“Do you want to join in the parade?” After my quick answer yes, Tracie and I were off and running through side streets in Belize City to catch up with the float where people were yelling and singing “Hip, hip hooray” while dancing and waving Belizean flags.
My last day in Belize City felt a bit like the Amazing Race. Denise and I have been communicating between Belize and the US all week. As my replacement as the WHS assistant principal, I can answer questions without pause about the systems and procedures that filled my life for the past six years. At the same time, as a longstanding resident of Belize City, who pretty much knows everyone here, Denise can share the ins and outs of making the most of my time in Belize. It’s like we have had an unusual reversal of roles and are providing text insights to make each other’s lives easier. Denise’s advice and connections have been valuable gifts that have given me much more than a tourist view of this interesting place.
I woke up on my last day in Belize City and followed Denise’s clues from the precious night. I caught a water taxi to the city where I caught a taxi to a restaurant named Marva’s. I asked for Tracie and was met by a man who put my suitcase behind the counter and walked me to the parade where we found Tracie, Denise’s childhood friend.
By the time I arrived, we were at the tail end of the parade, so when Tracie asked if I wanted to join in, we ran through short cuts to catch up. The music was blaring and everyone was dancing down the street. I looked around and appreciated that holiday celebrations feel the same wherever you go. On September 10th, this city was alive celebrating St. George Caye Day which commemorates a time when Belize held back Spanish soldiers and avoided becoming a Spanish city. For this reason, Belize has the strong English feel and when I arrived was surprised to lean that English is not the commonly spoken language. Instead, you can enjoy beautiful English and Creole accents. After the parade, we walked back to Marva’s restaurant to claim my suitcase and eat a delicious traditional lunch of rice, stewed beans, and potato salad. My plate was full one minute and empty in what seemed like seconds.
The holiday was capped off by an outdoor concert of Creole and Garifuna bands…what felt a bit like reggae music to my unknowing ear. Tracie prepared me for Lovaboy, the star of the concert, a Belizean celebrity, and an international performer. There were some really funny moments in the show that was called family friendly. They had a hot dog eating contest for kids between acts and a dancing contest for adults. I have never seen hips move quite so fast before and a few people continued to grind while doing the splits or standing on their heads. I was just thankful not to be in charge of supervising that dancing.
I tasted a ton of great foods in Belize and am sitting on a bus now…a luxurious mini van today…still full from a coconut tart and two trays of panades which are like corn tortillas stuffed with fish and beans. Tracie’s mom sent me in road with a
loaf of homemade Creole bread and some johnnycakes. Yep, I am a happy camper. The culinary selection in Belize is a perfect match for my tastes and a delicious blend of interesting flavors and sweets.
One of the things I am enjoying is video chatting with students back at Westmont High School. I connected with a Geography class while in Guatemala and Denise worked with our media specialist to host a lunchtime connection with me in Belize….with rice and beans provided back home. As we video chatted with a room full of students in Belize, I
think about the importance of building global connections. These kids will likely be coworkers or have future business relationships and it’s nice to build relationships across the globe, increase knowledge of new places, and reduce stereotypes about each other. Kids are not awed by technology, but I am! It is still hard for me to believe that I can be so far, but so close at the same time.
It’s nice to have my new best friends from Belize. They were kind and generous and gracious and I feel really lucky to know them.
As a side note, I always like picking up new sayings and also get a kick out of signs I see in new places.
Here are a few of my favorites from Belize…
Kendra was telling me a story about her daughter. We use the saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” when describing children who are like their parents. I like the creole version for the same idea…”Watermelon no bare pumpkin.”
I saw this sign while riding back to Guatemala. “Any person found washing vehicles in this river will be prosecuted.” Aside from prosecution, I believe driving a car into the river might be an all around bad idea.
Here was my favorite- but if information about public restrooms around the world is too intimate-just stop reading now. You see, I am always fascinated by bathrooms around the world and the way you have to learn new etiquette for something that you have done the same way all your life. Bathrooms in Guatemala always have a lot of signage giving directions for visitors. The sewage systems do not tolerate paper waste, so instead of flushing used toilet paper, there are signs that instruct you to put it in the nearby garbage can. This is always hard to imagine and I can’t be the only person who cheats by mentally agreeing to use a small amount and sneaking it down with a flush. Today at a supermarket in Belize, I saw the most interesting bathroom sign of the trip. It was the standard sign you find in all ladies’ rooms with an extra addition. It said…Do not throw pads, tampons, or underwear down the toilet.” As I read the sign, I was thinking this, but laughed out loud when I read the pen scrawled response posted by a customer saying, “Do you really have a problem with people throwing their underwear in the toilet?”
Yep…it’s the little things that amuse me while traveling.