Alice’s Restaurant

April 30, 2007

Belize City

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 11:50 pm

From the hotel window

 All the pictures shown here were taken on Easter Monday, which apparently is a major holiday in Belize.  The entire city felt as deserted as a ghost town.  I only saw a few other tourists, and some police whose job it is to protect the tourists while wandering around all day long.  When we found the natives, they were all desperately trying to catch a ferry out to the cayes.

I wish I’d been less prudish about taking pictures of strangers.  The city simply doesn’t have the same ambiance without the crowds.  Try to imagine these places all filled with pedestrians, bicycles, and cars.

Southern Highway?

First, notice that the highway is four lanes here.  It only has four lanes until we leave the city.  Then it’s back to two.  This is one of the biggest, widest, smoothest streets in the nation.
Then the streets get smaller.

Street

And smaller.

Alley to the water front.  Check out the gutter on the left. 
These last two are actually important thoroughfares.  We couldn’t get around town without them.

We went all over the place from well-to-do neighborhoods.

Church

Water front

Hotel 
To less well to do neighborhoods.

Check out the wodden slat bridge.  We drove over it.  Twice 
We bought a case of water, Smuckers peanut butter and jelly in a jar, plastic “spones”, and some Fanta soda at a local grocery store.  The lady behind the counter was busy with customers when I realized the caps on bottles of soda in Belize don’t twist off.  I needed a bottle opener.  One of the other customers very helpfully pointed out an opener attached to the wall, with a trash can under it for the lid. I could tell because it was full of lids.

  I wish I could show them to you, because the people of Belize are cool.

Alice

April 28, 2007

Chateau Caribbean

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 12:59 pm

Front 

I mention them so often that I think I should show you a bit more of the places where we stayed.  First, as my mother planned the entire trip with the help of the Internet, you can find out about both Maya Breeze and Banana Bank through their web sites.  I’ll be blogging on them separately.

The first place we stayed was the Chateau Caribbean in Belize City.  It’s a good thing we decided to stay in Belize City the first night because we got completely turned around and didn’t find the hotel for hours.  Not that Belize City is all that big.  It was because of traffic, which I already mentioned, and one way streets.  I’ll show you some pictures of that on Tuesday.

When we arrived it was to find a grand old mansion of a hotel.  I’m not sure if you can see it in the picture above, but the whole thing was on stilts.  Our rooms were in the attic.  Standing out on the enclosed porch at night with the wind making the windows and floor shake was a toe-tingling experience, but the rooms themselves were very solid.  They were also quite large.  I’d love to show you the pictures, but all of them are full of scattered clothing and wrinkled sheets.  Yes, we took to it quickly.

From the lobby

The Chatteau is on the ocean.  Here’s a view from the parking lot.

Looking away from the hotel

Across the street the beech is made up of tumbled stone.  Not much fun for walking on, but I could swear the first night there that I saw the fossil of a trilobite in one of them.  Later I could find nothing more than embedded seashells.

Seashells in stone

We ate several meals in their restaurant, which was on the floor right below us.  I never spent much time in the rooms below that, but they were lovely with hardwood and ceiling fans.

  Check the table legs  From our room

It was a nice way to start the trip.

 .

Alice

April 26, 2007

Golden Heart

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 7:41 am

Got my results back.  Sigh.  Maybe next year.

 Did you enter?  If so, how did you do?

Alice

April 25, 2007

The Animals of Belize – part 2 – not behind fences

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 8:47 am

Here’s a picture of the shark I mentioned before:

Up close and personal

I didn’t take it.  The guide took it on my sister’s camera.  The film from mine still hasn’t been developed yet, mostly because I haven’t used it up yet.  Not much call for underwater cameras in Montana.

We also saw manatees, or as much of them as anyone ever sees,

Mother and child

and monkeys

 At Bannana Bank

and various reptiles

 Frog on the wall at Maya Breeze

 In a restaurant
Yes, those reptiles are in doors.  The lizard is inside a wall sconce in a restaurant.  We watched him snag a grasshopper that landed on the top of the fixture, then drop back into the warmth by the light bulb.  Now and then a tail would flick out.

The lizards in particular liked to get around.  In Maya Breeze we would see whole confabs of them hanging on the outside walls under the lights.  Must have been good bug hunting.  I don’t know how the frog managed to hang on the wall like that.  You should have seen him crawl up it.  With a faster camera I’d be showing you.

