Sunday, April 27, 2003

Livingston, Guatemala

It's been two days since my last confession... whoops! Wrong journal!
Anyway, we are still alive and hanging in Livingston. Yesterday, my birthday, was a blur.
No suprise there.

The heat continues - 95 right now. Tomorrow we head back to Flores where the forecast
calls for 100. Talk about sweatin' to the oldies.

I've been keeping a journal, but it is too hard to write at length with a keyboard formatted
for Spanish. I will bring the blog up to date - and post pics - when I am back in Belize on

If you're bored, check this out

Not really looking forward to going home. Hard to believe the end is neigh. Maybe SARS
will keep me here!



Friday, April 25, 2003

Livingston, Guatemala

After four hours on the bus and an hour [or more] on a boat, we have arrived in the very unique town of Livingston.
I have tons to write about, but cheap beer and local music are calling. I will update the last couple of days on Saturday.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

Flores, Guatemala

This is going to be fast and without details. Brent and I arrived in Guatemala after a whirlwind of work and adventure the past 2 days. We shot a story on Belize´s numero uno kids show host. And I recorded a CBC radio item on some local music. Then we visited the soccer field that is cut in half by the Belize-Guatemala border.

We arrived in Flores in the early afternoon... and have had several beer, some food, a could of hammered Guatemalan´s chat with us (or chat us up?). We even visited with Steve Huges pal Juan Carlos!

We´re checking email and then heading back to the hotel. What an adventure this has been. Wait until I actually write about it and post photos.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003

(April 22, 2003)

Today was the last day on Caye Caulker. Very, very sad to see it go. And you can see it too at:

Monday Night:

We went didn’t do much last night as we were all bushed. The days tend to be long, it is just normal to go to bed early most nights. The three of us went to Barb’s waterfront bar. After a drink, Brent and Roh headed back to their room. I stayed and ended up meeting a bunch of guys from Vancouver. I bored them to death with border talk. I also said how Brent and I were trying to find a concept for me to deliver radio reports – and travel – and get paid. The Vancouverites liked this idea, except we couldn’t find a focus.

Suddenly, a wild eyed Brent comes storming into the bar yelling, “I’ve got it!!!” And indeed, he did. But I won’t repeat what here. But there is a companion booked called “How I got the CBC to pay for me to travel the world.” That probably gives you an idea.

And with that, I stumbled home, a grin plastered on my face.


It was another hot morning. Roh had to get up super early and take the watertaxi back to the city for a day of work. Brent and I cleaned up and headed to the Lucky Lobster for a fairly quick breakfast, by Lobster standards.

At 10:30 we went snorkeling… exactly 3 years, 4 months and 22 days, we returned to the spot where we welcomed the year 2000. It was still wet.

We stopped in three places… all near the reef. The first was lame and didn’t feature much other than a few complaining and non-participating cruise ship tourists. Brent and I made fun of them.

The second spot was great: tons of sting rays, schools of multi-coloured fish, and more coral than you could shake a dead cat at. But there were no sharks, unlike last time. This was disappointing. Or it was disappointing until about 15 sting rays swam under me, their steely eyes looking at me like I was in a zoo. Or dinner. Do they eat people?

The third spot was more reef, but the coral was much deeper. I had a wee underwater camera with me and took lots of shots there. There were more multi-coloured fish and lots of prickly looking things that I thought I ought not to touch.

Back on land, we went to Barb’s bar and enjoyed a couple of pints while we mocked CNN. It’s SO easy, because they are SO bad! Not all of it, just all the one-sided Iraqi war coverage.

We took the three o’clock watertaxi back to the city. It was sad watching Caye Caulker shrink in the distance. It is truly paradise. Just the right amount of tourist stuff and real Belize life stuff. And a nice group of characters to laugh with.

On the taxi ride, there was a woman who must have been a model for “Discount Bob’s House of Plastic Surgery and Augmentation.” She had it all: tucks, sucks, and the worlds worst collagen lips. The poor thing. I think her hubby was adorned with a rug. They were from the cheap cruise ship… and I think only spent a day avoiding all food on Caulker for fear of getting some incurable disease. In her case, vanity was a disease.

Noise. Noise. Noise. Back in Belize City, we are hit with a symphony of sounds: cars, dogs, loud music. And heat. It is way hotter in the city (90’s instead of 80’s), and there is no cool ocean breeze.

As the plan is to go to Guatemala on Wednesday, we had to get washing done. Brent and Roh have a washer, but not a dryer. And it was too late to dry using the sun. We bought opened a couple of beers to help us figure out this dilemma. Ah! The Laundromat!

