Belize island life: Learning the art of doing nothing at all

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This I promise: I will never send a photo of myself in this position to my friends in North America in the dead of winter. I understand cruelty and that would be cruel.
This I promise: I will never send a photo of myself in this position to my friends in North America in the dead of winter. I understand cruelty and that would be cruel.

I found myself with extra time on my hands yesterday afternoon when I arrived at Crazy Canuck’s where Rose was involved in another art class with Melody. The “Splash ‘n Paint” class had more than an hour to go, so I had time to kill.

Killing time, doing nothing, isn’t something that I do very well yet, even after three months here on Ambergris Caye in Belize.

Storefront display window at Annie's on  Laguna Drive in San Pedro.
Storefront display window at Annie’s on Laguna Drive in San Pedro. Coconut tarts can be seen in the lower left corner.

I tried to kill some time bicycling down to Canuck’s, a legendary beach bar filled with legendary-looking ex-pats who were well into their Belikins by late afternoon.

I stopped at Annie’s and bought a coconut tart, which I took to one of the shop’s outside tables to eat.

I jumped right up. What was I thinking, I thought,as the constant stream of golf carts, taxis and high school students flowed by, inches from my table.

I pedaled one block east to the deserted beach and sat on a pier facing another legendary bar, Wet Willy’s.

San Pedro beach bars are like jazz musicians. If they last more than 10 years, they automatically get the title “legendary.” Crazy Canuck’s and Wet Willy’s qualify.

I nibbled at that coconut morsel, as water lapped at my toes. A perfect combination, like a dry white wine with fish.

Then I took the empty Annie’s sack and filled it with  fine white sand.

Rose, hard at work on her art with a definite do-not-disturb air of concentration.
Rose, hard at work on her art with a definite do-not-disturb air of concentration.

Eccentric looking? Probably.

A sand hoarder? Naw.

This just happened to be the perfect sand that I needed for a fish bowl display back home. They will never miss it.

So, that took maybe all of 15 minutes out of my day.

I decided to stay on the beach for the rest of the ride south. The waterfront route is most irregular — filled with short beaches, seawalls of varying size and depth, a construction detour and lots of people just walking in the sand, cruising for a beachfront bar or bistro or shopping at the many Mayan craft stands.

High tide kind of narrows you options, too, but this being the start of “low season” beach traffic wasn’t bad.

As I said, I got to Canuck’s way too early.

Rose was concentrating intently on getting the beak on the bird in her composition just right.

So I grabbed a Belikin, nodded respectfully to the grizzled legends well-bellied up to the bar and strode next door to the Exotic Caye Beach Resort where a lounge chair on the beach just seemed to have my name on it. Actually, they all could have had my name. Such a gorgeous afternoon and not a single chair was taken.

Happy artist, lovely painting. So love it when their is a smile on Rose's lips.
Happy artist, lovely painting. So love it when there is a smile on Rose’s lips. That in itself is a work of art.

I pulled out my Kindle, adjusted the screen for the late afternoon light and settled in to read about Elizabeth Warren’s financially precarious Oklahoma childhood. Just the wrong place to be reading about a kid whose parents struggled from job to job and paycheck to paycheck to carve out a living.

Twenty minutes into the senator’s childhood and I heard a familiar beep. Of course, the Kindle’s battery was about to go toes up. My Belikin was already as empty as a Wall Street mogul’s soul.

That’s when I began to learn the art of sitting back, living in the moment and doing just nothing at all.

I watched some seabirds engaged in aerial combat over a fish fillet. I analyzed cloud formations and tried to discern their hidden messages.  I smiled and shook my head no to the several tiny children hawking beaded necklaces.

I began to feel as if I were a lyric in a Jimmy Buffett song.

I felt the gentle warm breeze flowing in from the not- too-distant barrier reef. I imagined I could see over the horizon, directly into Cuba. I inhaled the fresh ocean air. I heeded the lessons of yoga and let myself go as if in child’s pose.

And I began to think, “Yeah. I can do this.”

Thursday's art students outside Crazy Canuck's.
Thursday’s art students outside Crazy Canuck’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Belize island life: Learning the art of doing nothing at all

    4sarge said:
    May 23, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Learning the art of doing nothing at all, I’m not sure that I could follow that act even though every day it seems that I accomplish less than the day before. Your fence project seems overwhelming in the Heat. Patience is a Virtue that I’ve Never fully mastered. But I’d like to try some day.

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      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      May 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Sarge, I know what you mean about accomplishing less, but that is not so bad. When I reflect on how much useless rushing around we did in the states — constantly off balance and five minutes behind. I don’t miss the malls, the big box stores the constant pressure to consume, consume, consume. An older friend of ours, an English woman, said today “I walk my dog along the beach every day. That’s enough entertainment for me.” (In truth, she also windsurfs and takes yoga.)
      John East is the man with the fence, but he is no Tom Sawyer. I have asked to help him stain it but I think John gets a little zen peacefulness when he is out there.
      One thing I am doing more of is simply writing for the joy of writing. Forty years of writing for newspapers and news websites can suck that joy right out of you. I feel like I’m beginning to walk again. That is beautiful feeling.

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    lifeagain said:
    May 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Yes, that would be cruel…..in fact beyond cruel……..but certainly motivating…….

    Robert, there were days after i read an edition of San Pedro’s Scoop (Rebecca) and i got zero work done for the whole morning and for lunch i took two hours looking to simulate some of the food offering’s she shared in her blog. I have since learned NOT to ever read her blog on an empty stomach. Your post makes me check my pennies accounts to measure where i am and where i wanna be.

    Thanks..
    Don

    “This I promise: I will never send a photo of myself in this position to my friends in North America in the dead of winter. I understand cruelty and that would be cruel.”

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      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      May 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Thanks, Donald. I will say this about Rebecca, for a woman who has set a goal of dining her way through Belize in search of the best of everything she remains remarkably slender. Walking most everywhere she goes helps, and crossfit and yoga. Still, I don’t know how she does it all.

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    Emily said:
    May 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Great post, Robert. I think this was one of the biggest challenges for us in living in Belize. We are both firstborn, achievers and “doers” and used to having long “to do” lists and accomplishing quite a bit in a day. It was difficult to adjust to “island time” for us. However, now that we are back in the States, we do miss our life there in Belize quite a bit, even though we are having a blast traveling here in the US as well. I am glad that you and Rose are settling in so well to your new life. It surely seems to agree with both of you!

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