Flip Flop Flying

Belize, day 11: Hopkins

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It’s no great revelation to write that it is lovely to wake up and hear the sea. But it is. Fisherman were out, fiddling around with their boats, chatting away. There was the sound of the grackle, that sounds a bit like a child pretending to do a rapid gun noise. I was up early, at daybreak, making coffee, looking out at the sea. The owner’s husband apologised if he woke me up. He didn’t. But he explained that their dog had got out and he is blind. Two years old, he just woke up blind in March. Poor thing. He said the dog is getting good at knowing where things are, but when he messes up, he tends to do it at full pelt.

One of the interesting ings about Belize is the stores. Specifically, the supermarket type stores. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never seen one that is anything close to super. There are two near where I’m staying. Donglee (not sure if it’s one word or two from the way it is painted above the door. Could it be Dong Lee? Or could it be Don Glee?) and Happy Shopping Center. Both are run by Chinese families, as are a lot of these types of shop in Belize. I went in one of these stores for the second time since I’ve been in Hopkins, to buy deodorant. Both of my visits were, as with pretty much all visits to Chinese supermarkets in Belize, fun. The people running them seem so miserable all the time. Now, I’ve heard the way other people speak to the Chinese in the supermarkets. They get called “Chiney” and “Chinaman,” are general talked to with very little respect. Last week, when I said good morning and asked how a guy in the store was doing, he looked genuinely surprised that someone would ask. So in a way, it’s no surprised that they can’t be arsed to be friendly. I’m not gonna be in Hopkins long enough, though, to get a smile or anything from the guy in Donglee. The deodorant was in the end of a glass case at the far end of the counter area. I went to the guy.
“Good morning!”
Nothing. No reply.
“Can I have the Old Spice deodorant, please? The red one at the end over there.”
I repeated myself.
“You go get it,” he said.
So, they put stuff behind glass near the counter, yet, when he can’t be arsed to move, anyone can just go and get stuff, then.

Freshly showered, I went for a swim. Dumb idea, really. Wrong way round, Craig: swim first, shower second. But, swim I did. I like those moments where the glaringly obvious comes into your head like a new thought: if I could physically do it (let’s ignore the need for food or water) I could go anywhere in the world from here. I could swim to Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, Europe, Japan, Kiribati. I could swim with whales and dolphins, whales and dolphins, yeah.

I didn’t, though. I got out of the water, showered, then thought, WHAT THE HECK, I’M ON HOLIDAY, and went for another swim. Sat by the sea for a while, read a bit, did drawings of the birds and the older women paddling a bit along the beach. A third swim, and I noticed that when I came out of the sea, I always have a brief moment, a very brief moment, where I allow myself to believe I’m in a Bruce Weber shoot, or in the Herb Ritts video for Cherish by Madonna. It does last long, because the reality is so so so much more depressing, but it’s nice to have that tiniest of moments where I’m a gorgeous model.

Feeling like I should really do something on a Friday night rather than go to bed before 9pm again, I took the bicycle and went to Driftwood, where they were having a Hallowe’en party. I’m not much for this particular celebration, but, y’know, I don’t hate it either. I had on my costume (Sweaty Red English Tourist) and creaked my way through the village. The bike I’m using really could do with some oil. Creaky creaky creaky. It got worse and worse as I went along. Several times on my journey, people passed comment on the noise. “Noise pollution, brother!” “That needs greasin’!” “That sounds nasty!” A frog leapt out in front of me before I had time to move. He leapt between the wheels and across the road. Hooray, Mr Frog.

Driftwood had an Alice in Wonderland theme. Some kids had painted big toadstools and flowers, and the bar tenders had Mad Hatter hats. Lots of playing cards were around. I kinda felt out of sorts. At occasions like this, when I’m on my own, I tend to not be able to grasp the inner fun me, and just end up sat at the bar, expressionless. And when I have no expression, I look miserable. It’s an affliction.

Local gringos had made an effort. There were pirates, disco wigs, cavemen and women, zombies. One guy bought me a beer when I asked him if he’d come as Hunter S. Thompson. “You’re the only one who got it right!” He and I chatted for a bit. Washington Nationals fan.

Local locals, as opposed to local gringos, didn’t seem to bother much with the Hallowe’en costumes. At the bar, a bunch of Americans and an obnoxious Englishman chatted away about Paul Nabor. They had no idea who he was, but they thought they should go to his funeral on Saturday, because “it’s probably gonna be a wicked party” and “we could just pretend we know who he is.” Knobends.

I talked to the barman. He was cool. Half-Mexican, half-Belizean. Thinks about going to work in CancĂșn for the money, but likes living in Belize. People got drunk and danced to the 70s and 80s stuff the DJ played. And then we had a band. They played one set of stuff, which I wasn’t that bothered about, so I went and sat outside and cooled down a bit. The DJ came back on, I returned to my bar stool, and soon enough, the band started up again.

This time, they played Punta, the main kinda Garifuna style of music. Two drummers. A couple of dudes with maraca type things. And a guy signing. They also had a guy playing rhythm on acoustic guitar. The band were getting well into it. People started dancing. Garifuna people danced effortlessly. Gringos made an effort. But the dancing and gapless set, where one song drifts into the next, kept the atmosphere going. It was getting hot. My glasses were actually starting to steam up. And for about 10-15 minutes, it was genuinely magical in there. There was something special happening. The band were loose, a bit ragged around the edges, but the room was theirs. It was good to be there. The DJ came back on, and, yes Thriller, etc., but how could he follow that? I love Bad Moon Rising and The Monster Mash, but, I didn’t want to be there as the night got sloppier. I got the bill, and cycled back to my bed.

Written by Craig

November 1st, 2014 at 9:59 am

Posted in Travel

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