Peder with a D

[plays well with others]

Muppets

Posted by Peder on 6 June 2009

I’ve been watching old Muppet videos online today and had to throw up links to some of their new stuff. I love how they’re staying current (esp the Rowlf videos) while sticking to their roots – music, slapstick and sarcasm.  And Statler and Waldorf.

First, some music:


Muppets take on an Internet meme:


Is there a way we can put this on just the American part?

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June 4, 2009

Posted by Peder on 4 June 2009

What a day.

20th anniversary of the events at Tiananmen (六四事件 / “June 4th Incident”).

Man with tanks at Tiananmen

And, actor David Carradine hanged himself in Thailand.

Grasshopper

Uff da.

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Saga of the Red Truck

Posted by Peder on 3 June 2009

redtruck

Back in January an acquaintance of mine, let’s call her “Kacy,” had a red truck and a boyfriend, and all was right with the world.  The truck was beat up and scruffy looking, but it never broke down and the four-wheel drive got Kacy out of any muddy trouble she could get herself into.

The boyfriend was equally endearing, though significantly easier on the eyes.  He dressed well and always had a snappy compliment for whomever he was speaking with.  Trained as an electrician, he scored major “boyfriend points” by fixing Kacy’s mom’s refrigerator and anything else that would go on the fritz.  And in muggy Belize, there’s no shortage of electrical equipment acting up.

Who's scruffy looking?

Who's scruffy looking?

As was the custom, Kacy and Mr. Right lived together.  Though it’s common for unmarried couples to live together in many parts of the world, the phenomenon reaches new heights here.  Truth is many couples choose to never get married even after years of cohabitation and multiple children together.  It’s hard to say why this happens, but the fondness both genders have for affairs outside of their main relationships certainly must add to the trend.  There’s no shortage of this.  Both women and men will openly talk about new flings they have with people who are not their “baby mama” or “husband.”  More to the point of how loose these relationships are, the words “husband” and “wife” are used loosely and frequently attributed to common law arrangements, or even boyfriends and girlfriends who have been dating for, say, more than six months.  Clearly the laid back indifference of the Caribbean extends to Belizean relationship labels.  But I digress.

Kacy and Mr. Right were living together at her home.  Many of his clothes hung in her closet, his tools were there and his car sat outside next to her truck.  All was right with the world.  But this all changed one April day when Mr. Right borrowed Kacy’s beat up red truck to run an errand that required the 4×4 capability his sedan couldn’t provide.  And he never returned.

No note, no phone call, no nothing.  Mr. Right was Mr. Gone.  He vanished, and he took that reliable pickup truck with him.  Kacy’s reaction was equally amazing/perplexing as she didn’t complain or do anything (substantial) about the disappearance for two months.  Sure, she tried calling him, but he never answered her calls and she never persisted any further.  She simply lived her life and drove his car around town in his absence.  He couldn’t be gone for long if he left his car and belongings at her house, could he?

Fish needing a monger

Fish needing a monger

Well after two months it started looking like he could.  Kacy started to worry so she put in a call to his mother.  She said he had two days to check in with her or she would call the police.  In the meantime she checked with the company he claimed to work for and learned he had been employed there … three years earlier.  A little more investigation found that he had not just the two kids he admitted to, but six.  With three mothers.  Things started stinking worse than the Saturday fish market.

After the two day window, a call to the police provided a lot of clarification.belize-map Turns out Mr. Gone had been previously incarcerated for auto theft in Belize City, and he had a current warrant out for his arrest in Corozal.  (Charges were unspecified.)  He was due in Corozal court this past Monday, so if Kacy put in a formal complaint against him the police would extradite him back to Punta Gorda after his hearing.  And they’d bring the truck too!  Things were starting to look up.  Kacy would get her truck back and get this loser out of her life forever.  She’s been all smiles all week!

Then this morning she found out the police officer driving her truck to her – with Mr. Wrong along for the ride – flipped the vehicle in transit.  Mr. Wrong and the driver are in stable condition, and another cop who was riding in the bed is in critical condition.

The truck was totaled.

