Posts Tagged ‘Belize’

One of the questions I ask people when I travel is “What do you do for Xmas?”

The answers vary DRASTICALLY depending on the person- not necessarily the culture. At first, I thought “well, in Belize they would celebrate it the same way as other Central Americans, right?” WRONG.

 

I urge you to ask this to others- or! Write a comment below about how you celebrate your holiday.

 

I’ve heard all sorts of traditions:

-Filipinos start celebrating in November and don’t stop until WAY after the New Year. (Even when there are typhoons).

-In Belize, they walk around singing carols and go to people’s house, drink, eat, and collect more people for the Caroler Choir.

-In France, it’s similar to ours- except for the food they eat- which is goose and fancy cheese and dried fruit.

-In Cape Town- they have a braai (of course) while they bask in the sunshine/warmth of Summer.

 

Growing up, my holiday was different because we celebrated both Hannnauakuah (I’m Jew-ISH- emphasis on the ISH) and Christmas. I never understood families that have “2 Christmases” with different parts of the family. It always sounded hectic. My family wouldn’t do stockings- we did Hanukah instead. (This had the added benefit of the dogs not eating the stockings!)

The traditions (growing up) are as follows:

  1. Eat a huge ham/turkey dinner on Xmas-eve. With all the trimmings and what-not.
  2. Mom preps her famous “egg bake” (think savory quiche/bread pudding but in a casserole dish). It needs to soak 12-24 hours in advanced.
  3. Xmas-eve was spent (forced) watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Christmas Story”.
    1. (My fathead brother and I never really liked these films. We always wanted to watch something else- but my mom would whine and complain about “tradition”. These days I would be happy watching Hebrew Hammer. But I digress.
  4. Xmas morning would happen and there would be 1 person making coffee, my mom would put her egg-bake into the oven to cook (it would take 1.5 hours), I was in charge of music (I always loaded the CD player with Xmas music for the first CD and then random CDs afterwards (The Star Wars soundtrack was my popular choice-Mom hated this).
  5. One person would open a gift at a time so we could “all watch their expression” and bask in the ego trip of purchasing more crap than we could ever know what to do with.

The rest of the day was spent either tinkering with the gifts, playing cards, eating cookies, and/or screaming at each other. This is what I remember, anyway.

 

These days, I have given up on Xmas. This is my 5th xmas in Seattle and I couldn’t be happier. I make a cup of coffee (sometimes with peppermint extract or nutmeg) and turn off all electronic devices and just sit… in silence. Sometimes I nap. Sometimes I knit. Mostly I just watch the rain.

It’s pretty magical.

My grandmother thinks it’s lonely. My parents think it’s lonely. Everyone thinks it’s lonely. I think it’s heaven on earth and it’s the thing I look forward to the most.

 

What are your holiday traditions? 

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Belize (zombie survival)

Posted: January 13, 2013 in Z0mB!eZ
Tags: , , , ,

Belize = 44/70

 

Belize is an English settlement in Central America that has a population of about 360K (for the whole country). They are on the Caribbean coast, so that means there is a crap-ton of snorkeling, diving, water sports as well as the convenience of the country being really small so you can drive across it in 2 hours.  I was there in November and the bugs were AWFUL on the farm—but I was also a) on a farm b) came here during the “wet season” c) terribly unprepared. So just bring socks and long-sleeves and you’ll be fine.

 

 

LOCATION: 7/10

Central America is a great location weather-wise. A lot of rain in the “winter” (wet season) and it gets really hot, but never super cold. (no snow). This makes it ultimate camping weather, which is important during an apocalypse.

 

WATER: 9/10

Water a plenty here! When it’s the wet season, (if the air is ok), you could drink rain-water (and everyone has a rain-water collector.) If you find a spring, you could also drink from that.

 

Also, because it’s a coastal city, you can always get on a boat and paddle out to one of the keys (caye) for either R&R or escape!

 

LODGING: 6/10

Housing is kinda touch/miss in Central America as a whole. Some people have wood shacks with steel/tin roofs that are easily accessible to zombie hoards. Other people have cement/adobe huts with thatch roofs (again, not really zombie-proof). Many places in Belize were raised up, though, which IS pretty zombie proof—except they are made of wood (easily burnable). So housing may have to be reinforced.

 

FOOD: 9/10

My Belizean experience included a lot of farm food (There is an organic farm in Rancho Dolores, btw) which was all delicious. Papaya, oranges, limes, lemon, kumquats, bananas (a plenty), coconut, rum, sugar cane, beans, onion, ginger, etc were all on the menu every night. The locals all have chicken-coops and cows and sheep and other animals that are all tasty when prepared. The other nice thing is that the locals all know how to butcher meat/eat well— so if you find a local who isn’t undead, you’re in luck!

