Speaking in Proverbs: Language and Everyday Life in Belize

~ "Crab walk 'til e meet kiss-kiss" ~
These land crabs in a bucket left their hole, but met the "kiss-kiss" - the tongs
used to catch them. Colville Young explains: "The adventurer someday meets
 his nemesis" (Creole Proverbs of Belize, 1980). Photo by douglas reeser. 
Views from the ANThill
by douglas reeser on April 24, 2013

“De higher monkey climb, de more e expose.”

After a few months back in Belize, my understanding of Kriol was definitely improving. An English-based creole language, Kriol presents an interesting experience for native English speakers. There are plenty of English words in any given Kriol sentence or two, but they are surrounded by words unfamiliar and foreign, such that many visitors to Belize do not understand the language. My past experience in Belize had familiarized me with Kriol, and within the first few months, I thought I was getting most of what I heard.

However, I soon noticed I would be following along, and then completely miss a sentence or two. Or sometimes, someone would say something to me in Kriol, and I wouldn’t get it at all. My close friends would speak a mix of English and Kriol around me, which from informal observations, seems to be becoming the norm. One day, during a relaxed conversation in which I was asking my friend a lot of questions about life in Belize, I heard something and didn’t understand it. I asked her what she had just said.

“What?” she asked. “You mean, ‘You fas like crofi’?” she said again, laughing.

“Yeah, I have no idea what that even means!” I replied with a smile.

Confessions of a Turmeric Junky

Jars of Yellow Ginger for sale at the market in Punta Gorda, Belize.
by douglas reeser on May 21, 2013
This is a confession. I may have a problem. I'm a turmeric freak. I put it on everything. Eggs, sandwiches, pizza, salads, you name it, and I probably sprinkle some turmeric on it. I go through more turmeric in a week than most Indian restaurants go through in a month. Most of my plates and bowls are stained with that distinctive yellowy-orange hue after years of daily exposure. Most people think I'm a bit crazy when they watch me in the kitchen, especially when I start loading up with my herbs and spices. When I think food, I think medicine, and turmeric is one of my primary agents.

It all started a few years ago. I've been mostly vegetarian since the early 1990's. but it took a while for my vegetarian diet to actually become healthy. I eventually began cooking regularly, which led to my discovery of the joy of food. And as my interest in herbalism and natural medicine slowly grew out of that dietary change, I finally began to realize that eating well was my path to good health. I haven't had health insurance for over 20 years, so self-maintanance of my body has become something of a vital approach to my daily life. Part of that approach has been the regular inclusion of medicinal herbs and spices in my cooking, which began in earnest 4 or 5 years ago.

Sunshine Streets: Street Art of St Petersburg, Florida

by douglas reeser on April 17, 2013
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida has become something of a burgeoning street art and mural scene. Widely known as an arts-friendly city, this small Gulf-coast locale has seven art museums (including the Dali, with the largest collection of Salvador Dali works outside of Spain), a bunch of galleries, and significant city-government and community support. Still, until recently, most of the city's art had to be enjoyed indoors. After a year and half in Belize, I returned to find murals throughout the city, with a special concentration lining a few blocks of a downtown alley. Here are a few of my favorites:

~ Third-Eye Kitty ~
Can see the true you

Folk Stories of Belize: the Magical Powers of Jade

The infamous Jade Head of Belize, considered a national treasure.
Photo courtesy of Ambergris Today.
by douglas reeser on April 11, 2013
In Belize, folk stories abound, both as a means to share lessons, and a medium through which to share history. Folk stories come from a time when culture and history was primarily shared through oral traditions, and are best when they come in the form of the spoken word. Even today, at a time when literacy rates are high in Belize, and nearly everyone except some elders can read and write, folk stories are a means through which tales are told, and connections are made.

One of my favorite folk stories in Belize was told to me while on a hike to some sacred caves outside of a small Maya village where I have done research and have a number of friends. Our party consisted of me, another researcher from Canada, and two Q'eqchi' Maya men in their early 30s, Timoteo, the son of a respected traditional healer, and Pablo, a partner of the local traditional healer's garden, who knew the trails through the bush with an intimacy lacking in the rest of us (the names are aliases). The day was perfect for a hike through the bush - sunny, but not too hot (for Belize anyway!), which made the trails fairly dry, and the walk under the canopy pleasant. When we reached the caves, the stories began.

First Friday Picture Show: "Ultima" by Nick Pedersen

Recycled Minds Picture Show
by Nick Pedersen on April 5, 2013
~ #5 ~
by Nick Pedersen

Nick Pedersen is a photographer and illustrator from Salt Lake City. He holds a BFA degree in Photography, as well as an MFA degree in Digital Imaging from Pratt Institute in New York. He has shown artwork in galleries across the country and internationally, recently including the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Museum of Russian Art, the Slingluff Gallery, Bastardo Gallery, and Copper Palate Press. His work has also been featured in numerous publications such as After Capture, Beautiful Decay, Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, and Empty Kingdom. In the past year he has also completed Artist Residencies at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada and the Gullkistan Residency in Iceland to work on his newest project Ultima.

~ #7 ~
by Nick Pedersen

“Ultima is a body of work that is deeply rooted in environmentalism, showing my concern for the future by depicting the ways in which mankind’s creations have an impact on the planet. Primarily it is about the modern conflict between the manmade world and the natural world, and between modern and primitive cultures. I portray this as an epic struggle and in my work these forces clash in theatrical, post-apocalyptic battlegrounds. My goal with this project is to create striking juxtapositions between the ruins of modern civilization and a futuristic ecological utopia. The narrative progression shows a rediscovery of these remnants belonging to the conceivably forgotten past.”

View more of Nick's work at www.nick-pedersen.com and www.behance.net/nickpedersen.

Click to view the rest of the show:

Corporate Equality: Should Corporations have the Same Rights as Nations?

by douglas reeser on March 3, 2013
A recent piece in the Huffington Post by political journalists Zach Carter and Ryan Grim reports on a new trade agreement that is in the works between the US and EU. While the agreement is still in its early stages, the content threatens to be quite disconcerting, as it may give corporations unprecedented power and influence over sovereign nations, including the US and European countries. The authors explain: "Exactly how broad these corporate political powers will be is undetermined, but one aspect of the agreement, known as 'investor-state dispute resolution,' would allow a company to appeal a regulatory rule or law to an international court, most likely the World Bank." Such an arrangement would grant the World Bank, which already has the promotion and protection of investment and development interests at the core of its mission, even greater influence around the globe. Even more troubling is that it potentially places "multinational companies on the same political plain as sovereign nations."

Under current international trade agreements, corporations must convince the host nation that they have been wronged in some way, leaving the decision to bring cases to international court in the hands of elected governments. In this scenario, some semblance of power is granted to sovereign nations, such that they are able to determine if an international corporation has acted appropriately within their borders, and what action to take, if any. This current scenario does pose some risk to the corporations, but in theory, it also drives them to act more responsibly. This risk, however, hasn't stopped corporations from polluting environments, exploiting workers, or corrupting officials. It's just that sometimes, they are brought to court for such indiscretions.