Thursday, July 9, 2009

off to belize!

this time tomorrow i'll have sand between my toes! it's weird leaving everything...two whole weeks... love to all <3

...p.s. feed my fish while i'm gone?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


i’m freaking out about belize. a week ago i was getting slightly nervous, but that’s passed, now i’m just completely ready to be there. i read through frommer’s guide and looked up as many ambergris caye blogs as i could find. i decided it is basically imperative that i do the following things:

1. learn as much creole as i can. the guide i read includes common words and phrases in both creole and spanish, so i’ll practice before i get there. i love creole almost as much as i love yiddish.

2. try a cool seaweed shake

3. make friends with at least one nurse shark and manta ray

4. tour a manatee feeding site at one of the atolls, and swim with the manatees

5. visit the butterfly jungle

6. take a boat trip to both hol chan marine reserve and shark-ray alley and go snorkeling at both

7. go sea kayaking

8. buy handmade belizean artisan jewelry and other crafts

9. buy a book of local poetry, possibly some art prints and some music (i just downloaded an album called “umalali” by belize’s garifuna women’s is so good!!)

10. see a capybara! or a tapir. hopefully both. i’d also like to see a coati-mundi, gibnut, kinkajou, sea turtle, dolphin, boa constrictor, etc etc...and get as close to/take as many photographs as possible of these creatures.

11. take portraits of the locals

12. visit maya ruins

13. see some live music

14. eat as much fresh fruit as i can get my hands on

15. write poetry about my experiences, and keep a diary every day

today i called my credit/debit card companies and let them know i’d be out of the country so they don’t cancel my cards due to weird foreign charges. i found a dummy wallet to use just in case i get ripped off, although it sounds like most of the crime is on the mainland in belize city, not at all on ambergris caye where i’m staying. i took out $260 yesterday, just to start with...i’d rather not carry a crapload of cash, plus they have ATMs there. the exchange rate is tied to the US dollar at exactly $2BZ=$1US, most places accept US currency and visa cards, and it sounds like a lot of things are cheaper there than in the US.

other things i’m doing to get ready: i bought an international phone card with surprisingly reasonable rates (compared to what i was prepared for), set up a new blog to share my trip with friends and family (i named it “don’t stop belizin’,” because apparently i now share reed's sadomasochistic urge to get that song stuck in the heads of myself and my loved ones as often as possible). i washed out my scuba mask and snorkel, wrote my name on my flippers, and now i’m collecting friends’ addresses to send them postcards, starting to pack, doing laundry, putting camera equipment all in one place, and so on. thursday i can print my boarding passes.

i’m pissed because i can’t find my 2gb CF memory card. i haven’t seen it in like a year...i have two 4gb cards that i usually alternate between, but i know that when i first got my DSLR i started with a 2gb card. 8gb is probably enough for the trip if i’m really conscientious about going through and deleting photos i don’t like. (i’m trying to avoid bringing a laptop). also i’m bringing two point-and-shoot cameras, the underwater camera and another one that takes great video/sound, with about 5.5gb of memory between them.

i just got a new phone (a samsung impression...i got tired of typing texts on a flat screen) and it happens to be a world phone, so if i turned on international roaming i could use it there...but it's $3.50/min, plus 50 cents per text. fuck that! i don't want to be that easily available anyway. (another reason i'm not bringing a laptop).

on friday i leave boise at about 6am, fly to denver, then houston, then belize, and arrive at 4:45pm (with about two-hour layovers at both stops). the time zone in belize is the same as boise. once i reach belize international i hop on a crazy-small puddle jumper to get to ambergris caye, which takes about 20-30min.

once on the island i’ll taxi over to my cabana. there are no paved roads on the caye, and most people get around either by bike, on foot, or in golf carts. i read that the taxi drivers are nice but also insane, and no one follows traffic rules, so it should be a fun ride. hopefully the resort will provide a free bike, but otherwise i’ll have to rent one, because getting around by cruiser was one of the main things that attracted me to this particular spot.

two weeks in paradise. it will be glorious.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

the gardenhead knows my name

today i divided my time between the nature center and my garden. it was crazy hot out.

