In the water taxi on our way to the island Caye Caulker I told Tim that I was going to figure out during our two weeks on the island why people are so much more relaxed when they are far from the main land. Back then I believed I would discover something interesting that would also make life back on land more pleasant. Now, sitting on a dock at the lake of El Remate in Guatemala understand that my research of island happiness has a different result than expected.
Our first week as pirates of Caye Caulker had been a blessing. During the second week I discovered that this was mostly because of all the amazing people from all over the world we met at the Split and Bella’s Backpackers. Who made me the happiest were the locals working at Bella’s; Dane, West and Ratty. They were what I expected of the rasta culture; loving, stoked and always smiling.
I also discovered during this second week that there was a sort of bubble floating above the island. A trapped negative energy, accumulated by anger and frustration. An example of some of this energy being released from the bubble is something that happened at the Split (a hang-out place with bar and docks where the island split in two during a hurricane several years ago). In order to explain what happened there is something you need to know first. Since three weeks before our arrival the government allowed some locals to poison dogs at nighttime. Only if these dogs would be wandering the streets without a leash. This movement started in order to get rid of stray dogs and dogs that were left behind by visitors. It was pretty scary because we know Lewis loves to explore, just like us. Luckily we were able to keep an eye on him without taking away all his freedom. This movement makes locals shout at us, that we should keep our dogs on a leach even though it’s daytime. It felt like all these remarks were more caused by the frustration bubble than anything else, as Lewis was the most famous dog as everybody, young and old, loved playing with him in and around the water with his frisbee or by throwing water in the air. This bubble anger bursted at some point when the owner came up to me and decided to tell me that he didn’t like my dog being here and that he bites children. I was startled by his remark, how can he imagine such a story about a dog who hasn’t bitten even another animal in his three dog years? I was tempted to tell him he was allowed to shoot Lewis if he would witness such an event, but I bit my tongue as it seemed a bit inappropriate.
This is only one example of the frustration that was also shown in the ways men act to you as a woman walking around by yourself or the vocal fights between men on the street. I guess it’s not weird, first of all because of what I have witnessed: there are not enough women to balance out the men and second there is no freedom. Of course it’s an island with hammocks and white beaches but where do they run to when their anger reaches a limit? Just the idea, of being trapped on an island already takes away freedom. On the main land, between forest and cities we may not have the docks and snorkeling experiences but we do have a choice. We can run in every direction. We do not only have choice in where we go but also the freedom of choice in every other aspect of life. On land we have the luxury of choosing between an Italian, French, or god knows what other countries delicious food. We have choices in activities, shops, and everything else no island could offer.
I guess it’s true: ‘The grass is always greener at the other side’.
Besides this island reality bubble, I loved my time as a pirate because of the rice and beans with chicken, the cosy home Bella’s created for us, canoeing and fishing, the friendships, the happy backapckers energy and the feeling that life was perfect if you just went by the islands motto: GO SLOW.
Thanks to Nicole, Jeff and their Crew for giving us a familiy feeling so far away from home at the other side of the atlantic. Thanks fellow travelers for the legendary ‘burning shitpaper’ moments and thanks to the real rasta locals who were definitely also on the island, the ones who spread the love their culture ‘Belizes’ in.