Sunday, February 28, 2010


Dr David Neiman on the historical background of the Jews of Persia, The Book of Esther and life in ancient Persia. People regard the Purim story as a myth or fairytale when it really is a docu-drama. It is the story of a clash of empires that actually occurred and in which the Jews played a pivotal role.

The holiday of Purim is celebrated worldwide by all Jewish communities, and with greater emotional involvement by the communities of Iran and Iraq. The story of Purim is an account of the historical events related in the Scroll of Esther. Biblical scholars have always had a problem with this story and other biblical narratives which are beautifully written. It is as if the perfection of the literary work leads them to doubt its historical accuracy.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


John Walsh, Host of AMW

John Walsh and the America’s Most Wanted crew were shooting in Belize, Central America earlier this month, for an episode that will highlight the global reach of the show's hunt for wanted fugitives from the USA.

Robert Snyder, a child predator who went on the run from Fort Collins, Colo., after failing to register as a sex offender, thought he could hide in Belize. But some avid AMW viewers proved him wrong. Snyder had no idea that AMW is broadcast in Belize -- and is a favorite show for many Belizeans. When America's Most Wanted profiled Snyder, a 12-year-old girl recognized him as the chess teacher at her Belize City school. Her mother sent in the tip -- and U.S. authorities teamed up with police in Belize to take Snyder down. 

America's Most Wanted features Belize on their website and the segment filmed in Belize will be aired on Saturday, February 27, 2010. 

Friday, February 26, 2010



A tragic plane crash claimed the life of Belizean tycoon Sir Barry Bowen, who was piloting his private plane to the island town of San Pedro. On board the flight were two of his employees and their two children, a three year old and a baby. All five people died at the scene.

The plane crashed in a marshy swampy location of Ambergris Caye. The white single propeller airplane was on its back and rescue efforts are recovering the bodies from the wreckage. 

Condolences to the Bowen family on their tragic loss.  

Source and Image courtesy of San Perdo Sun:

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Queen Esther from The Book of Esther

The Scroll from The Book of Esther
Sunday, February 28th is the Jewish holiday of Purim. The holiday of Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people, in the Persian kingdom of Ahasuerus, from the attempt to annihilate them. The story was documented in the Scroll (Book) of Esther (מְגִילַת אֶסְתֵּר, Megilat Ester), which became the last of the 24 books of the Tanach (תנ"ך, the Bible).

The Story of Queen Esther:

Three years after becoming the King of Persia, King Achashverosh made a big feast to show off the rich treasures of his kingdom. The celebration lasted six months!!! When the King called Queen Vashti to show off her beauty she refused to come. Haman advised him to get rid of his insubordinate wife and to find a better one in her place. The King's agents were sent to all the countries of the Kingdom to search for beautiful young girls as candidates for the role of the Queen. Esther was chosen by the King to become the new Queen of Persia. She followed Mordechai's advice and didn't tell the King that she was Jewish.

In the meantime, Mordechai overheard that two of the King's servants became angry with the King and planned to kill him. He told Esther about the plot and she told it to the King. The servants were hanged and the story was written in the King's private record book.
Achashverosh's advisor, Haman, became the most important officer of the King and therefore everyone had to bow to him. Mordechai refused to do so and it made Haman so angry that he decided to kill Mordechai and all his people, meaning all the Jews in the entire Kingdom of Achashverosh.

Haman made a PUR (פּוּר, lottery) to choose the day to kill the Jews. The chosen date was the 13th day of the month of Adar (י"ג אֲדָר). Haman had a very easy task in persuading Achashverosh to support this act and the orders to destroy the Jews and steal their property were sent throughout the kingdom.

Mordechai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of public mourning. He asked Esther to go to the King, to beg him, and to plead with him for her people. The problem was that if someone (including the Queen) approached the King without being called, he or she was sentenced to death unless the King pointed his gold scepter at that person. Esther asked Mordechai to gather the Jews in Shushan and fast for her for three days before she went to the King against the law. When Achashverosh saw Queen Esther, he was pleased with her and pointed his scepter toward her. Esther asked the King and Haman to come to a party she had prepared and at that party she asked them to join her at another party on the following day.