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Neighbor Boy

Posted by Peder on 26 May 2009

This is Khalid (aka Junior) and he’s three years old.  He lives next door to me down here in Punta Gorda.This photo was at the local laundry where I had some things washed.  It was a hot mid-morning on a Saturday and a bunch of the local kids were playing around the store where their mothers worked.  But little Khalid was all tuckered out.

khalid 2

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I’m a certified SCUBA diver

Posted by Peder on 22 May 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here but I have two new things to share that I’ve been excited about and that lead to a new post.  First off, WordPress allows you to post by email now, making posting that much easier.  Secondly, I am now a SCUBA diver.

I can’t believe how much fun it was to be out in the water the last couple days.  On each day I went for a morning and afternoon dive, exploring the waters around West Snake Caye, here in southern Belize.  The water temp was around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, visibility was around 20 feet (lots of rivers dump into the area), and there are small reefs surrounding each of the small islands.

After three classroom sessions on the theory of diving, I was well ready to put my knowledge into action.  Our first boat ride was to Abalone Caye, the site of TIDE’s ranger station for the Point Honduras Marine Reserve .  From this location patrols are sent out to find illegal fishing activities and research teams are dispatched.  On the two days I was there, we shared the station with research crews logging lobster populations, noting distribution, gender and size.  Sounds like interesting work – a full day underwater seeking out the crustaceans – and hopefully I’ll have a chance to do that sometime in the future.

During each session we would start with our skills exercises.  These "confined water" dives are usually done in swimming pools, but because of the clarity of the water and the relative lack of currents from reefs, etc., we demonstrated these skills in about 15 ft of salt water.  Afterward we’d go for a little swim in deeper water.  Those would usually last around 30 mins, depending on time and air supply.  Aside from general reef life we saw a school of tarpon and a hunting squid.  Both were amazing.  The tarpons appeared huge and surprised us by swimming right next to us, and the squid stayed right were it was, allowing us to view it as close as five feet.  Amazing.

My instructor was a Czech named Karel Kuran.  He’s a very experienced diver and instructor, having earned his stripes diving and instructing in Key West (Florida), Roatan (Honduras) and Exeter (England).  He’s also a friend and I was happy to be able to learn from a disciplined instructor who I could have a beer with after the dive!

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My Morning Coffee

Posted by Peder on 25 March 2009

I am a coffee drinker, but here in Belize getting a proper cup of coffee can be difficult. Of course, that depends on your definition of “proper.” I’m talking about the Starbucks/Caribou quality joe one gets used to living in the States. And if corporate coffee isn’t your thing — you prefer to make it at home or visit smaller coffee houses — then we’re still in the same boat.

dscn2532-small

Tea

For a Central American country, I’m pretty surprised how hard it is to find good coffee here.  First of all, there’s not much of a culture for it.  It’s not too common to walk into a Mayan or Garifuna household and see a coffee maker or be offered a cup.  What you might be offered is a cup of tea.  Maybe it’s the British colonial roots or maybe it’s that tea is less expensive than coffee, but this is a tea drinking nation — that is, when hot beverages are called for.  As I write this it’s pushing 80 degrees at 9:30 in the morning.  I myself would be more inclined for a fresh glass of lime juice than a steamy beverage at this point!

Instant Coffee

Instant Coffee

A coworker asked me yesterday to teach her how to make coffee.  You see, after a sufficient influx of English and American expats even a Belizean administration as to make some concessions.  Ours was a drip coffee maker, which arrived around 3 weeks after I did.  Anyway, our admin assistant wants to know how to use this thing.  As she put it, “I’m only used to making coffee the traditional way.”  Which way is that, I asked her.  “Instant.” A groan of exasperation left my lips even as I tried to suppress it.  So together we made her first pot of drip coffee.  Maxwell House.  Still not up to Starbucks, but it’s not a horrible place to be.

