Pleasantly trapped in a scene from ‘Waiting for Godot’

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One of the nicer sunsets we've slowed down long enough to fully appreciate from the balcony.
One of the nicer sunsets we’ve slowed down long enough to fully appreciate from the balcony.

What is time? Is this island time? Have maraschino cherry stems been genetically engineered shorter than they were two decades ago? How many t-shirts have I gone through today?  How many of the conspiracy theories woven into Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge” are pure artistic fabrication?  How many are cribbed from anecdotal encounters by the author? Should I take up bird watching? There are a lot of birds in Belize. Am I already losing weight? How hard can it be to learn to play cribbage? Now would be a good time to take up the harmonica, to begin meditating again. What are my friends doing? Who are my friends? Why am I saying “”like” every time I think of one of them? What is happening in the outside world? Should I be concerned? I mean, any more or less than I used to be? Is it time for a nap? Gosh it is pretty outside. I wonder who lives in those buildings way, way, over there on the western side of the island? How did the buildings get there? How do they get there? Should I take up fish watching? There are a lot of different fish in Belize.

Many of you will recognize the symptoms.

Yes, it is an interior monologue cause by a thing we call “Internet Deprivation” (I-Dep).

Family and friends first begin to notice I-Dep when the text messages they send go unanswered for two, maybe three, days. Facebook friends who could always count on a hearty “like” for their latest cat-with-ironic-text photo begin wondering if you are mad at them. The fact that you have stopped reposting broadsides from Rachel Maddow and Robert Reich with exclamation-filled side comments comes as great concern to some — and great relief to others.

Soon everyone begins to wonder: “What the (bleep) happened to you?”

As best I can tell, I am undergoing a process called “island acclimation.”

It begins when you apply at the state-run Belize Telemedia Ltd. For a home Internet hookup.

I did that on Monday.

Rose with Bill and Helen (all to the right) at Robin's Kitchen, on the southside of San Pedro. Robin is in back and wife Angie is at the counter. Fine chicken!
Rose with Bill and Helen (all to the right) at Robin’s Kitchen, on the southside of San Pedro. Robin is in back and wife Angie is at the counter. Fine chicken!

I didn’t even bat an eye when we were told the tech would come by sometime during the next few days to hook us up.

“Can you narrow that down?”

Sweetly: “No.”

Me, optimistically: “OK!”

Today is Friday.

So, Rose and I wait, still optimistically.

We get up early each morning and go for a jog. Make some breakfast. Sit and enjoy the cool morning breezes. Read our books. Sometimes we’ll take turns leaving the condo to shop for food, run errands. Sometimes we’ll tag-team down to a nearby bar where my man Lotion doesn’t mind if we occupy bandwidth and bar stools as we piggyback on the house WiFi. Sometimes we buy beers or rum and cokes. Even then, the WiFi isn’t always working.

Around about 4 p.m. we’ll decide that the waiting is done for the day and we’ll go for a bike ride up the coast or down to say, Carlo & Ernie’s for dinner and a couple of drinks.

The other night as we headed north for a beach walk, our friends Bill and Helen pulled up in their golf cart and invited us to join them for dinner at Robin’s Kitchen, a roadside eatery on the south side of San Pedro that serves only two dishes, Jamaican jerk chicken and curry chicken, with brown bean rice and slaw. Robin himself runs back and forth between the outdoor grill and the kitchen where his wife Angie manages the customers and sets up the plates. Best $12US spent so far for two dinners.

But mostly we wait.

Slowing down and island life have completely agreed with Rose. Agreed?
Slowing down and island life have completely agreed with Rose. Agreed?

And I don’t resent it at all. It is sort of a good thing, this enforced house arrest. It is all about learning to respect the process, to understand the environment and to embrace the culture.

This week, we met a couple Phil and Marie, Londoners who have lived in San Pedro for 13 years.  Phil recalled a recent answer he gave to an inquiry about the five top things to bring to Belize. His answer was something like: Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.

I like that. I mean, if we just have to have everything yesterday we’d be living in – I don’t know—Iowa?

Of course, when we first landed in San Pedro Town we rushed around like New Yorkers catching a train as we hunted for a place to live, bought bikes, sampled lots of restaurants and toured the neighborhoods.

That seems like ages ago. And, yes, it was only Feb. 17.

To summarize these past two weeks:

1. Week One –manic.

2. Week Two – much, much, less manic.

As we wait, Rose and I are lowering the blood pressure, engaging in conversation, absorbing our surroundings and their unique rhythms and tempo, watching an occasional movie on TV and talking about it, sharing the couch as we read our books (hell, yes, just like in “Love Story.”). Rose is getting back into preparing delicious and creative meals in a leisurely manner she hasn’t experienced in years. We’re enjoying some nice sunsets, a couple of tropical showers and some soothing breezes.

This morning Rose did yoga on the dock then checked her e-mail at Lotion’s bar. Before she left I walked down the road to pick up a fresh 5-gallon bottle of Crystal water and the local San Pedro Sun newspaper.

I think we needed this “wait” time to remind us to slow down, to remind us that we aren’t here for a two-week visit during which we have to slam down as many rum cokes as possible and do EVERYTHING before boarding the last plane out.

We’re here for the long haul and if the BTL tech doesn’t show up today there is always Monday.

Wait. This weekend is the pre-Lent blowout Carnaval in San Pedro Town.

Better make that next Wednesday?

Respect the process.  Understand the environment. Embrace the culture

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6 thoughts on “Pleasantly trapped in a scene from ‘Waiting for Godot’

    Carole Kocian said:
    February 28, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Don’t look for anything to happen on any Friday or Monday when waiting for any kind of service call 🙂

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      March 4, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Today Tuesday, March 4, a couple of terrific BTL techs, John and Louis, hooked us up with WiFi! We’re linked up to the world once again!

      Like

    Gerry Neumann said:
    February 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    PERFECT!

    Like

    Donna S said:
    February 28, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    This is a blog I have been following – about a couple who left the insanity of America for Belize and they have just arrived in Belize after months of planning their escape. You may find it amusing…hugs. ‘Have you counted your BLESSINGS today?”

    WordPress.com

    robertjhawkins1 posted: ”

    What is time? Is this island time? Have maraschino cherry stems been genetically engineered shorter than they were two decades ago? How many t-shirts have I gone through today? How many of the conspiracy theories woven into Thomas Pynchons Bleeding”

    Like

    Helen Armstrong said:
    March 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    We are famous now(on the net)! Was great to meet you and had a few lovely chats. We went looking for a place for next year last Thursday and think we found something. Just finished dinner(which I had to cook), was still good and looked at the thermometer and it is 0 degrees F. Was -20 F when I got up this morning. My system does not like this anymore. Will spring ever come? Best wishes to you both and take good care of your princess Rose. I miss Belize time (when it happens), and the adventures of shopping. Will be tracking you and Rose on your blog. Miss you and see you at the crib night next year.
    Helen and Bill

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      March 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      It was so nice to meet you both, Helen and Bill! Yes, some great chats and look at all the places we crammed into such a short time — Carlo & Ernie’s, Coco Loco, Robin’s. We got around, eh?
      So glad to hear you’ve got something in line for next year. We should be “old timers” by then. Keep us posted. Rose sends her best, too.

      Like

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