I was so, so proud of Clinton Canul Luna last week, and I wrote it down so that I remembered to give him his props — one deserves to hear it if you believe they are virtuous or intelligent, I think — and then I got this week’s Amandala, Tuesday, and I said, my, why would somebody spoil a good thing.
As a reminder, on May 4th Brother Clinton wrote, in his column titled, “You believed me not”, that back in 1993 he took a trip down south and he was “impressed with the sightseeing because it brought memories of the past, when I travelled through the villages of Mexico during the early 1950s.” Brother Clinton said “such sightseeing can only be viewed in a film, movie or by reading a novel and using one’s own imagination”, and it inspired him to reach the conclusion that a little country like ours shouldn’t ever have the erroneous idea to make ourselves into a Cancun.
In regards to what we have now become, 2021 Belize, Brother Clinton said we are “the fantasy of the World Bank and the neoliberal capitalist philosophy.” He said Belize hasn’t been developed “for the best interest of our brothers and sisters. Instead we were kept in ignorance and dominated under fanaticism…Belize has been sold out”.
If not for his madabig bad fault, which I will go ballistic on later in this article, the man should be some kind of emeritus at the Tourism Board. Forty years in the tourism industry in Mexico is nothing to sneeze at. Brother Clinton is a talent that J. Briceño ignored, and he should make up for it, unless he is on board with Hilly Bennett, who has gone totally gaga along with Channel Five about the Ashcrofts opening another grand hotel on San Pedro.
Sneaky Belizeans justify our “mistakes” with the cheap explanation that we are a young country. Whoa there, Brother Clinton has experience that goes beyond the number of years we have been independent. By the way, while thinking tourism, this thought popped into my head — that we should be grateful that without any known investigation, our Lord A has said, definitively, that it was border jumpers that led to the explosion of cases of Covid-19 cases after we had braved a month-long lockdown in April last year.
Back to Brother Clinton, and we say bye-bye to his triumphs with this note of thanks for the small mercy that he chose a letter to the editor, not his column, to relate that disgraceful, disappointing, persistent red herring that Belize will remain stuck in the mud until we rid ourselves of the Queen’s representative, the GG. It is dirty hogwash that the titular head of our country has some responsibility in the trampling of our democracy.
So, we’re clutching on to the Queen’s skirts, and you know why? It’s because we are not about throwing out the baby with the bath water. We treasure being a member of the Commonwealth, and we are grateful to the British, the devil we know, for being our best trading partner. When our governments were flush with oil cash, we should have bought Land Rovers for the fat government ministers. Price would have done that.
Bah, we could be friends, Braa, if you’d only bypass this unfortunate obsession you share with the likes of Bill Lindo, Patrick Rogers, and JC. Comrade, I’m a lefty socialist too, you know, but I’ll never get the titular love you got from the great Castro because, like Said, very early on I recognized that our people “love gud ting”, that we have stars in our eyes for the American way, and there’s no point in a noble idea going frontal against a juggernaut. To be precise, what I mean is that we should grab on to our pork chop, and fight for a piece of tail, but we’re in no position to pry the pig away from the greedy ones.
Are there snake anti-venoms in our district hospitals?
It is a fact of living in the countryside in Belize that we will encounter snakes, and most people in the rural areas will have at least one encounter per year, most of them with the harmless kinds, such as the thunder-an-lightning, the bocotora clap-ahn-saya, the black tail, and the wowla. Many thousands of us will have a meeting with one of the poisonous kinds this year, and it’s already in the back of our minds that we’ll have to up our guard as snake encounters increase in the coming months.
There are still many people in Belize who believe in snake doctors. My mom said her uncle, Theo Escarpeta, was a highly respected snake doctor in Sittee, and she remembered seeing him treat villagers who had suffered bites, but one time he couldn’t help his patient. My mom said that a young man who had been bitten in the head by a tommy goff was brought in, but her uncle couldn’t help. The young man was paddling his dory in the river, and the snake bit him when he passed under a tree.