On his way home from Esther's party Haman met Mordechai and the latter did not even move to show his respect to the high officer. The furious Haman consulted with his friends and family and decided to make a gallows to hang Mordechai on it. 

That night the king couldn't sleep so he asked his servants to read for him from his private record book. He was read about Mordechai who revealed the plot to kill the King and realized that Mordechai was not rewarded. As Haman was in the palace (to ask the King's permission to hang Mordechai), Achashverosh decided to consult with him about the reward. Haman, thinking that the King wanted to reward him, suggested that one of the King's highest officers should dress the man with royal robes and crown and lead him on a royal horseback through the city square calling "This is what is done for the man whom the King wants to honor." Instead of hanging Mordechai, Haman ended up dressing Mordechai in royal robes and leading him on the horse through the city square.

On the following day Achashverosh and Haman went to Esther's second party. Achashverosh asked Esther to tell him her request promising to fulfill it. Esther revealed her secret Jewish identity and requested for her life and the lives of her people. She pointed at Haman as the "brain" behind the plan to destroy her people. The furious King ordered to hang Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordechai. Achashverosh gave Mordechai the role of Haman as second in command to the King.

The orders to kill the Jews were called off and the Jews were permitted to join together and defend themselves. On the day that the Jewish Nation was to be destroyed, the Jews celebrated their victory over their enemies and all of Haman's sons were hanged.

Mordechai set the 14th and 15th days of Adar as a holiday called "Purim" (from the word PUR) to be celebrated every year. Those were the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and that was the month that had been changed for them from sorrow to gladness and from sadness to a holiday. These days are days of feasting and gladness, and of sending food to friends and gifts to the poor.
The story ends with the command to celebrate this day every year in joy and festivity and by sending gifts to each other.

כַּיָּמִים, אֲשֶׁר-נָחוּ בָהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים מֵאֹיְבֵיהֶם, וְהַחֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לָהֶם מִיָּגוֹן לְשִׂמְחָה, וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיוֹם טוֹב; לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָם, יְמֵי מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה, וּמִשְׁלֹחַ מָנוֹת אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ, וּמַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיֹנִים. 
אסתר ט', כ"ב
the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
(Esther, 9:22),,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Beautiful Custard Apple in Dr. Crawford's Garden in Crooked Tree Village
YELLOW CUSTARD APPLE: The custard apple comes in red and yellow and is a close relative to the sugar apple. They have a thick creamy pulp that can be pink or white. This fruit has a very pleasant flavor and can be eaten as is or in ice cream. In Crooked Tree we love it lightly mixed in condensed milk and cinnamon.

MAY PLUM: The may plum is a fast growing plant that can produce fruit in one year. They are often eaten fresh from the tree, and can be made into jellies or drinks, the taste is somewhat like an apple. Inside is a single spiny seed.
Cashew Trees are in bloom in Dr. Crawford's Garden in Crooked Tree Village

Blooming Cashew Trees on February 14th, 2010

The Cashew Fruit or Apple
CASHEW FRUIT or APPLE: Some say the actual fruit is the nut, but for us in Crooked Tree it is not. The Cashew season is in April and May, and just about now all the trees are blooming. Cashew fruit can be eaten fresh from the trees, candied or stew. They have a sweet and astringent taste. The nut should be roasted outside because of its oil, it can irritate the skin. The cashew trees are very fast growing and can bear fruit in just two years. The plants can tolerate very poor soil and drought, but are very sensitive to cold temperatures.
The Flower of the Passion Fruit in Dr. Crawford's Garden in Crooked Tree Village

THE PASSION FRUIT: Passion fruit grows on a fast growing vine that climbs or attaches itself to some other body. The flowers are large, very aromatic and attractive to butterflies. The pulp is used in fruit juices or for baking desserts. The variety in Dr. Crawford's garden in Crooked Tree is yellow, and about the size of a baseball. In a few weeks this fruit will be ripe for eating or making juice, and from her very own garden.
In Dr. Crawford's Garden
TAHITI LIMES: These lemons are very acidic and juicy. They have many uses in Belize, they can be used to flavor the food, as a garnish or for household purposes. They are ready to pluck when they are firm and bright yellow. One medium lemon has about three tablespoons of juice. 

