Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two Super Short Reviews

It's insane, to me, how expensive "good" toilet paper is here- like $12bz for a 4 pack of Charmin (that's an estimation, I know it's over $10 and varies from store to store.)
This is a basic human need - and don't EVEN get me started on tampons!!! Those should be free in the entire world unless you want us to sit in a hole for 3-7 days a month. 

Anyway - this is my new favorite toilet paper on the island - Domestix Basic Bath Tissue. 

It's only $4.95bz at Caye Mart, it's "septic safe," AND it doesn't fall apart in your vag like Rose's or the other super cheap brands. 
(If you live on an island, this is kind of a big deal)

My other super short review is of Harry's Burgers in Front Street, right across from Fido's and the liquor store. 

I have heard NOTHING but good things about their food, so I stopped in to try a breakfast bagel (well done bacon, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese) ... My bagel was burnt so badly that that's ALL I could taste -just "burnt."
Other than that, I think it would have been super tasty, and it was only $7bz, so I can't complain TOO much. 

What's your tp of choice, and where do you think the best, cheap breakfast on the island is?? 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Enjoy it While it Lasts

I've been home (from work) since January 7th - which sucks because I've been out of money since February 10th and I can't afford to work this infrequently - BUT, at the same time, I value my free time more than money, so it's been totally sweet to have so much time to myself. 
(If I didn't need to pay rent or eat food, I'd be SET!)

My off time is dwindling down, though - in six more days I'll be back on the boat, waking up to an alarm clock, putting other people's needs and wants before my own, missing out on afternoon naps, and not getting any animal love since my boss won't let me have a boat dog. Or a boat cat. I asked. 

So, with that in mind, I enjoyed a stroll down the beach yesterday- from Sundiver Beach Resort to Belizean Shores, where my bike was waiting for me. 

I love this stretch of road because of the shade - it was HOT while I was walking!

I do NOT love all the sargassum that's still washing up - it stinks when it starts to rot. So gross. 

       Birds seem to enjoy it, though 

I passed by a wedding photo shoot - not sure who the photographer is here, but if you know him and want to let him know I snapped some shots of him at work and threw him in my blog, go for it: 

  The sea grass is .... A nice touch? 

I'd be worried about crabs biting my toes 

Once I picked up my bike, I rode a bit further south and went to hang out with my big-headed, furry boyfriend - Mr Cheech

He loves chasing lizards - this isn't a good picture, but he was obsessed with something in one of those palm trees

One of the smaller crocs in Cheech's pond

I needed to head home before the sun set since I didn't have a flashlight with me  and it gets crazy dark up north 

Caught a little peak of it on my way home

I know everyone just LOVES the new, paved road going north - but I love it the old way. Sandy roads are charming and lovely- concrete is bad, mmmkay? 

Heading in to that dark hole ahead 

    Heading into the rain - look at that gorgeous, sand road! I never ever ever want to see this section paved - can we PLEASE leave it alone?? 

The rain came - I hid out in a little roadside hut with about 8 construction guys until it passed 

                 Rain heading south 

I dropped my bike off at home and then walked up to Rojo Lounge, getting caught in more rain on my way there, but my friend met me there and bought me dinner, so it was worth the wet dreadlocks, which are still a bit damp this morning :/ 

I already have simple plans for tomorrow, but I want to know what YOU would do if you had six more days off from work, and absolutely no money to spend. 
Keep in mind that, even though it's way warmer here than pretty much anywhere in the States, it's still not "beach weather," so swimming and trying to get a tan are not options. Don't even suggest it. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Top 5 Reasons (of today) that my BFF Loves Me

You all know Kathy by now - my BFF for the past 22 years, almost. 

This is just a little taste of our daily conversations. Enjoy.

I think this should be a weekly treat, don't you? 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fiesta de Carnaval - San Pedro 2015

Yesterday kicked off the Comparsas and Painting portion of Carnaval here in San Pedro - which I just happened to stumble upon while I was out 'n about...

