Colonials

This is a series of posts about Belize and Guatemala that starts here.

We had left Guatemala and were driving to Hopkins, Belize. On the way we would stop for a picnic and a hike around Guanacaste National Park, with the promise of a swim in the Roaring Creek waterfalls.

We stopped for gas and to use the bathroom.  I wondered about this cigarette brand:

I can’t imagine this brand going down well in Nairobi or Mumbai.  Belizeans must have a more laid back attitude toward their colonial past.

The bathroom had no light, no water, and no toilet seat.  There was a sign with detailed hand-written instructions posted over the sink that you could see if the door was open.  Since there was a line of people waiting to use the loo I didn’t want to hold them up so I only saw enough of the sign to know that it was kind of like an algorithm: If you were a man you followed the instructions on the left, women on the right.  Women were instructed to sit on the nonexistent toilet seat, not squat over it, which would result in pee all over the place.

The smell told me there had been many women who had not read the instructions.  It’s all about perspective, though.  I can say with confidence that this roadside bathroom was better than a similar one I used in Cuba, which had the added feature of an old woman who stood there while you peed, then poured a bucket of water down the toilet because it didn’t flush, and then asked you for a dollar.

There was more spine-crunching driving, but how can you complain when you’re sailing along the Hummingbird Highway through the Mayan Mountains?  The scenery was spectacular. It rained off and on and became more humid.  I love humidity.  Despite the fact that it makes my Restless Legs worse, it makes my skin soft and my hair wavier.  And looking good is what matters, right?

I was sitting next to Liz.  This was Day Three, and the first time I noticed that she nattered on nonstop about everything and nothing.  She had a curious way of repeating each observation.  For instance she would say, “I’ve never seen anything like that,” followed immediately by, “That’s something I’ve never seen.”  This was all in a southern drawl, because she was originally from somewhere further south than Cincinnati; Alabama, I think. The volume of her speech was also more suited to a noisy barroom than a quiet van.

What is it that makes someone need to talk—compulsively?  At first I nodded in acknowledgement at everything she said.  Once I noticed she was basically talking about nothing but just because she couldn’t help herself, I turned my head to the window to gaze at the scenery.  It felt rude.  But wasn’t she being rude by yammering nonstop while everyone else was trying to enjoy the peaceful views?  I fought the urge to turn my head back to her and start nodding again.

She kept talking, and talking, and talking.  She even said at one point, to no one, “Ah know ah talk too much!” followed by a forced, too-long laugh. This was when I remembered that—in my experience—people who talk too much know it, and they aren’t overly sensitive when people ignore them.

I stopped feeling rude.  I also avoided sitting next to Liz for the rest of the trip.

We stopped and shopped for lunch in a Chinese-owned store.  I didn’t take an official census, but I would estimate that 75% of the businesses in Belize are Chinese owned. Here are some items I found amusing, mysterious, or revolting:

Cashew wine!?  Industrial-sized cans of jalapenos?  Ramen, possibly containing real men?

Sadly, I was going to be home when the National Domino Playoffs took place:

I blame the power of advertising; the men and I bought Belikins and drank them while we waited for others to check out.  I jokingly asked Mark, “Okay if we finish these in the van?” and he said, nonchalantly, “Sure.” I have a feeling this was not official policy, but I didn’t ask twice.

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