This is a Pinguin patch in the garden of Dr. Crawford.
This Pinguin plant is actually a fruit,  it is abundant in Crooked Tree Village, and is grown in the wild in patches that resembles pineapple. The plant is about three feet high with very long leaves, sometimes up to five feet, but are only about two or three inches wide with sharp spine edges. The fruit is in the center crowded together, but is separated, not joined like the pineapple.

The Bromelia Pinguin is a native of Sinaloa, Mexico where it is used as food or a therapeutic agent. Before eating this fruit you need to brush or wipe off the brown, very thin stinging hairs. Then you need to peel off the tough outer layer to get to the sweet interior. Pinguin can be roasted over campfire or eaten raw, but be very careful because if you eat too many you can develop burn blisters similar to eating too much pineapple from the skin. In Mexico they make a very good juice from it.

After gathering all the Pinguin from the patch, there are some fuzzy brown hair at the bottom. This brown fuzz can be used to stop a bleeding wound. If you are out in the forest chopping wood, and cut yourself just grab some of this fuzz and sprinkle it on the wound, it will stop the bleeding instantly.

This is a Cocoyol Palm, but is know in Belize as Supa.
The Cocoyol or Supa is a palm tree that is grown widely in Mexico and Central America and is covered with spiny prickles. The fruit of this palm is cover by a thin shell, is grown on a bunch like coconuts, except there are about two hundred per bunch, are miniature, and maybe be eaten off the bunch. The task of taking them down from the tree is very complex because of the trees height and its thorny bark, but most farmers usually tie the branch that is loaded with the miniature coconuts and pulled them down. The nuts are then sun dried for a couple days before being made into a special Belizean treat. This stewed Supa is sticky, gooey, yummy, and will leave you licking your fingers for days!
Mango Tree in full bloom just outside Dr. Crawford's kitchen window in Crooked Tree
It is said that the appreciation for mango began in India and Asia over 4000 thousand years ago, but some of the best mangoes in the world are found in Belize. Mango is known by more people world wide  than the peach.

The mango tree is long-lived and can grow up to heights of 130 feet. The leaves are evergreen and broad. The flowers are small, in bunches and is lightly perfumed. The fruit can take up to three months to ripen. The ripe fruit varies in size and color and carry a single flat oblong pit that can be hairy on the surface.

Mango is generally sweet, although the taste and texture of the flesh varies, some having a soft, pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum, while others flesh is firmer, like an avocado, and is consumed as raw or in desserts. Mango is best eaten fresh, it is full of vitamin C and is high in fiber.
Surinam Cherry in Dr's Crawford's Garden

The Surinam cherry (Eugenia flora) sometimes known as Brazilian cherry or simply called cherry, and is not very common in Belize. It is a small shrub which is sometimes used as a hedge or a screen in gardens. The fruit is orangish red when young and a deep red when ripe, thin skinned and juicy with a small yellowish seed.

The skin is a bit tart but the rest of fruit is sweet, they are best left to ripen on the tree when just a touch will bring them down. They can be eaten fresh, seeded, mixed with a little bit of sugar or added to a fruit salad.

The fruit is high in vitamin C and is used as a base and flavouring in jams and jellies, they also make a great substitute for strawberries.
The Coconut
The coconut is an important member of the palm family growing up to 90 feet tall. The leaves are long and break away freely leaving a smooth trunk. The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics and is used for cooking, decorating and a variety of other uses. And don't forget the water, it's very healthy and is an energy booster.

The origins of the coconut is a subject of debate, some say it's a native of South Asia, while others say Northwestern South America. But what we all agree on is that the coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight, regular rainfall and high humidity for optimum growth. 

Poem in Creole by Hewart Tillett- memba this?

