Saturday, November 15, 2014

My New, Smelly Baby

It's been a good two months or so since I've had any kind of spending money, or "extra" money, if there is such a thing - but I finished up my first charter of the season yesterday day and I was heading home with some cash in my pocket.

I ran into a friend of mine (Ras Gilbert) at the water taxi terminal, and he was looking kind of bummed out so I asked him what was up.
He told me he was short on money to buy his ticket home to San Pedro, only about $5bz.
I gave him a $20 and told him to hold on to the change in case he needed it, and when he said he would pay me back I told him not to worry about it.
It just feels good to be able to help someone out when you can, ya know?

He thanked me about a million times and then stepped outside while I bought my ticket.
When I finished up and went out there, he was waiting for me with another guy I recognized - this old sweetie from Rockstone Pond, which is the village that Altun Ha is in.

To thank me for helping him out, Gilbert gave me the most beautiful Black Orchid (the national flower of Belize) that he found while he was in the jungle in Rockstone Pond.

There is she, my new, smelly baby.

There are six orchids in bloom on the bunch, and they give off the most delicious scent every once in a while.

"The black orchid (Encyclia Cochleatum) is the National Flower of Belize. This orchid grows on trees in damp areas, and flowers nearly all year round. Its clustered bulblike stems vary in size up to six inches long and carry two or three leaves.

The black orchid flower has greenish-yellow petals and sepals with purple blotches near the base. The "lip" (one petal of special construction, which is the flower's showiest) is shaped like a valve of a clam shell (hence the name Encyclia Cochleatum) and is deep purple-brown, almost black, with conspicuous radiating purple veins."

"Traditionally in the East, orchids represented meditation, purity and simplicity. They also symbolized happiness and ecstasy. Many societies believed that to consume the orchid would impart its power. The Aztecs drank the flower mixed with vanilla. The Chinese used orchids to treat breathing ailments. Some cultures even believed they could influence the sex of their child by eating different sized portions of the flower's tuber."

"The meanings of the color black and the orchid marry perfectly in the black orchid to represent a message of absolute authority and power, making them a perfect gift for a new boss--a leader. Their manly connotation renders them appropriate to gift to a male or female. Black orchids would also make a good choice of gift for a religious figure, symbolizing many positive aspects of the person's service. They could be used to recognize a graduate, as a bestowment of honor. Equally, the flowers would make an excellent way to signify to a mate your wishes for fertility and your belief in his or her sexual power."

This is so much better than getting my $20 back :)
He told me to just tie them up to a tree or to a post on my house, so I have a friend bringing me some heavy duty string my in a few hours and I'll find them a good spot and throw a picture up on my Instagram page.

If you go through the San Pedro Belize Express water taxi terminal often, you may know the woman who does hair braiding and nail painting.. I see her a lot and she always wants to wrap my dreads or paint my toenails but I'm always either short on cash or short on time, but I had a little of both yesterday so I finally let her give me a quick nail job.

       Kinda matches my turtle, eh? 
Not a bad day at the water taxi joint. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Trouble With Falling in Love....

All I want to do is take long walks on the beach with him, make sure he's healthy and happy, and cuddle up next to him at night... But no. "His kind" apparently aren't welcome where I live, so I have to say goodbye soon.

For someone who falls in love with animals so, so easily (you didn't think this post was about a dude, did you?) I have the most unfortunate luck when it comes to keeping them in my life.

It didn't start out this way...
When I was little, my family had a white German Shepard named Gandolph, and he was with us from the time he was rescued by one of my uncles in Philly until he got old and had to go to doggy heaven.

Then we had McGyver, my Welsh Corgi.

I'm pretty sure there is nothing in the world cuter than this

McGyver, other than being slightly overweight, had a happy and healthy 13 years or so with us until he, too, had to go to doggy heaven. I still feel bad that I went and grew up and moved out of my parents house and had to leave him behind, but he had my brother and my parents and was very well taken care of, without me.
My sweet stumpy man.

The first pet I took in after moving out on my own was a super pretty Russian Blue cat - she belonged to a friend of a friend who had adopted her, named her "Vegas," and then decided to move to Florida or somewhere dumb and couldn't take her along.

I adopted her, renamed her, "Sugar," and only a few months later we added Muffin to the family after a friend of mine had found her on a rooftop somewhere.

Their first picture together - they were buddies immediately

Fast forward a bunch of years.... Me, Sugar and Muffin eventually move in with my (now estranged) husband and his two cats, Bubby and Smokey Bear.
Smokey Bear never really got attached to the other cats - she had a stumpy tail from an amputation after what we think was a raccoon attack one night - and I think she felt like she just didn't fit in with the rest of them because of it. Our condo was in a neighborhood of mostly "older" people, so I believe she found herself another human to live with and just ditched us.

