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Contents Page: December 31, 2010, vol 6 no 4

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Erika Lee Williams

 

Greetings from Belize

Belize City is everything the guidebook warned it would be: loud, dirty, poor, raw – alive! At night Latino soccer players yell in the field across the dirt street from our inn. In the morning a rooster crows, dazzling Caribbean sunlight falls on the neighbors’ red tin roof, a thin, slow dog sniffs around the backyard, and I can smell the salt from the sea a couple blocks away...

the dark canal –
tossing grapefruit seeds
to draw bats

An old man standing against a wall with a thick gray beard and dreadlocks down past his hip bones… The uniformed school children…

Today we bid farewell to the lively city and drove south down scenic Hummingbird Highway, which offered us sweeping, dreamlike panoramas – forests of palms nestled in among deciduous trees, rising toward a horizon of hazy young mountains. Most of the villages still have huts with thatched roofs. Hut or house, most every home has a clothesline strung with fresh laundry

barefoot neighbors…
the rose garden
bigger than the house

Mid-afternoon we had to stop and wait while welders repaired one of the highway's single-lane bridges. A bus stopped behind us, and many of the passengers got off. A young Rastaman came up to our SUV and talked to us for quite a while; then ran and brought us back grapefruit from a roadside orchard.

And so we come to Seine Bight, four miles north of Placencia. Here is a world where our hosts and others have built walled paradises, complete with servants’ quarters, in the backyard of abject poverty; where our black waitress does not talk, does not laugh, does not look us in the eyes; just comes like a dog when they call her from the kitchen...where we’re no longer people. I want to go back to the city.

carpet of seagrass,
caribbean stars…
the ocean doesn’t know

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