Image by Pixabay
La vida loca baby. The crazy life.
Here on Caye Caulker, the little island off Belize where Im living. (My intended stay of two days has stretched into three weeks. Its hard to leave paradise.)
Wake up at 6.30. Have a smoke on the balcony and check out the tequila sunrise splotching the sky. Theres always a lone great white egret standing Masai-like on one leg in the sea. It hangs around the same spot all day, and I wonder what its story is.
Waiting for its long-lost mate? Scrounging fish from the nearby boats? Nothing better to do and nowhere better to go?
Whatever the story, I guess it lives with no egrets. (Ahem)
Then I walk down to Beans and Ice and order a large dark with milk. Gaze at the Caribbean Sea, flick glances at the young women swaying in hammocks attached to palm trees, finish my cup of jolt and walk through the mangrove swamps to South Pointe at the far end of town.
Turn around at the end of the dirt track and head back to Lenas, the ramshackle clapboard turquoise structure that I call home.
By now its 9am and time to work. Subediting for Daily Maverick, which involves wrestling with issues of great import.
Is our style SONA or Sona? Should this which not be a that? Square brackets or curved? eSwatini or Eswatini? Subeditor or sub-editor?
Interestingly, the authorities are divided on the last question, with the Oxford Dictionary and Collins Dictionary favouring subeditor, and the Cambridge Dictionary sub-editor. The Guardian and Observer Style Guide has it as subeditor, and in the section under that heading notes:
WP Crozier said of CP Scott: As a subeditor he got rid of the redundant and the turgid with the conscientiousness of a machine that presses the superfluous moisture out of yarn. The man who passed seaward journey to the great metropolis, and when the copy came back to him found written in firm blue pencil voyage to London, knew what sort of English CP liked.
At 3pm (11pm South African time) works over, and its time to head to the Barrier Reef Sports Bar for lunch and a beer. Or two. Happily, its Happy Hour (3pm-6pm) and a draught Belikin beer costs only four Belizean dollars about R30.
Theres always a colourful crowd of regulars at the bar, many of them Canadian swallows who come here during the brutal northern winter. Its minus 30 degrees Celsius at home today, theyll gleefully tell you, beads of sweat rolling down their face and globules of condensation sliding down their beer glass.
Theres a couple of women knocking back tequila shots, they stagger or wend their wobbly way home on bicycles at four in the afternoon; theres Mandingo, a giant dreadlocked man who wears knee-length striped socks, shorts and an Ancient Greek-looking helmet made of palm fronds. They say Mandingo is the village shaman, and for sure, he has the otherworldly look of a man who communes with the spirits. Or smokes heaps of ganja.
Boozers, losers, assholes, angels, rogues, renegades, seekers, speakers, thinkers, doers, jokers, smokers, wannabes and has-beens everyone here has a story, theyre all interesting for at least five minutes. Some for a lot longer than that, and Ive made a couple of friends at this bar.
One of them, former Rifleman Gary Rifle of the Queens Own Rifles of Canada, introduced me to the poker game thats played here. Its Texas Hold-Em, tournament-style, with a 50 Belizean dollar buy-in. Tournament-style means that the blinds the compulsory bets posted by the two players to the left of the dealer go up every half hour, so that if you havent amassed a sizeable stack of chips midway through the game, you can no longer afford to play and have to take outrageous risks in a last-ditch bid to remain.
A lot like life, come to think of it.
Unlike life though, in poker you are expected to dissemble, to misrepresent, to beguile, bamboozle and deceive, to hoodwink, dupe, delude, mislead and entrap. In other words, you gotta get real.
However, its also expected that you win graciously and lose gracefully. Theres no place at the table for blowhards and sulkers, but you can get away with a short-lived grin of triumph or a brief moment of petulance. If you really must.
The players at the game on Caye Caulker are a mixture of Canadians, Americans, and locals: Tommy, who deals in real estate and is one of the islands renowned musicians, singing his heart and lungs out at jam sessions and Karaoke Evening. Angie, his wife, blonde and buxom. Chris with the corkscrew curls and impish sense of humour. Dirty, a loud American, who seems to bluster his way through the game and then traps you with a move straight out of David Slanskys Hold Em Poker for Advanced Players .
The locals, most of them young and lean: Baby, Daniel, Major, Norman. Then theres Harry, an old guy who plays an unorthodox but strangely effective game that seems to rely on intuition and precognition. The young men call him Mr Harold.
We play upstairs at Tappers Sports Bar theres a wall camera focused on the table, and they can watch us in the bar downstairs. When one of us wants a fresh drink he waves his glass or bottle at the camera, and pretty soon a fresh libation arrives a bottle of Belikin beer with a slice of lemon squeezed in its neck, rum punch, Cuba Libre, mojito, whatever
Someone once said, The man who invented poker was smart, but whoever invented chips was a genius. He was right. Our chips are weapons that conduct exploratory feints, instruments of war that frighten and pulverise; they are questions that demand answers; swaggering braggarts that kick sand in your face.
And the story with chips is, you gotta speculate to accumulate. You dont play, you cant win.
