Monday, April 13, 2009

Off to Corozal

For the last leg of our trip to the mainland, we decided to go to Corozal Town, which is a small town on the mainland where most of the teachers at San Pedro High School grew up. I don’t know the specific reason why most people at the high school travel to San Pedro, other than they need the jobs. Work on the mainland is highly sought after, mostly 

because it is much cheaper to live on the mainland than it does on San Pedro, mostly because San Pedro is a tourist destination. I was stunned at how cheap everything was on the mainland; everything was almost half the price. Subsequently, most teachers have a small house at San Pedro, and often come to Corozal on the weekends. I know that Americans do some crazy things for their jobs, but to live in two places seems crazy to me. It seems to be the way the culture is organized here.

Of course the downside of this is that it separates families. There is one young teacher at San Pedro High who has to teach on the island while his family lives in Corozal. He has a one-year-old son who lives with his grandfather and goes to work with him. When his father comes home to Corozal for the weekends, his son doesn’t even know him; he calls his grandfather “dad.” I suppose these are the sacrifices 

some people have to do for their livelihood, especially with an economy that is currently floundering.

Anyway, we got to Corozal in the afternoon. When we left San Ignacio, we were told  

that we were staying at a place called “Tony’s Luxury Beach Resort.” Based on the website, it had beautifully decorated rooms, which a beachside view. It looked fantastic. When we got to Corozal, we realized we were staying at the place across the street from Tony’s, Paradise Villas and Apartments. When we got out of our van, we were greeted by this little white man with an accent who 

called himself “Herman the German.” This was an interesting character. He was very accommodating and friendly, but he started making some inappropriate sexual comments and I started to feel increasingly skeeved out about this place. In any other experience in Belize I would accept these off-color comments and consider this part of the culture we are experiencing, but with this guy, it became clear that he was just a weirdo. You’ll understand why in a second...

Herman took us into our “luxury villas” and everyone was excited to see that it had more amenities than we had been used to this entire trip. We had a living room with a TV, a full kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. It would be nice if it wasn’t decorated as if we were living in the seventies. Now, I never got to know my grandparents, but I imagine if I had, this is what their house might have looked like. It was honestly like traveling in a time machine to see what interior decorating used to look like. Of 

course, the icing on the cake was that the master bedrooms had two mirrors: one on the wall and another on the 

ceiling. According to Herman, each apartment had a romantic honeymoon suite. I was one of the lucky ones to 

get this bed with the mirrors, lucky me. To the left is a picture of John, Anna (Herman's much younger wife), Herman, and myself.

After putting my things in my room, we decided to take a cruise around Corozal. Herman was nice enough to take us in his old Dodge Caravan. Again, I must explain this hot rod. It had yellow flames streaking down the side of the van, with a huge spiderman decal plastered on the hood of the car. The front windshield had the word “maldito” written in stickers, which translates to “evil” in Spanish and the word “Lucifer” was written on the back windshield. The car was so dusty that I’m pretty sure gang members had used their fingers to write some graffiti on the car. To top it off, when we borrowed the car the next day, there was a gun sitting between two empty beer bottles in the middle console. I wish I could tell you I was lying about any of what I have written, but this is the honest truth. Herman claims he bought the car like that, but I have my doubts. But I digress…

We finally made it into town and as we walked around, we found that this was the quietest town we had been in thus far. This was the farthest place from a tourist destination as there didn’t seem to be much to do. To be honest, it reminded me of the quiet town in which I was raised. It had a small town feel and I could tell, while it was a very poor area, it was probably an okay place to grow up. This was supported by the fact one of the teachers, Mr. Gillharry, showed us around and explained how much he loves coming home. He and his friend, Elson, took us on a tour of their hometown and showed us their high school, which they call community college, and their junior college. After our tour of the town, we went to a grocery store to get food so we could cook for the first time in three weeks. We then went back to the villas so we could relax in Paradise for the night.

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