We dropped our stuff off, and headed to the Canton Restaurant for some dandy food.

It’s Karaoke TV night in Belize, so Brent had to run off to do that. I found the Canucks game on ESPN2 and have been typing this blog submission in Word while I watch the game. A rum and mango drink is accompanying me. During the commercial breaks I flick to KTV. Someone is butchering Roberta Flack.
Blues score. 1-0. Some one is singing the hit from “Four YOUNG Blondes,” which, when I left Canada were called “Four Non-blondes.” Canucks score. 1-1.
Now it’s Celine Dion. Canucks score. 2-1. And now someone is destroying a Backstreet Boys tune, if that is even possible. Canucks score. 3-1. KTV is over and the winner is the woman from Belmopan who destroyed the Four Young/Non-blondes tune. Brent should be home shortly. I will update hockey as things change.

There is some weirdness… tonight on Channel Five was this report:

SARS, the acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, has finally made a direct impact on Belize. No, there have not been any reported instances of the deadly disease here...but to make sure things stay that way the Minister of Home Affairs, Ralph Fonseca, has ordered a temporary ban on the entry of citizens into Belize from six specific places: The People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, India and Canada. While the first four East Asian territories are acknowledged to be hotbeds of the virus, the last two remain a mystery. Why, for example would citizens of India, a country with only one reported case of SARS, be barred from entering Belize? And what about Canada? Even though it has reported a total of one hundred and thirty-nine SARS cases, health authorities there have already isolated most suspected carriers. Accounting for perhaps as much as fifteen percent of tourist arrivals, the barring of Canadian visitors will have a major impact on the economy. While there may be a sound explanation for these decisions, unfortunately, despite our repeated phone calls, nobody in the Ministry of Home Affairs was talking. Late this evening News 5's Patrick Jones spoke to Director of Health Services Dr. Errol Vanzie, who, while acknowledging the danger of the epidemic, could not explain the choice of countries.

This means that is it possible that I might not be able to return to Belize if I enter Guatemala tomorrow.

Luckily, Roh’s Uncle is the head of Immigration for Belize. We called him to ask if there would be a problem if I left the country and tried to get back in. He didn’t seem to think so. I think that we’ll have to check in the morning. Secretly, I want to go back to Caye Caulker, and this would be a good reason to! We could still visit the border area, and then come back. We’ll see.

The third period hasn’t started, so I think I will pull the pin and continue tomorrow.


Monday, April 21, 2003

Not much has happened since last night. After the Canucks game we went off and did more nothing. It's easy to do nothing here. And despite Easter, no guilt either!

There was a huge storm last night... the rain was so heavy and the winds so strong that it came right into my room and onto me. It was actually refreshing. In short order, I was back to sleep.

I woke again around 5:30am to the sound of someone doing their washing outside my rear window. And the roosters.

Because of the rain, the water was extremely stinky -- no amount of letting the water run made it any less stinky. I plugged my nose and dove in, getting clean in very short order. I probably stink anyway.

A few hours were killed using Brent's shortwave radio to try and pick up some news. The problem with shortwave is that there isn't much selection. I am able to pull in Voice of America (gag), a million Spanish stations, and a billion God stations. One even sounded like God. But he was speaking in Spanish, so I don't know if he was telling me to feel guilty for something I've either done or not done.

Roh and Brent finally woke up and after their stinky showers, we all went to the Lucky Lobster where the service was much improved. A huge glass of watermelon juice, fry jacks, a big omlette, and many cups of coffee later, we headed back to the "ranch" to do nothing.

I finished Pete McCarthy's "McCarthy's Pub" -- reminded of what my own Irish experience was like. You've got to love this travel thing.

The day is cool and cloudy at times, then, when the sun comes out, it is hot and sunny. Which would make sense. No, I have not been drinking. Yet.

I wandered to the juice monger this morning as well -- for a litre of Mango-Banana-Papaya. I can't believe how amazing all this fresh stuff tastes. And there is fresh fruit growing everywhere. I nearly got whacked by a falling papaya this morning. Luckily, it missed and has gone on to provide a billion ants with food for a year. Maybe they'll finally leave my room. Little bastards.

