Monday, March 27, 2000

Not long after dinner, after a cool shower we were both sound asleep, to be wakened in the night by pounding rain on the tin roof. What a wonderful sound, and the moisture heavy air wafted through the rooms, assisted by the fans we had going. I think there were two storms that rolled through and I woke to the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking.

It was light outside but overcast. The temperature was in the mid seventies - just perfect. I made my way through to the bathroom and noticed that there were no screens or windows in the shower - just open to the world. You can just stand there and gaze out at the lagoon and palms and hills in the background. I hadn't had a chance to take too many pictures of the village so grabbed my camera and headed out, leaving the other Susan asleep.

I was greeted by "good morning' coming our from under one of the houses. Mr. Perez and one of the Americans from Gentle's, who introduced himself as Michael, were chatting out of the drips under the house. Michael has 1,000 acres of land across the lagoon that he is selling. An ex-patriate he lives in the western part of Belize near San Ignacio and is raising horses there. What and interesting man. He had so much to say about the country and is in the process of getting citizenship. When I asked him why here, he said that this is paradise. He has traveled all over the world, too. He emphasized the freedom he feels here, the mix of cultures and the wonderful land that can be bought.

And even after being here for such a short time, I know the feeling. I feel safe here. The people are kind and friendly though Michael did say that some of the young people get up to "mischief" and that it is wise to lock doors etc. But that is something that I do anywhere so it didn't bother me at all. Michael left shortly after that, but I would have liked to have talked to him more. By this time Susan was awake and breakfast was ready.

Elaine again overfed us with fresh papaya, homemade bread, a wonderful oatmeal with a hint of pepper and scrambled eggs that she had probably collected just this morning. And the ubiquitous Nescafe! With sweetened condensed milk. Not bad. But we didn't get to use the new coffee maker!

When we asked Elaine what her plans were for the day she said, "Cook, sweep a little and…watch "The price is right." We just about died laughing. I don't know how she watches anything; there is so much snow on the television. It's really no wonder the TV is so snowy - the antenna is held together with bits and pieces of rope and wire with an occasional wire coat hanger thrown in for good luck.

Breakfast over we wandered back toward the main part of the village, chatted with Mr. Gentle and stopped at Yvette's for orange juice. After a consultation over the map, we decided that we would stay another night. And after talking to Francisco, we decided to take the manatee watch tour with him tomorrow morning "whenever we want to go."

By the time I am writing this we have been in the village for 3 ½ days! Every day we think, "shall we just stay another day? And of course Mrs. Perez says yes Stay 100 more days.

We have been accepted into this community like I never have anywhere else! It is quite an amazing experience and especially for me, it's been a stretch as far as the racial divide goes. Here I am staying in a predominantly black village where there is no racial tension and where for the first time in my life the people have no color, they are just people. After living in Richmond, California and being scared to go out on my own, here I walk down the street saying hullo to anyone and everyone, rasta men missing teeth, old black ladies with gray woolly hair, kids, dogs and of course, Mr. Gentle.


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