Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, February 27, 2006

More Belize Photos!


This fish looks small, but it's actually 10 feet long.

On top of a pile of discarded conch shells.

Conchs don't look like this in nature. I promise.

Downtown Caye Caulker.

Dogs run wild on the island.

Some locals gave us this jeep.

Pits, doing what he does best: beating big barracuda senseless.

Brain freeze on the beach.

On Wish Willy's hammock.

The wall inside Wish Willy's "restaurant".

Not a very tough name for a sailboat, if you ask me.

Belikin Beer: a ubiquitous international lager.

A lot of diving outfits offer trips to the Blue Hole.

This is John, the guy I fished with for a few days. We fished together for 5 to 8 hours at a time and exchanged maybe 20 words. He's been coming to Caye Caulker almost every year since the mid 1980s---each trip for about two months. The boat owner says he goes out fishing every day he's in town. And what does John do for a living? He's a carpenter and owns a portable saw mill in North Carolina. No joke.

Most popular spot for locals: the basketball court.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Photos from Belize!


Clouds, sky, water ... Yea.

There are a hundred of these boats on the beach.

Fishing the reefs and mangroves off the Cayes of Belize.

The is the First Mate on the boat, "Pits". His job was to keep all the hooks baited and to bludgeon the living shit out of the fish that we caught. Usually, the barracuda would get close, and just give up after seeing Pits on the boat.

One of the wily barracudas we caught.

This was the barracuda that I ate as a second dinner.

You won't see me too much happier than this.

A gar will fuck you up.

Some conch fishermen we met out fishing.

This was the popular bar next to "the split", a place where a hurricane chopped the island in two back in the 80s.

Katie found this giant sea slug while snorkeling next to the Lazy Lizard Bar and Grill.

Just hanging out on an abandoned jeep.

Katie, Barb and Darrel. Darrel is Belizean and showed us around the island for the last half of the trip.

There are so many diving outfits on the island.

Toward the end of the trip, we went to the dump to look for saltwater crocodiles. Didn't spot any, but I made sure I had a club anyway.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jesus, I just accidentally hooked a seagull.

So we were out trolling for barracuda in light blue water when a seagull swooped down, grabbed my sardine-baited hook and flew skyward. I kept trying to shake it off the line until I realized the treble hook was caught on its beak. Its only instinct was to keep flying higher and higher, so picture me, squinting to look into the blinding Caribbean sun, pole bent upward, reeling downward as fast as I can.

We brought it into the boat, covered its eyes with a t-shirt, and proceeded to dislodge the hook from the beak. There was no blood, and it definitely wasn't injured, but it was stressed as hell and squawking like mad. We got the hook out, tossed him overboard and he flew away a more cautious bird.

That was the ending of my last day of cranking in big barracuda and gar near the mangroves and reefs off Belize's Cayes.

Man, life is hard here. I can't wait to get back to DC where the weather is nice and the people are laid back. That'll be nice ...

Remind me why I live in DC again?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Rule of Thumb for Hot Sauce: Simple Labels Rule

Every restaurant in Caye Caulker has the same hot sauce: Marie Sharp's Belize-made habanero sauce. The label is simple. The flavor is complex. And it's just the right amount of heat for the tongue. But most importantly, there are no references or pictures of shitting fire---just the brand name and some pictures of peppers so you know what's inside. It could be the best I've ever had. Honestly, I cannot think of a single food that it wouldn't taste wonderful on.

There are a million hot sauces out there, but most are boring, too hot, too flavorful, or flavorless. So to make up for what's lacking, many brands use flashy labels with references to sex, or to your having ring sting hours after consuming it. Don't purchase that crap. Stick to the sauce on the back of the shelf with the boring label and you'll be set.

That rule has never let me down.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Manatee Rides, Conch Ceviche, and Reggae

Pictures on Sunday ...

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm in Belize, my bitches.

I love the smell of burning trash in the Third World. That really gets me going.

We jetted out of Belize City to Caye Caulker just minutes after landing. Took an eight-seater airplane---the kind that bounces when it lands on the airstrip. I could see the white smoke rising above the mangroves and the smell was unmistakable. I was finally in the Global South. Thank christ.

We're staying at a B & B, run by a couple from Austin, Texas. She wears long, wrap-around skirts and he has a gray pony tail. Just the kind of people I'd expected. They said they'd been sailing around the Carribean and ended up on Caye Caulker. They bought some land and set up shop, and here they are 10 years later.

Met up with Barb shortly after arriving. Went straight to the beach cabana and ordered the sweetest rum I've ever tasted. It's nothing like Bacardi or any rum in the States. Belizean rum is simply alcoholic Aunt Jemima. In fact, it's so sweet that the store-bought bottles are sticky.

There are no paved roads on this island. The entire developed part of it can be seen in less than 30 minutes. The three "roads" are called Front, Middle, and Back Street. But you wouldn't know that, because there are no street signs. There are only two automobiles that I've seen; everyone walks, bikes, or takes golf cart taxis.

Yesterday, I went sailing with some dude I had met a few minutes earlier. Capsized the boat twice in 10 knot winds. Next time, instead of saying "ready to jibe?!", I'm just going to say, "ready to capsize?!" We were able to tow the guy's wife around in a kayak from the sailboat somehow.

