Leaving Belize for England with no shoes . . . is that a problem?

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Sometimes photos of Ambergris Caye look like we are encircled by a strand of deep sand, wide and white and velvety soft to the touch. Nonsense,  of course. There are some beaches like that but it takes work to get to them. We have modest beaches or more and more common -- sewalled beaches. Swimming is mostly off the ends of docks that stretch out beyond the protective and life-giving  sea grass. But the water -- clear, warm, and electric blue-green -- that is true. No faking the perfection of the water.
Sometimes photos of Ambergris Caye look like we are encircled by a strand of deep sand, wide and white and velvety soft to the touch. Nonsense, of course. There are some beaches like that but it takes work to get to them. We have modest beaches or — more and more common — seawalled beaches. Swimming is mostly off the ends of docks that stretch out beyond the protective and life-giving sea grass. But the water — clear, warm, and electric blue-green — that is true. No faking the perfection of the water.

Tomorrow morning Rose and I will grab a Tropic Air flight to the mainland and soon be on our way to England for a family wedding.

In so many ways I am not prepared to leave Ambergris Caye or Belize, not the least of which is that I have neither shoes nor jacket for a proper wedding.  Oh, I have khaki slacks which I’ve worn exactly twice over the past five months and several decent button-down Oxfords.

My plan is to find a British equivalent of Goodwill or Marshall’s and grab the first pair of Size 13’s I can find. I imagine blue blazers are so common in England that people just leave them lying around on park benches and at bus stops or hanging from tree limbs with needy people like me in mind.

“Here, this Yank seems naked without a proper blue blazer on. Give him one of our spares, Mildred.”

Or, something like that.

An egret, right? When I return, I promise to pick up a book titled something like "Birds of Belize" and learn the names and nature of the beautiful creatures who live among us.
An egret, right? When I return, I promise to pick up a book titled something like “Birds of Belize” and learn the names and nature of the beautiful creatures who live among us.

For five months I have worn the same sandals, paired with a rotating wardrobe of three pair of shorts and nine T-shirts. “Smelly yoga shorts and T’s held separately.”

So, the wardrobe thing I can handle. It is the leaving part that is causing me trouble.

Rose, too, apparently.

Just what I said above.
Just what I said above.

Sunday night, as we took a walk along the beach, Rose quietly said, “I’m beginning to understand what my friend Gaylynn means  about crying every time she gets on a plane to the States.”

It may be difficult to carve out a life here – sometimes — but it is so much harder to leave it behind – even if for just a few weeks.

And here’s something else: As our departure approaches, time is speeding up in a maddeningly out-of-control way. Suddenly there is so much to be done, so much that — oh-my-god-are-you-kidding-me? – we’re making lists. Who makes to-do lists on a tropical island?

Before this past weekend, if I accomplished one or two things a day I was quite chuffed.  Now we’re running down lists.

Sure, you laugh. But it is getting complicated.

I’m almost panicking. I mean, for example, when we land at Gatwick one of my first duties will be to drive a vehicle. Worse, I understand it will have the steering wheel on the right and I must drive on the left. Who thinks up thing like that?

Over the holiday a regatta for young sailors drewkids from all over Belize to the island. A mom told me they compete every two months, eithr here, in Belize City, Caye Caulker or Placencia. Kids on the island can learn to sail for free, from either of two clubs. I really like that.
Over the holiday, a regatta for young sailors drew kids from around Belize to the island. One mom told me they compete every two months, either here, in Belize City, Caye Caulker or Placencia. Kids on the island can learn to sail for free, from either of two clubs. I really like that.

Understand that we’ve “driven” nothing more complicated than bicycles for five months.

And roundabouts. We have one here. England, I’m lead to believe, has one for every five citizens with a driver’s license. And traffic travels about them in the wrong direction.

Fear for your safety, England. Be very afraid.

At the top of my list today – after washing the musty clothes, packing, securing the bicycles (from rust, not theft), cleaning out the fridge, firming up our itinerary and confirming our various reservations – is to find a very small and smooth shell on the beach and stick it in my pocket.

