Friday, July 10, 2009

Bye-Bye Belize

Absence of things, of peoples and places…is this missing what the heart has encountered. As soon as we attach a name to what we see, hear, smell, taste and feel memories begin and the heart has been imprinted.

The memory that is and will be Belize…I have named the moments and things that sometimes frustrate, sometimes become wearisome and sometimes annoy. I have named the travels that my senses have taken into the scary, the exciting, the beauty and the melodies of the country I shared my life with for almost two and a half years.

What will my heart miss – what memories will I take away – I cannot know as I rejoin my children, family and friends already placed in special chambers of my life prior to the time spent in a place that was once new and is now known to my inner being. It is all flowing in the current of my heart.

Will it be the choir of twenty plus dogs howling though my sleeping hours or will I miss the songs and dances the multitudes of birds sing as I wake in the early dawn? Will it be the windblown garbage that is carelessly strewn everywhere or the indescribable blue-green pearl essence of the sea I am privileged to everyday? Will I miss watching the living carcasses of starving animals walk the roads or the wonder of seeing a jabiru, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, crocodiles and a jaguar in the wild. For sure I will miss the wildness the rainy season brings, especially the cacophony of thousands of Kermit’s friends expressing their joy after the violence of a nightly storm passes.

Time in three villages – I have already forgotten the stench of latrine effluvia and replaced it with smells of caldo and pan tul cooking on the fire hearth while patting cua with my host family mother and sisters. How can I know if I will miss eating meals with my “lone” corn tortillas or poch and no utensils? And what of the pikni I see everyday and the music of their laughter that tickles my smile. No cars, no television, no daily weather and news updates – just what the day brings in either a flurry of activity or hammock time reading 900 page novels.

My neighbor – Miss Vincy – 33 years old, my son’s age – 7 children, ages one to eighteen years old…feeding and sleeping no less than 5 more pikni. Miss Vincy loves her children and her drink. The beauty of those 7 children with three different fathers among them is without words. Three meals a day is a luxury in the new little cement house she purchased with the correct political vote. I’m feverish on a day with something unknown. The gate opens and I am ready to shoo away the little face carrying some porridge for me that Miss Vincy has sent, somehow knowing I was ill. I am humbled by the gift from meager means.

All of us agree, the few choices we have here make life a simple act in the theatre of Punta Gorda town in Belize. There are no department stores, movie screens, no coffee huts or one stop shopping and the small number of restaurants specialize in few entrees, almost all including rice and beans…will I miss the uncomplicated and simple choices as I return to the land of plenty? Rules of engagement - all “booty” entering our stage either by mail, included in carry-ons of visiting friends, or known suspects returning from trips must be shared.

My cool early morning runs take me into the bush as it hums and howls into wakefulness. I hear but don’t see the evening creatures slither and slink into the dense foliage or canopy awaiting the cover of darkness and stars to light their time of day. Riding our bicycles to work or to market - the known and unknown smiles greet and hail us. The afternoons bring the symphony of children’s chatter and young voices calling Miss Karey as pikni come through my weather worn gate carrying flowers for me. Their unwashed clothes, their sugar worn smiles cannot take away the glow of their beauty and sweetness. I will take these warm memories and wrap myself in them as I move into colder climes on in this journey called life.

What will I miss

All of it