^broccoli is officially harvested! and it is absolutely delicious.

gourds, cucumbers, eggplants and peppers are starting! i think the pumpkins are too, but i would have to climb over the fence and wade through some prickly territory to confirm.

^first red tomato of the season! i wish i could like tomatoes. the idea of them is so appealing to me, so i try them periodically hoping my tastes have changed, but it’s always a let-down. i still love growing them and picking them though, and i love the way my hands smell after i touch the plant.

^the sunflowers are so close. i’ll be pissed if they bloom while i’m in belize.

i got an off-camera shoe cord for my speedlite, so now i have a lot more creative freedom with flash. i’m still experimenting but so far i like the results. the main reason i ordered it was because i found an online tutorial on how to make your own ring flash out of a couple tupperware containers and some aluminum foil...obviously it’s very high-tech, and it ends up looking like a paranoid schizophrenic’s government-satellite-deflecting device but i’d certainly rather have that than pay like $200 for an actual ring flash.
i used the cord to backlight this gourd flower:

^the inside of this flower looks like a theater stage set to look like hell. the little red spindlies are like pieces of thin cloth blown up by fans to represent an inferno at the front of the stage, and then the back (which you can’t see in this photo because of the shallow DOF) has red flecks on glowing orange/yellow that looks like a fiery backdrop.

Friday, July 3, 2009

unformen der kunst

the other day i was watching a photography documentary that featured karl blossfeldt, and it reminded me i wanted to order some books by a few photographers i like. so i ordered blossfeldt’s “art forms in nature,” along with “dali’s moustache” (halsman/dali), “arbus, model, stromholm,” and an adorable book called “fish face” by david doubilet. i’m waiting to order a couple more by henri cartier-bresson and man ray.

blossfeldt’s photos inspired me to drag out my 100mm f/2.8 macro for an afternoon at the nature center. this lens is heavy, a little difficult to use properly, and it was pretty expensive so i’m somewhat afraid of it. i don’t take it out that much, but when i do i always love the results. more than any other lens this one makes me search for textures.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

there are peas that wrap around your knees

the garden this year is everything is healthy. even the things i thought wouldn't grow are growing.

^mutant poppy!

^this is the land i cleared between the fence and the stream. viewing from the deck from left to right we have gourds, mint, pumpkins, sunflower (lots of these mixed in all over), lavender, oregano, eggplant, a huge patch of cucumber, string beans, sage, yellow pear tomato, broccoli, sweet banana peppers, and some raspberry bushes that snuck over from the neighbor's yard.

i planted birdhouse gourds and dipper gourds, and i'm not sure which one this is, but it makes gorgeous flowers. they only bloom for a few hours before crumpling up and turning brown. luckily it blooms a lot though. the other gourd just makes the usual yellow squash-looking flowers.

the sugarsnap pea plants have been producing a ton. i planted two different varieties and one kind only grew about 10" tall, produced ultra-sweet little peas early on and then died off right away. the other kind grew about six feet tall and flowered later on, but now they're still very healthy and high-yeild.

most of the stuff in the raised bed garden is doing well, although the birds think it's a great place to feast on leafy veggies so i never got to eat any of the lettuce that grew in there. i have peas, broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet bell peppers, dill, parsley, and eggplant growing there now.

i'm happy the broccoli is growing so well...this is one of those things i wasn't sure would work out.

^my little pumpkin patch. this photo is from a few weeks ago so they're bigger now, and they just started flowering. i also planted a couple more little seedlings.

four out of six of our tomato plants have green tomatoes on them and are growing huge and thriving. the other two are volunteers, they must have planted themselves from seeds that dropped on the ground last year, so they're much littler and just starting to flower. i hope they all make room for each other. i caged or tied up most of them this year, which i didn't bother to do last year, so that will help.