and I are in Belize. Andy is staying for 3 weeks & I am here for 1 week. We are running the Jungle Dome whilst Karen is on holiday in Canada.

Our two boys are with my mum and sister in Aruba. And I have to admit, travelling without the kids has been very enjoyable so far (only 3 more nights and I am back home again). Of course, we always have a great time when we travel as a family, but it is also nice, for once, to not be responsible for anyone but myself. It feels rather good to have a break from being ‘mum’. As a mother, it’s so easy to lose your sense of self. Because you put everyone else’s needs before your own (generally) & you feel like you are only nurturing yourself with the scraps (of time) that have ‘fallen off the table’. But for now, my time is my own. And, as long as I know that my boys are happy (which they are), I can continue to enjoy myself and enjoy spending time with my husband. So to us, this is in part a working-holiday and part honeymoon (which we’ve never had before).

And being back in Belize has been great. It’s like I had almost forgotten what a beautiful country this is. It’s an absolute paradise! In a way, it’s much more beautiful than Aruba. It’s just so lush. Aruba has better beaches, that’s true, but apart from that, it’s a rock. It’s a rock with some cacti, some donkeys and some goats. Oh, and with a lot of mega hotels and resorts (these, obviously, do not make the landscape any prettier)

The Belize inland (which is where we are) consists of jungle, amazing birds and wildlife, rivers, small villages and character-filled lodges, like our own (much nicer than those gigantic monstrosities of the Aruban time-share hotels)

Still, each country has its own charm. Aruba is such a comfortable place to live (and, unlike what the US press says about the island, it must be one of the safest and most peaceful places on earth), Aruba truly is ‘one happy island’, where everything has to be celebrated excessively and abundantly, it has great bars and restaurants, good schools and facilities for families and the different cultures on the island seem to blend well together.

Belize, on the other hand, is an oddball country. It's a country steeped in contradictions. Many people have no running water at their houses, but they do have a cellphone and cable television. Many call themselves Christians, but they believe in witches, ghosts and shape shifters. It's a country of many cultures, each with their own traditions, yet they all feel Belizean.

Belizeans are generally polite and quite shy. They don’t party the way the Arubans do. When the Belizeans go swimming, they keep all their clothes on and the women refuse to dance when the men can see them. The country is steeped in religion. Any office you go in will have biblical versus stuck to the walls & church is often people’s only form of entertainment (I am now mainly talking of local rural communities and not the ex-pats) Many of the local Mayan women here seem to go to church so they can show off their new clothes, to join in what can only be called karaoke, to sway to the music and to enjoy the BBQ. Some will be genuine believers, but quite a few seem to go for ‘just a bit of fun’.

I have found living in both countries very enjoyable. Aruba because of it’s so ‘normal’ and ‘easy’. If you can live in Europe, you can live in Aruba. It isn’t all that different from each other. But living in Belize has been enjoyable especially because it is ‘not normal’. Nothing is like it is in Europe. It’s like a different world all together. How often have Andy and I not looked at each other over the years, laughed and said: ‘only in Belize’ (meaning, something as weird as this could never happen anywhere else). Every day is a surprise waiting to happen. And the more flexible your attitude is, the more you are able to ‘go with the flow’, the better your experience will be in this country. You may have planned to go from A to B on a certain day, yet you end up at X for some bizarre reason. And all you can do is laugh, which, by the way, is something the Belizeans do a lot. They laugh easily and heartily. It puts us, those from wealthy Western nations, to shame.

In countries like Belize, people seem to generally be more content and happy. Even when they live in a wooden shack, have no electricity or running water, no shoes for the kids and the women spend much of their time collecting wood for their open fires to cook on.

And it’s amazing how many people can live in one wooden shack here. The logistics of it are baffling. You wonder how on earth it all fits. Yet, when more family members or friends show up from Guatemala, everyone bumps up even more and that family is taken in too.

But in Europe we complain when we only have one flat-screen TV (the one in the bedroom is broke and we have no money to buy another) or we say that our house is too small because two of our children have to share a bedroom...I mean, what are we on about? It is embarrassing to hear everyone complain these days.

Recession or no recession...we are the fortunate ones. You are sitting behind a computer right now, you can explore the world (even if only online), you obviously can read and have been educated, you have a roof over your head, you have eaten and you have clean drinking water. So let’s stop complaining & start being thankful. That’s what I’ll do today. I will say my thanks for the rich life that I am living and have lived so far.

As Moby and I always used to shout out at each other (and what will be my mantra for today): ‘Life is nice!’