In her place, Mr. Mister started showing up. (Bear with me, I'm getting to the heart-breaking moments)

We had a cat door and Sugar, Muffin, and Bubby would all guard it at different times to make sure no other neighborhood cat (Big Blackie, specifically) could get in. They'd sit in front of it and if another cat stuck his head in - WHACK. Total beat down from whichever cat was on duty.
(Even though they hated other cats, they would let the raccoons in ALL THE TIME. They'd all just sit around while the raccoons dumped the garbage, went through the cabinets, ripped open cereal boxes, played with the cat toys...)

The one and only cat that they did eventually let in was a scrawny, beat up looking white and orange tabby cat who showed up one night looking like he had been hit by a car.
For months, this guy would just show up randomly, looking like shit, and spend up to a week just sleeping and eating at our house.
We never figured out what his deal was - one time, he showed up with a flea collar on, so we assumed he had an owner. Another time, he stumbled in wearing a Santa Claus costume - I kid you not - but it was on wrong and he had one little arm sticking out of the neck hole along with his head.. I'm not sure how he was even able to get around,

When it was time to move to Belize, it was decided that Mr. Mister would not be coming with us. He didn't "belong to" us, plus he most likely wouldn't have passed the health requirements to be allowed to enter another country since he was pretty sickly most of the time.

That was sad for me - it was the first time that I had been separated from an animal that I loved for a reason other than death due to old age.

It gets worse.

Living in Belize...
I brought Sugar to San Pedro with me, Bubby was sent down  by himself a few weeks later, and then Muffin traveled with Trip (the husband) and went straight to the mainland with him while me and the other two spent a few more months on the island, waiting for our house in Stann Creek to be built

Sugar, reading the San Pedro Sun

Fast forward, again...

We were all living together on the mainland for about four months and then.... Sugar passed away.
I felt guilty - either something bit her or she ate something she shouldn't have - either way, I still feel like it's my fault. I brought her down her to live in the jungle with critters and plants she wasn't familiar with, and something killed her.

The day after she died, our first baby chicken was born, and two months later, we adopted a homeless potlicker and her two puppies, and two months after that, we adopted three Boer goats from Ian Anderson.

I was in love with my little farm family - cats, chickens, dogs and goats - that was pretty much my childhood dream, minus some horses, and I had it for a little while! I would spend hours, literally hours picking ticks off of Mama, Clementine, and Penelope (the dogs) and I would feed Liney, Higby, and Dominguez (the goats) veggies and leftover food and try to scratch between their horns.

I was also in love with a dog named Lobo who belonged to one of our workers from the village - and the dog loved me back. 


I totally believe that i was the only human, ever, to pet this dog. His owner would get drunk and lash him with a machete, he had scabs and sores and ticks all over him - but I didn't care. I was warned not to try to pet him, "He's mean!" they said. "He'll bite you."

Pfft. That dog was a sweetheart just waiting to be loved. I spent many nights outside, getting bitten by bugs along side of him, just to give him some attention. We went for walks together, he would follow us all the way to the river when we collected rocks for the stone work in the house, and he would sleep right by our door whenever he didn't feel like going home.

When I had to leave my husband, I had to leave all of the animals, too. With only a backpack full of clothes, about $50us in my pocket, and no plan as to what the hell I was going to do with my life next, I couldn't take a cat or a dog, or even a baby chicken with me.
It's been two years since I've seen any of them and I STILL get choked up about not being able to say goodbye to them all individually and explain why I couldn't stay.
I feel the worst about Lobo... he lost the only one who would ever show him any affection.

Moving right along...

I moved back to San Pedro after leaving my home and every single plan I had made that was supposed to be my life here in Belize. One of my sister's friends who lives down here had generously offered me a room to stay in while I made some money and got back on my feet.

When I did finally manage to score my own, tiny, ghetto apartment, I also happened to meet a guy who was giving away his dog's puppies.
I did not plan on taking one - I knew my life was still not stable enough to bring a pet into it, but after seeing how they were being cared for (not at ALL) I knew I needed to save at least one of them or I'd never stop wondering what happened to them.

I adopted a little girl, named her Keanu, and took her everywhere with me.

                                                        on a road trip to the mainland

I was obviously completely in love with her, and she was growing up to be a very strong, feisty lady... then, the most horrible thing in the entire world happened. 
I don't want to rehash awful old memories, hopefully you understand, but when this sweet little angel of a puppy was only about 3 or 4 months old, someone beat her to death. It was the most disturbing, disgusting, inhumane thing I've ever witnessed in my life and something I still can't think about without getting physically ill.

Let's skip to little Luna

This tiny little thing was in the abusive hands of a group of young Belizean children who had her tied up, by her tail, with fishing wire and were kicking her and throwing rocks at her. Someone who knew me and how much I love animals took the puppy from those shitty little kids and brought her to me. 
I still had Keanu at the time, that's them together in the above picture, so I knew I couldn't keep this adorable black and white little penguin. (Her name was Penguin for the two days that I had her)

My friend Brandy ended up taking her in, so I was able to hang out with her constantly and watch her grow up almost on a daily basis. 
You guys all know Luna - she's been mentioned in multiple posts and I made this fun video of her chasing coconuts. I. Love. Her.

