We are living in a time of scarcity, here on Ambergris Caye.
For one, we are running out of water. This is a seasonal thing. We have just come through the dry season. June 1 marked the beginning of the rainy season but, as with all man-made criteria, Nature has its own schedule.
Oh, we’ve had a few showers, mostly in the evening, but none of the torrential rains we are expecting.
Meanwhile, one cistern in our condo complex ran dry last week — at around 10 p.m. These are fed from rainwater rolling off the roof. The residents had to make do until staff could run a hose from one of the buildings with a greater supply. Each building has its own rainwater entrapment system, but occupancy varies. The one that ran dry feeds the local bar and recently housed a large family in the penthouse (with Jacuzzi , I’m told).
So, yeah, their cistern ran out first.
A restaurant up the road had a load of water trucked in yesterday, as a precautionary measure. It wouldn’t do to run dry with dirty dishes in the sink and customers clamoring for food!
These days you see plenty of huge water containers on the back of trucks and in slow moving open boats, usually heading north to resorts or houses with a thirsty need. This, I’m told, is a pretty expensive way to slake your thirst.
There is a municipal water system but it technically stops at the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge, sort of a utility dividing line for North Ambergris Caye and South Ambergris Caye. All of San Pedro is on the municipal water system, and I believe most of the south end of the island, where development started much later and infrastructure lessons were learned early. (They still don’t have a paved road, but it is coming.)
So we do what all intelligent people with finite resources do — we conserve. Short showers, quick turns at the dishes, full loads of laundry only, no car washing. Ha! Caught you. We don’t have a car. But we have a golf cart and old Moncho 59 looks mighty dusty these days.
So we stave off the slurping sound of a pump in an empty cistern and pray for rain — some rain. Just enough to fill the cisterns. Then it can pass.
And since it is hurricane season, we can only hope for the continued trend of — well — of NO hurricane season. Yes, we have been very very lucky in Belize.
Another shortage reared up last week. This one we have no control over. (At least you can order municipal water for your cisterns and buy 5-gallon containers of fresh drinking water.)
I’m talking about cable television.
One day last week, it mostly went away. The cable provider’s obtuse response has been “We’re working on it.”
Gone were the nine premium movie channels and dozens of specialty channels. Gone to were the “local” network affiliated channels from New York and Los Angeles. In their place are Detroit’s local network affiliates. (For me this mostly means the end to all the Broadway show advertisements carried by New York channels — and the end of decent local news reports. Detroit is definitely second-tier.
In the programming vacuum, many reasons are being tossed about.
My favorite is that local cable has simply been pirating signals from the U.S. and finally got caught. Some clues lying about tend to back this up. For one, cable service is uniform and incredibly cheap — like $15 a month, including the array of premium movie channels. Also, in the absence of programming, each channel has been replaced with a bouncing Direct-TV logo.
If we lose programming permanently I will be curious to see what it does to the “quality of life.”
Will more people go out for walks? Form book clubs? Amateur acting troupes? Hold more dinner parties? Become kinder people due to the lack of divisive cable news channels? More snorkeling on the reef? More boat trips to the outter islands? Will local kids abandon gangster apparel when they can no longer see what MTV rappers are wearing?
Ironically I am reading a sci-fi novel titled “The Lead Cloak” about a future in which the world is addicted to a massively intrusive thing called The Trellis, through which you can access virtually all known knowledge and all human experiences. You can travel back in time, explore the universe, watch your neighbors make love in real time, and on and on. Naturally some people think the world would be so much better without so much universal access to virtually everything. I’m inclined to agree.
I’ll be honest: I don’t miss the cable service.
Partially because we have Netflix with its vastly superior programming — better than most movies, too. But mostly because there is so little on that we care to watch. I hate myself when I spend useless hours channel surfing before bedtime. Netflix or a good book works for me. Oh, and we have an easy access to a supply of pirated first-run movies available on DVD.
Besides, once the rainy season finally arrives it tends to kill the cable TV broadcast during its densest downpours. It seems cable and rain can’t co-exist in this universe.
Now, if the Internet should suffer a similar demise, watch for a massive exodus of expats.
At least until the crisis is over.