Day 5 – Upon waking this morning, I instinctually touched the skin on my face and neck. What I found was far from pleasant. It was not human skin. I may have gone to bed as mostly human, but I woke a mix of plucked chicken and scaly lizard. I’m morphing into a jungle creature, but not in a cool way… in a wretched greyscale kinda way.
It took me a good long while before I dared look at myself in a mirror. There may have been some light blubbering in bed as I gathered my courage. Not because I’m a baby (ok, I admit it, I’m a weak, weak being), but because this thing has taken over my body so quickly and I don’t know what it is or how to make it stop. I also have a flare for the dramatic, clearly. In any case! The bathroom confirmed my fears. Around my entire neck (full 360 degrees) was a visible collar of speckled, dimply scarlet skin, not a smooth patch to be found. It was all chicken, all the time. This transformation into a chicken-lizard animorph didn’t stop at the neck. Overnight, the invasion had crept up over my chin, onto my ears, and even in around my eyes. My chest is a map of the world, sketched out in angry red continents of skin. Beyond being unsightly (and dreadfully poor timing with a wedding coming up), the itch was absolute torture, and once again, I just wanted to sit down on the toilet and blubber a little more. Oh, the glamor.
But it was time for my day of relaxation. Last night, I’d suspected that something like this might happen, and had asked that Myra, the hotel manager, take me into town in the morning to stop by a pharmacy. She had some errands to run, and was happy to help out. When she spotted me this morning (pun intended?), she suggested a change of plans. A clinic seemed, to her, like a more appropriate destination, and I vehemently agreed.
I ate a quick breakfast to the tune of the tiniest violins, then Myra, Ally (the cook), and I got in the van and drove a short 20 mins or so to the clinic. Myra dropped me off, made sure I’d be taken care of, and went off to take care of her errands. The whole visit took a total of 30 minutes. I was admitted, weighed, had my blood pressure checked, my temperature taken, saw the doctor, had my skin inspected (heat rash was the conclusion), prescription written, went to the onsite pharmacy, paid for my drugs and my visit, and that was that. In less than half an hour. The cost? $75 Belize dollars, or the equivalent of about $37 US. That included everything… the two types of steroids I was prescribed, the topical lotion, the visit, and I never once presented my health insurance card. (Btw—the doc wanted to give me an IV drip to get the ‘roids in my system right quick, but as bad as I want this dumb rash gone, I opted to go the oral medication route).
Visiting the doctor in Belize was most certainly not a part of the plan, but has proved to be an interesting little small stakes study in another country’s healthcare system. I will stop that observation right there, and just say that I’m just hoping I wake up a little more human and less amphibian tomorrow.
The rest of my day included a scenic drive through a Mennonite community, and a pit stop at their ice cream joint, which is apparently quite well-known in Belize. The ice cream was smooth, so fresh tasting, and positively delicious. I opted for Bubblegum flavor (because it’s my favorite), and sweet corn for a dose of that local flavor.
This was a weird, random odd day, and so shall be the rest of this post:
The Mennonite Community:
Myra served as my tour guide while she drove me and Ally through this Mennonite community known as Spanish Lookout. I learned that their area functions somewhat like a country within a country. They have their own laws, their own law enforcers, their own ways of life. Myra said the Mennonite fire fighters are actually better than the Belizean ones, and the Mennonites are often called on to handle the more intense brush fires. The roads in Spanish Lookout were noticeably smoother and better kept than even the good roads I’ve been on outside of the Lookout. This community fixes its own roads, and doesn’t bother to wait for the Belizean government to make repairs. There was not a pothole or bump in sight. The shift was quite dramatic. Spanish Lookout and the gov have a symbiotic relationship. The Mennonites provide them with cheap and quality dairy, poultry, cattle, as well as fruits and vegetables. They also are the go-to people for motorcycles, cars, and repairs to motor vehicles (this threw me for a loop, as I think I was conflating Amish and Mennonites… I think.) They are mostly of German descent, and I saw many a sunburnt face walking around the lush, extremely well kept area. It was a short but fascinating excursion.
Acquired Creole Slang:
falafut: (follow foot) poser, a person that copies others
hareas: (hard ears) someone stubborn who doesn’t listen the first time around, and often has to do things twice to get them right because of their “hard ears”
goso: go away
leggo: let’s go
Another interesting language thing? When I come down for dinner, I’m greeted with “good night!” The first time this happened I almost retreated, because I’m used to this being a polite goodbye. But no. Twas intended as a hello and welcome, like a “good morning!” Tonight, I even responded back good night… so I think that means I’m picking up the local lingo. Heh.
The Tragic Backstory of Rambo the Dog:
During part of the drive, I learned the sad tale of the sweet German Shepherd dog that is the mascot of the property. He was found on the grounds while the owners were scoping around for land on which to build the resort (the land that would become Amber Sunset). He meekly walked up to them and collapsed, weak from the worms that had infested his skin and body. After taking the poor guy to a vet, the owner’s son, Giovanni, nursed him to health by hand feeding him and dutifully administering the many necessary meds. Slowly, Rambo recovered, though they would come to find out he’d been severely abused by his previous owners. He has a permanently floppy ear due to the abuse, and still suffers from internal injuries that slow him down and make it hard for him to breathe. My heart… oh my heart. Rambo is the kindest, most polite dog. He is so gentle and loving, without being annoying. He is a little reminder that you never know a person (or a dog’s) history, and to lead with kindness and patience whenever possible.
The rest of this day of randomness and rest I spent hiding from the sun and reading my current book club read, S. Tomorrow I leave to meet up with friends. Hope they can still recognize me. (Aaaaaand, scene.)