Belize, the Central America Paradise

Leave a comment

Paradise on Earth? You Better Belize It

“We want you to feel at home in Belize”

"We can't go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here"

“We can’t go out and explore the world, so we want the world to come here”

In what is said to be record rainfall this year in Belize, California is ready to declare a state of emergency from their driest year in recent history. Belize is a third world country, so yes, it’s going to have high theft areas of crime. Thankfully, there are just as many safe havens full of the nicest people of any high traffic tourist area. The people of Belize are limited in traveling only across near borders. Without a visa, the furthest they can go north is Mexico, and thus they depend on the tourism industry to meet people from around the world. Ambergris Caye is the place a lot of the mainland people move  because of the serenity of the island. It sure feels like paradise when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing off the shore. They may be seeing record rainfall, but the sun is still shining hard every day periodically between what I know from living on the west coast as pineapple express weather.

Most people know Belize through the hit television show Breaking Bad mentioning it as an analogy for murdering someone. Luckily, my trip to Belize didn’t have such a drastic ending. People either catch this reference, don’t have any idea what or where Belize is, or have been to Belize themselves and know of the paradise with a lack of infrastructure. This emerging getaway has seen many people including Harrison Ford and Madonna come and go. It’s undeveloped compared to that of the Myan Riviera, or Cancun, which is perfect for baby boomers looking for nostalgia. Beach bars blast Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones while people bet on horseshoes or eat at the adjacent barbeque. The amount of diversity is astounding and everyone is eager to mingle with each other tourists and locals alike.

Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar

Sunday beach party at the Crazy Canucks Bar

This island was compared to paradise from all the locals I encountered, people from the mainland who saved for years to come to the emerging island get away, American Army vets looking for a place to retire. The Ambergris Caye is located off the east coast of the mainland of Belize, only a fifteen minute plane ride away.  This small island is only a mile wide, allowing you to see the sea on both the east and west coast simultaneously. The crystal blue waters include a river through the island resulting in a lagoon as well as the vast beautiful turquois ocean, the Caribbean Sea. The beach is composed of coral reef sediment sprouting from the second largest reef in the world just off the coast of the island, if you focus on the horizon you can see where the waves crash upon the summit of the reef to ease the waters heading into the Caye. Many citizens of San Pedros own boats and other aquatic craft to navigate the local area efficiently as well as go to the mainland for food, supplies, etc. Most bars are on the beach, some even featuring jet –ski access. The popular clubs of San Pedros are located in the high traffic tourist area, and the locals will be keep you partying there all night if you let them. The most popular club on the island is called “Jaguars” featuring an awesome entrance that’s intriguingly welcoming as you enter the mouth of a Jaguar next to the city center clock tower.

"Jaguars is the place to go" - Yaneli Young

“Jaguars is the place to go” – Yaneli Young

At home in Canada, a dollar doesn’t go very far anymore. In fact, unless you go to a dollar store or settle for subpar quality, you can’t even get a soda for a dollar anymore. Ironically enough, most dollar stores are even bumping their rates to $1.25. But in Belize, your dollar goes a bit further into the realm of minor refreshments and beyond. Your American dollar is worth double in Belize, and though this may sound appealing, there is a price we the tourists pay, then another price for the locals that can’t afford as much. In some cases locals will trade things with each other, such as fishermen trading for produce. This allows for some old fashioned bartering with the right establishments. In souvenir shops, for example, where cheesy shirts say “You Better Belize It!” or “UnBelizeable” which is eye candy to tourists, but not necessarily appealing if the price tag exceeds the novelty.

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014

In Mexico or Jamaica, you might come across people desperately trying to convince you to enter their establishment or buy some product in an attempt to make ends meet. While I always felt uncomfortable being led into random, sometimes sketchy places, you won’t encounter much of that in San Pedros. People here are not pushy. They may ask if you would like to have dinner at their restaurant but they leave you alone at no. If you show interest, they might show you the menu before directing you into the establishment, still allowing you to decide for yourself. Most of the time, people greet you in the streets and ask you how you are enjoying Belize. They don’t necessarily want your money, they’re genuinely glad to meet you and are always willing to strike up a conversation to a passerby.

Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door

Better than front-row seats, this is our slice of beach feet away from the front door

Belize has a struggling economy, due to the world economic struggle and their attempts and enticing more people to come to Belize thwarted by the fact that money is going into the wrong areas of town, funding seems to get lost in translation. Despite the rap that parts of the mainland have cases of crime, one thing is for certain, the people of Belize, at least the people of the Ambergris Caye, are welcoming people that are very kind. There is no stigma of keeping to yourself so as not to defend the wrong people like in North America. This spreads the feeling of community, a feeling that even just as a tourist that you’re a part of something bigger and better when you can just walk up to anyone on the street and strike up a conversation, provided you speak enough English or Spanish. That kind of thing doesn’t happen here without being branded as out of the ordinary, despite the fact that humans were made to be communal beings. That all got lost in translation in a lot of places it seems, but you better believe that it hasn’t happened here in Belize.

My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.

My best friend in Belize, a young lady I will never forget.

Anxiety Blog 3

Leave a comment

I’m starting to realize as I continue to recover from my anxiety disorder that things that used to give me horrible anxiety no longer even seem to affect me in some cases. 

 

I don’t like curveball’s, I never did. As long as I can remember, once I got something in my head, anything that got in the way of it was an obstacle. Growing up, that obstacle was crippling anxiety. It’s hard to describe. A lot of people think 3 steps ahead of what they’re presently doing, but in my case I can’t even think about doing other things before I do those three things I was already thinking about. This likely stems from a memory issue that has also been repaired through post secondary education.

 

There’s a difference between getting annoyed from an obstacle and having anxiety about it. To put it into perspective, there was a time my mother asked me to walk the dog. This is a perfectly acceptable thing to request since I walk the dog every day, but the timing was against me. I had thought 3 steps ahead, so now I had to rush those three things. As I rushed doing those things, I felt winded and dizzy from the panic attack that was now in full tilt. During the walk, the stress of the day already seemed to fall away even though it wasn’t even lunch time yet. The sun was shining, Chloe (my 16 y/o multipoo) was happy, and the tide at White Rock Beach was out. The serenity of nature is something that has been a large part of learning to deal with my anxiety. Often I’ll go out of my way to take a stroll through the park to ease my mind, sometimes listening to music that reminds me of simpler times, or the music that opens my mind.

 

Anxiety alone is a complex thing. I estimate that I have had anxiety issues with panic attacks since I was 6 years old. My earliest memory specifically was moving for the first time when my parents divorced, I kept everything packed in my closet. Unpacking and putting things away felt weird in the new house, and when I was asked to unpack, every item I retrieved from the closet to place somewhere in the room felt like a punch to the gut. As if unpacking was forever binding me to the spot, a slave to my space.

Alert and attentive, but anxiously uncomfortable

Alert and attentive, but anxiously uncomfortable

A form of anxiety that’s rather common, as it reaches those that don’t otherwise have the pleasure of experiencing anxiety, is test anxiety. It’s the big day of the final and you studied all night, barely getting any sleep. You walk into class and instantly are struck with fear. Desks are organized with tests for every seat, you sit in the back corner by the window for some natural sunlight, as if it will help you. As you gaze onto the paper, the first question doesn’t look familiar and you instantly panic, assuming you studied the wrong chapter. This is when people need to take a breathe and just read all the questions, go through it and note the questions you DO recognize. With every answer you feel progressively less confident in your test, knowing that you will fail. When you give the test to your teacher finally, (s)he looks up at you with a sinister grin, they know you failed just from looking at your answers. You grab your stuff as quietly as possible so as to not disturb the peace and quiet, and hurry out of the room. The worries of the test are over, you feel sweaty and tired, but you survived. That’s the feeling of surviving a panic attack, but a far more tame version.

 

As a writer, I get in ‘the zone’ similar to the ‘wired in’ term used in the successful film “The Social Network” about the origin of Facebook. This is the only thing I still get significant anxiety if it’s interrupted, fearing to lose the roll I was on, scared to lose my inspiration and end up playing video games instead. Usually this means I’m writing in my room with my stereo playing Blink-182, surrounded by the soft glow of my laptop, or sitting on a hill with notepad and pen in hand the old fashioned way. I require a bubble to be in this zone, and get anxious the second someone steps into it. I minimize what I was writing if they hover over my shoulder, because to me, none of my work is worth reading until it is finished. When asked what I’m doing on the spot, usually I’ll lie and say I’m just on Facebook, or doing nothing at all, revealing to the same person later that I was writing an article; proceed to show them the finished article no problem.

