My 8th grade geography assignment was to make a study of British Honduras. I remembered being fascinated by a country with so many aspects: rainforests, tropical islands, Mayans, pirates, the British, the old confederacy, the garifunga. They all stirred my curiosity.
Years later, in 1984, I met a fellow who was on the way to Belize. When he mentioned its being the former British Honduras, I was transported immediately back to my class report for Miss Hockmeyer. In the years that followed, I made visits to San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize whenever time and fortune permitted. Around 1998, I bought a nice two bedroom home there, on the Laguna de San Pedro.
I enjoy the friendship of many Belizians around the country. Doors seem to have opened to me in the most gratifying ways. Active membership with the San Pedro Lions; close friendships; fly-fishing most evenings adjacent to my home; birdwatching from a kayak in the lagoon or the mangroves of San Pedro; driving about on my golf cart; and playing host to friends from the US are some of my loves.
Bill on old Ernesto's barstool.
Been spending lots of time walking the streets of Havana. Been to Old Town similar to the French Quarter, on acid! Visited the Hotel Floridita and had several pictures taken of me with my coke, on Ernest Hemingway’s corner barstool.
Everyone very friendly. They really appreciate an appropriate tip. Beautiful quartet playing the great Cuban music. Met them later that afternoon...and they recognized me. A small tip goes a long way, again.
Street hustler showed me around the old quarter and encouraged me to invest in Cuba. Ha!! In one respect, I am a "poor" retiree. In the other respect, I am comparatively filthy rich gringo. Bought my way away from the hustler. It wasn't a bad experience, it just got tedious.
The old US cars are fabulous. The street mechanics must be from MIT. Bailing wire and super glue, all the way.
The buildings are beautiful, at least the restored ones. Otherwise, this place is in desperate need of paint and cement restoration.
Spent two nights at the Nacional Hotel, the former casino of Myer Lanski. Hung around the night club district, just taking in the scene. Many working girls, just trying to make ends meet. Under the circumstances, an innocent vice.
I witnessed an interesting scene at a traffic stop on a main intersection. There must have been ten policemen on each of the four corners. They all responded to beat the holy heck out of some "culprit". (I never found out what he did.) Afterwards, they dragged him to the paddy wagon, where they apologized for having to beat him up so bad. Guess they felt they needed to show their strength.
The power of Fidel's regime is everywhere. The people, for the most part, are very friendly and outgoing, once they consider you harmless. I am, fortunately, completely harmless.
The people work very hard to keep fed, although there are signs of great wealth among government officials. Must have been fifteen new black unmarked Mercedes Benz taxis waiting outside the Nacional Hotel. No occupants there that I could see in two nights.
Havana has a lot of European influence, much influence from Canada, Germany and France restaurants and the like. I saw an Alfa Romeo Dealership. Wish there was one in St Louis, for my '76 Spider.
The trip reminded me of the durability of man. While circumstances might be poor, the old men can still enjoy playing dominoes under the street lights at 3AM.
My apology for this disheveled letter...it is late, and I feel disheveled.
Bill in front of temple ruins at Tikal
I find myself in Livingston, Guatemala. It's at the intersection of the Rio Dulce (Sweet River) and the Carribean Sea. A very interesting town, split between Mayan and Garifunga. The Garifunga are black people who where dispersed by a volcanic explosion on the island of St Vincent centuries ago. Most speak English, Spanish and their own Garifunga language. The two peoples live at peace, but both keep to themselves.
Visited the Seven Altars yesterday. Several hours' trek to a series of waterfalls emptying into the Carribean. Taking lots of pictures.
This area is definately Rainforesty. It rained this morning from 4AM to 9AM. Seven inches, it measured. All the locals had to go out to bail, so their boats wouldn't sink.
Have been staying at the Hotel La Casa Rosada. A beautiful place. Been catching up with my beef consumption. They serve a nice Filet Mignon Dinner for about $20, US. The beef doesn't even bite back, like it does in Belize.
Been contemplating whether to go to the Big City of Puerto Burrios, then up the Rio Dulce to Lake Isabel. While I work on that one, I'll be thinking of ya all.
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Bill's lively, midnight-oil “conversation” often peppers our Yahoo discussion group.