The plan for today is to head out snorkeling if the winds drop. If not, then Brent and I will go tomorrow. This is probably our last night here. Roh has to work tomorrow and will be taking the first boat. Brent and I will stay for the rest of the day and do... nothing. Then it will be decision time: stay or go. I want to stay, but I want to get to Guatemala. And I know the border freaks would never excuse me missing a border visit. And I also need to get some stuff done for CBC radio. I recorded some local music last night, but there was no real story to be found. There are several in Belize City -- and this will also earn me a few bucks.

I'm still trying to convince Infomatrix to give me approval for a story on the Belizean kids show host -- but it is a hard sell. It will make all the difference financially if I could make a few more bucks while here.

Brent and I have been talking about land. While not cheap, it is a bargin and good investment by Canuck standards. I can easily see having a place here. The other benefit is this: you can renew your tourist visa (30 days) endlessly. So all you have to do is renew it by leaving the country (want into and back from Mexico) for a year and suddenly you have landed immigrant status. That means you can work here legally. Then, invest 4 more years and you get citizenship. That might not seem like a great deal compared to a Canadian passport, but, you can keep the Canadian one -- and a Belizean one allows you to work in any carribean country. SWEET! I should have thought about this when I was here in 1999.

There will probably be a job opening up at Channel 5 in the fall -- and that means that there is a good possibility of doing something as radical as moving here. I think that the chances of doing something like that are small. But if work starts to dry up in Canada... what the hell.

Just after noon now... I must get on with doing nothing. More from Belize City tomorrow -- and pictures!

Sunday, April 20, 2003

More from Saturday:

Spent more time hanging out with Heather, Elaine, Neno and the woman who looks like Joan. We bake in the sun and then head off to the local grocery, Chan's, for fresh fruit juice. Mango, papaya, watermelon... amazing. Tastes nothing like the dreck back home.

For lunch we hit a place called the roadside and enjoy some tasty fried chicken. Actually, it was from the roadside, not THE ROADSIDE.

At the Split, things are heating up: bikini contests. Okay...

For dinner we hit the place across from the hotel, but it is far too expensive. Entrees are like US$8!! Cha!!! We wander down to a place that is owned by a woman named Barb. Great beach bar. No food. Grr.

Back to the split where we learn that people in Belize who have killed people show it with a tattooed teardrop on the face. We meet a guy with two. And are careful what we say. And then bolt for safety to The Oceanside for what we had hoped would be Karoke and dinner. And maybe another Maurice fight. But it was just dinner. I watched hockey on TV while my toes played in the sand floor. The food was great: garlic pasta for me. Lots and tasty. And my innards are working fine. No you-know-what that usually occurs on all my trips.

We try some other Belize beer: Premium. Yeech. More expensive, less taste.

Wandering again, we come across some Garifuna drummers, doing a traditional dance making fun of white slave owners. Its not a great time to be white.

Caulker is so hard to explain: it is like the best of cottage country in Canada, with the best of Jamaica, with the best of... lawlessness. It's so great that I want to just stay. Lots of changes from the visit in 2000, but we discover that the Vancouver women were here then too. We don't remember each other which is probably a good thing!

Lots of short pixie girls dot the island. Those of you who know, know of what I speak. I was thinking who I wish were here with me. But I will keep that silent. No point pissing people off. But Janis gets a 4 star grade for her giving me the Pete McCarthy book on Ireland. It has been the best companion.

Easter Sunday:

Up early, but not early enough for the pre-sunrise swim. Made coffee and read the above mentioned McCarthy book. GREAT! Lunch was at a small bar that was under construction when I arrived on Wednesday. The jerk chicken was jerkless.

We went to Heather's and took kayaks out. We went to the other part of Caye Caulker past the split and hooked up with Maurice and his Eurowoman. It was totally Beverly Hillbillies: no lights, no phone, no motor car. We hang out for a while and then head back to the split, pull up the kayak and have a beer. On the way, we beach ourselves several times, and Brent tells me about the crocs that inhabit this part of the island. At one point we had to get out of the double kayak and push, but the mud was so deep that we sunk to our knees. Strange ocean!

The Vancouver women at Heather's are less friendly each time that we see them. Is this because they're from Vancouver? It's really weird. Brent and I head back to the hotel for more drinks and discuss travel, buying land in Belize, and citizenship here. Hmmm. Roh is out with her band buddies.

Buying land here is cheap and easy.... and it makes lot of sense as a 20 year investment. Just then, a fat pink guy drives by in a golfcart. Maybe this isn't the place to buy. And then an American helicopter flies over -- making sure that no communist stuff is happening on Caye Caulker. Being so close to Cuba, Belize is always under suspicion.

