Thursday, January 24, 2013


Thirty years ago, at the behest of the UN, the CBC sent me to Belize.  Along with a charming lady educator from TV Ontario, I investigated what would be required to provide an educational television network in Belize.  Newly independent from Great Britain (the country was formerly known as British Honduras), Belize was surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries whose TV signals bombarded their airspace and were in danger of teaching their children Spanish instead of the country's official language, English.

We came in June, not the time to visit when one is expected to wear business attire and meet with government officials.  Suits and ties are just ridiculous for Canadians in the Central American summer.  At any rate, after ten days or so, we wrapped up our investigation and repaired to cooler climes to draft a joint report.  I looked after what would be required from a technical point of view and my compatriot drafted an educational program for the future network.. The only TV service in the country at the time was a cable company who specialized in pirated foreign channels (pirated is a strong word, since American broadcasters for instance, are not allowed to charge for their signals, outside of the USA).

Although we submitted our report up our respective reporting lines and assumed it eventually wended its way to the appropriate United Nations body, we never heard whether anything resulted from our efforts.  I was pleased therefore, to see that Belize's current cable TV system provides at least three Belizean channels amid all the Honduran, Guatemalan, Mexican, American and Chinese ones. Perhaps something useful did result from our efforts after all.  Good to know.

The effect of wearing sandals in the Tropics

One of the problems common to countries with high temperature and high humidity, is the shear difficulty of keeping people at work.  Belize is no different.  People here tend to work at jobs like construction when they need money.  Once they have money  they stop showing up.  It's just too debilitating to labour under the tropical sun.  This causes delays in any labour-intensive project.  

High cost, low-incomes mean that a lot of stores don't have air-conditioning.  This in turn means that doors and windows are open year-round.  The result?  Dusty packages of food in grocery stores.

Low incomes, low tax revenues for the Government.  Belize is not a rich country.  In spite of that, they have a very generous Social System.  Moreover, foreigners who retire here as Seniors get all sorts of tax breaks and free medical services.  There are a lot of Snow Birds who have bought seafront lots here.

Sent out for Chinese food tonight and had a huge dinner for two delivered for $B30 ($15US).  The restaurant had quoted us $B35 on the phone, but when they delivered the food, they pointed out that we had a $5B credit with them from the last time so the bill was $B30  ($15 Canadian).  I was puzzled for a moment until I realized that the last time they had delivered, I had tipped them $B5.  They apparently thought this was to be credited to our account rather than absorbed into General Revenues.  Quaint. Moreover, we'll have enough for another supper tomorrow.  Good deal! 

Waxing first-quarter moon.  Note that at this latitude, it points up towards the sun rather than vaguely down and westward as in more Northern Latitudes.

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