If I got bitten and I had the choice between a snake doctor and a hospital that has the anti-venom, I 100% would go to the hospital, but if the hospital didn’t have the anti-venom in stock, I 100% would go to the snake doctor.
José María Gutiérrez, in the paper “Global Availability of Antivenoms: The Relevance of Public Manufacturing Laboratories,” published on the website, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, said that snakes kill and maim several hundred thousand people every year, that the WHO had taken it up as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD), and that the organization had set up a working group to formulate a working plan aimed at drastically reducing the impact of snake bites.
The two worst snakes in Belize are the tommy goff and the coral. One of my old friends at HHL got bitten some years ago by a big tommy goff that was hiding under the litter beneath a cacao tree, and he survived because there was anti-venom at the Belmopan Hospital. I have heard that anti-venom isn’t readily available for bites by coral snakes, but MedScape says Costa Rica’s Instituto Clodomiro Picado has a successful anti-venom for that kind of snake in stock.
We don’t lose many people to snake bites, but why lose anyone if we can prevent it? Do all our district hospitals have the anti-venom?
Lord, if You wake me up tomorrow… continuation… 24 (1981)
My uncle was excited by my project, and he readily agreed to put up his land as collateral so I could get some small equipment and some materials from the Development Finance Corporation (DFC). I remember Mr. Carlos Santos, Mr. Roberto Bautista, Mr. Rudy Williams, and Mr. Gilroy Graham giving me all the help and advice I needed to prepare my project for presentation to the Board at DFC.
I got the loan, and Sunday to Sunday after that, for two years, I was on the road at five from Belmopan to Camalote, and at six or seven in the evening I was back on the road, heading home.
There was a grass bed of about six mecates in the wamil that I wanted to get cleared first, and in dry May it came to my mind to set a match to it, but I desisted because in the teeth of the dry fires can be risky even if you make a good fire pass. Sometimes the heat above ground kindles dry roots and the fire burns underground for quite some distance, and sometimes the wind springs up and blows pieces of material that can ignite readily combustible bush a good distance away. Next thing you know you’ve got a big fire on your hands.
I decided on the safe solution, chopping. I gave an old man, a new Belizean old man, a contract, a very generous contract, $200, to chop the grass bed. The old man lit a match and burned the bush. When I got to the farm the next morning there was the burnt patch where the grass had been, and the old man was there waiting for his two hundred dollars. I gave him one hundred dollars. He insisted that I pay him los doscientos dolares. I said no, one hundred. In 1980 a laborer worked an entire day to earn thirteen dollars. I had already hired a worker, Mr. Hilario Hernandez, a young, new Belizean, and I was paying him twenty dollars per day. I wasn’t mean. I wasn’t a cheat. I didn’t think so.
My reasoning for not making good on the agreed-on price was simple. If that fire had gotten away I would have been responsible. I didn’t trust to burn it. That’s why I paid to chop it. The old man saw it differently, and while I am sure he had a lot more bush skills than I had, and his knowledge base must have led him to believe that he had everything under control, he went contrary to my order.
By October that year I had more than two acres of crops in the ground, all kinds – snap beans (Kentucky Wonder), sweet pepper (Yolo Wonder), squash (Butternut), three varieties of cabbage (KK, Copenhagen Market, and one other), cucumber (Clemson Spineless), onions (Red Creole, Yellow Granex), head and leaf lettuce, and more than six mecates of tomatoes.
My maternal uncle, Roy Belisle, visited me at the farm one day. My uncle lived and worked in Belize City, but he had some experience with working the land, because as a child and youth he spent many holidays working with his grandfather, Jake Belisle, at the Belisle farm at a place called “Hill” in Sittee River. My uncle said to me: You must make sure you know how to do every job on your farm.
The work was too much for me and Hilario, and he got his father-in-law to come and work with us. I gave him the same pay I gave Hilario. (to be continued)