As I finish this, I am at the internet cafe and the Canucks have just won -- and there were 5 of us watching/listening to the game who call Vancouver home. Though not the Vancouver women. They were being bitter somewhere!

Go Canucks Go!

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Friday 4/18/03

I am up before the wild animals, the ants and before the last party people have made it to their park benches. The sky is bright, but the sun is still down. I saunter the 50 metres to the nearest dock -- and jump off the end into the Gulf of Mexico. At least that's what I think it is. No matter, it is clear, clean and warm. Looking like a manatee, I splash around in total privacy as a big red blob of a new day rises in the distance. It doesn't get much better than this.

In short order I am back in my room making awful instant coffee. It is so unlike coffee, I would think that Juan Valdez should be filing suit against the makers of this charlatan dreck.

I have learned how to overcome the smelly water that is common here this time of year. If you run the shower long enough to get water that hasn't been sitting and mutating in the pipes, you can actually enjoy an experience that doesn't smell like a Ukrainian border bathroom. The water is rather brackish as the wells here are getting low and the island is so small.

Time for breakfast: I saunter down the sandy main drag in search of something tasty. The Happy Lobster will do. Its not too busy, but the waiter is a slow motion Walter. I have to get my own coffee. Then my own menu. And then I sit and watch as he buses tables, one plate at a time. Concious of not wanting to be an impatient foreigner, I wait. And wait. And wait. After more than half an hour I bail. At least I got a free coffee out of the deal.

I head to Rasta Pasta for a great (big) breakfast burrito on the beach. A large group of tourists is complaining loudly as their kids wreak havoc. Luckily, their water taxi arrives and they have to scurry off to annoy more people. A feral cat comes to visit, and another tourist feeds it some tough-as-shoe-leather bacon. Or maybe it was jerky. Or flat tyre repair strips.

Later in the day Brent and Roh arrive and we go a-visiting. We meet friends of theirs from Vancouver who own a small inn. We hang with them for a while drinking fruity drinks. There is a BC flag flying next door. Strange.

Many hours later, I wander to the split to catch sunset. I snap a few thousand pictures along with a few other folks. Brent joins up and suggests one could easily start a photograph-the-tourists business and make a killing. Hmmmm...

Brent explains the concept of Rent-A-Dred: where portly middle aged European women come to find a good black lover. And to pay his rent and meals and bar tabs. You see it every where.

Speaking of Rent-A-Dred, we meet Maurice, the owner of a cheap eatery called Wish Willy. He serves cheap food and fruity drinks -- and tells many stories. He also has a harem of European women.

A feral cat comes to meow at us... and then we're gone...

Still hungry, we stop for some rice and beans and fry chicken at the side of the road. Yes, I am tempting the innard Gods, but so far so good. No need for the immodium just yet.

Brent is loaded by sundown, so Roh and I hang out for a bit. At 10pm or so, we pull the pin.

4.19.03 -- Saturday

Good news about the Canucks winning.

In Belize proper, the biggest sporting event is on -- a huge cycle race. Radios across the island are blasting the play-by-play in creole. The coverage is interruped by an ad for a car repair shop: "Disgruntled ex-lover scratch your fenders? Come see us!"

Breakfast this morning was super cheap: US$5 for Spanish eggs, fry jacks, coffee, fresh oj. Not bad.

In the internet cafe where I write I am just hearing how a European woman freaked on Maurice last night in the disco... I hope to hear more about that. Apparently for 90 minutes Maurice was pushing her away. The disco was boring, but this was keeping everyone entertained...

It's time for a rum... See you Easter Sunday...

Friday, April 18, 2003


Is this what the end of the world is like? Not the end as in "its over," but the end as in this is the place where the next step means falling off the edge of the planet.

I sit in the Lazy Lizard, a local watering hole on a bakery hot (and fresh) Thursday afternoon. It is an open bar, surrounded on three sides by water. There are bits of logic scribbled all over the ceiling and support pillars. Wisdom like "No one knew I was a drinker until I came to work sober." And, my personal favourite and new mantra: "Responsibility stops here."

And so it does.

SPLASH! Someone jumps from the bar directly into the water. I can smell the flesh on the back of my legs burning. And this is despite SPF30 sundope.

The bartender looks like a younger and attractive version of Joni Mitchell. Ok, so she looks nothing like Joni Mitchell. But she's wearing nice colourful wrap stuff.