Ever view of the island changes when there is a string-of-pearls necklace of little sailboats on the horizon. Things just seem so right and in their place with little kids out sailing on the horizon.
Every view of the island changes when there is a string-of-pearls necklace of little sailboats on the horizon. Things just seem so right and in their place with little kids out sailing just inide the reef.

I’ve used this technique before, with beach stones and an occasional small piece of driftwood: Find a smooth one and pull it out of your pocket to rub gently until stress oozes out from your fingertips into the stone. I don’t know when beach stones first developed this magical property but that has worked for me for decades. Someday I will show you my collection of previously used beach stones – all thoroughly saturated with old stress.

Someone asked me the other day, "Why are there so many beautiful children on this island?" I acknowledged the truth but had no answer. Perhaps it is because later life can be so hard and age you so quickly, God gives the little ones their day in the sun early in life. Plus, they make great little sales men and women. How do you say no to this guy's pitch to buy a necklace. (You do, and often, but not so much when you are only here for a week.)
Someone asked me the other day, “Why are there so many beautiful children on this island?” I acknowledged the truth but had no answer. Perhaps it is because, later, life can be so hard and age you so quickly, God gives the little ones their day in the sun early in life. Plus, they make great little sales men and women. How do you say no to this guy’s pitch to buy a necklace. (You do, and often, but not so much when you are only here for a week.)

I keep them for sentimental reasons. And a sense of personal responsibility. When you have filled a stone with your own stress you can’t very well abandon it, can you.

I’ve even loaned especially good stress stones to friends in times of need.

Mostly though, I’ve encouraged people to find their very own stress stone and keep it in a pocket. They seem to work better when they are of your own choosing.  Nicely smoothed river stones work just as well, I imagine.

I like to think that if everyone had access to a comforting stress stone (or shell) there would be no need to walk around in the disposable diaper department of Wal-Mart with an assault rifle slung over your ass.

Well, I’d like to think that.

This is the tattered remains of Baby Rose, the boat of Captain Nisan Zuniga who went to aid two tourists adrift beyond the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. A wave caught his boat  and the reef ripped up.
This is the tattered remains of Baby Rose, the boat of Captain Nisan “Biggs”  Zuniga who went to aid two tourists adrift beyond the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. A wave caught his boat and the reef ripped up. That is his livelihood and it was torn away from him during an act of selflessness.   A fund has been set up to help him restore his boat. Give if you can. We did.

I accomplished two pretty important things yesterday:

  1. Fixed my favorite pair of eyeglasses, which I broke within 48 hours of moving to Ambergris Caye in February.
  2. Secured a beach-front, two-bedroom condo for the next 12 months. We’ll move in shortly after we return in August.

I’ll tell you more about No. 2 another time. For now, I’m really happy about the glasses.

They are wireless-framed, as light as a feather and when I wear them I feel like I give off a dangerously intellectual air. You know, the kind of person whom others would seek out for their opinions on serious matters. Mind you, nobody has ever sought out my opinion on matters trivial or serious.

This is just the way these glasses make me feel.

Plus, they are the last pair that I was able to buy under a company health plan BEFORE GETTING SCREWED OVER BY CORPORATE AMERICA! But that is another story for another day, hopefully a cold and rainy one.

The thing is, the delicate gold-strand bridge on these glasses snapped in two.

It first happened  last December and a repair shop in the local mall welded them back together in a matter of hours. Being the intellectually inclined and eccentric glasses that they are, when the bridge broke again in February, the glasses chose a fresh spot.

So I took them to some talented island jewelry makers for repair. The answers were mostly  variation on “You can’t weld the new break because the heat would melt the first weld.”

This is my new Zen meditation mantra, by the way.

You can’t weld the new break because the heat would melt the first weld.

In some instances, I think it is an important metaphor for something.

So, a month ago, while shopping in Costillo’s Hardware for a bike wrench and a can of WD-40 for bike chains I saw this box of reading glasses on the checkout counter. There was one pair that looked exactly like my gold-stemmed wireless frame glasses. (I think they had a 200+ reading rating which is utterly meaningless to me and superfluous to the story.)

The key takeaway is that they looked exactly like my broken ones – gold, with tiny bolts and nuts to secure the bridge to the glass pieces. Exactly.

