|Paradise comes with a price,
for the grass may always seem to be greener on the other side of
the fence but yours would be just as green as your neighbours with
a lot of fertilizer and creative maintenance and a little attention
now and again. For nothing comes easy in life and in Belize multiply
that by ten.
Charley Wolf though he knew the odds when he came
to Belize and so that's why he moved the family in the first place
to the heart of the jungle. He was a gambler for fun but never
truly calculated the stakes beforehand. And now they were all
here whether they liked it or not, to live the clean life without
a television or cell phone blaring out megabytes of useless retainable
dialogue at a dollar a second. But hey, in the developed world
you get the cell phone for free until it breaks or you loose it.
Charley arrived into Belize with his share of heartaches as well
as big time dreams, just as countless other gringos had done before
him, just as more are sure to follow down the line. He realized
that although he and the family were from the old country of Europe
and that they harboured no prejudice, to the every day Belizean
they were all still gringos.
Charley for the trip over had every family member holding his
or her own and so one backpack was prepared for each family member.
They were all filled to capacity with shorts and funny worded
t-shirts and lotions and ointments. There were also extra toothbrushes
though no one could ever remember going on a trip where someone
broke a toothbrush, much less lost one. All the same the Wolfs
came to Belize with two extras per family member, though they
found rather quick that even toothbrushes were available in Belize.
There was also one backpack allocated for the library that would
be needed in forging a new frontier in the Belizean bush land.
The pack therefore was loaded down with handbooks about sustainable
living. Charley knew the books were penned by authors that did
the bulk of their field research surfing the Internet without
ever leaving home and to Charley that was just fine. He believed
they were noble in their cause to provide reliable information
for planning purposes whether they ever planned to use it or test
it for themselves. This to Charley was neither here nor there.
Because Charley openly referred to such writers of self help
books or travel guidebooks as "living parasites plagiarising
others". The others being whom Charley referred to as "knights
of the largest roundtable". A table filled with those that
have made their livelihood pecking out words that hold the character
of ideas which formulate thought and change, there to Charley
"the mutation of dreams occurs, there lies the only real
frontier left for man". And so for Charley for these writers
to copy the words of others worked well for him. Though they saved
him lots of time on deadline, they served little to alter the
charges on his monthly direct-way satellite bill.
Charley as any husband and father wanted he and his families
dreams to be realized. All was going all to well too for the Wolfs
in Belize until the fall of their first full year came around.
This pushed forward the time schedule for the Wolfs, forcing them
to get serious about whether they intended to stay in Belize or
move on with the next passing ship.
As late August neared, the Wolfs were into their second six months
of the application process for becoming residents of Belize. They
decided to enrol young Charley in a proper kindergarten program.
Although here in Belize it is typical for children to begin preschool
at age five, in their homeland the Wolfs were accustomed to beginning
the children at the age of two. So in the eyes of the Wolfs, young
Charley needed to be in 'day care' sooner than later. With that
understood the Wolfs went about the task of enrolling the little
one in a local 'kindergarten' program.
The options were limited for young 'Charley the fourth' but there
were indeed options, three clear ones. The daughter of the politician
that runs that part of the district operated one. It was clean
and she the daughter was congenial and the place was surely licensed.
No uniform was required for young Charley to attend. However,
they charged the most, about BZ$30 dollars per month, which included
a morning snack as well as lunch. The daughter just wanted to
be sure you had your kid out of the place before they felt like
taking a nap. They should also be potty trained, for it would
be best if they planned to enjoy the day in one set of clothes.
Then there was the Methodist Church that was experimenting with
taking 2 to 5 year olds from 7 to 12 noon daily. It was located
just off the main square and had about as much running distance
for the kids to get their legs under them as my editors allow
me to develop a storyline passed the end of this page. Uniforms
would be required, they were burgundy and white. There were several
women that sewed the uniforms to the required specifications of
the kindergarten to insure uniformity not to mention meeting the
general diameters of your child.
And then there was the kindergarten that seemed a little all
too perfect parked down there just left of the end of the dirt
road where mama and papa Wolf and there baby Wolf called paradise.
It was the cleanest of the three kindergartens available, the
most widely attended, and the kids at first comparison seemed
The students had the most indoor as well as outdoor space for
the children to be free as a bird without flying into the headlight
of a car. The uniforms were blue and white, the parents were required
to pay and have them sewn from the same ladies that created them
for the other Methodist run school. Amazingly the kindergarten
was by far the cheapest in overall cost.
Not that it mattered for the Caucasian Austrian Wolfs, but the
school also had more white students than the other two kindergartens
combined. The other two kindergartens both had none, so the math
was really easy. And not that the colour of a persons skin really
mattered to Charley nor Mrs. Wolf, for they realized long before
they came looking for their piece of paradise that they would
sunburn quick but would stand apart quicker for their Lower Austrian
dialects. Charley knew they were a dead giveaway for being a bunch
of Ausländers and that the astute Belizeans no way would
simply take him and the Mrs. as just another couple of gringo
So the choice was made based upon price and return and proximity
to their farm. After Charley proudly donned his uniform for three
days, it was not the praise of the teachers that forced the Wolfs
to rethink their choice of kindergarten for Charley the Fourth.
No, though the teachers readily admitted that they considered
the younger Wolf to be the brightest in the class, the clincher
for the Wolfs was that third midday when they picked up young
Charley. That day when he walked to the truck all glassy eyed
saying that, "the Bible loved him", papa Wolf and Mama
Wolf decided, he was a bit young at four to be contemplating philosophical
righteousness and life after death and the love of an inanimate
object like a book.
The Wolfs were simply looking for someplace for young Charley
to see up close and personal that the Belize Maya and the Belize
Garifuna and the Belize East Indian and Belize Taiwanese and the
Belize Chinese were really no different from the Belize Austrians.
The next day the Wolfs confronted the principle and assistants
regarding their feelings.
What ensued was a back and forth debate about what was allowed
in the schools where the principle hailed from in the United States
and what they were teaching in their school. Charley also pointed
out the differences from the system of education both in the United
States and Belize from that found in Europe where the Wolfs were
from. The turning point for the Wolfs was when the principle said
he thought he knew what was best for the younger Wolf and that
it was essential to start children on the road to righteousness
at such a young age. The Wolfs politely bid the principle a good
day and headed for the farm. In the car Mrs. Wolf just shook her
head adding "and why do they teach the kids 'I' says it like
an In-di-an with a picture of an American Indian? Here the Maya
are referred to as 'Indian' and they don't like it. Three kids
in the classroom are Maya and neither them nor the rest have ever
seen or heard of an American Indian."
Charley the fourth never returned to the kindergarten. When they
removed Charley from the all too perfect looking school the Wolfs
promised him that though a book cannot express emotion, it can
certainly stir in the hearts of all men and women just that. Charley
senior inured the younger version that there would indeed be plenty
of time in the future for him to explore books worth loving on
his own informed terms as to their meaning and true intention
Books like 'Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas', 'The Reasons Why
I Love My Mother-In-Law They Way I Do', 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle
Maintenance', 'the Holy Bible' and 'The History of the Mongolian
Empire through The Eyes of a Chef'. If and when he decided he
wanted to read such books. Of course as Charley explained to young
Charley, to his understanding the last title is now out of print
and unavailable in Belize. Such are indeed the prices we humans
are willing to pay these days for our personal piece of paradise.