Hours later the sun is getting ready to slide into beneath the horizon. As it turns to a brilliant red, a group of Americans arrive, fresh from over-priced, over-safe, overly boring day trips. I am heartened to know that they are paying Gringo prices. That more than makes up for the fact that their complaning and drunkeness completely ruins what should be an outstanding drunken moment of my own. The crowds come and go, always seeming the same. Perhaps it is a little like the Matrix, where all this is just manufactured for my benefit. To hide the fact that I work for a living and all this is just payoff. Perhaps I need another drink.

Magic hour continues and I notice that Joni Mitchell has mixed herself a rather generous rum and fruit juice concoction. She must have freepoured at least 6 ounces. Put up a parking lot!! Suddenly, the drink is gone. I am encourged by her consumption and order another, hoping she will put the same freepouring effort into my drink. Nope. I get a Gringo sized shot.

An American zips off the legs of his Eddie Bauer pants. There but by the grace of God go I. Presently, one of them is complaining about having "foreign" currency. And the fact that the cost of the cab from the airport to the water taxi has gone up $2. Which is US$1. Imagine!!!

Maybe I shouldn't be so judgemental. I'm as touristy as the rest of them. And like them, I'm here to relax and enjoy life. And I don't mind foreign currency one bit.

Still: how can a culture that is so educated and advanced produce complete nincompoops that travel the world acting like morons? I suppose that being the biggest and strongest nation means that you can wank around the world in search of the happiness that only a Walmart can bring. C'est la vie.


There is fire in my mouth. I am now enjoying dinner at a beachside joint called Rasta Pasta. I have landed here, having watched the sun set and Joni stumble off in a fog. When the barkeep wanders off hammered, you know its time to go. Not wanting the disappointment of the "curry" at the China resteraunt from the previous evening, I was looking for something more... well, good.

The American women from yesterday are no where to be seen. But they had mentioned the Happy Lobster and Rasta Pasta as being good places to eat. Reluctantly, I decided to follow their advice.

Crowded with a primarily white crowd (and by white, I mean the colour of whole milk) and a redheaded waitress, it seemed to be a good place to hang out. The menu was huge -- and carted from table to table like a large sofa. The prices seemed pricey, but in reality they weren't. A "huge burrito" was US$7. Or was that the entertainment, Hugh Burrito (and his jazz cats)? Anywy, I ordered a beer and some chicken pasta. Then I saw that a huge burrito was just that: huge. Good thing I didn't order one of those.

I alternately looked at the ceiling -- made of wind battered Bob Marley & Peter tosh flags and the floor, made of sand. I occasionally peer at my Pete McCarthy book. This is definitely not Ireland.

A quick trip to the loo brings back memories of Ukranian border crossing loos. Not as dirty, but definitely as smelly. I think I may have found Saddam's chemical weapon storage bunker. It is labelled "Men," which must be Iraqi for death.

Back at the table, I have three empty seats. In short order they are filled with people. Eva, Toni, and Janet. Janet is an American who is heading home after 4 months on Caulker. Tony is an Ameican who runs a B&B. And Eva is a native Belizian! Eva spills the story of her life: 35 years old, runs the art gallery here, and has had two lovers.


Then she spills the big news: for many years she was on the radio -- as Dr. Love! She dispensed advice to the love lorn of Central America in English, Creole and Spanish. She tells stories of people chasing her around asking her questions. She pulled the pin on being in the media when she starred in an anti-domestic violence PSA as a battered woman. For years people asked her if she was really beaten in the commercial. It was too much for her.

We continue babbling until late (11pm). It is time for bed. We say our goodbyes and head off on our seperate ways.

Another day in paradise. With Dr. Love!

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Morning in Caye Caulker

How nice was it to have slept 10+ hours last night sans the horrid wail of dogs? Pretty damn nice, let me tell you. Sonically, this place is paradise. Add the 90 degree heat, beaches, and bikini clad crowds... well, I wouldn't be surprised to see Gilligan walk by.

Yesterday was fairly lazy. I wandered down to a bar at "the Split." The Split is where Caye Caulker was sliced in two by a hurricane years ago. And since the last time I was here, and after more hurricanes, the place has changed considerably. Gone are the mangroves... now it is beach central. Nice.

I sat at the bar, reading, and in short order had met a group of Ameicans from LA. They were here (and still are) to celebrate the 40th birthday of one of them. Sounds familiar. We hung out and swapped stories for a while. I dined on BBQ chicken and made a mess of my face. I also discovered that I had burned my arms during the short water taxi ride from the mainland. This with +30 sundope on. Go figure.