 

People think my anxiety is a social anxiety, a sign of a lack of confidence. People who hang out with me frequently know that is not the issue. The problem is I’m afraid of what people assume. People see what they see, they don’t live your life, so if they don’t see you do something and you don’t talk about it, then it didn’t happen to them at all.

 

Instead of acknowledging a sign of ignorance, us humans seem to wish to piece everything together ourselves without asking questions or talking about the subject matter. So something as simple as walking to the store can be blown out of proportion. If your boss doesn’t witness you doing your work, they will assume you are an insubordinate and lose faith in you until the results come in, in which case the boss takes credit because you were clearly on Facebook while helping customers, or because you had your phone out as (s)he passes by your cubicle. Teachers in college assume students aren’t paying attention when they use their laptops during a lecture. Girlfriends assume you’re mad at them if you’re having a bad day. Boyfriends assume you’re PMSing just because you’re having a bad day. Instead of assuming things like this, what is the harm in simply asking what’s the matter. That takes a significantly less amount of energy to do than creating your version of the story.

 

With a society that seems to be plagued with a constant sense of entitlement, it’s based upon these outlandish assumptions creating a jumbled world where people would rather come up with stories than listen to the real side of the story. We’re all guilty of assuming too much, even myself. I often catch myself assuming certain things, but better to catch myself before I let it take over and become truth in my brain. Maybe it’s because a lot of people are incapable of articulating their feelings, or thoughts without getting angry and into a heated argument. That’s how things were with me until I understood myself a little more. Maybe the first step is to look within.

Great quote, good color scheme

Great quote, good color scheme

Like I mentioned yesterday in my shout-out to Bell for another successful annual Let’s Talk event, spreading awareness about mental health is in a lot of cases more important than raising money for the cause. The more people know about it, the more we might be able to diagnose things before they consume too much of someone’s life. It took almost 20 years for me to conquer my anxiety and I still whimper to the effects on bad days. People suffering from any mental illness come with them their own set of ticks and social issues, but if society understands the difference between someone that’s bi-polar and someone that’s a paranoid schizophrenic less people will be outsiders, less people will face rejection, and we can create a more suitable environment for all of us.

This blog summed up in one photo

This blog summed up in one photo

Thank You, Bell

1 Comment

Another annual Bell Let’s Talk event has come and gone in 2014.

According to Bell, they set new records this year thanks to all the help on social media and through the natural art of texting. 109,451,718 tweets, texts, calls and shares on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2014 – Bell will donate a further $5,472,585.90 to Canadian mental health programs. Now you can feel good about any excessive texting you do, at least for one day. Parents of teens, don’t give your kids too much flack for their next bill, it’s going to a great cause!

egwegw

Since 2010, Bell has committed $62.5 million to mental health initiatives in Canada. Not only do they run a successful annual charity event, but even more importantly, they spread awareness of issues such as anxiety, depression, etc. Mental health awareness is an important thing to a society where teens kill themselves suffering from mental illness, but if people understood the issue more it might be prevented.

I have fallen prey to mental health issues, particularly the effects of heavy anxiety. It has been a long journey to where I am today, and it all started with my blog. I wrote two blogs about it, which you can find on my wordpress to those of you that aren’t aware, and I’ll be releasing more essay’s about the subject as time goes on, as it is a subject I like to study and learn as I cope with it, discovering ways to deal with it.

Our government has neglected the mental health sector in many ways, but it is thanks to charity events such as this that we can get money into these programs, into paying registered professionals to help those who need it. People who don’t have a mental illness have a hard time understanding what it means. When they hear you have one they think you’re crazy. That’s not a very healthy way of looking at it, in fact, looking at things from that angle is part of the problem. This year’s Bell Let’s Talk event successfully reached those people through their marketing and maybe by next years event, more people will understand what it means to have depression, anxiety,  bi-polar, or any one of the hundreds of other illnesses/disorders. Until then, Bell will be behind guiding the people toward conquering what plagues them.

NO Luck for Luck

Leave a comment

In their attempt at victory against the New England Patriots on January 12th 2014, the quarterback, Luck, seems to cave to the pressure of the Patriots.

Comparing Luck to Manning? So silly

Comparing Luck to Manning? Ha!