There were birds all over as well as a variety of crabs.  No, I didn’t get any pictures of the crabs.

On the Monkey River
People had horses in their yards, particularly in the Amish community we drove through.  Yes, Belize has a community of Amish.  I didn’t get any pictures because I was driving.  Banana Bank had horses all over the place, along with a number of trophies for winning horse races.

At Banana Bank

All kinds of animals roam around in Belize.  Some I’m more familiar with than others.

 .

Alice

April 24, 2007

Overheard in the Kitchen Yesterday

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Quick Quotes — aliceaudrey @ 12:08 am

Daddy:  You had the biggest eyes when you were a baby, like those toys you have – The Littlest Pet Shop Pets.

Daughter: Only I was cuter because sometimes the Littlest Pet Shop Pets are creepy.

April 23, 2007

More Belizian Food Links

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 9:18 am

OK, I’m cheating again on the food thing, but my mother sent me this link 

http://www.belizenorth.com/belizean_recipes_text.htm

And I gotta say this looks exactly like what we were eating .  Except the conch.  Every place we asked said they were out.  The Monkey River Tour Guide told us Iguana was legal for natives to eat, but not allowed to be sold in restaurants because in the short time it was allowed they were nearly hunted to extinction.  Makes me wonder about the conch.

And the barracuda.  I saw a couple of barracuda in the water while snorkeling.  Frankly they were scarier than the shark.  They sort of hovered there, eying us with a cold intelligence.  I got the feeling if I hadn’t been swimming in a pack, I could have been HIS lunch.  Kind of reminded me of some hyper-alpha Romance heroes.

Alice

April 22, 2007

Patricia McLinn Contest

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:27 am

I do a little work for Patricia McLinn.  I help her handle submissions to her contests.  The last one she ran involved questions that could only be answered if you had read a book released by a small press.  It didn’t get a lot of response.  Previous contests didn’t tie in that closely to her work, and brought in hundreds of entries.

She has asked me to help come up with a contest idea.  I’m drawing a complete blank.  Has anyone here ever read any of her books?  Most of them are Heart-warming Harlequin Super Romances generally set in Illinois or Wyoming, and tend to include lots of people and some reference to sports.

Any ideas for a contest for her?  I’m thinking it should be something people could answer without reading her books, but that relates more closely than “What’s your favorite flower.”  I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions anyone here comes up with. 

In the spirit of TessaD and Amy/India I’ll give one of my copies of her books to someone who comments here.  Unlike them, I’ll give you a few days to come up with something.  I’ll post the winner Wednesday.

.

Alice

April 21, 2007

The Animals of Belize – part 1 – the Zoo of Belize

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 9:44 am

Going to the Zoo was a funky experience.  We loved it.  I loved getting way too close to dangerous animals like this guy: Jag Front  Jag Back   They called him a jaguar.  What you don’t see here is the middle when I had to wait for my digital camera to get ready for another picture.  (You realize, of course, that “digital” is a swear word, right?)  The jaguar was so close I could have touched him if I’d been stupid enough to stick my fingers through the wire. One girl pointed at this bird, and got a nip. Nipping Bird The entire zoo was set up so the distance between viewers and animals was psychologically minimized as well as physically.  ds in the Oliander Path The jungle ran wild both inside and outside the cages.  Often finding the animals turned into a game.  We almost always found them, but only with some determined effort, and the occasional odd body position.  And no you don’t get to see the pictures of me with my butt in the air while I try to find something. Spotted Jaguar Sometimes, like with these monkeys Yes, there is at least one monkey here I wasn’t entirely sure the “cage” would keep them in. There were hand painted signs everywhere, many of which were highly patriotic. Sign Most of the animals were clearly native.  The only ones I wondered about were the white-tailed deer, which may or may not have been.  I haven’t checked.  All of the animals were donated, many from a movie that was made in Belize a number of years ago.  Some were pets donated when they turned out to be wild. Of course the part my kids liked the best involved an iguana in a tree whose branches spanned the path we were on.  We didn’t spot him until he relieved himself, raining ick down on the path three or four yards from us.  The kids couldn’t stop laughing. Oh, and near as I can tell, there’s only one zoo in Belize.   

.

 Alice

April 19, 2007

Avon FanLit Question for TessaD

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 2:14 pm

We interrupt this previously scheduled vacation discussion yet again for something more interesting.  Avon FanLit.