 

COSTCO/SUPPLIES: 4/10

You won’t have a problem finding a machete, but finding guns/gun supplies will, most definitely, be more difficult. I never found a need to go and get weird/random things that weren’t available at a local store, which is nice. If you are willing to “camp” for a while- you’ll be fine.

 

NON-DEAD DANGERS:  2/10

Oy… where do I begin?

-panthers

-fire ants

-fer de lances (pit viper snakes)

-mosquitos (malaria…. Very rare, though.)

-scorpions (I didn’t see one)

-Tarantulas (actually, they are pretty docile, but a worry, none-the-less).

-rats/mice a-plenty (potential rabies/diseases if they get in your food supply.

 

LOCALS/CULTURE: 7/10

There is definitely a lot of amazing and proud culture in Belize. A lot of the locals are from Africa (slave ships) or from other countries in Central America. All have amazing ancestor tips/tricks as well as ways to celebrate/have a good time (almost all include rum).

 

I meant to write this a long time ago, but time slipped away from me.

THE ATM TOUR!!!! SOOOO COOL!!!

A caving adventure where a guide takes you, not just to see ancient Maya artifacts, but give you an experience of a life-time.

Tour Guide:

Carlos Panti (From everything I’ve read, he’s the best. He has his own company now- so give him an email: carlos.caveguide(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Place:

San Ignacio, Belize.


Cost:

75$USD (or 150$Belize).


Things I wish I did differently:

They suggest to bring snacks, good shoes, towel, change of clothes, and bug spray. Carlos told us to not use bug spray anymore as it’s killing the wildlife once you go swimming (which you do). Besides that, I wish I brought more snacks (so I could have shared with the group) and warmer clothes for the ride back. I wore my Vibrams and that was probably the best idea I’ve ever had.


Who’s it for?

People who like rock-climbing, caving, exploring ruins, hiking, going on “real Indiana Jones adventures”, getting an amazing workout.


Who is it NOT for?

Kids under 12(ish), unfit people, closterphobic people, people who can’t swim well (or freak out if their heads are under water), people who don’t like water/caves.


My experience:

I stayed in San Ignacio for the night and went on the tour the next morning. You hike for 45 minutes through the jungle and cross a river 3x (the same river every time). Then we stopped for lunch and a swim in the most clear water I’ve ever seen! It was basically magical. Then Carlos gave us headlamps and took us into the cave.

We swam into it (as it was too deep to walk) and turned on our helmet lights. Carlos told us a crap ton of Maya culture (fun fact, it’s not “mayan” unless you’re talking about the Mayan Language). What they were like, what history tells us, what this cave may/may not tell us, what historians have found here, what biologists have found here, etc. (It was quite the history lesson and I loved every bit of it!)

In between history and guiding, we walked/climbed/oriented through sections of really slippery/sharp rocks and spiky stalagmites hanging from the ceiling. There was even a segment called “decapitation rock” where you squeezed through this segment of cave where the skinniest part of you (your neck) had to get past this jagged rock. As a team, we all helped each other through the cave without getting hurt.

One of my favorite parts was this big open room with a pretty shallow floor and Carlos told us to turn off our lights. We wandered into the cave in total pitch-black. Using our footsteps as a sonar and “trusting our hearts” we made it through that section. The quietness and pitch-black-ness is unlike anything that you experience on land. Carlos would sometimes yell out suggestions of “Think about the Mayans and what it was like coming down here with just a torch… What do you feel? What do you think you see? Are you using your heart or are you straining your eyes?”

Once inside the main chamber (how the mayans did this with pots on their heads, I’ll never know) we turned on our lights and climbed up some giant rocks to a much drier part of the cave. Took off our shoes (as to preserve as much as possible) and continued onto the magic.

We saw dozens upon dozens of pots in all sorts of conditions, shapes and sizes. Some were perfect. Some were cracked, but most were in their original positions– still with stuff (chili peppers and other sacrifice materials) inside! Some were in places that only Gawd can explain on how they got there (with no light and no equiptment—how did they get them up 30 meters??? UNBROKEN!??) This main room was, or so we were told, a sacrifice room where they would pray to the Gods for some rain and leave offerings (sometimes people. We saw 4 human body remains total).

Overall- the tour was AMAZING and my silly descriptive words don’t do it justice at all. Honestly guys, it’s worth every penny and more. They are probably going to be closing it/restricting it soon (I didn’t have to sign a waiver and there were no built up pathways like there would be in the states– that will all change soon. As well as achiologists taking out the pottery and analyzing it). They don’t allow cameras anymore because some jabroni dropped his on a skull and broke it. 😦 So here is a decent video on Youtube.

So let’s talk about bug bites, shall we?

When you’re outside in grassy areas, you may get the occasional mosquito bite. Hell, you may even get “eaten alive” by mosquitos and- sometimes- even spiders.