 

 

The New England Patriot are a favorite of mine going into the Super Bowl. I would like to see, and am officially predicting they take on the Seahawks this year at Super Bowl XLVII. But predictions aside, The Colts, Andrew Luck was throwing a lot of sloppy passes for a team that has made it this far. Jamie Collins intercepting a pass from the Colts quarterback like it was nothing playing a part in keeping the Patriots ahead in the Sunday January 12th game in New England.  In the playoff’s Andrew Luck has thrown several intercepts.

Quarterback of the Colts, Andrew Luck

Quarterback of the Colts, Andrew Luck

 

While the defence of the Colts is looking great, the offense struggles, not just with the QB but with the unit as a whole. Indianapolis needs to work on it if they want to stay in the picture, or look at recruiting players on the offensive line from NCAA college ball, I highly recommend looking at the Michigan State Wolverines or study the offense of San Francisco. Going into week 20, I’m predicting the Patriots win in Denver, and the Seahawks kill it again on home turf.

 

The closest NFL team to being my home team. Lets go Seahawks

The closest NFL team to being my home team. Lets go Seahawks

Bryan Mollett, the career Kickstart

Leave a comment

Image

Bryan Mollett is releasing a photography compilation from the streets of Vancouver, BC through the aid of crowd funding.

 

 “It will be interesting to see the power of social media. I think word of mouth as well will be a big part of it and even just the kick starter website.” Bryan Mollett, 26, started his photography career as a teenager shooting videos and pictures of his friends skateboarding. Now he aims to release a photography compilation of street photographs covering the Vancouver area. The photos primarily focus on east Vancouver and the poverty stricken, but Bryan also provides a contrast through featuring religious imagery and social statement.

            Mollett got his first photo compilation exposure for the “This Is East Van” photography book. He had more photos in this compilation than anyone else. This is when Bryan started to gain confidence in the art of photography, becoming less concerned about judgement, and more concerned about perfecting his shots, asking friends and family their opinions on many of them.

Every photo makes a statement of its own, and every photo is a unique recorded snapshot of history that Mollett feels necessary to be immortalized in the medium that he’s so passionate about. A nun stands at a bus stop next to an ad for American Apparel featuring mild adultery, a child with dreadlocks and tattered clothing runs through the street alone. “I will be including different gifts as to what people pledge towards the final goal,” says Mollett. “I will be letting everyone close to me and the followers I have gained so far on this journey as soon as I get the video up.” He has yet to release the video, but says that it’s in the works.

 “My best experience in my photography journey had to have been last year in 2012 when my friend gave me a gift of true friendship by signing me up for a secret vacation and sending me to New York City to help build my portfolio.” Bryan says, referring to a television show he was lucky enough to be a part of. “I’d say the worst experience is the price of film in Canada. But tomorrow’s another day.” Bryan is a dedicated film photographer, even an advocate at times. “My digital camera spends most of its time at home.” Bryan shoots most of his pictures with a Leica M6, but he also uses a Yashica Mat 124g, though admits not for a while. Reflecting on the old days, he wishes the best of luck to young photographers. “Just keep shooting. Shoot whatever makes you happy, whatever you’re feeling like at that point in your life.”

On his days off from his full-time job with Shaw, Bryan likes to go downtown as early in the morning as possible and stay until he runs out of film.“I just love watching life,” says Bryan. “Whether it’s on the skytrain, driving, walking, I am just constantly scanning what’s in front of me, and what I can see. I really enjoy just walking around with my camera, finding things, it’s almost like a meditation for me.” No matter what the situation, he will come out of it with a smile on his face, and camera in hand.

Gaga going Galactic

Leave a comment

Grammy award winning artist, Lady Gaga, shoots for the stars as she prepares to sing a single in space.

 

Lady Gaga has always been considered “out there” ever since she debuted in the music industry with her powerful vocals and a don’t-judge-me-for-being-weird attitude, but in 2015, she’s to be part of the Virgin Galactic program and perform a show in the vastness of space. She will literally be “out there”. “She has to do a month of vocal training because of the atmosphere,” says a source, alluding to the changes in air pressure and gravitational force. Another source says this historic event will be “like nothing the world has seen before,” which is obvious as it won’t take place on Earth. Felix Baumgartner proved man can break the sound barrier free-falling from the stratosphere, will Gaga prove that singing professionally can be achieved in the vacuum of space.

