(Editor’s note: I will post pictures to this later. Seems to be an issue at Miami airport with my e-mail account and photos…..)
I went for a walk this morning. By midnight I should be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
This first leg was a modest one, from our home to the San Pedro airport. I suppose that I might have grabbed a cab, or a watertaxi or hitched a ride with a southbound friend. Sooner or later somebody I know would be driving down the road. It is the only road, after all, north to south.
But this was a beautiful, cool morning and I was still abuzz from a great day yesterday. Walking just seemed like the right thing to do.
I didn’t have to walk far, out to the main road, a distance of about 40 years where a guy named Steve in a big Pilot four-wheeler stopped and offered me a lift. Hey, just because I started walking doesn’t mean I had to walk.
He took me across the bridge and another block to the wheel repair shop on Laguna Drive.
In those few minutes we managed to have a decent discussion about the much improved quality of the road north. It is paved now, but mostly wasn’t at this time last year. Plus it was raining more so the road was a pot-holed mess.
No more. We were both pretty happy about that.
A few doors down from the repair shop is a little breakfast nook. One of my little students from Holy Cross sat at the entrance while her mother made tortillas. “Hi Mr. Bob!” she said with a shy wave. “Is there school today?”
I introduced myself to her mom and told her she has a very bright daughter and should be proud of her school accomplishments. Then I promised to stop in for breakfast after I return because, well, it smelled so damn good.
Sylvia, who works at Marbucks up north, passed by on her bicycle and waved, while flashing her lovely smile.
A little farther down, where Laguna becomes the one-way Middle Street, Jason cycled by and shouted a cheery morning greeting. Jason and his wife, Jen, own a great little restaurant called Boogie’s Belly. The little side street eatery serves a very in-demand meat pie — and a little lobster pie that they can not keep on the shelves.
Farther south, another of my students passed by and waved, cycling to Holy Cross for morning summer school.
I pass a parked golf cart with a bumper sticker I have not seen before, “Respect the locals.”
Good sticker; good idea.
On the balcony of the Labor Department offices sat Nilda, who comes to clean our house once a week, as she has been doing since we first got here. She is as close to family as we have in Belize. I know that Nilda and another colleague are at the office to seek some sort of justice over a former employer of 10-plus years who handed them both a raw deal. (By the way, San Pedro residents, Nilda now has slots available for house cleaning if you want a kind, thorough and thoroughly honest woman to help you out! Call me or Rose.)
I wished her good luck with the petition for redress. She is a good woman and does not deserve to be treated like this. Nobody does.
Respect the locals.
In front of the airport is a neighbor, Greg, there to see some friends off.
Except for some excruciating sunburn on my shoulder, where the bag strap dug in, this had to be one of the most pleasant walks I’ve taken in a long while.
I’m not surprised anymore that I will run into people I recognize. In fact, quite the opposite. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t see someone I knew.
How very different from a year and a half ago, when we first moved to San Pedro.
I can still recall the first time I walked up Laguna , across the bridge and on to Reef Village. It was so … foreign. I was, yes, very nervous and on high alert for all sorts of imagined dangers, being a stranger in a strange land.
So different. Now I point out which shops weren’t there when we first arrived. At there are a lot of them. San Pedro seems like a sleepy island town but it is incredibly dynamic. Shops open and close with surprising rapidity. Buildings are torn down or repainted. Concrete structures rise and floors are added all the time.
This is the hidden hustle and bustle. This is a village full of entrepreneurs and dreamers. Their big time may not look like your big time — but they want to hit it just the same.
Izzy is a great example. He’s opened up a smoothie shop on the busiest corner on the island. His edge is that every smoothie is made with only fresh ingredients and the portions are very generous. The other day Izzy talked about growing his business by developing relationships with the town’s crossfit studios, dive shops and tour boat operators and by distributing a customer loyalty card — 10th drink free; that sort of thing.
I could watch him make smoothies all day — squeezing fresh oranges, cutting up apples, pulling fresh kale and spinach from the fridge, chopping ginger, pouring coconut water ….. But mostly I love to hear him talk about his business. It won’t be easy. There are nearly as many smoothie shops as there are hardware stores and pharmacies on the island.
But he has an edge and I think he’ll use it.
I’m going back to the States for a family reunion. It is just for a week but, to be honest, I feel strange leaving Ambergris Caye. It has become home and I frankly don’t want to drive a car or negotiate through American malls and traffic.
And besides, I haven’t had on a pair of shoes in more than a year.
I don’t even think I packed long pants.