Paget’s Belize Journal #15

October 7: Day-to-Day Life – Part 1: Avoiding Nocturnal Mosquito Bites

It appears to be true that mosquitoes do not land in a breeze
and that although they can bite through cloth, it has to be taut
enough to give them some drilling purchase. So here are a few
techniques for not getting bitten while sleeping. (Those of you
who are also living with a lot of mosquitoes may feel free to

Wear a loose nightie or pjs even if this seems hotter. It’s
worth it. Turn at least one fan directly on the bed where you’re
sleeping. Cover yourself with a light sheet artistically draped
with as many folds as possible. Actually, the only way this really
works is if you can get your body in the cross fire of two fans
because otherwise one of your limbs is guaranteed to be in the
lee of your body even if you’re skinny. Don’t use the fan’s oscillating
feature because it leaves you vulnerable on the cusp. And be
sure to put repellent on your elbows and fingers, parts of your
body which are not sensitive enough to twitch in time to avoid
getting nailed. There you go.

Day-to-Day Life – Part 2: Infrastructure (and Meat)

My report that the infrastructure here is reasonably reliable
was accurate, but I don’t wish to mislead, so here’s some further
detail. The electricity goes off on a fairly regular basis, especially
during thunderstorms. So every computer in the office has an
UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which makes a horrible keening
noise when it’s called upon to perform. But it’s really only
there to provide a controlled shut-down anyway. Since you can’t
tell how long the electricity will be off, you shut everything
down and wait and then you power everything back up again. Major
facilities, like the resort and some grocery stores, have a back-up
generator, which powers a big outdoor arc light and the freezer.
This is to preserve the meat and discourage pilfering.

An aside on meat. There is no fresh meat to be had here, although
up-country is cattle country and there is a meat-packing plant.
The cattle are a sort of long-horn, Brahman mix. They also have
water buffalo. All beef and pork is frozen. This makes sense
given the climate, the small population and the fact that beef
is not really a traditional food here. I have been told that
the traditional meat, gibnut – a porky little jungle rodent that
roots around for nuts and is also called a paca – is available
but I haven’t found it yet. (You can see a picture at the Belize zoo website. And while you’re there, check out the other animals and the live-action videos, an example of the quality work done here at the office.)

Here’s a story that’s in all the guide books, but just in
case you haven’t heard it. Once when Queen Elizabeth II was visiting
(when still a colony, pre-1964 probably), she was fed this local
delicacy, roasted gibnut, and the Fleet Street boys reported
it as “Queen Eats Rat.” Probably not the worst thing
the Queen has eaten. And graciously. All fish, shellfish and
poultry that are available were just dispatched that morning
so they don’t figure in this conversation.

Back to the infrastructure. The water is drinkable and I have
not been told that it is less safe some times of the year than
others. But the water pressure is not very good and not very
reliable. Had an interesting talk with the local dentist about
this problem the other day. He’s from Liverpool and his name
is Pete (seems wrong to me somehow). I don’t know the rest of
his name. He is called Dr. Pete. I am called Miss Paget. The
local town council person who is very active in women’s training
programs and many other worthy causes is called Mrs. Nunez. They
are both younger than I am. And more valuable. Maybe that’s not
it. I haven’t quite got it yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway Pete is not practicing dentistry right now because
he is administrator of the new hospital. When I was here in June,
the hospital was finished but not occupied because they couldn’t
find anyone to run it. The solution was Dr. Pete and everyone
now goes to Belize City for dental work (except for emergencies
of course, which Dr. Pete still handles). Maintaining reasonable
water pressure at the hospital is necessary for a variety of
reasons and requires a complicated monitoring, switching and
pumping system, which Pete has learned more about than he wanted

Tony and Therese are also trying to figure out how to get
a pump to kick in only when the pressure drops below a certain
point in their new house. My biggest interest in this issue is
whether or not there’s enough water to wash the shampoo out of
my hair. It’s nice to have very few responsibilities. In fact
it’s every bit as good as I had hoped.