 

Original story found here:

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/lady-gaga-to-sing-in-space-in-2015-2013611

Snoop Lion In Vancouver: Concert Review

Leave a comment

The Journey

Stanley Park is roaring with the warm-up act when I get off the bus. Here I return, the last concert I saw at the Malkin Bowl was also my first concert, Tom Cochrane. I had hoped the weather was going to hold up for the show, because last time I was here, it was pouring rain for the whole thing. Heading towards my destination, I run into two familiar faces, as we make our way through the forest, the music gets louder, then suddenly we’re there. The Malkin Bowl is tucked into the woods, and is a beautiful venue to behold.

The meadow that is the designated viewing area is separated into two halves. We have the alcoholic section to stage right, full of people that are already plastered upon arrival, and others are soon to be at that level. To stage left is the non-alcoholic section, or as I prefer, the chill section. I find myself a cozy place to sit upon a hill overlooking the stage, and pack my one hitter. I figure, I’m in good company here. Just as I spark up, Snoop hits the stage; good timing.

The Lion Roars

Snoop lion comes out rocking a mic decked out with gold bling, wearing a green and yellow jersey as he jams to one of his new reggae jams. Everyone on stage shares joints. This is my kind of party, hosted by Snoop Lion, I’ve never seen a show that started off on such a high note. Three female dancers come to the stage and my attention shifts, as the ladies rock their hips to the beat, I was mesmerized. As quick as they came out, they were gone again, back to reality.

snoop_rockVan

Snoop Lion in Vancouver with his dancers

The Fog of Time

Smoke plumes that floated sporadically before the show now became a soothing haze. Blue follow spots illuminate the smoke, leaving only a few rays of light appearing in the gaps of the smoke. Snoop Lion is just as chill on stage as expected. He rocks back and forth, tokes up, then disappears into the background next to the DJ, still on stage, but he’s clearly not one to hog a spotlight as he sits on a speaker while the other MC’s rock front-center. The music flows into the hip hop hits by Snoop Dog just as naturally as his transition to Snoop Lion. The party was taken to a new level with “Gin & Juice”, as it seems to be a Snoop anthem. The haze is now a cloud, reaching beyond the tallest branches of the ancient trees towering above.

The three dancers from the intro return to the stage wearing particularly provocative clothing. See you later Snoop Lion. These ladies are what reminds me I’m at a show. Otherwise, the atmosphere just reminds me of chilling with my friends at the beach blasting hip hop and sipping beers. I’ve never been to a show that had such a calm atmosphere, but then again, I’m not on stage right.

Snoop Lion Climax

After a quick chronic break headed by Snoop Lion himself, the show continues with more of the classic Snoop Dogg hits while the dancers appear and disappear randomly. The people that are standing start jumping with their hands in the air when the show takes a turn, playing Run DMC “Jump”. This song always seems to wake people up. Then he hits us where it hurts, the tribute portion of the show. The tone changes instantly when “Hypnotize” hits the forest, Snoop asks us if we got love for Biggie, the crowd roars. Rest in Peace. The following song is equally as heavy as “Gangsta Party” with Tupac hits. Sideways peace signs float in the sea of arms, giving the love and respect to the fallen brothers. “Gangsta Party” is the song that introduced me to Snoop Dog as a kid. My mother has always been a huge Tupac fan, and “Gangsta Party” was always my favorite of the songs we listened to on road trips. Snoop says he only has one more thing to say to us: “So what we get drunk, so what we smoke weed. We’re just havin’ fun, and we don’t care who sees” a very fitting song for the environment before me, “Young Wild and Free”. We, the audience, sing a large portion of the song for the performers, and our chants are heard throughout Stanley Park. The last song of the night is “Jammin’” by Bob Marley.

Peace of mind, Rastafari

I smoke one last one for Snoop Lion as requested, pack my things and make my way out just before most of the crowd so I could beat them to the bus, which was wise, as I didn’t see those familiar faces again. I’m stricken with a feeling of calm, a very relaxed, chill feeling. It’s comparable to the feeling I get after being to the Buddhist temple, or standing among the pyramids at Chichen Itza. To me, it’s because of the atmosphere of the great night in Stanley Park, having a new found respect for local police, and a continued belief that marijuana will be legalized within five years. My mom dismissed my calm feelings for second hand from the show.

By Clayton Cyre

Photos of the night

Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.