I got to live with Miss Luna for a very short time - but things didn't work out for us as members of a three-roomate household, so I left and I've only seen Luna twice, very briefly, in the past 2 months that I've been gone.

Now - present day.

I moved up north just over two months ago with my two cats, Grande and Poquito. They adopted me just about a year ago when I was living at the Barrel Bar, and they've been moving around with me ever since.

About a month ago, when I was dog sitting Gingah, Croc Fightah, Poquito decided to take off and leave us. She hates dogs.
Two weeks later, when Cheech, my neighbor's dog and creator of my doggy dilemma, started hanging out here, Grande went missing. She doesn't care for dogs much, either.

The bad news is that Grande is still gone, but the good news is that last Friday night, as I was walking home from Rojo, I heard a cat crying just as I was passing John McAffee's old house. I stopped, listened, looked around, and there she was - Poquito!!
I sent Cheech back to my house with the friend I was walking with and then spent a good twenty minutes coaxing Poquito out of the yard so I could grab her and get her home.
I didn't need to carry her - she ended up following me along the beach and back to our house, no problem.

               this is where, apparently, Poquito had been living for a few weeks. Nice choice.

The other bad news, the really bad news and the whole reason I started this ridiculously long post in the first place, is that I'm now completely in love with Cheech, and I have to say goodbye.

My neighbors will not give me their dog - but even if they would agree to let me have him, it doesn't matter.
My landlord emailed me and informed me that he does NOT want a pitbull living on his property, so Cheech has to go - no matter who owns him. The landlord is bringing his cat back down here to live, and they have had bad experiences involving her and another pitbull here that, he was told, "wouldn't hurt a fly."

I totally understand where he is coming from, but I am so, so sad right now.

I was telling someone, when my cats were both gone, "I don't care if they don't want to live with me anymore - like, if they found a nice house with no dogs around and they're happy and safe, that's totally fine. I just want to know that they weren't attacked by a raccoon or anything.."
I feel the same way about Cheech... It isn't the most horrible thing ever that he can't live here - but I'm 99% sure that whoever his owner ends up giving him to will not take care of him. He's supposed to be a "guard dog," so whether the current owner decides to move and take his dog with him, or if he decides to give it to one of his Belizean friends, this dog will be chained up 24/7 for the rest of his life.
Right now, he has on a collar that is way too tight and he's hooked up to a three foot rope with no room to run, no way to get any exercise, and no one pays any attention to him.

He gets excited when he sees me walk by, and then he starts crying when he can't see me any more. The wound he had on his head, the one I got under control with tea tree oil and neosporin, is now ripped open again and, as far as I can tell, he has no water bowl.

I feel completely helpless and heartbroken for him.  Last night, on my way out of the yard, he tried to jump his gate and got hung up on his rope. No one came out to check on him - he probably didn't whine or cry or anything, and when I got home four hours later, he was still stuck. I ended up going over, letting him back in his gate on onto the veranda, giving him some food, and petting him.
He looks so, so sad.

The only thing I can do - the only thing I can think of, is to try to find him someone who could take him in and love him, and then approach my neighbor about giving him away to someone decent.

So..... There has GOT TO BE SOMEONE... someone looking for a good dog who WILL protect your home, and who just wants to go for a walk once in a while and get his head scratched. He is super, super sweet - but he'll bark at anyone that comes near your home, and he has a big tough-guy bark that sounds pretty intimidating.

He seems to get along well with other dogs - as long as they're mellow and chill, he will be, too. I've taken him up to Rojo three times - and if you know Rojo, then you know they have about five dogs up there. He got along with every single one of them. He did show some interest in the cat - but since she didn't run away from him, he didn't chase her. He is a GOOD DOG.

He doesn't mess with people when we walk down the beach, and I've never had him on a leash. He doesn't chase motorcycles or bicycles, and he comes when called.

I really believe he would make an excellent addition to any family with a fenced in yard and a nice shady spot for him to enjoy on hot days.

He does need to be fixed, but I know that Saga has another free clinic day coming up this month and they've already told me that they can get him in if I can get him down there. He seems to have a tummy issue, too - but it's probably something easily fixable. I can't imagine that his current owner has ever given him a heartworm pill or any kind of shots, so he'll need a doctor's visit, for sure.

Someone please, please, PLEASE help me find a good home for this guy.
Or find me a home, in my low, low price range, with a yard, so that I can keep him myself.

And this is why I should NOT get attached to animals any more... Love hurts.

I hope dogs don't think the way I do... I hope Lobo never wondered why I left him and I hope Cheech isn't wondering why I won't save him and take him home with me :(