This morning I went for breakfast at the Happy Lobster. This was a nice and not too expensive treat -- about US$8 for bottomless good coffee, a big omlette with unlimited hot sauce, toast, hash browns and a big glass of watermellon juice. I love watermellon juice... another addiction!

Played with the digital camera last night at sunset. Got some great shots, although I will have to wait until I get back to Brent's place before I can see them full screen and post them. I also played around with long time exposures -- there was an amazingly fat moon hanging in the sky. With an 8 second exposure, the sky turns a rich blue, and you can see the moon reflected on the water. It's pretty sweet.

The plan for the day is a simple one: read and veg. Go for lunch. Read some more. Go for dinner. Hang out.

I want to turn in early (which is normal) and try and get up for sunrise around 4am. I awoke briefly this morning, and the sky was the colour of a box of pastels. I want to try and capture those images. The memory in the camera is filling up rapidly, though I am using a lower resolution mode now. There is a place on the island that lets you dump to disk. I may do that if its not too expensive.

I forgot to mention the phrase of the trip so far: Willful nasty. Roh came up with this to describe something that is really bad. IE: That rum is willful nasty. I think it makes a great moniker for a band. Or production company.

That is all. More tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Karaoke Night in Belize

Picture this: a seaside bar packed with locals. They are the studio audience for the biggest hit on Belizean TV: Karaoke TV. Brent had told me about this phenom that occurs every Tuesday night. And boy, was he right. It was dichotimy (spelling, I know) city: Mennonites singing Bon Jovi, Belizean cab drivers singing Charley Pride and a woman from the prison singing Shania. All in a place with no windows and a sea breeze. On top of all this, the program is broadcast live to the nation. This goes on for 7 more weeks, and then the best of the best compete to be crowned best Karoke singer. And how were the 5 from last night? Some ok (the cab driver), some not so good (Shania). But all in all, a cool experience.

This morning I was up early... out the door and in short order zipping across the sea on a water taxi. Destination: Caye Caulker.

So far so good. +30 and sunny. White sandy beaches. And the hoards of tourists are no where to be seen. This will change, though, as Easter is a huge holiday season in Belize. It's going to be one big bash. Brent and Roh come over Friday. We're all here until Monday... then Brent and I will head for Guatemala.

The place I'm staying is called the Blue Wave. I have a spartan cabin looking at the water. It's got its own bathroom and is nice and comfy. Cheap too: US$25/night. I've stocked up on ice, beer, rum, snacks and have 3 books to get through. And a billion pictures to take, but they won't be posted until I'm back in Belize City.

And with that... ciao!

Jah over all!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Belize City, later.

I got off my duff and met Brent for lunch. After that, I went for a stroll to check out the museum and snap some pictures.
The pix can be seen here:

Only a few hours until the National Karaoke television broadcast... THAT will be interesting.

The guilt is setting in. After a few days of doing less than nothing here in Belize City, I’m getting restless.

Belize City is a dumpy spot, and there is little to do. I’m here only one more night (at least it’s cheap staying on Brent & Roh’s couch!). That said, today I will wander off in search of the museum and fell like I’m done more than just nothing.

Tomorrow morning, things will change substantially when I take the water taxi over to Caye Caulker. I’ll be there until after Easter. Brent and Roh are coming over Friday morning and we’ll all be there for Easter – which is the busiest time of year on Caulker.

The great thing about getting over there is that there are billions of things to do/spend money on: snorkeling, deep sea fishing, kayaking, etc. And it will be an opportunity to visit with other travelers.

Following Caulker, the plan is to head to the border area of Belize & Guatemala to do a little research. Brent is taking time off, so we’ll both be on the road. If approved by the CBC, we’ll do a feature on the #1 kids show in Belize: the Pandy Show. After that, Guatemala.

It’s very strange to have all this free time. I’ll attack a book today as well. And try to keep BBC world switched off. I see Syria is fast becoming the next domino that America seeks to topple. And so it goes.

The weather has been great here: not too hot, nor too humid. Hot, being relative, of course. It generally gets to near 90 by midday. The three fans in the living room add a little comfort, though the heat is not an issue for me. I love being donned in only shorts, t-shirts and bare feet.

Work-wise, I have done little. This will change soon, though. I don’t know how many radio items I’ll attempt, but there are certainly lots of stories to be told. I’m planning to take my gear to Caye Caulker – but I am not going to bring Brent’s computer. The salt air is probably not good for his shiny new Mac.

