Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cultural notes--Travel is not like this any more

TSS’s 1971 New Year’s Belize trip, as told to Jim McCulloch

Restaurant La Favorita in Queen Elizabeth Park in Orange Walk Town—sign says “no spitting on the floor.” TSS asked for eggs; a search produced none; the Mayan waitress said there was nothing but “escabeche.” (pickled fish, presumably) What’s that? She could not describe it, except to say that it was black.
They stayed at the Mi Amor hotel, propr. Mr. Solomon Tillett, father of 21 children by 5 women, not all of them his wives. TSS admired this. TSS quotes the estimable Mr. Tillett, “sometimes I like to roam.”
TSS talks to a scrawny Mennonite in bad German. Mennonite had brought his son in to a curandera on account of a fer-de-lance bite. Only the native healer can cure him, “if he goes to the hospital he dies.” Healers make a compound of ground up roots and a snake’s head, put it on the wound and have the victim drink some. Son was getting better. Father was Abram Friesen of Shipyard Camp.
Florencio Campos, a timber merchant, says the pain and shock of a yellojaw (fer-de-lance) bite is such that the victim doesn’t know where he has been bitten, or how many times. They may be treating a wound here (gesturing to foot), but when they remove shirt find 20 bites on his back.
Thatch store in August Pine Ridge featured a cobwebbed picture of Queen and Prince Consort.
In Belize City stayed at Stuart Haylock on Eve Street. A parrot named Moses said “Good morning, Moses” to a bearded hippie.
In Belmopan, in the capital, restroom has handlettered sign “if you don’t bring toilet paper, don’t come here.”
The Creole name of the yellowjaw is tommogoff—told this in Stann Creek.
Back in Orange Walk, a woman who may be a Tillett wife and a Mayan girl joke with TSS. Mayan girl wants his cigar. Possible wife says, no, it is too small. TSS says he has a bigger one.
Thieves break into the car, steal Tom Decker’s tools and film. They are caught in the act. One, very thin, escapes through a crack in Tillett’s wall. Tillett gets a carpenter to board it up. “He will have to get thinner.”
Thieves brought to trial the next day. Witnesses took an oath on the Bible and kissed it.
Tillett, Lois, Lin, Tom Decker, and Corporal Pech were witnesses.
One of the accused had no questions of witnesses until Corporal was on the stand, then attacked his credibility with some energy. Thomas Lopez found guilty, one year at hard labor. Albert Barclay not guilty as there was a small glimmer of doubt that he was the escaped thin man.

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