Being a series of
updates to earlier observations. These are dated January 2001 and beyond.
Shrimp: In the last two years,
shrimp have become a major export, and will account for $75 million in GDP this
year (2001). They are farm grown, very clean, and tastier than the "tiger
prawns" I ran into in the states. They are not cheap, but sell for
about 2/3's of the Stateside price.
Update: (Feb 2002) Today I talked to a worker from Barry Bowen's shrimp operation. They are using the latest techniques developed by the Japanese -- ponds lined with a thick rubber lining that they roll up to harvest the shrimp. The technique doubles the rate of production. They are harvesting three times a year, doubling their physical plant, and I would expect that local shrimp prices will go down, and quality will go up.
In the States, when your septic tank fills up, you call a Septic Pumper-outer
and they come and pump out all the solid waste and take it someplace else.
You have to do this every two to five years, depending on how sh--tty your
family is. In Belize, however, there is only one pumper truck, and it is many
miles away in Belize City. Up here in Corozal, when the septic fills up,
they seal it up and build another one. Really!
(Oct 2002) There is a septic pumper in Orange Walk and for a
couple hundred dollah they will come up here and pump out my
septic. Thank goodness!!
Butane has gone up
a little in price lately, but it's still cheaper than Propane in the US.
They can't fill the tank at your house any more, but they pick it up, take it
out to the tank farm, fill it and bring it back for the same price. A 30
pound tank costs me about 20 dollah.
Toilet Seats: You can't get a
decent toilet seat down here. A good one would be oak, with brass
hinges. The ones you get here are plastic, with plastic hinges. The
hinges break in a couple of months. Improvising, I took an old set of
brass door hinges and made a set of heavy duty hinges for our padded toilet
seat. The hinges are fine, but the screws are starting to pull out of the
plastic seat. Below -- a picture of these makeshift hinges. (They're
starting to rust. Well, they LOOKED like brass! )
Click to enlarge.
Update (November 2001) Peggy Mueller brought us back an Oak toilet seat with brass hinges. You can get them for $14US at
Lowe's, but nowhere in Belize. In gratitude, we let Peggy sit on that seat whenever she wants to!
2004) I found a mess of them (round and oval) at Home Depot, and bought
one for $12.50 and brought it back down with me.
"Right Now!" I
call Hugo on the phone and his son answers. "Is Hugo there?" I
ask. "Right now," his son answers and goes away to get
Hugo. If you go into an office, and ask for some help, or a form to
fill out, they will say "right now." Right now is in
Belizean Time (something like a "New York Minute." or "dog
years". ) It means, as they used to say in the Air Force "Stand
by one..." and you are supposed to stand by until they get to you.
The encouraging thing is that, after they say "right now," they WILL
get back to you. Exactly when is another matter.
(November 2004) As I was driving thru Mexico, coming back to Belize, I had
an epiphany about the Belizean "right now." It is the equivalent
of "PRONTO" in Mexican!!
The Wall of Sound. In
most of the civilized world, the band sets up the speakers so that the stereo
focuses at a point in front of the bandstand. This creates the illusion
that the reinforced sound is coming from the band, rather than the speakers. If
the Belizean bands understand this stereo effect, they don't use it. They
put all of the speakers together, dozens of really big units, and drive
them monophonically with thousands of watts of power. This works well
outside, where sound dissipates quickly, but it creates an incredibly bad sound
inside of a building. It also creates the eerie sight of musicians
playing soundlessly, with an incredible cacophony of sound coming out of the
speakers to their right or left. (One or the other.) In
addition, they use speakers which resonate at some low frequency (audiophiles
call this "juke box bass") and turn the bass up so loud that it
swallows all of the mid-range frequency spectrum. All you can hear is
"Thud, thud, thud." They explain to me that "Belizeans love
bass." We are discovering that more and more Belizean children are
hard of hearing, probably from being taken to dances when they're too young to