Thursday, December 31, 2009

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS!



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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

VIEW FROM CROOKED TREE AT CHRISTMAS-FAMILY GET TOGETHER



The home of Horace and Verna Nicholson Adolphus: Christmas in Crooked Tree land!

The home of George and Shirley Codd Guest

Dean and Melinda Rhaburn Tillett

Steve and Lulette Dawson Flowers

AldaMae Gillett Jex

Paul 'Juni' and Judith Westby Quiroz

Hessie Crawford Codd

Mrs. Margaret "Megs" Harris Jones

Norris Wade

Violet Codd Multon

Steve and Becky Crawford Snell: A home style holiday get together.

A delicious meal was served to all.

Everyone seemed very cheerful and in the mood.

Mr. Eck dancing a jig and having fun

Talking, chilling and sipping drinks: (R)Ms Rose, (L)Elorine(C) Ashley

Talking, snacking and delighted to spend Christmas Eve together.

Sipping drinks and catching-up with old friends.

Uncle Humphry-Mixing up the holiday drinks "Cheers and Feliz Navidad"!

Mr. Reynolds, enjoying being among friends for Christmas.

Kind of fun to reminisce about the good old days of Christmas in Crooked Tree Village.

The girls were happily dancing, dining and now looking forward to the desserts. Becky " I am so excited to spend Christmas in Belize after being abroad for fourteen years; I can't believe it, but good to be home"

All photos by Laura Crawford and Dr. Jane Crawford



Monday, December 28, 2009

BECKY'S BLACK FRUIT CAKE-HAPPY NEW YEAR




Becky with her dogs in Crooked Tree Village

The black fruit cake or Christmas black cake is another of the traditional aspects of the Christmas season. This cake has endless ingredients variations, but one is universal - rum, lots of it.


This cake has roots throughout the Caribbean and is usually reserved for celebratory events. It is packed with dried fruits, nuts and warm spices.
 
According to Jessica B. Harris, a culinary historian, black cake's Caribbean character is found in the rum and the cake's intensely dark colour.
 
Try my recipe, add your personal touches:

Ingredients 
Mixed (ground fruit)
Raisins (grind)
Currants (do not grind)
Prunes (grind)
Cherries (cut in half) 
1 lb butter
1dz. Egg
4 cups flour (1 lb)
4 cups sugar
1 tps. Salt
1 tps. B. Powder
3 tps. Nut Meg
4 tps. Cinnamon
3 tps. Vanilla
3 tbs. Almonds
3 tbs. rum
2 tbs. Lemon Juice
Grated lemon rind (2)
Procedure 
Grease pans.
  1. Rub butter and sugar until fluffy
  2. Beat eggs.
  3. Mix in all dry ingredients.
  4. Mix in small amounts of flour with a little of # 1. First, then mix in remaining flour into butter and sugar a little at a time and at the same time fold in beaten eggs with wooden spoon.
  5. Add grated lemon
  6. Fold in about 3 cups fruits. (Not too much liquid)
  7. Add browning and fold until desired colour.
  8. Fill pans ¾ full
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F. After cake rises, reduce heat to 300 degree F and bake for 1 ½ hrs.
For more moist cake soak the fruits in rum at least 6 weeks prior. Also sprinkle the finished cake daily with red wine or rum.
To age, store each cooled cake in a re-sealable plastic bag at room temperature for up to 2 months. 


Black Cake History: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/12/18/dining/1219-CAKE_index.html



U.S. EMBASSY ISSUES ALERT ON HOLIDAY SAFETY FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS IN BELIZE



December 24, 2009

The United States Embassy in Belmopan has issued an alert to American citizens in the country on being safe during the Christmas holidays. The message, which was posted on the internet, is prefaced by the report of an armed robbery in Belmopan last week in which over a thousand dollars was stolen and one person injured. 


In the message, the embassy advises U.S. citizens who travel to Belize or are resident in the country that similar incidents may increase during the holiday and high tourist seasons. The advisory asks travelers and residents to exercise caution when they are in unfamiliar areas and encouraged them to be aware of their surroundings, keep valuables in a secure location and to lock doors and windows in their homes, hotel rooms and cars. 


