You have to be real. I guess that is the opposite of being fake. I have heard this line more than once since coming to Belize - someone telling another to "be real". I think honesty is one of my redeeming qualities - sometimes to a fault. It has gotten me in trouble on many occasion as I have never been able to "kiss butt" or cover what I am really feeling or thinking. It is always very evident. I have, therefore, decided it is better for me to be real. I am in a culture in which even though people go around saying be real, it does not seem to be the mode of operation. This is the hardest part of being in Belize. One of my friends wrote me an email today that made me start thinking about this and how frustrating it is to be around people who function by not being real to tourists, especially, but even with each other they are not real. (Let me say at this point that I am trying to not stereotype the whole population - give me time to explain).
She wrote "it's pretty bad when the discovery guide talks about how belizean men are rarely faithful to one woman,and crave variety-wow-it's in the freakin guide book-not like i expected monogamy from any man there but it's a fact huh."
It is really in the guidebook. wow.
I am always wondering when I am talking to someone if they are being real. I think the longer that I am here, the more I am learning and as I become more welcomed into the community, I think people are becoming more real. I watch interactions between locals and tourists and see a play act going on - it is hard to explain because I think the Belizean people are basically friendly people and they take time to just talk - and about important things - and they can be great, loyal friends...but there is another underlying issue that divides. I think it is the idea that all Americans, Canadians and Europeans that come here are rich and that the locals do what they can to gain material things from them and at the same time there are may of these tourists who think they are better than people from Belize. I am not saying this is blatant or that this is done on purpose or with any kind of thought process behind it. Not usually. It becomes a make believe time in which everyone has fun together in the fantasy but when I pull back the curtain, the actors and actresses are really different from the roles they play with each other. This is true in every place I go - it is just more evident here to me. Maybe it goes back to the guidebook comment. It is more pronounced that the men romance the tourist women and just lie about their wives, children, girlfriends with children, etc. It runs over into other parts of their lives too.
I guess this in on my mind because of what I hear and see at the school. I am working with 5 ten and eleven year old boys - anger management in a group. All but one is being abused physically and emotionally. They come to school and turn on each other. They tell stories about their home lives that are more than I can even listen too and they are also imitating the racism that they hear and see at home. Racial slurs, basing people's worth on the darkness of their skin - literally the shades of darkness. I think poverty and racism go hand in hand with lack of education but the ill effects of racism on all of our societies makes me so sad. Lack of education and poverty is not the only thing that breeds racism. why do we spend so much time trying to divide ourselves through economics, race, nationality, gender? I like to spend my time and energy getting closer to people and learning and understanding. I know it sounds like I am getting jaded - not really - just aware of what is around me. I am struggling with how to get people to be real with me. I do not judge and I have a lot of love. Just be real.
Being "real" would allow us to stop basing how we treat each other on the color of skin. I feel so alone in this thought. I know I am not alone but there are so many actors in the world that I can't tell who is real and who is faking it. Are people treating me nice because I am white and they think I have something to give them in a material way? or are they my friend because of who I am and because I am real? I feel tested a lot - another word around here is "true?" When I say something...response...true? why do we have to keep checking on whether or not somehting is true? one would think because there are a lot of lies. I hate lies. They feel like the ultimate betrayal. I can't believe someone after they have lied to me and it messes up everything.
I am in a weird mode today. My students have left. They were great! they worked so hard at the school and played so hard in the evenings. Of course everyone loves the ole miss students! Everyone around here misses them. My drummers are doing great. We have a free drumming lesson tomorrow from the man who made the drums. He is bringing the big drum tomorrow. I have not heard that the mom who went to guatamala got back yet so keep praying. "N"'s mom has not made it back yet either.
I made fried green tomatoes last night and fried chicken - time to bring mississippi to belize. of course i didn't have milk for my batter so i used cococut milk for my tomatoe batter...pretty good.
love and miss y'all!