A Day in the Life of Poor Bristol

Already, you and your siblings have been named after an Alaskan bay, track and field, a bush plane, favorite fishing spots and a small Alaskan community- let’s just start with that. It’s not like you got stuck with the family name begrudgingly handed down through the generations; you are named after your parent’s interests. It would be like naming my kid Cookie or Late Night TV or Belize. I know I am being a little hypocritical here considering 2 of my immediate family members are Buffingtons- but they’re middle names, and they were family hand-me-downs NOT (as the name might suggest) tributes to the 1983 J. Crew argyle sweatervest print or something.

So, on top of your name and normal 17-year-old issues, like a zit before homecoming or who your lab partner is this semester or why someone hacked into your MySpace page and started posting spam, you wake up one day and—Oh snap! The whole WORLD knows you’re pregnant!

I imagine her nannies and parents and siblings were running around saying things like, “Honey, nobody even watches the Today Show (quick, somebody get rid of the papers and cut the cable line)” or “Now Bris, you’ll worry less about what others think of you when you realize they rarely do,”—which may have held until she logged into her email account and found, “Bristol, 17, knocked up” plastered all over the Yahoo log-in page.

It would be like that worst possible nightmare you always wake up from, except, well, you don’t actually get to wake up.

Instead, you step off the bus, and not only do they get a horrible shot on the one day you wore your oversized OSU sweatshirt and didn’t fix your bus-head ponytail, but your boyfriend is no doubt standing there with his hand on his hip like, You just had to go and tell the whole world, didn’t you? And that’s the guy you have to marry. Well. At least he’s named after a respectable jean company.

Poor Bristol. Bay of Majesty.

*Disclaimer: This is not reflective of my like or dislike of any political party, though it should be noted that I fully support partying of any kind, in general.

Week Five: Elections!

I miss writing.

So, I decided to keep doing it despite the no internet thing.And I decided to pay $4 every Saturday morning to use the village computer for an hour.Its a nice one!

Thursday was Election Day.There were two major parties running:

People’s United Party (PUP), they’ve been in power for 10 years
Slogan: Believe in Belize

United Democratic Party (UDP)
Slogan: Fi u, Fi me, Fi all ah we

Some interesting facts:

  • Elections happen every 5 years
  • Its normal for each party to create music CDs to campaign, and its normal for the radio stations to play these songs, and only these songs, all month.(Not jingles—entire dramatic, catchy, full-length songs.)I have the CDs.They’re coming home with me.
  • Voting happens from 7am to 6pm.Its normal and legal to pay people $100 to vote for their party.This usually happens in the form of a handshake at around 5:45, which is why everyone waits until after 5 to vote.
  • The UDP party promised a national holiday on Friday if they win.Naturally, all the students, teachers, and bankers wanted UDP.
  • Primary School was canceled to keep kids safely at home.
  • Because UDP won, all current government (PUP) positions lose their jobs.
  • On voting day, one or two people in each party drive around all day and pick up people to vote who don’t have vehicles.
  • Each party provides a hot meal for their voters.
  • In the evening, families bring snacks and drinks to each others houses and sit around the radio with notebooks and manifestos until, like, 2 in the morning while they tally and announce the votes for each district.

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  • The winning party, in this case, UDP—the first party change for Belize in 10 years—begins a parade as soon as the announcement is made, and the parade lasts all through the night and throughout the next day, which just means everyone with a vehicle loads in as many people as possible and drives through the villages honking and yelling.

Some other things I have been noticing:

  • Love really does conquer fear.Tonight I realized (as spiders and ants and cockroaches crawled across my path) that I genuinely love being here with the Flowers and Cabb families more than I fear the bugs.I harbored no bitterness toward the spider that crawled out from underneath my suitcase tonight.I just smiled and thought—Oh, Belize.You’re totally worth the trade.(If you know me, you’ll recognize this as a small miracle.)
  • No one ever eats oranges.They cut them in half and suck on them.They ask, “Do you want to suck an orange?” and then, when you’re done, it looks like this:

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  • I learned how to make corn empanadas today, and then I helped Antonia make them for dinner.
  • I also learned how to make garnaches:

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  • This morning I taught Antonia how to make “eggs in a basket” or, as my family calls them: One eyed sailors.Everyone got a kick out of them, and Antonia had to make about 3 before she could do it without burning the bread…Next week, we’ll do French Toast.Delish.
  • Here is the smallest banana I’ve ever seen (and there’s no need to laugh at my face.It was 2 in the morning on Election Day):

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Well, Thursday is Valentine’s Day.That means double minutes on my BTL card, so if you receive a call from an unknown number, pick up!It might be me.

Also, if you want to chat- get on gmail Saturday mornings. I would LOVE to see your voice. (That was my mom’s joke. I’ll totally give her credit…)