Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Belize's social conscience?

I've been pondering several situations here that are disturbing and have had me questioning people's motives.  To live in a country other than where you've grown up you have to agree to accept that things aren't going to look or feel the same as what you've known.  We agreed when we moved down full-time that this isn't the US, nor would we really want it to be.  Some of the lovely simpler ways appealed so much to our beaten up psyche's.  We were looking for and found a quieter, simpler way to live.  

I appreciate so many of the villagers, their warm smiles and "hello miss," greetings.  Actually I'm also called "mommy" which is a sign of respect to an older woman.  Gosh it's hard to be that old, but reality and the mirror let me know it's the truth.  I feel safe here and do feel that many keep a watch out for us, knowing that we're alone on our hill.  Stepping back tho', now that I have more time for contemplation, I find I have to turn my back on so many things in order to continue surviving in our insulated environment. 

We have friends who live in the village and are under huge stress because of the insensitivity of others.  Our friend, David, is extremely ill and several neighbors know, but are uncaring about his illness.  They play extremely loud music all day and into the night.  To most Belizeans, music must be played at the loudest volume that their speaker will stand.  When asked to keep it a little lower,  one neighbor responded with "but it's my music and I like it loud."  This is actually a recurring response everywhere here.  Loud music seems to be the norm and even tho' there are supposedly laws to at least force them to shut down at night, they are regularly ignored.  You can often hear the boom, boom of the base all thru the night.  

A huge frustration, here in Bullet Tree, is the relentless noise of the stream of Guatemalan trucks traveling from the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout through the village and up Calla Creek road to Guatemala carrying the precious commodities that should be here for the betterment of Belizeans.  This route lets them bypass the customs checks at the Benque border.  There is a checkpoint here in the village that supposedly checks cattle for disease or ??, but we see envelopes changing hands and have heard that this is with Minister's approval.  Of course that means greasing palms and it's OK.  These trucks are noisy, with most not realizing or caring that they can and should turn off their Jake brakes on the flat in the village, so their speed and noise can keep having face to face conversations come to a halt until they pass.  The dust created by their speed, coats everything.  Up here on our hill the sound is faint as they are passing on the other side of the river, but I still resent how this is destroying the comfort of so many in order to line the pockets of a few.

Besides the noise, the road through the village is constantly eroding, making a trip of even 10 mph seem horribly uncomfortable.  The Mennonites don't feel at all responsible and the village is lucky if the government agrees to grade the dirt road more that once every couple of years.  

The examples of the uncaring attitude of the "haves" for the "havenots" is so extreme here and goes on and on.  From the hollow promises of government workers and officials who will promise to make things better in exchange for a vote, to the supposed pastors who exhort the poor folks to give to support the church and to find that all the money collected here and from outside the country to help the poor, just goes to let the pastor drive a new vehicle or have a nice house, but the struggles of the parishioners go unheeded.  

These and many more examples have made me try to fathom what is so different here.  As an outsider I feel that there is a huge difference here regarding our feeling of personal space and responsibility.  As Americans from the US, we're overly apologetic of what we have and our responsibility of trying to make the world a better place.  It's hard to "butt out."  Here I find that it's more every man for himself, even when it comes to family and friends.  There's a general selfishness that precludes everything, allowing family members to turn their backs on others if it means giving up their time or worse yet, their money, to assist. 

 It's hard to disagree with the young who want to move to the US for a "better life" but even when given education support to study abroad, almost none return to help their homeland survive.  

Belize is so proud of being independent now for 33 years, but I don't think that they see that they are slowly sinking into a hole from which I don't think they can recover.  They're abandoning their goal of being a "green" haven to siphoning off all the funds into the hands of a few politicians and rather than improving the infrastructure to allow for responsible growth, they go for the fastest under the table situation.  It's so sad as Belize is a beautiful country that could be a shining light throughout Central America and the Caribbean, but probably won't survive the greed and insensitivity of the culture. 


Dave + Dianna Rider said...

By and large, I think you're right on the money, and incidentally, Corozal has a duplicate of the same problems, including incessant Jake braks. One wonders if those are the only brakes the trucks have.
It's too bad, but I agree with you on your forecast for Belize. Unfortunately, the future is not bright and rosy, unless there's some major changes with government at all levels.

Corozal Dave said...

Thank you once again for writing your blog. This latest post, I can see is from your heart. Talk about hitting the nail on the head!!! You have described pretty much what Belize has become and the hopeless future the politicians have left for the country. I too had to sit and watch as the country continues it's downward slide into .....? Who knows what will become of this wonderful country. I just couldn't take it anymore I just couldn't sit back and ignore the mess, nor could I change anything in a meaningful way, so we sold out and left. I hope for nothing but the best for Belize and its citizen, but like you have very little faith that the politicians will allow it to succeed.