Reminds me of one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar courtesy of Horace Adolphus:

Wah go da mi plantation-
Cyah get de at all
Wah go da mi plantation-
Cyah get de at all
Ping Wing Juk mi, masquita bite mi-
Cyah get de at all
Ping Wing Juk mi, masquita bite mi-
Cyah get de at all

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Celebrating and Promoting the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in New York
New York The Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. a, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization is pleased to announce that Mr. E.  Roy Cayetano  will be presented a Garifuna Heritage Award, during the First Annual Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night on March 13th 2010 at 7 PM  at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture,   450 Grand Concourse Bronx, NY 10451.
E. Roy Cayetano, is an educator, a linguist and an anthropologist who has  contributed to the Preservation of the Garifuna Culture through the People`s Garifuna Dictionary and has served as a consultant in the effort of the Government and the Garifuna people of Honduras to develop a Garifuna language program for the schools of that country. He is also committed to the collection and preservation of songs as well as the promotion of various aspects of the culture. He is the author of the poem “Drums of My Father”, which is one of the better-known Belizean poems.
On May 18, 2001 UNESCO recognized the Garifuna Culture as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. This designation means that it is an important culture that should be preserved, promoted, and celebrated.  Then National Garifuna Council president Roy Cayetano compiled and submitted the candidature file to UNESCO. Mr. Cayetano has also served as Secretary General of the Belize UNESCO Commission, chief executive officer in the  Ministry of Rural Development & Culture, Deputy Minister of Culture in Belize and as a Senator.
The first Garifuna Heritage Awards will honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and promotion of the Garifuna Culture. The annual event, which is a flagship event of the Garifuna Coalition, celebrates the contributions, legacies and future of those of Garifuna heritage.
A dynamic cultural stage production will feature James Lovell and the AfriGarifuna Youth Ensemble, Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Dance Company, Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of NY, Paula Castillo and Hechu Garinagu and a grand finale directed by Mr. Meléndez.
The Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night is an integral part of the Garifuna Heritage Month 2010. The proclamation will be presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr and New York State Governor David A. Paterson’s office during a press conference in the Rotunda of the Bronx Borough President’s Office on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM. 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY.
José Francisco Avila

Monday, February 22, 2010


This CD is a gift to the Garifuna culture from Sally Enriquez Reyes in memory of her mom, Semiona. Sally Reyes comes from a family of composers and singers of traditional Garifuna songs.  Her mom composed many of the popular Garifuna songs that are featured on the CD.  Her sister, Virgin Enriquez, and her nephew, Garif, also are composers and talented singers.  These songs are classics with deep meaning and great drumming and singing.  Seremei Sally hisieti CD le nu.  Keep it up!! 
Tidewese CD is available for purchase.  The price is $15.00 and it includes shipping and handling. 
Contact Angela at to purchase this collector’s item or go the her Website Here:

Friday, February 19, 2010


"Middle Schoolin" a book co-authored by Belizean American Garifuna author/teacher Frank Palacio and Salvadorenian French author/teacher Jacques Rallion 
 Read about the challenges, humor, and rewards of teaching, as well as classroom tragedies and successes, that take place in inner city public schools. These 50 vignettes describe human-interest, middle school events.
 For example, have you ever feared for your life? Have you ever been accused of something that was not your fault? Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they suddenly say something disrespectful? These scenarios emerge from real-life situations experienced by two Los Angeles middle school teachers. In Middle Schoolin’, authors Frank Palacio and Jacques (pronounced zhäk) Rallion share fifty vignettes garnered from their collective years working with teenage students.
Based on interactions with students, parents, and other education professionals, the stories both educate and entertain and include anecdotes that are humorous, sad, tragic, hopeful, uplifting, and thought-provoking. The vignettes reveal the day-to-day challenges that teacher’s face and the rewards that are often bestowed as a result.
 From the knife-toting male to the watch-swiping student, and to the late-to-class-again girls, this collection provides a glimpse into the modern-day classroom. Addressing valuable moments in teaching, Middle Schoolin’ opens the classroom doors to provide an insight into the human element of education. It reinforces the idea that education can transform lives and that today’s youth are the world’s greatest resource.

This book can be purchased at,, and also at Angulus Press locations in Belize.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The Police Station Before The Fire
No homeowner wants to be on the list kept by Code Enforcement Officers for a house deemed uninhabitable, but Crooked Tree Village does not have Code Enforcement Officers, and the house I am speaking about is the Crooked Tree Village Police Station.

This morning the villagers of Crooked Tree woke up to a smoldering Police Station. The deplorable Police Station was burned down by unknown arsonists who fled the scene.

