Letter from Belize no. 49

2nd January 2016

All the best for a good year ahead to everyone. I learned the other day that in Mexico at midnight on New Year’s eve they burn a figure rather like Guy Fawkes. This symbolizes burning the old and welcoming in the new. Apparently this is more popular than Christmas even, which surprised me, it being a Catholic country.

In Belize I always ask people what they do to celebrate Christmas and it pretty much comes down to family and favourite foods – so pretty universal really. For us personally, we always try to remember it as a time to acknowledge the birth of one of the many great world teachers.

I must say people really go to town on their Christmas trees and make them from all sorts of ingenious materials. Here are some that I spotted.

These two were on Caye Caulker island, the first made from lobster pots and the 2nd decorated with tools of the tourist trade – flippers, goggles and snorkels.

These two were in San Pedro, the first the official town one in the square and the 2nd in the garden of a very poor home at the back of the island. Just look at those cowrie shells.

These two were in Corozal, the first at our doctors surgery made with the insides of toilet rolls and the 2nd in a friend’s home.

And here was our very own, made by our daughter Jess who, together with a friend, spent Christmas with us so it was very special.

Early in December I helped out at a Red Cross festive lunch for seniors and “shut ins”. Is this an American term? I have not heard it before. Anyway it was a very touching day and the old people had a ball. There was one table where were whoops of laughter erupting all the time and others were more sedate and withdrawn. I just loved the faces. Look at the contrasts here – all from such different ethnic backgrounds – Maya, Spanish, British, African, East Indian plus years of ... well life!

Sixty five people were fed and each received a goody bag and a gift. The woman at the top left is 100 years old! and the man at the bottom right played his guitar and lead the singing of Chrismas Carols. It was a very humbling and heatwarming experience for me.

So from both of us here in Belize we wish you all the very best and we thank you for your continued support of the Retreat.

With our love
Rose and Henry

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