Thursday, December 31, 2009


I love travelling, especially to Belize. I’ve been living in the US for almost 32 years now, but I always find some time every year to be in Belize. Don’t get me wrong, the US is my home too.  
I spent Chanukah in Belize this year, where the only candles burning in the windows were artificial Christmas ones.  I missed the Chanukah events and activities that are a normal part of my life during the week of Chanukah back in the US. 

During this holiday season, we need to remember that we aren’t islands, and not only do we all need help, but we also need to give help. I’ve been blessed to grow up in this beautiful country, Belize, which I call home, and where my heart will reside forever. 

Like many residents of rural Belize, I enjoyed the peace and quiet of Crooked Tree Village where you are regularly visited at night by raccoons, deer, bobcats, opossums, and the sounds of unseen howler monkeys and jaguar. This is the quality of life, the relative tranquility of the place, that I deliberately sought and value, but it is also one that I fear is now threatened by development that could harm our ecosystem.  

Crooked Tree Village is on an island of about 19.3 square miles in the middle of a wetland wildlife sanctuary. The Belize Audubon Society is the manager of the waterways in the sanctuary, but is powerless to make any decision within the village.  

The villagers have watched as a large tract of land with mature trees, on the Western side of the island is being cleared and no one is asking what’s going on in our village. I am very concerned that something of great value will be lost if the villagers do not take a firm stand to set aside some of this pristine habitat for conservation.  

One of the things the villagers could do is to form a land committee which would make sure there will be enough land set aside for conservation and to leave a place that the future generations will be proud of.  Features of this place are the pine forest, the cashew plantations and the many birds that make their homes among the trees along the shores of the lagoon. If you like where you live, you are compelled to protect and preserve it. 

Standing on the western causeway, constructed in the middle of this sanctuary recently without the majority support of the villagers, I’m looking out over the wetlands and the lagoon; it is not hard to see why we need to immediately put in place very stringent conservation and preservation measures. Birds and animals milled about on the shores of the lagoon, the water surface breaking frequently as the snook, tarpons and other fishes feed. The canals and trees at the side of the causeway are filled with water birds that are familiar to me since child; hawks, ducks, herons, jacanas, parrot, and many more.  

The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary has been a part of the eco-tourism marketing campaign in Belize for many years now. The Village Council along with the Audubon Society, licensed tour guides and the area representative should form partnerships to incorporate natural reserves such as the wetlands, stream corridors, wildlife corridors and mature trees as conservation and mixed use areas.

The crumbling causeway over the Western Lagoon, constructed just seven months ago.
As I walked back up the causeway to my vehicle, I began to understand why I feel so compelled to explain my attachment to this sanctuary. With development comes progress, but we must not allow it to disrupt this delicate eco-system. With tears welling in my eyes, and a moment of silence, I got into my vehicle and drove away.

Belize is many things to many people; to me it is home and will always be. Whatever the future holds, no matter how far I wander, or how many places I travelled, home will always be, for me, where my heart is.

1 comment:

frank palacio said...

Hi Linda,

This is a very moving article that you wrote. I can relate to it on many levels, as a Belizean, a small town guy who has lived in villages in Belize, and as a nature lover. On my most recent trip to Belize which was exactly a year ago, we visited the Bermudan Landing area and we say the many potentials that Belize has in the area of Eco toursim etc. Yeah, like you, "You baan dey, you baan dey!" I will always carry Belize in my heart. (frank Palacio,at