For many years now the Crooked Tree Police Station has been literally falling down. For many years the village has been promised a new building by the government of Belize, but it remains just that, a promise. 
Corporal Donald Gillett, the police officer assigned to Crooked Tree Village has been conducting the business of the government from his private home. This is a huge problem; because there is no holding cell at his home to house suspects he cannot make an arrest. Instead, he has to call in the policemen from Ladyville Police Detachment, a village about twenty three miles from Crooked Tree Village.

Crooked Tree Villagers have been frustrated for many years by the lack of an adequate police station, and to make matters worse, this village of about 1100 people does not even have a functioning Village Council to assist the residents in times of crisis.

About five years ago, the villagers got their hopes up that the government was going to build a new police station. Tenders were issued for bids and up until the time of the fire no one has heard a word from the government of Belize. Successive governments have promised to address the issue, but the villagers of Crooked Tree continue to wait. Until today, Crooked Tree Village has had one of the most dilapidated and dysfunctional police station in the country of Belize.

Year after year the government of Belize promise to build a new building, and year after year nothing happens.

If there is no functioning village council to work for the village and no police station, I think the only alternative for the villagers is to set up neighborhood representatives.

A boarded up dilapidated government building makes the village and everything around it look horrible. In normal communities it takes one dilapidated house or building on a block to cause the others to be affected.

The two storey wooden building was built in 1949 on a contract to a villager, Lee Brown. The first floor held the office and holding cell and the second floor held the living quarters for the police in residence. But for many years now, it remains an unpainted, decaying eyesore, boarded up behind a fenced yard surrounded by weeds.

This is a huge problem for one of the largest villages in Belize. The villagers of Crooked Tree Village demand a new police station from the government of Belize!!!

All Fire Photos by Becky Crawford

Friday, February 5, 2010


Mrs.Reye inspecting the kumquats at her farm in Belize
Giant Guavas wrapped in protective covering against insects
Under the Star Fruit Trees
For 15 years now, the Taiwanese community in Belize at mile 25 on the Western Highway has been farming and making this place like the Garden of Eden. They have been growing different types of fruits and vegetables that are new to Belize. Since the 1990’s, their agricultural crops have been increasingly geared towards the out-of-season, the colorful, the exotic and the just plain weird looking fruits and vegetables, but tasty.

Growing vegetables has become an art in the Taiwanese-Belizean community – based on choosing the right hybrid varieties, fertilizers and irrigation methods, selecting greenhouse covers designed for specific crops and employing innovative growing tools, harvest equipment and post-harvest treatments. In recent years farmers have also been seeking profitable market niches. Examples are a big increase in production of organic produce, as well as specialties like herbs and selected exotic fruits.

This ladies and gentlemen is Cerassie, it is a lot bigger than the ones we know in Belize. The smell and taste are the same, the leaves have the same shape, but much bigger.  Mrs. Reye gave me some stir fried cerassie over rice and it was a little bitter, but absolutely delicious and healthy.
Loaded Kumquat Tree
Giant Ju-Ju Plums-very delicious
Sugar Apple- the taste is similar to Custard Apple, a tropical fruit in Belize
Star Fruit-juicy and sweet
At the Belmopan Farmers Market in the month of May — in downtown — you can get a first peek at Pitahya or Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus), a very attractive fruit from Southeast Asian that looks like a spiky orange and is known for its medicinal and nutritional properties.  Research at Chi-Nan University in Taiwan shows that Pitahya is very high in soluble fibers, which is excellent for Type 2 diabetics. The fruit comes from a cactus, the kind that climbs if you stick a stake in the ground and let it climb on it. Mrs. Reye told me that the fruit is simple to eat, just cut it in half and spoon out the soft interior.  She said it is catching on rapidly in Belize; they are growing a few acres for the local market.

The Pitahya Plant in bloom-held up by stakes. It takes two years to bear fruits.
 Pitahya Plant without stakes
 Pitahya plant ready for stakes
Box of Pitahya Fruits
Another of the fruits that has become quite popular is the Noni (Morinda citrifolia), which is also known for its medicinal properties and is mainly used as a refreshing drink or it is prepared as a wine.
  Noni Trees loaded with fruits