Letter from Belize no. 42

5th May 2015

Gosh, sometimes it feels like it is all go in the slow lane. I keep thinking, “Well I have got that task, function, event or whatever it is, over and done with, I will be able to relax now”, and whoosh the next thing comes bowling along. I think that is the way for most people ‘of an age’ actually. Most of the ex-pat community here is retired and all are extremely busy. They are very active with things like Rotary, various individual or unofficial charities to help disadvantaged people and animals and offering student scholarships so there are loads of events and fundraisers - and a lot of work goes into socializing too of course.

Last month a friend organised a walk to raise funds to inoculate dogs. This came about because during last year a team of vets came down to Belize from the US and spayed dogs and cats, male and female in Corozal and Orange Walk free of charge. In Corozal alone 200 animals were “fixed” over a 2 day period. This obviously was to try and control the over breeding and over population of dogs and cats on the streets but tragedy followed in that a couple of months later there was an outbreak of distemper and parvo-virus and many of those same dogs died. It was realised then that bringing together so many dogs, who had not previously been vaccinated, was a recipe for disaster. Hence this new initiative to hold the sponsored walk and enough money was raised to vaccinate 187 animals. How good is that? The walk was really pleasant – we set off at about 6 in the morning with a lovely breeze coming off the bay and did a 5km circuit through Corozal. I am 4th from right in the photo.

Then at the Retreat itself we have had a few events. We held one of our Enneagram Workshops at the beginning of April. This is where you figure out which of 9 personality types you most closely match and it helps enormously to understand, and therefore develop compassion for, not only oneself, but also those one associates with through family, work etc.

This time we did a bit of drawing and that was both fun and quite self-revealing.

On Sunday we held one of our 2 monthly Meditation days, this time the theme being Love – as in universal unconditional Love – not the kind of love you feel for your dog or your new car or your husband when he is being nice to you.

Looking at this photo I was struck by what an international bunch we have there. All these countries are represented – Canada, Germany, Scotland, England, Wales, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, America and Zimbabwe. Quite a United Nations gathering.

Also last month I gave a talk to the Corozal Women’s Forum about my wonderful experience of having the opportunity to go to Art college during my time in England. I showed them in a 45 minute blast how I had learned to see and understand art in a whole different way, that it is a form of communication, a metaphor, a platform to make a statement or express a sentiment and also that behind the final piece of work that goes on exhibition will have been a whole process of ideas, of attempts and failures, of exploration and successes. The audience was great, lots of input and sharing what art had touched them and moved them.

And then there was Earth Day on 22nd April. Someone asked me if this is mainly an American thing and it certainly began in the USA in 1970 but is now observed by 192 countries “promoting year round environmental citizenship and action worldwide”. In Belize a small local group called Focus (Friends of Corozal United for Sustainability) take conservation very seriously and do a lot of good work of spreading information to young people. On Earth Day they organize clean up parties to tackle the garbage in the streets – and believe me it is really bad. This year groups covered a 20 mile stretch along the highway leading through Corozal and northwards towards the Mexico border filling well over 300 huge garbage bags. We decided to take part this year as a Gateway Retreat group and tackled a section of road on the way to the Retreat.

The whole thing ended with a gathering at a conservation site in Corozal where, among other things going on, pupils from the Mexican school put on an Earth Day display.

Do you know what I think has been the first world’s greatest disservice to Belize - and any 3rd world country for that matter? – polystyrene food packaging and disposable nappies or diapers. I reckon 40% of what I picked up were nappies which of course are favourites with scavenging dogs and vultures. But I guess as long as the manufacturers and distributors are raking it in there is no need to think of the long term damage.

Anyway, don’t get me started. I can tell you I was absolutely exhausted after that.

I must just show you this. I was saved from a fate worse than death a few weeks ago when I was meditating – or supposedly meditating. Something made me glance down at myself and I saw this fellow calmly marching across my chest!

God, can you imagine if it had stung me. I managed to stand up and shake it off me before it got that tail moving.

Apart from that all is good. It has got incredibly hot which is to be expected this time of year and it has been very very dry. It did rain last week which was like music to the ears and now the frogs and mosquitoes and doctor flies are very happy - but not so melodious.

With all our love,

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