I don’t know if you have ever read any David Sedaris books. His book Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his time living in France and struggling with French, reminded me of my on going struggle with Spanish (I took French as a second language). In Mexico, I am a dumb four year old trying to put three words together. “This food good!” “Me like spicy!” “Mexico so pretty!” In Belize, an English speaking country, I was suddenly funny and smart again. People laughed at my jokes, answered my questions about politics and the environment. I was an adult again. It was glorious!
I am currently reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Ryszard Kapuscinski called Travels with Herodotus. When he was a young journalist in India speaking only Polish, he talked about his experience not being able to communicate:I understood that every distinct geographic universe has its own mystery and that one can decipher it only by learning the local language. Without it, this universe will remain impenetrable and unknowable, even if one were to spend entire years in it.
So much of this book resonated with me. I want desperately to understand, to have compassion, to be part of the culture in Latin America. But when you struggle with communication, you force yourself into viewing it all from a distance. I will get better at Spanish. One day I will tell a joke in Spanish and someone will laugh. But for one week I had Belize. I could adapt quicker, talk to people, share, tell a joke, make a friend. We soaked up every minute of it.
Here is our first few days in Belize:
This is a bird sanctuary and town full of you guessed it, serious birders. I sat for hours on the balcony of the hotel we were camping at overlooking the lake watching them watch birds. The hours went by like this:
“Marge look, a blue heron!” “Write it down!” “A yellow tailed warbler, no, two yellow tailed warblers! Oh my God, I can believe it! Write it down….” Birding is a serious business, I have not seen people that passionate about anything for sometime. Good for them. I like passionate people. I am not sure if I will ever get that excited about birds, but for each his own.
From Crooked Tree we took the beautiful dirt coastal highway to the coast where we stopped in Hopkins to relax at the beach.
Hopkins is a Garifuna village on the Caribbean coast of Belize. I wanted to like this place more, and to be honest, we probably did not spend enough time to get the vibe of the place, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. We felt the beach was not very clean (lots of trash on the beach), the water murky and brackish and the town just did not wow us. But we had just spent three weeks on amazing white sand beaches with aqua water in Mexico, we were spoiled. I will not say I did not enjoy my time here, it is just not on my list of places I would go back to. They did have wonderful coconut bread sold by cute kids riding around on bikes hot out of the oven….
This town had really pretty beaches and was much more developed and upscale than Hopkins in places. I have a feeling over the next ten years this place is going to look like Cancun, lots of development and for sale signs. For now is still has that charming sleepy Caribbean feel with sandy streets and pastel colored houses.