That’s it for now…

Monday, April 14, 2003


Belize City, Belize

Remember the scene in the (original) Grinch where the green one is expressing his displeasure with all things noisy?

Welcome to Belize City!

If there is a noise capital of the world, then this is it. From very early in the morning until the last seconds of the day, there is a canine symphony that fills the air. On the weekend, there is the addition of stereos that are cranked to 11. And then amplified!

And then there is the heat. By early morning, it feels like mid-afternoon. So the body thinks that 6am is a good time to wake up. And there is the humidity. I have never glistened so much.

But all is good. Belize City is part Worldvision infomercial, part… well, actually I expect to see Jann Arden, Rod Black or Tom Cochrane around the next corner. Is that Bruce Coburn I see over there at the well?

Welcome to the third world, and for all the noise and dirt and heat, it is wonderful. The rhythm of Creole. Street tacos. Mennonites selling furniture. Rotund tourists. It is like Belize City is some sort of magnet that pulls everything together.

So far, I have spent time only in the city. I’ve met local folks, enjoyed local fare, and watched Brent as he paid gringo prices to the fish mongers.

Today will be planning day: planning the CBC radio items, hopefully some television work, and, of course, border stuff. Brent is at work – he just popped in to see if I wanted to go with him to cover a murder that happened overnight in the north of the country. I decided that felt too much like real work, and decided that hanging out with the barking dogs was a better option.

The stories I’m thinking of doing are:

- Pandy: a behind the scenes story on the most popular kids television host.
- Mr. Peters: the last of a generation of Brukdown musicians.
- El Aranal: the community with a soccer field split by the Belize-Guatemalan border.

I also will attempt to post some images at:

Until the next time…

Saturday, April 12, 2003

How's this for weird. I'm in Belize... we had a big BBQ and then watched the Canucks beat the Blues 2-1 on the TV. All the way down here, 2 fans of the Canucks cheered wildly -- scaring the neighbours, no doubt!

Today was a nice relaxing day... we went shopping for staples, bought a table from the Mennonites, did some more shopping, bought some fresh fish (barracuda)... and then had a big BBQ featuring beer, steak, barracuda, and some tasty pasta salad.

So far so good. Its 10pm local, and Brent is sleeping on the couch. Roh (Brent's GF) is singing at a wedding or something. And I am being geek boy. It is certainly nice not to be thinking about work. Tomorrow there is nothing on the list of things to do. Nor Monday. Nor Tuesday. Wednesday I head to Caye Caulker for some snorkeling and to do more nothing.

I like this.

Belize City...

I arrived yesterday... all is good. Had several pints with Brent and Roh.
Saw Roh sing @ the bar... and so on... Much more detail to come.

With dial up, one must compose offline.

12:41pm here... just cracked a beer.

April 10,2003 (actual writing time)

Houston, Texas.
George Bush International Airport

Shock of shocks: I managed to sleep through most of the flight from Seattle to Houston. The seats on the Continental flight have either shrunk or I have gotten larger. You can figure which answer is the correct one.

The flight arrived in the pre-dawn Texas darkness, and here I sit – killing time. I’ve been here since about 6:30am. The next flight goes at 11:30 or so. And as I type this, it is 8:21.

This must be my most interesting travel story ever!

Waves of people go by – flights departing and arriving. There is lots of Spanish spoken, and I assume that is because Continental services much of Latin America.

There are smaller bellies than I had imagined. In fact, America looks quite fit.

There is little food choice where I am holed up. Shortly I will go wander the rest of the terminal. In Seattle I had to go through the whole security exam – shoes removed and x-rayed, told to “stand over there,” so I could be fisked and “wanded.” Has there been a connection between weight gain and exposure to metal detectors?

One disappointment is that there is no wireless internet access where I am. I don’t know if this is true for the entire airport – I can’t imagine that! But, I am having to write this drivel in Word and hope to cut and paste before I hop and fly.

CNN blares, and it still filled with war. I just heard shock and awe again. This time it probably refers to the reaction to the price of a Starbucks in George Bush International.

I guess its too early for a beer. Probably not too early for Duty Free!

And with that…

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Almost midnight and I'm sitting in another departure lounge. This one is in Seattle.
The flight from Vancouver was almost silly -- less than an hour. The plane was a small
turbo prop affair. Imagine my delight in watching the landing gear spark -- RIGHT OUT
MY WINDOW. Too cool.

It was tough to find a) a place to sit b) something to eat in SeaTac. Wireless internet
is everywhere! God love technology.

