the city

the first thing anna katherine said to us when we arrived home was, "you owe honey. and crystal and stephen. and the smoaks." i love and miss you too anna katherine. truth is we really really owe our family! while we were experiencing relaxation at it's fullest, life back home was far from uneventful.  jeff and i were able to check our email a couple times a day. monday morning we received an email from my mother and sister telling us that anna katherine had been burned. the burn was as large as a sheet of notebook paper on her upper leg. they promised us all was ok, but the burn was serious enough to take her out of school for the week. and she was on the powerful pain killer oxycodone. bennett had broken up with his girlfriend (whom we adore) and he is seriously considering  changing his mind about attending the citadel.
my family acted like super heros. it is a blessing to know you can leave the decision making to them and all will be taken care of.  
a quick summary of our last day in belize. we said our goodbyes and left the island promptly at 8am. we had several hours in the city before our flight. my plan was to fly by the seat of my pants, explore, explore, explore. make up for my missed excursions. the friends we traveled with were slightly weary of our my plans (we had been warned by the resort not to venture out in the city) so they opted for a spa by the airport.  i think if i had to relax another minute my bones were going to dissolve.  and jeff knew if he didn't go with me, i would insist on going by myself. so off we went in high speed, soaking in as much of the city as possible. 
the first thing we saw when pulling into belize city were five gigantic cruise ships. three days a week the cruise industry dumps 15,000 people into this city. tourism is their main industry. 

 while i know tourism is a huge boost to their economy, there's something that feels wrong and invasive about vacationers being 'lookie-loos' to this level of poverty. myself included, because i had a camera in hand. it was by far the poorest place i have ever witnessed. 
 first up was the museum. while we did not have time to travel to the ruins, the museum was the next best thing for learning more about mayan culture.

we took a buggy ride ride through the city. the young man giving the tour was a hoot. his facts were a little off... like referring to things built in the 14th century and his mother being born in the 15th century. we just smiled. he was saving his money, going to school, staying out of trouble because his dream was to become a bank teller. a very prestigious job in belize.
our tour (and all of the following pictures) are from the wealthy side of belize city. across the river was considered the poor part of town and tours "showcased only the best." seeing the 'wealthy side' made imagining the 'poor side' horrifying. 

one of the first things i noticed were all of the precious school children. it was their lunch hour. and man oh man were these guys precious!

we passed another school which looked much poorer than any of these. as i was passing i noticed the children's precious little white boots. they were all wearing white Hunter boots. i imagine hunter must donate these at a $100 a pair? note to self, find this out because this will make me love their boots even more!

waterfront property

 an older northern lady in the back of our buggy kept saying, "this reminds me of charleston. this reminds me so much of charleston." to me that sounded delusional. where in charleston is poverty of this magnitude? 

 maybe this was the lady in the back of the buggy memory of rainbow row. these brightly colored house were the homes of the rich and affluent. the doctors of belize.

i think the united states needs a chain of fried chicken restaurants called the 'sexy chicken.'

we enjoyed reading the signs,
"wholesale and retail done here"
the contrast of this funeral home verses our local funeral home left a lot to ponder.

this was their 'walmart'

but the one thing that made you go hmmm... was the wording outside of every drug store. licensed to sell drugs and poisons.   i asked my pediatrician about this and he had no idea what poisons they were referring to. note to self, google this too!

this afternoon touring the city, left a lot to think about on the plane ride home. making our way through miami customs took forever! how could i possible complain, it was a privilege to stand in the u.s. citizen line. my thoughts while holding my  passport were how abundantly blessed we are to live in the united states. what some people would give to have this very thing. our country can whine and complain about politics, education, health care... whatever! but there is no better place in the world to be!

rehab breakthrough

so today at the balizean rehab center things was amazing! i haven't been voted off of the island yet. not really, voting is not a part of the therapy program.  but if my group were to vote, i would be the first to go. mostly because they know i am dying to tour the mainland. today we took a snorkeling trip. isn't this a great picture for embarrassing my kids!
i have a major phobia of what lies beneath the ocean. it is an unreasonable fear, but real fear it is. my huge breakthrough today was... getting into the water. i (really) had a panic attack. i was trying to do so quiet and discretely, as not to draw attention to myself. but the sweet instructor could tell i was about to die panicked and help calm my unreasonable fears. he asked, "what are you afraid of?" my husband answered for me, "everything."

pictures compliments of my friend.

after a few minutes all was good. i even remained in the water after seeing a five foot barracuda, which looked so much like a shark minus the fin, teeth and jaws music.

 our guide was a great, showing us all kinds of amazing things.
 my favorite was an upside down jellyfish.

one more thing and my time in the internet hit is up. 
my wildlife pictures for today are a married couple. educated guess is that they are husband and wife ;)

 on of the highlights of the trip has been making friends with complete strangers. three of us are celebrating our 20th anniversary, a few are dating, a couple of newlyweds and one couple has been married 40 years. yesterday at dinner we laughed until we cried with a two precious souls married for only six moths. it's been a unique experience. 

tomorrow we will say our goodbyes and board the boat for mainland. jeff and i are renting a taxi for the day ($50, can you believe that?) and driving all over the place until we have to leave. i am making up my own excursions!
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