The Saga Continues
Date: 19 September 2002
Hello, again. I hope you do not mind these periodic emails about our trials and tribulations in Belize. This is one of the few ways we manage to remain in touch with the 'outside world'. Well, the saga continues with a bit of bad news -- our car has been wrecked by our mechanic. It is fixable, but it will be a while before we are 'on the road again' with it.
It seems that our mechanic 'Victor' took the car out for a joy ride and flipped it on its side. The details are sketchy, but it seems that he and a buddy were driving down the road quite fast and swerved for some reason, and the car flipped on the driver's side and skidded down the road. Victor's left arm was nearly ripped off as a consequence, and his buddy ran off leaving him to nearly bleed to death. Broken beer bottles were found in the car, and they certainly weren't mine. Eventually an ambulance arrived and took Victor to Belize City hospital which was an indication of the seriousness of his injuries.
The car was supposed to be getting a new transmission seal installed, and was to be finished by the end of the day. Victor had fixed the car previously when it was overheating and he did a good job replacing hoses, cleaning the radiator, checking the thermostat, and resetting the timing, all of which helped the vehicle tremendously. But it seems that you have to watch over these guys every step of the way -- which means that you have to be there the entire time they work on your car. Victor doesn't have his own shop -- he works for someone who does, but he is not an official 'employee'. The car had been in the shop earlier in the day, but I spent the night riding my bike looking for the car and Victor with no luck. The next morning a policeman showed up at our house to tell us Victor had flipped the car and that he was badly hurt and may lose his arm.
I hopped on my bike and pedaled the 3 miles to the wreck which had been 'towed' to another mechanic just about 100 feet away. The entire driver's side was completely flattened and scraped. The front windshield, back windshield, and all the windows on the driver's side were smashed. There was blood everywhere, broken glass everywhere, and tiny shards dusting the upholstery. Luckily, the engine, transmission, tires, and undercarriage were not damaged. But the vehicle is in need of an entire left side. It is a sad, sad sight. My anger was tempered by the fact that the driver may lose his arm -- our car is just a material possession, but someone could have easily been killed -- I'm just glad no innocent bystanders were hurt or worse.
Of course in a tiny town like this, word gets around quickly, and within hours, people were coming by to offer their sympathies and advice. We learned that Victor's nickname was 'Speedy' and that this was not the first time he had wrecked someone's car. The police recommend suing him in civil court for damages -- if he doesn't pay, he would go to 'maximum security'. Well, he doesn't have the money, and he's still in the hospital. I don't want to put him in jail, but since this is not the first time, perhaps getting him off the streets will protect someone else for a while. We'll see... not sure what to do just yet except find another Pathfinder in a scrapyard somewhere. So the search has begun...
All this happened as we just finished extending the driveway to allow the bus to be parked within our property where it was to be stationary for a while. And now that it is parked and hooked up, we don't want to move it very often. So, we have been walking to the market and riding our bikes for longer trips, and it has really been nice to be 'grounded' like this. Cheyenne goes to school next door so there is no need to drop her off and pick her up. She walks home for lunch and returns on her own. We have been riding our bikes together to visit friends or to one of the parks. We have come to appreciate being walking distance from basically everything and have hardly missed the car. (But we still want it back.)
While Belize does not observe Labor Day, it does however have 3 major holidays in September. The Battle of St.George's Key, Independence Day, and their associated Carnivals have made almost every week a 3 or 4 day work/school week. It is hard to keep up with the next event -- a parade here, a parade there, this pageant, that pageant. This weekend is Belize Independence Day with festivities beginning today through Monday -- Belizeans like to celebrate, and Carnival starts tonight.
A couple weeks ago, we were invited by one of the teachers here to attend the 'Queen of the Bay' beauty pageant that her daughter was participating in. I agreed to videotape it for her and got a front row seat in the town's Civic Center where the pageant was being held. Six grueling hours later, her daughter had in fact won! It was an interesting slice of Belizean culture to see the town gather for the event. Ebony, the new Queen of the Bay, would later compete for Miss Belize the following Friday -- and she won again! I'm not a big fan of these things normally, but it was fun to be somewhat involved and to follow Ebony through the process.
Over the last couple months, we have been getting to know the rest of the 'gringos' down here who are primarily retirees with a few exceptions. Among them are several musicians and a couple computer guys. I have been invited to join a band called 'The Paradise Wranglers' and play harp (harmonica) on Sunday afternoons. Interestingly, Sunday is busier than Saturday here. People go to church in the morning then go out to the beach, restaurants, etc. in the afternoons and evening. You hardly see children playing in the parks during the day, but they are filled at night -- even until 10 or 11pm. I guess it's just too hot during the day.
The change of pace has been good for us. I am still working on a few small contracts and have even made a couple 'house-calls' here in town to help folks with their computers. I think in time I will be one of the main guys on-call around here for computer work -- not that there is much money in it down here, but it helps to meet expenses. Cheyenne is enjoying school for the most part although she says it is hard sometimes which is good as far as I am concerned because it means she is being challenged. We share a backyard with a preschool, and Lakota is attending there, although the first week was filled with toddlers crying almost all day and Lakota had had just about enough. We let him stay home sometimes and 'homeschool' him here since we have the time and can give him some personal attention.
All in all, we are adjusting to our new way of life and are grateful for the people we have come to know as friends here. I have come to realize that we have not just moved to a new place but to a new people. And after roughing it in the bush for a couple months, it was the people that really 'sealed the deal' for me. Without their kindness and gentle nature, this would be a rough place indeed.
Until the next time, au revoir,
Eric, Lyne, Cheyenne, and Lakota Schaub