So I'm sitting here waiting for my 12:23am flight to Houston. Looks like its going to be a
full flight, ya'll. And babies a plenty too!

CNN is blaring in the lounge. And what do you know -- its exactly like CNN at home but,
unfortunately, I don't have the option to watch something a little less slanted: the BBC.

It's going to be nice to be far away from work (not that far) and the war (real far). I hope
that I am sans TV on Caye Caulker. No phone, no lights, no motor car. Just
a lot of beer.

They're calling the flight. I will hope to write more from George Bush International Airport.
Hmmm. Isn't that in Baghdad?

Oh oh...

No more sleeps. The trip is but hours away!

All the running around is pretty much done. I found the shirts, the shorts, the suntan lotion. I am equipped to meet the 90 degree heat head on.

Still, there are many hours to go before I arrive in paradise. A little itinerary then:

8pm Official search courtesy by US customs. Have Dixie Chicks CDs seized.
9pm Plane leaves Vancouver.
9:50pm Arrive Seattle.
9:51 Wander around SeaTac for 3 hours.
12:30AM Leave Seattle.
6:30AM Arrive George Bush Airport, Houston.
6:31AM Get tarred and feathered due to Canadian status.
11:30AM Leave Houston.
1:30PM Arrive Belize City.
1:31PM Get robbed.
1:32PM Crack first beer/rum.
1:33PM Exhale.

Excuse me while I pack...

PS: Taxes? Hahahahahahahahahaha

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

I hate taxes!!

Note to self: don't let all the paperwork build up.

Back to the drugery...

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Tax hell continues. At the moment, I've pretty much reorganized the house to be able to figure the frickin' numbers out.
A little break before heading back.

But in less than 48 hours, I'll be on a plane.

Nice job attacking the journalists in Baghdad... there but by the grace of God go I.

Over and out...

Big day today! But the idea that I would actually get my taxes done was/is laughable.

Brent's pop dropped by with Brent's new Powerbook. Sweet!!! Now there are 2.

Picked up a digital camera... give it the real world test and see how it fares. Or back she goes!

Managed to organize the office a little more. I had every intention of working on the finance stuff, but
there was some dandy war coverage (if it can be called dandy) and some chatting with a few folks.
And digitizing... loading Brent's computer with stuff... and more... meant no real work on the taxes.

Sue me!

Monday, April 07, 2003

Early Monday morning. And its over. All the shoots. All the edits. All of it came to a conclusion tonight. And it didn't come easy. Sometimes things go well and you are left with great stuff. Sometimes you fall a little short of that goal. Tonight was like that.

But no matter. It is done!

Plans continue for the Border Expedition, now less than 100 days away. Problems are still anticipated with the Russian visas, and for me, the Estonian visa... but I'm sure it will all come together.

The week ahead is a crazy one. I am hoping against hope of getting my taxes done. Normally, they are due at the end of April. But because I will be out of the country, they need to be done before I leave.

I leave Thursday.

So... in addition to getting ready for the trip, buying a computer for Brent (in Belize, my destination), I am also going to try and get my taxes done. And buy a digital camera. And I'll believe that when it happens.

War is still on the TV. Boring. Boring. Boring. So why do I (we) watch?


Check out

Friday, April 04, 2003

War continues on the TV. Departure to Belize looms. Too much to do in too short a time. And I'm not feeling very motivated to do taxes. I'd rather justn hang out and relax. Though that is what Belize is for, I guess.

Having some problems posting here... double postings. Don't know why.

Time for another tea...

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Yesterday's shoot at the BCIT marine campus went well. We were shooting a story on a ship simulator. It was pretty cool: we created ice burgs in Vancouver Harbour and were buffeted by 200knot winds and 60 metre waves. Fun stuff!

Today was filled with errands and a bit of a break. The ship story is set to be edited on Sunday and I have 2 years of taxes to get through before I head to Belize in one week.

My DVD copy of the UK Channel 4 series Brass Eye arrived... plays on the laptop with no problems. And is it ever funny!

That is all. Over and out.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

It is now Tuesday. Finally finshed editing the CBC stuff... six days of long days of cutting kids television. It is done.

Spent a few hours playing around editing in Final Cut and posted a test video on my Mac site: Hopefully it works.

Today is the first real day off in a while. I spent the moring lazing about, talking to my Danish pal Peter (in Copenhagen) and so on. I have a ton of errands to get to. And a shoot tomorrow to think about.

Only 9 days until Belize. Can't wait!!!

Until later...