Well, for $5.50 BZE they looked like a cheaper knockoff version.

So yesterday, with my trusty Leatherman Wave 160-tools-in-one knife and a little Duco all-purpose cement, I swapped bridges.

No, really, it was that simple. I took off the broken bridge and screwed the good one on, then dabbed some glue on the tiny nuts to keep them in place and …

Wallah! ….

… back to being dangerously intellectual again.

Plus, I can see! No more scratchy world-view for this guy.

No, I don’t know why it took four months to do a 10-minute repair. Except that this is kind of the island way. You wait until necessity or crisis dictates, then you act. (In this case, my Costco 5-pound replacement glasses are scratched and sand-blasted into frosted  uselessness.)

Why am I telling you all this?

Because it is much easier than trying to explain the sadness I am feeling at leaving Ambergris Caye, even if only for a few weeks.

I’ll have to try again later. Meanwhile, please enjoy the images that have absolutely no bearing on this post. I hope they are as distracting for you as they were for me.

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13 thoughts on “Leaving Belize for England with no shoes . . . is that a problem?

    Jan B. said:
    July 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Have a fun, safe trip back to the concrete jungle! LOL!
    Are you moving south for the next year? We look forward to seeing you and Rose when we are back in August….I’m sure you will have many fun stories to tell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 8, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Hi Jan, we’re going to stay north of the bridge and pretty much just across the street.

      Like

    woof4treats said:
    July 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Safe travels for you and Rose. Hope you are taking an “empty” suitcase to bring back supplies. We are bringing extra glasses with us to SP. Will be back there in May to look for our future condo.

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

      We do indeed have some large suitcases waiting for us to fill! And Rose has a growing list of stuff.

      Like

    Susan said:
    July 8, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Have a safe journey and for God’s sake, be mindful of driving in England! If you rent a car in France it’s like ours here on this side of the world. Then all you need to remember is to keep left!

    Liked by 1 person

    John East said:
    July 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Bob I think you have been indocnatred by watching too many old English movies. Hardly any women are now named Mildred! Have a great time. And, what’s so different between a steering wheel on the left and driving on the right and a steering wheel on the right and driving on the left?

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks John!
      If there is much of a difference I shall quickly find out! Actually I drove around England for almost two weeks with no problems what so ever, even roundabouts. And I love old English movies!
      See you guys in about a month. Thanks for being such great friends.
      Our best to you and Rose!

      Like

    John East said:
    July 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Meant to type “indoctrinated”

    Like

    Emily said:
    July 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Such a smart fix on your glasses — even though it did take you awhile to come up with it! (Just jerking your chain…) Have a safe trip. I wouldn’t want to have to drive in England either. Driving in the US was scary enough the first time I did it after coming back from bikes only in Belize.

    Liked by 1 person

    Susan said:
    July 19, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Ok, it’s been ten days and I’m starting to get BOUND FOR BELIZE blog withdrawal…I rely on these blogs to tide me over until I can get down there! I know I’m being selfish…but I’m older and I don’t care! LOL Hope you are having fun and I can’t wait to hear all about it. Hope you found shoes and a jacket.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 20, 2014 at 12:13 pm

      Bound for Belize will resume shortly — maybe even today! Had terrible internet connectivity problems in England, plus not having a minute to sit down and actually write something.
      So much to write about, including:
      * A wickedly “live” expletive during a performance of “Wicked” in London.
      * My 25-pound suit & shoes solution for the wedding in England
      * Bicycling in Brighton
      * B&Bs and the wonderful people who operate them.
      * Storming the castle in Arundel
      And …. how crazy much we are missing Belize.

      Like

    Audrey said:
    July 22, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Headed for San Pedro next month from San Francisco, CA for a visit. Just stumbled across your blog. My husband and I are thinking of buying in Ambergris after retiring, so reading your blog is fantastic! Thanks.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 23, 2014 at 7:30 am

      Audrey,
      Thank you for such a kind note! I hope you find something useful in the blog! We’re in the Bay Area right now and missing our home in Belize very much. We’ll be returning there in early August. It is good that you’ll be visiting first. A great way to know for sure if you are on the right path.
      If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to help answer them! best of luck!

      Like

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