On Arrival

15 06 2010

This kicks off my blog about my (mis)adventures in Belize, where I am interning with the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. Spiny lobsters, or Panulirus argus as they are known in the geek-world, will be the apple of my eye and centre of my existence for the next 6 months. Giddy up!

The journey actually starts with a whirlwind 4 day trip to Halifax, learning to be an “interculturally effective person” by day and a mean karaoke singer by night. Cultural awareness training was full of gems; without it, I would have been grossly underprepared to “decode cultural icebergs” and “build communication bridges” and who knows where I would have ended up – phew!

Bright and early Saturday morning, well actually not so bright seeing as it was 4 am, I left for the airport. Well tried to leave anyway – two taxi drivers showed up to take Danielle (a fellow Uruguay bound intern) and me to the airport and got into a screaming match outside our hotel (yes, at 4 am). It involved racial slurs, an awkward tug of war with my backpack and, ultimately, Danielle’s suitcase being held hostage until these two buffoons sorted their shit out. Good omen I think. At the airport there were further hiccups, namely in the form of the Continental check in person/dragon lady who told me I had too many carry-ons and that one of my bags was 5 kg overweight. So I unpacked my bag, put it on the scale to appease her and, when she busy with other customers, repacked all my belongings into the same bag and sent it on its way. Haha – point for Marina! Small victories, friends, small victories.

I would like to take a separate paragraph to bring up the issue of how Continental is now CHARGING for “in flight entertainment”. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? That’s right folks, they give you a little teaser preview to hook you and then ask what you’re planning on doing for the rest of the flight. For the cheap price of $6.99 you just swipe your credit card and unlock a portal to a world of entertainment delights. Bullshit.

Anyway, in Belize City I was greeted by the Director of Finance and Administration for CRFM, one Mr. Delmar Lanza. Things were very proper (at first) – firm handshake, polite small talk etc. – but deteriorated quickly at the mention of beer. Off we went to a dilapidated bar, situated in a prime mosquito breeding zone at the edge of the swamp, and began a beer-off. We were joined by Mr. Delmar’s best friend, Ramon, who looks like an exact hybrid of Vin Diesel and the Rock, with a Creole twist. He sports a sexy winged-horse-against-backdrop-of-moon tattoo on his right bicep and some sort of aggressive-feline-on-steroids roaring on his left forearm. Amazing!

The next day they took me apartment hunting. After viewing many miserable options (including 2 with cockroaches scuttling across the floor and 1 possible murder scene), I found my match. It’s a little gnome house (like servant’s quarters) right by the University of Belize and about 50 m from the ocean. Though direct access to the water is not possible due to the presence of a large garbage filled swamp in between. You can’t win em all.

My office is about a half hour walk from gnome-house. It’s situated right on the ocean and everyone has gorgeous sweeping panorama views of the sea. Except me, of course. My office happens to be everyone else’s lunch room. But hey, at least I am close to the coffee (which, by the way, is instant…shudder). Everyone is extremely friendly and I have a feeling it’s going to be a great 6 months!

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