Placencia Portraits

An affectionate memory of some of the characters living in Placencia the year before Hurricane Mitch (and more recently the developers) made some of them just that – memories.

Placencia Portraits

Cory, leaning closer,
In a conspiratorial huddle
And husky Seattle brogue,
They’re all running away from something,
A nod of the head that included
The whole village
Or they’ve got something to hide.
Hidden demons.
I didn’t need to ask which one
Had chased Cory to this
Far-flung sanctuary.
Her rum-fueled breath
Revealed it had followed her
All the way.

Narrowest High Street in the world,
So says the
Guinness Book of Records.
Best beaches in the world,
So says the
Belize Tourist Board.
Slowest breakfast service in the world,
So says
At the Sunrise Restaurant
Of the turquoise blue Caribbean,
And of life.
Red bougainvillea
And a hummingbird at my table,
Scrambled eggs, bacon,
And fry jacks
Served by a waitress,
Oh, so slow,
Her T-shirt stained with
Cooking fat – I hope –
Acknowledges my gushing gratitude, with
You’re very welcome.

Ranguana Lodge,
My beach-side home,
Though no longer the
His tree of yesteryear,
Beside my cabin door,
Now just a half-split
Lethal yellowing
Has reached Belize,
And every coconut palm quivers,
Withers, and is left
A dead straight trunk.
The Rasta Man
Remains though,
Asleep beneath my veranda.
Thick mat of dreadlocks
And a sand-coated back,
Lies with another bleached-blonde tourist
Into believing that she is
The first,
The one and only.

Ants in my bed,
But be thankful,
Nothing larger.
A warm ocean breeze
Through dark-wood shutters
Keeps the mosquitoes
Well away,
No buzzes in the night.
Just gentle seaside rhythms
Of surf on shore
And sea on sand,
Drifting, drifting.
Sea on shore,
On shore,
On shore.

No Monkey River trip today,
No, man
Not enough people.
          That’s OK,
          I’ll try again tomorrow
Never will I ever see
The longed for
Monkey River.
The boats have left
For the reef
And the fishermen
Have all gone too
So I walk to the end of town
Where the sea
Meets the lagoon
And where Annie, sits
And stokes
The remnants
Of yesterday evening’s fire.
Young man,
You eat here tonight?
Good food.  Chicken.  Fish.  Fresh catch.
          Perhaps, I say
But remember I’d been warned
It is sometimes
Chargrilled rat.

At Tentacles Bar
I pull up a chair
And sip a cool, cold beer,
As an old man
Plays a game of Hoopla,
Looping a rubber ring
Over a distant rusty nail.
I accept the offer
Of a go
Not really wanting to.
This is a place
For doing nothing
And doing that

The sand is firm
Beneath my feet,
Walking in and out the water,
At each new lapping wave.
Away from the ridge, where
Dried black seaweed
Marks the highest tide
And sandflies promise
And a row of itchy bites.
A Canadian youth,
Full of fresh-faced missionary zeal
Greets me with a cheery Hi.
Building churches for the
Bringing God’s word to the
For him
I have no time
To stand and listen
And pass by with a
Cheery Hi.
Pelicans plunge-dive into blue
And overhead
Pterodactyl-like, the frigate bird,
A silhouette against the sun,
Soars in free
And easy motion.
I, on the sand
And read
And rue
No sun-screen lotion.

Of crocodiles
Around the lagoon,
But all I see
Are black vultures
And swarms of agitated flies
Rising in angry buzzing
From the evil-smelling
Rubbish dump.
The dust-dry back-road
To the airstrip,
The icehouse and the
Petrol pumps, state
More clearly than any handpainted sign
No Tourists Here,
And a mound of sand,
Red flowers, and
Bleached white wooden cross,
Speak of privacy.

I know my place
And it is Daisy’s
Ice Cream Parlour.
Strawberry soft-scoop and a
Seaweed shake
Made to a secret recipe.
Palm fronds rustle and sway
To a seductive soca beat
While the mid-day sun firmly depresses
The pause button on life.

Nothing left to run away from.

© The Mudskipper




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