It is Sunday morning and I hear the sound of splashing water outside as I slowly grope toward consciousness. It is a sound I’ve heard a lot these past few weeks, the warm night rains falling on broad leafed palms and tropical growth, trickling off tin and reed-covered palapa roofs all over Belize.
But, wait. It’s Sunday morning.
And this isn’t Belize.
It’s … it’s California. We got home at 1 a.m. this morning.
I remember now.
It’s a broken sprinkler head, outside our bedroom window.
I fall back on my pillow and close my eyes and try as hard as I might to wish my body back to a nice tropical storm in San Ignacio, or Placencia or San Pedro and for an extra 10 minutes or so, as the lawn sprinklers finish their cycle, I am walking the white sand beach with my face up to the rain, a steady wind blowing on shore, and the distant crash of waves against the barrier reef fills me up with joy.
You said it, Madonna:
Last night I dreamt of San Pedro
Just like I’d never gone, I knew the song
A young girl with eyes like the desert
It all seems like yesterday, not far away
But right now, there’s a broken sprinkler head that is calling louder than “La Isla Bonita.”
Rose and I sat down at Peete’s Coffee with a couple of tall black ones and a legal pad this morning and began to draw up a list of everything we must do in order to move by February to Isla Bonita — or maybe inland to San Ignacio; no doors are closed just yet.
It is a long and slightly daunting list. (Wanna buy some Glasshof sculptures? A piano? A house? Some furniture? A Mercedes?)
But it will get done, item by item, day by day. It will get done.
The last few days in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye are a too fast-forward blur. We went snorkeling in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley. Rose went off to yoga and a massage while I took the water taxi over to Caye Caulker for a few hours. Our friends John and Rose East picked us up in their golf cart and gave us a tour of the gorgeous house they are building north of San Pedro.
Then there was a dinner out, at Fido’s on the beach in downtown San Pedro. A waiter called Squeaky greeted us as we walked in, “Bob and Rose! Chargers and 49ers, right?”
Yeah, I was stunned. Squeaky had waited on us for a late lunch a few days earlier and we’d had a brief, casual, banter about California and our respective football teams but for him to remember us several days later?
Pretty wild, but honestly, we’ve come to appreciate the uncommon friendliness of the people we’ve met. A day or two after we went snorkeling the head of maintenance and a maid at the Exotic Caye Beach Resort, where we were staying, came up to me to ask about our adventure. Was the water choppy? Were the currents strong? What were you able to see? Did you have a good time?
They really wanted to know and dropped everything to talk abut the snorkeling.
When we first came here, I kept telling myself I’m not buying the tourism line about how caring and friendly the Belizeans are. But you know what? It is true. Not everybody you meet has a smile and warm greeting but enough do to call it the norm.
Walking home from dinner along the beach late one evening,so many people who passed us said simply, “Good night.” Like the whole village was seeing us off to bed.
Contrast that with the table of guys my age who sat near us in Peet’s this morning and sounded like a bunch of Facebook flamethrowers — abrupt, insulting, aggressive, nasty, condescending, rude — and I think they were friends.
Well, for better or worse, we’re home. And we really are glad to be back. We missed friends, family and one funeral of a dear friend.
Have we found a place to live in Belize? Yes and no. Rose and I have narrowed it down to San Ignacio, near the western border with Guatemala and San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Both hold very different attractions to us.
Like I said, we’ve got a lot of talking to do.
Some more photos from Caye Caulker:
- Two points of view on San Ignacio (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Seeing San Ignacio through the eyes of its people (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- OK … inhale, hold breath … jump! (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Playing a tune in the caye of Cauker ….. (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- A rainy day in Paradise (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Hello, Belize, you beautiful, colorful, complicated thing you! (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- No! Not that trip to Belize (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Waterproof camera for Belize? I’m on the case (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Uh, oh …. (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)
- Foot-dragging from village to village through Belize (robertjhawkins1.wordpress.com)