In Central America bug bites are a way of life. The Eskimos have something like 42 words for snow… The locals (currently in Guatemala) have 20+ kinds of bug bite symptoms and all sorts of words for them:

  • “the one that oozes pus”
  • “the white mound with a blood dot.”
  • “the scabby blood one”
  • “the pus one- but it coagulates”
  • “the poison-rash”
  • “the venomous bite”
  • “slightly blue or green”
  • “pale to pink when you touch it.”
  • “suuuuper itchy and the bumps are in unspeakable places.”
  • “red and strong swelling”
  • “puffy, oozy and smelly”
  • “red and puffy, but not itchy”
  • “red and white and really itchy”
  • “it feels like a needle is caught in your blood and it’s trying to get out” (this is actually a parasite that IS in your blood/skin and trying to get out.)

    Some phrases that have been uttered lately:

  • “I want to cut my ___ off and respawn another.”
  • “I would rather have 100 tick bites that this.”
  • “if a tarantula bit me right now, he would die from ingesting poison/venom from all these oozy ones.”
  • “is it true that if you sunburn on top of bites they feel better?” (yes)
  • “pica! Pica! Pica!!!!”
  • Tortillas

    Posted: November 18, 2012 in TRAVEL
    Tags: , , ,

    In Belize, I was told that once you know how to make tortillas, you are ready to marry.

    (Fun fact, most couples don’t marry in Belize. They have kids and a family– but a marriage certificate/ceremony means nothing.)

    This is also a staple in our diet down here. I think I had tortillas with every meal- including snacks. Before I left, I made a dozen– because (as Brooks said) “Tortillas save lives!” and she’s right. You never know when you’ll get hungry or meet a cute boy that you want to share your lunch with along the way. 😉

    With that said- I learned how to make tortillas. Here are the steps– in LN-ize.

    Step 1: pour a crap ton of flour on a big wooden surface. shake the wooden surface/bowl so the flour lays flat.

    step 2: lightly sprinkle baking powder so it reaches all the edges.
    Step 3: add salt– to your liking. i like mine a little saltier– but some people only add a pinch. I add about 4 pinches.

    step 4: add a TINY bit of oil…. just drizzle it… the consistency should be (when you mix it with the flour) crumbly– but not ball-forming.

    step 5: start adding water and working it into dough.

    (it’ll be sticky… keep adding water until you get a ball that is “elasticy”. I tend to think “if i can make a swan- it’s good to go”)

    Step 6: start kneeding. just turn on music and kneed. you’ll be kneeding for about 10-15 min.

    Step 7: Once you’re done, make little balls. I do this the Brooks’ way by pinching off a ball and rolling it.


    Step 8: After you’re done, cover it with a shirt and let sit for about 10-15 min.

    Step 9: turn on a pan over high-heat. Let it heat up a bit.

    Step 10: Roll out the balls with a rolling pin/beer bottle.

    Step 11: take the tortilla and put into the hot pan.

    Like a pancake, it’ll get bubbles on the top and not stick to the bottom of the pan. When this happens, flip it using a chop-stick or whatever.

    Step 12: take it out of the pan- and rinse and repeat! 🙂

    (note: the rolling/cooking process goes really quickly once it gets going!)

    Week 1: complete.

    I have done more this week than I did in 3 months working back home. I also feel fantastic! Accomplished! Healthy!

    Here are some random stories/facts I’ve picked up:

  • Clinton Roca is a 57 yr old Kreole man who has worked on Spanish Creek for many years. He is “the horse man”. When trying to tame one, he was tying a rope and the horse bucked his head back and his thumb got caught in the rope and popped it off at the first knuckle. He also got kicked in the face by one and lost and eye and all his teeth. Yet, he laughs constantly and is one of the most pleasant and bravest man I know.
  • The farm I’m working at is all organic. The only chemical they use is against ticks (for the horses) and sometimes (during the wet season) against leaf-cutter ants. The food is amazingly flavorful.
  • Cilantro grows wild here. It’s like grass.
  • Fun fact: when you boil lemon grass, it tastes like fruit loop milk.
  • The spider monkey used to he prevalent around here, but there was a giant fire that forced them from Belize. I was lucky to see one the other day. Howler monkeys, on the other hand, are common and you can hear them everywhere. Their call sounds like dinosaurs.
  • Killer bees (African bees) are a nuisance here. You can actually hear them swarm towards you. When they land, they all pile on top of another to rest, making a fuzzy black blanket on whatever they landed on. They pollinate really well and there are no honey bees around, but they can be deadly. (if you brush them away, they release a pheromone that attracts the other bees towards you.) To kill them, you light a dead banana/palm tree branch on fire and put the fire between yourself and the bees. Light bees on fire.
  • Sitting on the bus, no one talks. They just stare out the window.
  • I went into the city to go snorkeling at Caye Cauker; an island off the coast of Belize. It’s basically a paradise.