A recent trip to Belize has left me in a bit of a tailspin. We were invited to spend some time with friends who have a house just outside of the village of Corozal. Life there is much simpler. At least for those of us with guaranteed income...The ocean views are breathtaking, the sounds of the birds in the morning different than those where I live, but just as smile inducing.
Rain, when it comes, is in a downpour. Loud, copious amounts of water followed by clearing skies, sun and humidity. It’s tropical after all. No different from Hawaii, just a different ocean with a different hue.
This is the first time I have traveled outside the U.S. The first time I’ve possessed a passport. I have had thoughts about what other countries were like, but until now, I had no personal experience. It’s been long overdue and eye-opening to say the least.
Belize is what more developed countries call “third world”. The infrastructure such as roads, power, etc. (at least the area we were in) are not as robust as in the US but serviceable for the needs of its population. Roads when paved, are rough on the vehicle. Internet connectivity is slow. Sewers are often open trenches and construction projects often go interrupted for long periods of time due to a different system of financing. It’s just a different way of life than I am used to.
English is the national language although much of the populton speaks Spanish and Kriol (Creole) as well. There are a lot of ExPat Americans living their retirement days in Belize because their dollar goes further with the exchange rate.
By contrast, my home city is Palm Desert, California. It’s a place of affluence even by American standards. On a daily basis, I see cars costing more than my condo, cruising the streets. This isn’t bragging, just an observation. The two cities are polar opposites. And while in Corozal specifically and the other areas of Belize I traveled, I was constantly checking myself not to be the judgmental, stereotypical ugly American. Hell, I do that here at home, stuck in traffic behind an out-of-state plated, seasonal Snowbird.
Back to my inner turmoil: with all the bullshit that’s happened in the US over the past year since an egotistical racist, homophobic, xenophobic, chauvinist, unhinged individual was elected, I’m in my head more than ever. Hyper aware of my own privilege. And how easily the comfort of that privilege can allow one to forget the rights of others can be taken away by a single individual and his supporters.
It’s not that I haven’t earned what I have-it’s been hard work. But I realize now that I had an unspoken advantage due to an accident of birth. True to that advantage, I’ve been extraordinarily lazy in the physical sense, letting my asana practice fall by the wayside. I’ll get back to it “someday”... But my ego is getting my way. I’ve gained weight. My body has tightened up from lack of use and the inevitable aging process that seems to be accelerating at the speed of light. I am ashamed of my physical decline yet I continue, until now, to actually address it.
Adding to that shame is my realization that I now resemble my surroundings more than ever. Living in the land of retired old white people. Like living with my parents, listening to their tired, outdated ideas and opinions.
To be fair, there are some enlightened individuals in the area. People interested in preservation of historical sites as well as forward movement in society. Art, music and ideas. After traveling outside my little world, I know I’m hitching my wagon to that group.
I’m going back to Chapter 1, Verse 1 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanajali regarding “atha”. Someone I know wrote a blog post about that a few years back. And it’s still true.