Important Office Supplies

Important Office Supplies

There are a couple places in town to get coffee, but if you don’t want instant you have to go to an establishment owned by an expat or one that caters to the tourist crowd.  One option here in PG is Tide Tours, operated by a Czech friend (who should also be teaching me SCUBA in a couple weeks).  He always has a pot burning, but similar to what we have at our office, it’s a mid-grade roast with powdered milk.  One thing I will say though is the cane sugar we have down here is delicious.  No one could have a problem with the sugar, say I.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened Condensed Milk

So, yeah. Powdered milk isn’t always that appealing, but it’s often what’s available. Liquid milk isn’t especially prevalent, though if the first store you stop at is out, the second one likely will have it. They’ll have the European-style box-o-milk which sits on the shelf at room temperature and only needs to be refrigerated once it’s been opened. What I’ve come to like is condensed milk. I never really had that much ever before, but it’s a great substitute for Half & Half, my coffee condiment of choice back home. As a bonus the condensed milk is sweetened pretty much sealing its fate as ideal demitasse diluter.  (Oh, and check out that no-moving-parts can opener I got in that picture.  It’s works surprisingly well!)

High Quality Belizean Brew

High Quality Belizean Brew

There is some proper coffee grown here.  Good stuff:  Shade grown, organic, high quality.  You see it sold at the grocery stores, but the price point is just so much higher than the other stuff; it’s hard to justify buying something like that.  Oh well, looks like I’ll be spending more time with the teas and lime juices until I return to the colder climes of the Northland.

* Bloop! *

* Bloop! *

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Peanut Butter and Bananas

Posted by Peder on 11 March 2009

I eat peanut butter and bananas
as the kids come home from school.
A spoontip of butter
takes a small slice from the fruit
and the novel turns its pages by itself.

I welcome the geckos
that climb my wall
and wish them, “Bon appetite.”
A teapot boils the water
is done when I hear
the gurgle over the shuffling tunes.

The fan blows white noise
across the room
as the bicycle waits for tomorrow’s ride
and the dishes lay stacked in the sink.

Fresh lime makes everything better
and crickets give the beat to every night’s song.

This poem is dedicated to black tea, Campari and lime.

tumbnail

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Bars

Posted by Peder on 19 February 2009

I have two levels
of protection from the things
that prowl outside.

My Work Window, originally uploaded by Peder with a D.

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Just Another Office Day

Posted by Peder on 19 February 2009

Today is what I would call my first regular "office day" since my arrival here in Belize.  I got up this morning, came to work and just knocked items off my To Do list all day.  Nothing to memorable … except that's it's my first regular old boring office day in six months!  It feels good to be working again.

Far from every day will be memorable, so I might as well write down what I've done today.  I wrote a blog post about our advocacy work, and responded to positive blog comments by our UNDP financier and one of the local political parties.  I ate a decent chicken burrito at the snack stand just around the corner from the office.  And I've spent the afternoon chronicling potential funders for future project proposals.

Is it 5:00 yet?

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Market Day Saves Breakfast

Posted by Peder on 18 February 2009

I woke up early this morning.  Of course, 6am isn’t that early around here.  By that time the roosters have started crowing and you’ll hear the first rustlings of life as families wake to feed their kids and send them off to school.  But compared to when I was waking up just one short month ago, this is early.

I had to wait until ~7:30 until the shop next door opened.  I was out of milk for my cereal.  Last night I knew I was out of milk but I didn’t do anything about it.  After a day in the field, with one of our target communities at Medina Bank, I was bushwhacked.  A cold beer, a colder shower and I was in bed before prime time television was over in the States.  But when I got to the shop, the didn’t have “regular” milk.  They had condensed and powdered milk, but nothing that I wanted to put on my Corn Flakes.  Oh, that was another thing, I was sick of eating Corn Flakes so I was thinking of splurging on some Honey Bunches of Oats.  Simple pleasures down here my friends, simple pleasures.  But the shop didn’t have that either.  Boo.

Fortunately, today is market day in Punta Gorda.  Mayans travel over land from the villages and Guatemalans travel over water from the distant coast to sell their wares.  Vegetables dominate the market, and you’ll find a wide array of fruits, beans, nuts and other confectionary items.  Not too different from markets the world over.  Oh, and the fishermen were bringing in their morning’s catch.  Fishmongers can be very aggressive salesmen, but at 8:00 in the morning, it wasn’t hard to say “no” to raw fish.

Anyway, after a brief walkabout checking on the various goods, I settled on fresh papaya and a bunch of bananas for breakfast.  The papaya is almost gone as I write this, and the bananas will be shared around the office.  Not a bad deal for $1.00.

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