The Rules:

The first sign that it's painting day
Shop owners cover their storefronts with tarps and plastic 

And then you see....
People covered in paint

For the Comparsas
People spend months perfecting their costumes and dances

Always a crowd favorite,

The Barbies in Action

The Comparsas and painting continue today and tomorrow, and on Wednesday they do the Burning of Don Juan Carnaval - which I just had to look up on the Ambergris Today website:

"Juan Carnabal was supposedly the name of the man in whose honor el Gran Carnabal de San Pedro was celebrated annually.  On Ash Wednesday, the day after el Carnabal, an effigy of Don Juan was made using a pair of pants and shirt stuffed with seaweed and a coconut for its head.  Don Juan Carnabal was paraded around town on a wheelbarrow or at times on the shoulder of two young men who were in the team that built it and organized a function in his honor. In the night at Central park the Last Will and Testament of Don Juan Carnabal was read to the public. Next week we shall publish a sample of Don Juan’s Last Will and Testament.
Of course, before the reading of the will, there was Don Juan’s re-enactment of his wedding in which a lot of women whom he had let down were crying.  And then after the will, Don Juan was taken to the football field and burned.  It was the superstition that if he was not burnt properly and totally, San Pedro would go through some spells of misfortune, so the village boys very dutifully burned the effigy while the women continued their crying and their mourning.  After this everybody went home and San Pedro was ready to enter into the period of Lent, the period of fasting in preparation for the passion and death of our Lord. San Pedro had celebrated ‘big time’ and was ready for as solemn period."
I"ll be going to town this afternoon for a  lunch date, and I think I've been talked in to going tomorrow, too, for the final day of painting to participate and do a little drinking - so make sure you Follow Me On Instagram for pics! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Favorite Moments of the Past Two Weeks

The BEST thing that has happened in the past two weeks happened to my buddy, Cheech.
You all know I've been trying to pimp out Cheech to a good home since November - and we finally had someone step up and volunteer to be his foster dad for a while.

I've also been trying to learn some stuff about design lately, so if you want to chime in with an opinion or advice on this one, please do. 

He's living pretty sweet now - he's out of the kennel at SAGA, he has an awesome human who takes care of him, and his house... I'm a little bit jealous of his crib..

This unique property is for sale, message me for contact info

No lie - there are crocs in there. Big ones.

He's so, SO happy there - he just chases lizards and stares into the pond, curious about everything. His new human loves him so I'm hoping they find a way to stay together - they seem to be a really good match. 

Here are the rest of my most recent favorite moments of these past two weeks, in no particular order:

Breakfast at Estel's

                               Nice, cool, beautiful weather

                                    Hangin out with Ginger

                          Lagoon side sunset

                      Fishing day with friends 

                      Plenty of days at Cholo's 

                              Bike rides to town

                 More time spent with this dude

                       Days at my "home base"

                                 Walks up north 

  Seeing the British Military gentlemen at their finest. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tourist Behavior We Just Can't Stand

I'm fully aware that I was "just a tourist" when I first started coming here, but I promise you, I did not do any of the following things:

1- Being Stingy with the Tip (or not tipping at all)
Ok, I haven't done any extensive traveling - I've only been to five countries outside of the U.S, but every time I've gone somewhere new I make sure to find out what the tipping situation is like. 
If I don't go and seek the easily accessible information online, I make sure to ask someone who lives in whichever country I'm visiting...so, I'll tell you right now, no matter which country you are from, WE TIP IN BELIZE. 

photo credit collegehumor.com

Right before coming home and starting this post (two weeks ago) I was at my local beach bar/ restaurant ordering food to-go and having a drink. 
An American family of six showed up, ordered two beers and a Panty Rippa, (after asking the bartender - What's the WiFi passowrd? What's in a Michelada? What's in a Pany Rippa? Can you make a Strawberry Daiquiri?...) then proceeded to make themselves comfortable - turning their own music on over the music already playing at the bar, handing the bartender their garbage, and then playing a few rounds of volleyball. 
They came back to the bar to pay, handed the bartender exact change - and held on to the extra $5 Belize dollar bill that they had left. 
There was a tip jar sitting right on the bar in front of them, and they still walked away without leaving anything

Even if you think $2.50us is too generous of a tip to leave after having three drinks and a lovely spot to hang out with your family for almost an hour, wouldn't you at least ask for change and leave a dollar or two?

The answer to the question is YES, if you're not an ass, you WILL leave a tip. 

The general "rule" here is, tip as you would do in the States - pay attention here, Europeans and Canadians:
For sit down restaurant service- if you're a 15-20% tipper there, be a 15-20% tipper here. 
If you're only having drinks - the general "rule" is to tip $1.00 for every simple drink you order - Rum and Coke, Vodka Cran, Jack and Ginger, beer, etc. (one Belize dollar is acceptable)
If you prefer the frozen drinks- the PiƱa Coladas, Daiquiris, Dirty Bananas, etc, it's nice to bump that tip up a bit, because you're now taking up more of the bartender's time, and giving them more stuff to clean up.

