Belize is a land of contradictions.
Charley Wolf knows this for sure, so do all the Wolfs. For they
have learned a lot lessons while living their life tucked away
on their twenty acres of rainforest deep in the jungle. And during
that learning process the Wolfs have come to realize that a life
in paradise just might not be all that it’s jazzed up to
be. As they say, one man’s paradise is another man’s
After three full years of eighty degree weather, the Wolfs were
starting to miss the changing of the seasons. Mrs. Wolf was starting
to grow weary of killing scorpions on a daily basis. ‘Little
Charley’ was tired too of the constant bombardment in his
school from over religious teachers trying to push the word of
God down his six year old throat while relying on outdated 1973
textbooks from Texas. As for ‘Baby Panama’, she was
simply way too young to remember her birth land and to naive to
understand the complexities of life in the tropics.
A life where literally at any given moment things can turn tragically
wrong very, very fast. Like the time Mama Wolf was cleaning the
house and there perched on an inside window seal she came eye
to eye and only inches away from a deadly Yellow Jaw Tommy Goff
snake. Had Charley not gambled and taken the snakes head off with
a single shot blow with a shovel both Mama Wolf and the yet to
be born Baby Panama could have most certainly faced dire circumstances.
Then there was the time when Little Charley got bitten by a tarantula
on his foot when he accidentally stepped on the creature one night
when they were still living in their thatch roof hut. At the time
Little Charley was on the way to the outhouse to do his business
when he and the spider found themselves on a collision course.
The swelling lasted for well over a week, but there was really
nothing the doctor could do to relieve the pain.
And then there was the time that the creek up along the highway
flooded. It was in the middle of the rain season and the ground
was saturated through and through. The creek finally flooded over
the bridge and over the dirt road that connected the Wolfs to
the highway and in turn to the town they so desperately depended
upon for supplies. For a solid week in order to get to town, Charley
and the Wolfs had to pay their neighbour one dollar each to row
them down the road to the highway, where they could hitchhike
to town. Once they returned from town with their supplies, for
the return trip, knowing all too well that the Wolfs had little
choice, the neighbour charged two dollars each. His logic, their
supplies weighted the canoe down.
Of course everyone in the Wolf family remembered the time the
flood flies invaded their jungle camp. It was in the early Spring
as the calendar year of months would typically reflect. The family
had just hunkered down during another torrential rainstorm. The
type of storm when the rain sounds like bullets rick-a-shaying
off the zinc roof, when the wind howls and the trees appear to
be close to snapping from it’s force, and lightening strikes
are occurring one after another. And then just as quick as the
storm is upon you, the clouds blow away and the sun reappears.
This particular day as the storm departed, suddenly there were
a handful of winged flies gathering on the wire mesh screen on
the porch. At first Charley didn’t think twice about the
grouping. Indeed he simply went back to reoccupying his hammock
and reading his latest subscription to National Geographic magazine
that had just arrived on schedule, two and a half months late.
As Charley began perusing the table of contents for the July
edition, he realized that the handful of flies that had attached
themselves to the outer screen were now covering the entire section
of the wall. Looking past the flies attached to the wire mesh,
Charley saw thousands upon thousands of their cohorts flying in
the steamy mist as the sun began to dry out the front yard.
It was then that Charley heard Mrs. Wolf shout out, “Charley,
you better get in here…” Mindful of the possibilities
that lurk about a house located in a clearing in a jungle, Charley
immediately leaped from his hammock and made a frenzied dash into
the house. Upon his entering, he realized that what he was seeing
attached to the screen was now inside the house.
As quick as you could say Tegucigalpa the Wolfs were completely
overwhelmed and consumed by the uninvited flying menace. They
were every where. Worst yet, Charley, thinking that it would clear
them out if he turned on the ceiling vans, soon learned that the
flies seemed to be attracted to their non-stop circular motion
as well as the slightest human movement.
Charley decided to gather Little Charley, the Mrs. and baby Panama
and together they crawled into the big bed. They then pulled down
the mosquito net in hopes of putting the netting between them
and the swarming bugs. But that proved useless, for soon the entire
net was filled with the winged creatures. They were getting into
the Wolfs eyes and mouths and ears, there seemingly was nowhere
Fearing they would suffocate and die a tortuous death, Charley
crawled on his hands and knees back to the hammock where he had
only minutes before been spending yet another leisurely day swaying
back and forth without a care in the world. Once there, he grabbed
the two Mexican blankets in the hammock that he so often used
for a pillow. Back in the big bed, the Wolf family of four used
the blankets to wrap themselves tightly into a cocoon.
The onslaught of the flies lasted about one hour. And just as
quick as their attack had begun, so did it end. And although the
Wolfs have endured the challenges of the jungle time and again,
they collectively consider the swarming of the flood flies to
have be one of the scariest times spent in the bush. To this very
day every time the Spring rains stop, the Wolfs take no chances.
They immediately gather together into a tent they have permanently
set-up in the living room that is covered with not two but four
multi-coloured Mexican blankets. They remain inside the tent until
they are absolutely sure beyond any doubt, that the coast is clear.
As they say, one man’s paradise is another man’s