There is no shortage of good days.. . .
“It is good lives that are hard to come by.”
— Annie Dillard
(IN THE PHOTO: Canoe used by The Bush (i.e., jungle) dwellers to cross over the pastoral Mopan River near my house in San Jose Succotz Village in far Western Belize near the Guatemala border.)
I’m now settled back into my post-card village in Belize after almost two weeks visiting family in College Station, Texas, and seeing great friends and family in Dallas, and seeing friends at a cocktail party in my hometown Navasota, Texas, some of whom I had not seen in more than 40 years.
I often wonder where time and the years go in their fast, endless flight.
* * * *
It was great to be back home in Texas and especially to be with the blood of my blood at Thanksgiving.
But more to my surprise than I anticipated, it is good to be back to the village life in the mountains and jungles of Western Belize, where right now the sounds of kazillions of birds of the sort you’ll never see or hear in Texas or, for that matter, in the U.S., must be running at about 110 decibels.
These amazing Belizean birds don’t just whistle. These are birds that seem to laugh, to cry, to shout, to gurgle and gargle and to compete with all the other amazing Belizean birds just to be the one bird heard above all the masses of Belizean birds. Or maybe they are in competition to see which bird can make the craziest noise, and it at high volume.
And then there’s the roosters.
* * * *
Roosters, as any rural dweller knows–and as I learned in childhood when I visited my Uncle Ledell and Aunt Newell in summertimes in rural Rockdale, Texas–don’t just get noisy in the strange wee hours. It’s 4:45 p.m. in Belize as I write this, and the roosters are pecking around my house along with the chickens that have “free range” in my yard.
I buy corn kernels for the roosters and chickens and keep this corn in a big bucket in my bathroom.
Mind you–my bathroom is the size of some big, combination living/dining rooms in the states. My landlord, who lives in D.C. and stays in a private room he built by the veranda above me for his occasional visits to Belize, must have decided to make the bathroom of my rent house a dual-purpose bathroom/utility room.
You probably can’t imagine keeping a large bucket of corn for roosters and chickens in your bathroom; so you wouldn’t Belize what all I keep in my humongous bathroom.
But welcome to my world in Belize, a country where nothing is “normal” by any standards anywhere in the world anyway.
And it occurs to me now that this is the perfect country for me, since nobody ever accused your favorite blogger of being altogether “normal.”
* * * *
Some of the village kids come over to my house early in the mornings, or sometimes in the evenings, or–come to think of it–all hours of the day, and call out to me through my windows. And my windows are always open since only about three people in mainland Belize have air conditioning. That’s why the birds sound like they are in the room with me.
“Hello, Sir! Are you here?” The village kids usually are giggling the way little kids running in little packs together are prone to giggle when they come up to my window and ask if I’m here.
Sometimes, and quite often though, I’m sitting on my porch reading or writing when they walk up and giggle. I go to my bathroom for the corn and tote the bucket of corn feed out to them so they can grab a handful to throw at the chickens and roosters.
It’s sort of a weird form of kids coming around for “trick or treat” at Halloween, except that I give them handfuls of corn for the roosters and chickens instead of candy.
Sometimes one of their moms will come around with the kids selling the usual batch of 10 corn tortillas (for one U.S. dollar). The tortillas are so hot to the touch that I have the mom drop them in a plastic bag so as not to burn my hand.
Or, sometimes the mom who walks up to the window or my porch with all those kids in tow will be selling “coconut seeds,” as the Belizeans call a sweet tart that is made from coconuts seeds. These coconut tarts (4 for 50 U.S. cents) contain grams of pure sugar beyond measure, and melt in your mouth, and produce instant expansion of the waist line. And OMG are they tasty.
Fifty cents for four coconut sweet treats, or one U.S. dollar for 10 corn tortillas, may not sound like much money to your ears, but come to my world and see what a difference 50 cents or a dollar can make to a Belizean mom who may very well live in a house running over with children, parents, grandparents and great-grands, siblings and all kinds of kin, who all share cramped bedrooms and take turns going to the outhouse.
* * * *
“Good lives are hard to come by,” Annie Dillard wrote.
So how blessed by the Almighty am I to have such a good life?
Well of course the natural-God fact is that life is as good as we make it, in good times and the other, wherever we are.
You just gotta love the life God gives you and make it a beauty of a good life right where you sit, preferably with something as good in life as tortillas that are right off the stone or with your relishing the taste of sweet tarts melting on the tongue.