I, personally, have experienced the absolute worst tippers AND, some of the best. Some people will leave their bartender $20us for just a few beers, and we love them. We couldn't get by without them, really - they help even things out. We also tend to remember them and make serving them a priority over people whom we remember to stiff us.

Don't forget your to tip your tour guides! 
I hang out with a lot of tour guides here in San Pedro and the consensus is the same - people don't tip like they used to.
They tell stories of working 7-10 years ago and getting tipped $100-$500us each! Now, the crew is lucky if they get $100bz to split between all of them. 

I've asked a few of them, "What would be a good tip?" but no one has given me a number. The answer is usually something like, "Anything they leave is a nice surprise at the end," so I'm just telling you what I think is fair enough, and if any local guide would like to chime in and correct me, that would be helpful.
I figure $10us per person makes sense.... So a group of 10 people would tip $100us. 
When I've gone on tours, I've generally tipped between $10-$20us to each guide - some people may think that's a bit too generous, but, since I've been in the service industry myself for so long, I try to take care of "my people."

Oh, and Coconut Leo! Don't forget to tip Coconut Leo!

2. Wearing Bathing Suits to Eat or Go Shopping
Whether it's a bikini or a Speedo, it's just inappropriate to wear your bathing suit into the super market, while browsing the gift shops, having lunch on middle street, drinking at an indoor bar, driving around in a golf cart, while in line at the bank, or - and I know this one is disappointing, but even when going for a stroll on the beach.

Honestly, how hard is it to slip on a pair of shorts or a swimsuit cover-up? 

Granted, you don't see a lot of  the same "business attire" that you're used to, but you do see people here dressed for work. You see kids in school uniforms. You see people dressed for church. You see people who live here wearing clothes everywhere they go.

The only places it is acceptable to be in your bathing suit are: Lounging around the pool at a resort, lounging on the beach chairs outside of your resort, at a swim-up bar, on a boat, or in the water. 

You want to "do as the locals do?"
Put your clothes on.

*This is not just my opinion, and it isn't only a San Pedro "problem."
Reference - WomenWhoLiveOnRocks.com - "Out of the Mouths of Tourists."

3. Being Distasteful and Obnoxious
I don't know how tourists behave when they stay on Caye Caulker, down in Placencia, or in other parts of Belize, but I've done an extensive amount of people watching in San Pedro over the years, and I'm sure that anyone else who has done late night bartending here can confirm that we've all seen some shit.
(Side Note - it is not only tourists who act this way)

Some examples of distasteful and obnoxious behavior:

A woman in her 30's had sex with a different local guy out on the dock in front of Big Daddy's every night for a week. (It was pointed out to me every night when I was walking home from work.) Not even an attempt to go somewhere private - just right there on the dock.

The night I accidentally became a pimp - a married Canadian guy (who lives here now) wouldn't stop hitting on me and making inappropriate suggestions, so I excused myself to go hide in the bathroom for a bit after introducing him to one of my local friends, who I had NO idea made her money by sleeping with white dudes.
As I walked back out to the bar, she thanked me for hooking her up and told me she owed me $50. I saw them heading towards her house together on my way home an hour later.
(I've probably told this story before)

Some random, drunk woman stopped me on the beach one night to ask me to help her find one of the well known, good looking tour guides that she had been out on a tour with, along with her husband, earlier that day. Her husband was passed out in the hotel and his wife was feeling frisky.
I saw her again two nights later, and she was on the same mission.

People yelling and screaming all night - this only bothered me when I lived close to town. Again, people LIVE HERE, in your vacation destination. They get up early for work and school. Have a liiiiitle bit of respect when you're near homes.

Couples getting hammered and fighting in public. This happens way too often.

The Walker Stalkers (fans of Jerry Jeff Walker).... Oooh, you guys. So loud. So obnoxious. (From what I hear, though, also very generous)

4. Being Unoriginal
Those of us who live here are sick of the following phrases:
-That's unBELIZEable!
-Can you BELIZE it?!
-I BELIZE I'll have another drink!
-Don't stop BELIZEing!
-BELIZE it or not!

Just buy yourself a T-shirt or a beer koozie and let it go.

photo cred - artboxbz.com

Surviving 5 Days in the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital

Hello there! My name is Keith and I am writing on Carrie’s blog to let you all know about my fantastic time of going to the public hospital in Belize City, and may be give you an idea of what to expect and bring. 

