Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Impressions of the Western Caribbean

     I came away from my recent trip to the Western Caribbean with a few impressions I would like to share with you.
     Of the three places I visited - Roatan, Belize and Cozumel - I got the best vibes from Cozumel. It is too bad the big ships have so few places to dock on the islands; like the railroads always go through the seediest places in town, the ships always dock in a not too nice area.
     Roatan and Belize have managed to “beautify” the area directly adjacent to their docks, but unfortunately, once you leave that immediate vicinity you have to go through the slums to get anywhere.
     On Roatan, some really nice houses have been built, mostly by immigrants. High points both figuratively and literally, these spacious and luxurious homes have a breathtakingly beautiful 360 degree view of the entire island.
     I also visited a tropical beach: a showplace complete with the obligatory fine white sand, palm trees, an outdoor bar, and of course, a luxurious hotel. I could envision spending some time there.
     Belize was a disappointment for me. Although the real estate ads assure me that there are some very nice homes available, I didn't see any.
     After an hour and a half bus ride through what I can only describe as jungle, the Mayan ruins were magnificent. But we returned through Belize City, which for poverty, garbage in the streets and barely inhabitable housing, can match any of the slums in our big cities.
     In both Roatan and Belize I would suggest to the powers that be that they make an effort to show tourists some of the nicer aspects of the area.
     Cozumel has built up an attractive and prosperous area along its entire seawall. In addition, there is Mexico Park, which has an excellent display of Mexican art. The bright colors and extremely fine detail on some of the exhibits are attractive and cheerful. In addition there are many beautiful models of Mayan ruins, cathedrals and other public buildings. Add an extremely knowledgeable docent to the mix, and it makes a very interesting day.
     For pictures of all these places, log on to http://cruisethewesterncaribbean.shutterfly.com and click on more... > Slide Show.
     I learned two things on this trip:
     (1) A GPS is worth its weight in gold. When one is barreling through a city at 65 miles per hour, it is great to have a voice tell you, “In .9 mile take exit 42 to the left, then bear right.” You don't get that from a map.
     (2) Never again will I drive all day on four successive days. My legs can't take it.
******
     A comet is captured by the gravity of the sun; subsequently it falls into a path which will take it from deep space to within a few million miles of the earth. Long before it is visible to the unaided eye, a modern astronomer spots it through a telescope. Immediately he informs NASA, which has been waiting for just such an opportunity. After a few months of feverish activity, a space probe, which will pass through the tail of the comet and return information regarding its chemical composition to earth, is launched. The probe is successful. Because of the current civilization’s belief in the importance of science, a great deal of information regarding the early makeup of the universe is now widely available.
     In the meantime, when the comet becomes visible to the human eye, it is spotted by a primitive tribesman deep in the jungles of West Papua. The tribe’s Shaman declares that this is a sign that the gods are angry. The tribe immediately begins a series of activities designed to appease them: huge bonfires, dances and other rites. Since the omen eventually passes from sight without incident, the tribe believes its appeasement efforts have been successful.
     Concepts for Understanding the Spirit – The Spirit Runs Through It

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