The game itself, as the late, great Norman Best an old warrior and former diplomat I played poker with back in Cape Town once said, is a microcosm of the macrocosm. He meant that it mirrors life, with its highs and lows, its waves of fortune and ill-fortune, the feelings of joy and despair that it engenders.
They play poker just about every day and most nights on Caye Caulker, and soon the days took on a well-defined shape. Sunrise, coffee, walk, work, lunch, beer(s), swim, nap, poker.
At some stage, I realised that I was down a few hundred dollars in the game, and that it was time to leave paradise.
Former Rifleman Gary Rifle hired a 44, and we headed for San Ignacio, a little town in the jungle. Its famed for its weekly farmers market and as the gateway to a number of natural attractions.
Next morning we drove for a couple of hours along jungle dirt roads and headed for the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Where the film director Francis Ford Coppola has an upmarket lodge, and we stopped there for a couple of beers.
The place was reminiscent of a movie set, and we could have been actors in a Coppola film, but, alas, not the leading men. Perhaps two renegades, battle-crazed and war-weary, styling it up in some south-east Asian jungle lodged appropriated from a heroin-addled Frenchman. Or a couple of old Mafia consiglieres hiding from the young capos who wanted to make us swim with the fishes.
Then we headed for Rio On, a place of little waterfalls and beautiful river pools. There were many young women there, basking in their bathing costumes, laughing, flicking their long hair, sirens if ever there were.
I knew they were sirens when they called me, their beautiful voices floating on the wind like wisps of smoke:
Sugar Daddy Sugar Daddy Sugar Daddy, they said.
I gave a wry grin, and advanced no further. I knew from reading the Odyssey and watching the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? what would happen if I did:
Them si-reens will kill you, boy. ML
Sign up forournewsletterto get the best of Maverick Life delivered to your inbox every Sunday morning at 9am.
Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.
View original post here:
- A Guide to the Caribbean Islands Reopening this Summer - Cond Nast Traveler - June 21st, 2020
- Massive Saharan Dust Plume Now in the Caribbean Sea to Complete 5000-Mile Journey From Africa to US This Week - The Weather Channel - June 21st, 2020
- All the Caribbean countries that are currently open for tourism - Time Out - June 21st, 2020
- Anything but plain sailing through the Caribbean - Sail World - June 21st, 2020
- Traveling to the US Virgin Islands, Explained Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Ritz-Carlton Reserve Reopening in Puerto Rico Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- St Barth to Reopen for Tourism on June 22 Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Tourism in the Caribbean will be different as they emerge from COVID-19 - South Florida Caribbean News - June 21st, 2020
- Latin America & the Caribbean countries need to spend more and better on health to be better able to face a major health emergency like COVID-19... - June 21st, 2020
- Pressure on Caribbean tourism - Caribbean Life - June 21st, 2020
- Caribbean business leaders worried about second wave of COVID-19 - Jamaica Gleaner - June 21st, 2020
- This Year's St John Celebration Is Going Virtual Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Why Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Stocks Just Got Torpedoed and Are Going Down - Motley Fool - June 21st, 2020
- Haitians join with Caribbean community to demand justice - Haitian Times - June 21st, 2020
- Divi Is Reopening Its Resorts in Aruba Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- THE VIEW FROM EUROPE: Britain's culture war and the Caribbean - Barbados Advocate - June 21st, 2020
- JetBlue Is Adding New Flights to St Thomas, Puerto Rico - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Will Attending Medical School In The Caribbean Hurt My Chances Of Becoming A U.S. Doctor? - Forbes - May 11th, 2020
- Sandals Planning to Reopen Most of Its Caribbean Resorts in June - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- The Island of Nevis Says It Is Coronavirus Free Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Taiwan's Medical Diplomacy in the Caribbean: A Final Stand Against Beijing? - The Diplomat - May 11th, 2020
- Ralph Jimenez: Corruption and hopelessness in the Caribbean - Concord Monitor - May 11th, 2020
- Caribbean tourism has been decimated by COVID-19. But the private sector can cushion the blow - World Economic Forum - May 11th, 2020
- Road to Recovery: Disney Plans, Plus Restored Flights to the Caribbean - TravelPulse Canada - May 11th, 2020
- The coast may be clear now, but sargassum is heading from the Caribbean to Florida shores, scientists warn - News-Press - May 11th, 2020
- The Caribbean can supply the US with ginger year-round - FreshPlaza.com - May 11th, 2020
- How Sandals Is Adapting Its Caribbean Resorts Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Could Be Eyeing a New Heroine - Gizmodo - May 11th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean 6: Did Disney pick Karen Gillan for new lead? - Deseret News - May 11th, 2020
- North America: The curse of the Caribbean - IPS Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Research Shows Transplanting Staghorn Corals Could Help The Species Recover In The Caribbean - National Parks Traveler - May 11th, 2020