I sing and play here on the Island for about 4 years. On my 4th anniversary here I was dealing with a high fever and what turned out to be an infection on my leg. I probably don’t need to tell you that the original injury was due to a pole dancing accident on my birthday so we won’t go into those details. The injury turned into infection and on New Year’s Day  I was told that I either go to the hospital or lose my leg. 

After little consideration I decided I was not yet ready for a peg leg and pirate life. I notified my various gigs and told Amy, my complicated but lovely significant other, packed up and headed for the boat to take us to Belize City. I received the News at about 11 and by 3 we were on our way to the City.

Not really knowing what to expect (except that my stay could be as long as a week) we packed one suitcase with about 5 changes of clothes each, soap, toilet paper, our phones and chargers, my nook Ereader, a couple of paperbacks, deodorant, toothbrushes and paste, and plenty of money. We had never been to the public hospital before, but knew we couldn't afford more than a couple of nights at a private hospital (which we heard could be $800 BZ a night, after a large deposit).

Reaching the Karl Huesner Memorial Hospital was pretty simple. We knew we wanted to reach it early to start treatment quickly. We were dropped off in the front and asked (as I was directed by my local doctor) for the emergency room. They directed us toward the back and twisting through the hallways we found the emergency room.

After speaking to some nurses at a desk we were directed to the Triage Nurse who asked a few basic questions, took my weight and temp, and directed us to the waiting room. After about 90 minutes wait we were called inside, where we waited about a half hour more, before seeing the doctor. The doctor was pleasant  and asked about the original injury and when infection set in.
Then were taken to  a room where she could see my wound.

Soon, I was placed in another examination room which would have to serve as my room for the time being. They were extremely busy and part of the surgical ward was undergoing some construction. They started me on IV’s of saline solution and soon as was placed on antibiotics. The nurses were pretty pleasant and friendly. I think it is important to remember that they are professionals and not customer service representatives. My advice is don’t be demanding if you need something just ask but just remember as bad off as you may be in the hospital there’s always someone who needs more attention. The next morning I was brought to a room with six beds and four other patients in the room. This is likely the standard experience for most going to the hospital and this room was where I stayed the next four days.

So there’s the basic story, now let me tell you what you need and what to expect on a stay at the Hospital here in Belize:

Soap: There is no soap in the bathrooms. There is hand sanitizer but that can run out.

Toilet Paper: There’s generally toilet paper in the bathroom but if not it is not the nurses job to resupply it.  Have your own ready and you won’t have to wait.

Towel: "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." Bring a towel. You’ll figure it out.

Underwear: You may not need a change of clothes but if nothing is being worked on “down there” there is no reason to not wear some underoos beneath your hospital gown.

Entertainment: There is no TV or movie night, many patients aren’t in the mood of meeting new people, and the nurses don’t have time for conversation. If you have a smart phone I suggest Candy Crush, Two Dots, and Super Monsters Ate My Condo. Bring a book or two if you can’t just read one. Generally you want something to do with one hand because the other may get irritated with the IV needle in it. Also there is no WIFI at the hospital.

Credit: If you’re local and have a phone you’ll want plenty of credit to let people know how you’re doing and get any needed supplies.

A Good Friend: You should probably already have a couple of these, but you will definitely want someone who can visit you and bring you things like water and food. The hospital will give you water in the form of saline solution in an IV or if you can get up and drink from a fountain then go for it. Otherwise you are probably going to want to drink bottled water the old fashioned way. They can also bring you food. The hospital will feed you, yes, but trust me on this, if you don’t have a specific diet need they are addressing then you will want somebody to bring you food from someplace else.

Keith and Amy
Money: Yes I know you know that you’ll probably need money or something really good to barter with. My 5 night stay cost merely $211.25 BZD. That’s $25 a night and $10 a day for drugs and the rest was tests and fees. Not bad. If you have a friend they can stay at a Hostel across the street for $10 BZD a night, or there are some hotel starting at about $50 BZD that we found. The hostel locks its door at 10pm no exceptions. We ended up spending most of the money on food and…

Something Warm: Being on the island all the time we forgot how cold being in AC all day felt, so we bought some hoodies.

That’s pretty much the basic survival guide to your trip to a hospital. Try and have a good attitude about it and you should do fine. If you can pay for a private hospital you can probably forget all this stuff and just bring money. The wound is doing much better and I will be singing and playing again soon! Adios.

SO Gross!!


Thanks, Keith!!