Letter from Belize no. 83
30th December 2019
Gosh, my 83rd newsletter and here we are at the end of another year at Gateway. I see my last letter was in August when I appealed for help with our financial predicament. Our deepest thanks to those who so kindly responded. Actually there have been a lot of changes since then within the company. Pressure from the bank to have a more Belize based directorship led us to appointing 2 new local directors and at the same time our founding members/directors Chris and David Harris in UK resigned. We would like to thank them for the 9 years of support, both financial and moral that they gave us and also David Anwyl-Hughes who so skillfully recorded the minutes of the UK directors’ meetings. This leaves us now with a board of 6 directors, 2 UK based, Ann and Andy Kenyon who were the first to come out here and identify and purchase this beautiful piece of land; Henry and me in Belize, as well as newcomers Adela who returned to Belize a few years ago after many years in the US and Beverly Miles who hails from San Francisco and has been in Belize for 7 months. They are both regulars at our Sunday satsangs. Another long term satsangee, Roy, has been appointed a registered member of the company to share his wealth of local history and passion for the Maya people and their culture. Then in addition we have a team of fundraisers, Adela and Beverly, Sonja and her husband Dan, Erika and Yavette and Henry and Rose. Kantilal Naran continues to be our mentor and spiritual guide.
All this will be updated on the website as soon as it has been officially registered with the Registrar of Companies.
Looking back over the year it has been very varied. Events included the Garden Club visit in February to see out newly completed Tree Trail which now has 25 trees accurately identified with Latin, English, Spanish and Maya names.
We did an Enneagram workshop, held art classes, and kept up our monthly Women’s Spiritual Book group which is a lot of fun and very popular as well as being very profound.
The weather was very challenging this year. The hottest year, the driest year and now the coldest winter (but we are not complaining about that). The heat made us all very lethargic, an effort just to blink one’s eyes let alone go out in the garden, and the drought caused a change in animal and bird visitors to the Retreat as they came looking for food and water. I noticed more snakes around this year – all harmless thankfully – unless you are a Clay-coloured Thrush that is.
But we have seen fewer of the usual winter birds. We did have a good time watching the hectic nest building and chick rearing during the breeding season.
Since then it has been relatively quiet bird wise. I don’t know where they have gone in preference.
When the rains came they brought with them zillions of mosquitoes which caused havoc in the region with spreading Dengue fever. Our local village of Xaibe was really badly hit. Charlie, our gardener, had it as well has his 8 year old son and several other members of his family. It is very nasty. Fever, aching joints, headaches, stomach upsets, relapses and a considerably weakened immune system. You can only have the test for it after having the fever for a full 3 days and even then the remedy is bed rest and paracetamol. The labs were doing so many tests and the hospital in Corozal was full. Apparently the juice squeezed from the papaya leaf is a good immune booster.
The garden was desperately dry through the drought of course but the rains brought wonderful fungi again.
And this last month there have been loads of butterflies – gorgeous colours and very heartening as it indicates a happy, healthy and well-balanced garden. That means loads of caterpillars too but the garden seems to accommodate them without them causing too much problem.
We added to our garden sculptures
And best of all we had some great visitors. Naresh and Geeta Naran from Canada, Horst Vogel from St Lucia and here with Sarda and Ishubhai all the way from Zimbabwe.
Our daughter and her partner Jake spent Christmas with us and we did 2 very successful touristy trips. My favourite always is taking the water taxi over to Sarteneja and visiting Shipstern conservation area, seeing their butterfly farm, walking their tree trail, which was the inspiration for ours, and climbing the 70 foot look out tower.
In the afternoon we went to Widltracks manatee and monkey rescue centre. I always feel uplifted after visiting this place They do wonderful work with the darling manatees and have a 100% success rate at releasing them back into the wild.
The one in the foreground on the lefttop photo above is Hope who I first met in 2017 (rightbottom photo) when she was a very small and vulnerable 3 or 4 month old baby and needed 24/7 care. She had been washed ashore in a storm right over a road and her mum was never found. Now she is enormous and doing really well. Loved by all.
We wish you all the very best for 2020. May it be a good year for all.
Rose and Henry