Things are moving along, road-wise. Our carnival ride of a road is finally smooth.
The road crews have worked for days to get it smooth. Another many truck-loads of rock and good quality marl this morning has allowed the equipment to spread it and even it out. This is going on now, as we speak, so to speak, you might say. Alright, enough of that stuff.
You know, I was in town yesterday. I took the old Isuzu (it is getting old too. It’s a ‘96, so 17 years old. One more year, and it better be looking for a job, y’know?) Anyway, I took it in town to White’s Auto Wash. I had them go over the outside and the underside. This they did with a pressure washer. It took them almost two hours to clean the undercarriage. An hour and a half to pressure wash that, let it dry and then spray ‘burn oil’ (used motor oil) on the undercarriage to help prevent rust and to keep mud from sticking. Then they brought it back from the lift ramp and pit and really took some care washing the outside.
When I dropped the car off, I had roughly two hours to kill. So, I walked toward the sea, thinking maybe I’d try the record shop on the corner for some slow reggae tunes. Nope. They were closed. What next? Ah, Amelio Reyes and Sons - a good general goods shop. I thought about bread pans for baking.
My mistake. I should have asked for loaf pans. Finally found them there. Aluminum throw-away ones. Good enough for a few loaves each, maybe. Anyway, I got four.
I headed out to the street and the record shop again. Nope, still not open. But, around the corner from the record shop is Belize T-Shirts. I needed to check on the prices for shirts for the upcoming Polar Bear Swim thing with the Men’s Group. As usual, the lady there is very friendly and helpful. Prices have been the same now for three years running. I wonder what their profit margin is? Must be a shoestring or less.
So, from there, I strolled on down 4th Avenue till I came to Corozal Virtual Office. I thought I’d slide in there and shoot the bull with Fred, the proprietor. Nope. He was busy - at 9:15 in the morning. Imagine that.
So, now what do I do? Hmmm. Oh, I know. Al’s Cafe. It’s been ages since I’ve gone there. So, back south through Central Park I strolled, just luxuriating in taking my time and listening to the sounds and watching the sights of downtown.
I got to Al’s and ordered a cup of coffee and an order of toast with jam. Then, I sat at a sidewalk table and just absorbed the morning, reggae tune’s blasting from across the street in my left ear, and Mexican oompa-band sounding music coming from up the street in my right.
I watched two ladies standing in the street beside an SUV parked across the street in front of Corozal Farm Supply. They were obviously catching up on a whole laundry-list of stuff and were totally oblivious to anyone else - traffic included.
I could smell salsa simmering coming from Jo-Mel’s up the street, where I had noticed that they had put in a new, rather stylish window wall instead of just raising their roll-up doors and being open to the street and the noise.
It was fun watching all the people walking by. Even had one of the street guys come by and spend about five minutes trying to get me to by some of his limes, and wanting me to engage him in discussing the robbers in government. Seems street folk here always are up on the wrong-doings of politicians - maybe there’s a connection, I don’t know.
Finally, my coffee and toast came. I swear, Al’s is the only coffee in the world that I have to doctor with cream and two spoons of sugar to make it drinkable. It’s been that way ever since we moved here. I don’t know what they do to it but they’re consistent anyway.
After a leisurely break with that, I settled up with the ladies running Al’s and went on, thinking I’d get a newspaper at the news stand just around the corner in the square.
I found a Sunday edition of the weekly Amandala newspaper. It’s the only newspaper in the country that isn’t beholden overtly to one political party or another. It was big too. Seventy-five pages, just packed with English, Spanish, and Kriol articles, letters to the editor, adverts, and a whole range of property auctions, bids wanted for various obscure and arcane government projects.
Anyway, a good read for someone who hasn’t read a paper in well over a year. Try and find a real daily news rag here. I know that sounds strange to folks up north, but we have no daily papers here, and few if any places to get copies of major papers from around the world, unless someone happens to bring one down with them, or if we get a package and newspaper was used as packing material. Ahhh, we’re used to it. We’re retired.
While I was at the newsstand, I also bought a Belize Lotto ticket. First one in years that I sprang for. I had to stop and look up ‘sprang’ to see if it was actually a word - it is. Probably would be better to use ‘that I had sprung for.’, but since I’m writing this, we’ll stick with sprang. The store clerk guaranteed me that the ticket is a winner. I’ll let you know if it is. If it isn’t, well…
After the newsstand, I cut through the Gabriel Hoare Market. First time I’ve gone through the market strolling without any dogs with me and nothing to buy. It was nice getting to stop and chat with vendors who I see every day and just talk to them without any requirements for anything.
It may not be the fanciest market in Belize, but it sure is colorful - especially if you have the time to just let your eyeballs savor everything. What a treat. All the sights and sounds throughout the market place, and in fact, throughout downtown. I love it.
After the market, I strolled on over to White’s. At that time, the Isuzu was still over being pressure-washed. I guess I forgot to mention, they pressure wash at a different location, a couple of houses down the road, where they have a ramp to run the vehicles up and do the job.
For a while, I sat on the edge of the raised porch by the snack shop door and read the paper. It was nice with the sun warming everything up. Eventually, I moved on over to one of the bistro tables on the street-side of the snack shop and ordered an orange Fanta. They were out of Soda water and I didn’t feel like having more coffee or anything like that.
As I sat there reading the paper and sucking on my bottle of orange soda, I became aware that the owner of the car wash was sitting at the snack shop bar talking business with his teen-aged daughter who was working on a spreadsheet on her laptop. Apparently, she was having a hard time understanding some aspects of the business.
It was entertaining and enlightening to listen to their conversation, an enviable polyglot mix of English, Spanish, and Kriol - just like my newspaper, only spoken seriously and in a business oriented manner between a father and daughter. A few years ago, I would have understood none of their conversation. Now, I don’t think I missed a thing. Very entertaining.
The next thing that caught my attention was the young man (probably 15 or 16 years old) who was diligently washing my car. He was nearing the final stages of that. It was obvious he had been well instructed by his boss.
The care and detail he was taking with my 17-year old hooptie (well, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but it is becoming well-aged,some rust spots are appearing around the edges, and somewhat worn, kinda like your old favorite pair of slippers) was the kind of care I imagined one would take with a late model big-bucks car, not my old Isuzu.
As he finished, I hardly recognized the beast. I mean, it had been months since it was washed, and certainly not in the last three or four months, with all the rain and mud, and mud, and more mud. It actually shined. Wow!. He even went around as a final touch and hit all the seams and joints with an air gun, blasting out the few remaining water droplets, so that they wouldn’t be able to slide down, marring the finish making an unsightly mess. A final go-around with the dry cloth and the deed was done.
The owner asked me if it looked lighter. I told him I wasn’t even sure it was the same car! It looked n-i-c-e. I sure don’t spend that kind of money on it every week (Would you believe, the bill was for only $40.00 BZD?), but with the heavy layer of dried mud underneath and over virtually every inch of the exterior, it was worth it to make the old thing sparkle.
After settling up, I finished my errands with the obligatory stop for some things at New World Market and then it was time to head back home, over a nice, newly smoothed road with many loads of marl covering months of potholes and mud. It almost feels civilized, especially in a clean ride.