It’s Tessa’s fault.  She set me off with a question on her blog.  Not that anyone would be surprised.  I have lots and lots of strong opinions about the way Avon FanLit was run.

First, the question of where they should advertise – they should put a large ad in Romance Writer’s Review at least a month in advance.  I know, easier said than done, but they would bring out a lot of dedicated writers who are eager for community by doing it.  I would certainly recommend another article in Wall Street Journal as I too found out about it that way.  From the question I asked on the boards over at Avon it’s clear that writer’s blogs brought in the largest slice.  They could probably put notices in women’s magazines fairly readily.  Maybe they could get something on the news wires.  From there you’re talking big bucks for TV ads and such.

The absolute most important thing they could do to build a spirit of community on the site is to become far more proactive about cheaters.  The zero bombers and .5 bandits devastated us.  We had no way of knowing who we could or could not trust.  I do NOT think they should put meters on everyone so you can see what kind of voters they are, as the sock puppet accounts keep the bandits from paying for their bad behavior and meters would encourage lying out of kindness, which is a disservice to those taking the scores seriously.

I think the best way to give the participants a strong connection to the authors would be to set up a workshop forum on the same level as the introductions, chapter discussions, etc. and have the authors offer their responses to participant’s how-to questions.  If at all possible, it would be fantastic of the editors would drop an occasional comment into the forums as well. 

The blog was a good idea, but I hardly ever went there because it never looked like anything new or fresh was going on there.  Then I would hear back later that something was on the blog that I’d never heard about.  It makes me wonder if the blog link I was looking at was the right link.

Ok, you’ve got me going again.  This is already getting out of hand, and likely to get worse, so I’ll call it good here.  Thanks for putting up with me, Tessa.

Alice

April 18, 2007

The Roads of Belize

Filed under: Day to Day Life, Research — aliceaudrey @ 8:07 pm

 

It helps to remember that Belize is a small country, only three or four hundred miles in any given direction.  It could fit in a corner of Montana.  Yet it takes all day to get from one end to the other.  This is mostly because of the speed bumps.

I kid you not.  This country puts speed bumps in the middle of their highways fairly often.  Worse yet is the odd “cross walk” which is where pedestrians are supposed to cross.  They are as wide as a sidewalk and raised anywhere from three inches to a foot above the road surface.  Some of them are more rounded than others.  Hit them at 60 mps and everyone goes “Ooofff”.  The kids in the back seat literally touch the roof of the car, or in our case Jeep.  These guarantee that you will slow down for the odd sign of habitation.  Sometimes the cross walks appear in places where there are no houses.

But there might be a bus stop.  Most of the bus stops were low concrete walls painted bright colors like mint green or peach with some sort of roof for shade, often thatch.  They appeared everywhere, even places where there could be seen little more than jungle.  They were often filled with people whom I thought at first were there to party.  It wasn’t until the second day of passing these places that I saw the glum faces of commuters and realized that the structure was for.

It helps that about that time I also saw one of the buses.  These are not Greyhounds.  These are not tour buses.  They are barely a step up from school buses.  And they travel the countryside like Madison Metro travels city streets.  You aren’t supposed to go around them, according to a sign on the back, but that never seemed to stop anyone.

One lane bridge

Other things about the highways that will slow you down is that they are narrow, the shoulders tend to be crumbly, and there is often no center line.  Some of the bridges are a single lane wide so that you have to take turns crossing with oncoming traffic.  You’re more likely to find four lanes in a city like Belize City than the countryside, and they are choked with traffic that includes everything from sports cars to bicycles with bicycles taking the lion’s share.

Oh yeah, and sometimes the highways are made of dirt.

On the way to Placencia 

Although we never saw any accidents, I kept expecting to end up in one.  On the highway out of Belize City we saw a billboard warning people to obey traffic laws and to slow down.  A burned out wreck was mounted above it.

Along said highways you can find a lot of greenery.  Orange groves meld into hill sides full of jungle.  Banana orchards and teak plantations alternate with palm trees and tall grass.  And people.  People sitting, people standing around, talking, laughing, I even saw one woman nursing her baby as she walked along the highway.  Yes, both at the same time.

Too bad my camera turned everything into a speed blur, even at 40 kilometers per hour.

.
Alice

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