- I'm Quarantined on a Yacht in the Caribbean. It's Not What You Think - Fodor's Travel - May 11th, 2020
- Royal Caribbean Owned Cruise Ships Gather at Private Island - Cruise Hive - May 11th, 2020
- Do you know the volcanoes of the Caribbean? - Loop News Barbados - May 3rd, 2020
- The Perfect Sun Shirts for the Caribbean - Caribbean Journal - May 3rd, 2020
- Hurricanes Are Reshaping Evolution Across the Caribbean - The New York Times - May 3rd, 2020
- From The Bahamas to St Thomas, the Caribbean's Most Famous Cocktails - Caribbean Journal - May 3rd, 2020
- Caribbean Hotels Advised to Replace Buffet Dinners and Minibars - Travel Agent - May 3rd, 2020
- Latin America and the Caribbean Region COVID-19 Situation Report No. 2 - Argentina - ReliefWeb - May 3rd, 2020
- Hold on Tight: Researchers Say Caribbean Lizards Grow Bigger Toes to Survive Hurricanes - The Weather Channel - May 3rd, 2020
- Pirates Of The Caribbean 6: Release Date, Plot, And Get All The Latest Updates We Have So Far - World Top Trend - May 3rd, 2020
- Puerto Rico earthquake: 5.5 magnitude quake rocks Caribbean - is there a tsunami warning? - Express.co.uk - May 3rd, 2020
- Escape To The Caribbean With These Soulful Recipes - Essence - May 3rd, 2020
- One Photographer Documents the Lives of Schoolchildren in the Caribbean - AnOther Magazine - May 3rd, 2020
- Heres Everything You Know So Far About Pirates Of Caribbean 6 - World Top Trend - May 3rd, 2020
- Port of New Orleans gains new Evergreen service offering connections to the Caribbean - Container Management - May 3rd, 2020
- European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean: joining efforts against the coronavirus - OnCubaNews - May 3rd, 2020
- A Rockefeller Resort in the Caribbean Is Restored to Its Rustic Glory - Yahoo Lifestyle - May 3rd, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Every Main Character, Ranked by Sword-Fighting Skills - Screen Rant - May 3rd, 2020
- Royal Caribbean: Best of a Challenged Bunch, but Thats not Saying Much - Yahoo Finance - May 3rd, 2020
- Protecting the Caribbean's most vulnerable people in the face of COVID-19: A UN Resident Coordinator blog - UN News - April 2nd, 2020
- How A Little Island In The Caribbean Sea Is Standing Up To The Goliath Of Coronavirus - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- Empty Hotels. Idled Tour Buses. The Pandemic Is Devastating Tourism. - The New York Times - April 2nd, 2020
- How COVID-19 Has Affected the Caribbean and Latin America - NBC 6 South Florida - April 2nd, 2020
- CBP Reminds Boaters of Reporting Requirements in the Caribbean to Slow COVID-19 Spread - HSToday - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Moment: A Perfect Sandbar in The Bahamas - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Corona Around the Caribbean - The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Moment: In Saint Lucia, a Journey to the Pitons - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean - Jamaica Observer - April 2nd, 2020
- Customs and Border Protection Reminds Boaters of Reporting Requirements in Caribbean - St, Thomas Source - April 2nd, 2020
- 24 Movies That Will Take You to the Caribbean Right Now - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Take a mini-break in the Caribbean without leaving your house - Lonely Planet Travel News - April 2nd, 2020
- Are You Ready to Buy Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL? - Motley Fool - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean nationals among thousands of COVID-19 deaths - Caribbean Life - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Map / Map of the Caribbean - Maps and ... - March 31st, 2020
- Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean... - Jamaica Observer - March 31st, 2020
- Helping the Caribbean in a Pandemic | Therese Turner-Jones - Caribbean360.com - March 31st, 2020
- CHTA: The Caribbean will resurface stronger in tourism - Dominican Today - March 31st, 2020
- Captain Lee From 'Below Deck' Expresses Concern the Caribbean Will Be 'Hit Hard' by Coronavirus - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - March 31st, 2020
- Trinidad Records Third Death from COVID-19 - caribbeannationalweekly.com - March 31st, 2020
- On the Trail of James Bond in the Caribbean, From Jamaica to Nassau - Caribbean Journal - March 31st, 2020
- Caribbean Map / Map of the Caribbean - Maps and Information ... - March 26th, 2020
- Caribbean Must Prepare Against Food Shortages because of COVID-19 - caribbeannationalweekly.com - March 26th, 2020
- Coronavirus Threatens Tourism Industry In The Caribbean - International Business Times - March 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 Pandemic and Latin America and the Caribbean: Time for Strong Policy Actions - International Monetary Fund - March 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 Watch: Caribbean islands surge past 750 confirmed cases of coronavirus - Antigua Observer - March 26th, 2020
- 10 Movies To Watch If You Love Pirates Of The Caribbean - Screen Rant - March 26th, 2020
- Reinvigorating Economic Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean: Can deep trade agreements help? - International Banker - March 26th, 2020
- Caribbean update on COVID-19 situation in the region - eTurboNews | Trends | Travel News - March 26th, 2020
- Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean - Jamaica Observer - March 26th, 2020