According to the U.S. Embassy advisory, the majority of crimes in Belize are considered "property" crimes which include home/hotel robberies, muggings, and pick-pocketing.  The statement says that while these crimes can happen anywhere, they usually occur in areas where people carry large sums of money such as banks, the airport, hotels and stores and are often carried out by two or more perpetrators. 


With regards to driving, a special note asks American citizens who will be on the move over the Christmas holidays to be extra careful particularly on the Western Highway at three locations as these areas are particularly treacherous because the light-colored pavement becomes slippery and dangerous with just the least bit of moisture. The areas singled out are between miles twenty two and twenty six; between miles thirty one and thirty four and between miles forty and forty two. Incidentally, that same advisory applies to all motorists who will be on the roadways this holiday season. 

Source LOVE FM

Sunday, December 27, 2009

THE EMBASSY OF MEXICO IN BELIZE




The Embassy of Mexico in Belize would like to apologise for any inconvenience you experienced when visiting Mexico.
Regarding the immigration process:


1.   As you know from the 1st of July Belizeans do not need visa (consular stamp) to enter Mexican territory, you only need to show your passport (with a minimum of 6 month validity) to the officers and they will provide you a blue form (FMT) that you need to fill in and give back to them when you’re leaving Mexico. That blue form is FREE, as the press release says.


2.   But there is a departure fee that has to be paid. You have to pay $262 pesos per person before leaving Mexico in two different cases:
       
        a) As a Tourist if you stay more than 7 days, or
       
        b) In transit even if you stay less than one day. In transit: when you enter Mexico to go to another country or to come back to Belize.


You have to pay this fee at any bank listed on the back of the form, and not to the officers, in the understanding that this payment is not for the visa, but a departure fee.


If you have any further question please contact Mr. Marcelino Miranda at 223 0193 or 223 0194.







Thursday, December 24, 2009

LAUNCHING OF WATER SYSTEM FOR CROOKED TREE VILLAGE


(L-R) Marion McNab, Katherine Mendez, Crooked Tree Chairman George Guest, Hon. Edmund Castro, Crooked Tree Water Board Chair James Dawson, and SIF acting Executive Director Daniel Cano






A new water system was inaugurated on Dec 19, 2009 in Crooked Tree Village in the Belize District. The system was implemented by the Social Investment Fund, a statutory body under the auspices of the Ministry of Economic Development.


Over 900 residents will now have access to potable water. Crooked Tree is a Village of about 245 families and was in dire need of adequate water supply. The Village had endured yearly water problems and in the dry season most of the wells would run dry.  This project is an historic and a much needed one.


The new water system includes a 20,000 gallon water tank with piping and fittings, a chlorination unit, a pump house and a distribution network connected to 245 household.


The estimated cost of this project is BZ$1,250,000; making it one of the largest projects of its kind. Of the total investment, 65% came from the Belize Rural Development Program (BRDF) as a grant from the European Union under the 9th European Development Fund, 22% from the Government of Belize as counterpart funding and 13% from the community in labor.


















Guest speakers during the inauguration ceremony were the Hon. Edmond Castro, Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Belize Rural North Representative


Ms. Katherine Mendez, Deputy National Authorizing Officer, Ministry of Economic Development


Dr. Marcelino Avila, BRDP Project Director


Mr. Daniel Cano, Acting Executive Director, Social Investment Fund


Mrs. Marion McNab, CEO, Ministry of Rural Development


Mr. George Guest, Chairman Crooked Tree Village


Mr. James Dawson, Chairman Crooked Tree Water Board


Mr. Rudolph Crawford, Past Chairman Crooked Tree Village


James Dawson, Chairman Water Board
“This is a very important thing to Crooked Tree because we always have the dry season and we always have the flood that contaminates the water in Crooked Tree and the other thing I want to tell the people of the village is that this water system is going to benefit all of us in that the rate that we are going to pay, I believe will be cheaper than what you use for the pump. It is going to be approximately about $30 the connection fee and about $10 flat rate. It is a three trial fee. $10 flat rate would be for like 1,000 gallons of water and half a cent for each gallon after during the three month test. There will be adjustment if necessary.” Channel 5 Belize