April 12-13, 2008
Yesterday I crossed from Guatemala into Belize in the back seats of a couple different chicken buses. I ended up in a small town on the Caribbean coast called Dangriga. I walked around the dusty streets for a few minutes and came across an old black man with beady eyes, no more than a few molars left in his gob, nothing covering his feet, and a skinny frame that had been the result of years of spending all of his spare money on alcohol instead of food. He introduced himself as Abraham Lincoln and invited me to sit next to him on the curb. We talked about life in Dangriga for a few minutes and he attempted to introduce me to his best friend, a bottle that appeared to contain turpentine, but I declined. Instead, I offered to buy Abe a beer, but he logically informed me that I'd be throwing my money away because beer went down like water in a guy like him. Abe and I ended up sitting on the curb for a few hours, and soon I was well acquainted with the riffraff of Dangriga and all of the local gossip that came with the territory of someone with way too much time on his hands.
Today I hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck with three dreadlocked rastas to an even sleepier place called Hopkins. Along the way, one guy's Yankees cap got caught in the wind and blew off his head and onto the highway. I promptly joined the other two in belittling him for not protecting his headgear better and shouted "Not far, not far!" as he made the truck driver drop him off and slowly lurched his way back to the hat while we left him in our dust. Once in Hopkins, I walked up to the house of a leathery American woman whose disorganized garage of a bar put the idea in my head that maybe oceanside poverty wasn't so bad after all. We shared a fresh-squeezed grapefruit just and she blamed the $400-per-night resort next door for using all of the town's water and made no apologies for running the occasional hose across the property line to take a bit of it back. The only other thing happening in Hopkins was an African drum school, but their jam session wouldn't commence until tonight and I didn't feel like sitting around all day waiting for it. Once I had gotten my fix of Hopkins, I hitched back to Dangriga and spent the rest of the day listening to smooth reggae beats in the streets and trying to avoid the 110 degree sun.
Sure, some people seem to think that I'll experience culture shock when I go home, but I don't think so. After all, how different could my life here be from a typical day in the upper Midwest of the US?
The photo album for this entry is here.