Today I went on a five hour barracuda fishing trip. I caught one that was 3.5 feet long. The other guy on the boat hauled in a 4.5 foot monster barracuda. They cut up the fish on the beach and we're going to eat it at a local restaurant in an hour.

Last night we ate at a shack called Wish Willy's. And by "shack", I am not exaggerating. Folks, I could have built this building. The cook just shouted at us to grab whatever beer we wanted from the coolers---no fridge---and take a seat. We hung out getting drunk and eating seafood 'til late, bullshiting with Belgians and some folks from Cleveland Park DC (!) that we met.

More later ...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snorting Saltwater From a Bowl

If you aren't used to snorting shit up your nose, inhaling saltwater through your nostrils may sound insane. It's not. When you're stricken with a hellish sinus infection or head cold, nothing cures it as quickly as the burning feeling of submerging your nose in a bowl and sucking brine 'til it gushes down through the back of your mouth.

Still interested? Ok, here's the procedure. Take a bowl filled with tap water. Don't be conservative with the salt; one tablespoon will NOT do. Pour salt from the Morton's container 'til the girl with the umbrella gets embarrassed. Then brace yourself for what's to come. The trick is to do it quick; breathe out, close your mouth, dunk your nose completely under the water and breathe in through your mucus-filled nostrils without thinking twice. Oh, make sure you have a paper towel handy. When you come up for air you'll feel like a boogie-boarding kid at the beach after a massive wave toppled him tits-over-asshole, and you'll need to clean yourself up. The inside of your head should be on fire, but don't worry---the pain will subside in a few minutes and your head cold or sinus infection will be gone in 12 hours.

I spoke to my dad about snorting saltwater, and he told me that's the only thing my grandmother ever did to get rid of a cold.

I guess it runs in the family.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Leaving for Belize in less than 15 hours!!

That's right, you office slaves. I'll be on Caye Caulker tomorrow and staying for over a week! I offer you a few predictions as to why Caye Caulker will not suck as much as Washington, DC:

To be sure those predictions are correct, watch this space in the coming week if you want to re-confirm how much the work-a-day world of DC blows.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Guide to Parking in my Neighborhood

Once, some friends and I were hanging out on my front stoop and counted how long any parking space would stay empty. No one counted past ten seconds. My neighborhood has the worst parking situation in the District, so if you decide to visit me, here's a short guide on parking here.
Disclaimer: Normally, a blog post about parking is as lame as a blog post about writer's block. However, I am exempt from that since the parking situation in my neighborhood is so unique.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Two things my wife and I would rather do than be forced to watch the movie, "Rent".

As you can see, the conversation at tonight's Valentine's Day dinner was very romantic.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hall of Douchebags, here comes Trotsky Loves Mao

I spent about five hours on Sunday playing guitar with some friends until my fingers bled. No, seriously, I haven't played guitar that hard in a long time and my fingertips still ache.

Meet Trotsky Loves Mao, our three piece that should be playing at a shithole near you soon (read: Velvet Lounge). No, just kidding. Our only purpose is to have our photograph show up in the Hall of Douchebags some day. Now that's a bigger accomplishment than getting a gig at Velvet Douchelounge. At least if our picture gets posted to The Hall, we'll be seen by more than just a bartender and whatever friends we managed to drag out on a Tuesday night. Now all we need is a brick wall or some railroad tracks to pose in front of ...

(Click to enlarge)

The we-love-each-other pose.

Come on, Faye, we can't be cool if someone is drunkenly smiling.

That's it, Derek. That's the face we want.

Hall of Douchebags, here we come!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I don't care what anyone thinks---Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream is awesome.

Simply put, this album changed the way I play guitar. Before Siamese Dream, I never knew that you could play guitar with octave notes alone. And feedback. What guitar nerd who learned to play in the 1990s can say they knew how to make their guitar scream without this album?

And I'd like to call bullshit on all those who think Gish is a better album than Siamese Dream. It's not. People who said Gish was better just said that because they wanted to prove that they liked Smashing Pumpkins before anyone else did. Nonsense.

I've zoned out a million times to Siamese Dream. I'd be a different person without that album. Hell, I even play Cherub Rock on my acoustic. That's the true proof of whether a riff or a song is high quality. Take Zepplin. You're not a fan until you've played Black Dog on your hollow body.

I used to be friends with this asshole frat guy in college who played bass. He would make me be completely silent while listening to Silverfuck in his dormroom. We'd sit through the entire quiet part. Then, when the wall of sound rang home nine minutes into the song---even though I had almost nothing in common with him otherwise---we had a unique friend moment. Just a moment. (Let the gay jokes commence.)

Anyway, if you had the misfortune of not growing up with Siamese Dream, I suggest you purchase it now on Amazon. It'll change the way you play guitar, at least.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The "this-holiday-is-too-commercial" cliché has got to fucking stop. Now.

And that's a true whiner's whine. I can't write the letters "STFU" large enough when I hear people's drivel about this one. A few thoughts:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm gettin' the F out.

DC is killing me. Thank all the powers in heaven and earth that I'm going to a tiny island off Belize in less than two weeks. Every year at this time, I push so close to the edge that I can't believe I've survived this far into 2006.

In less than 2 weeks ... two weeks ... God, help me not to end it all before I catch the plane.


PS: Sorry for all the god comments. But you know what they say: there are no atheists in a fox hole. And a hole called the Districk of Columbia is where I be.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No Student Activities Since 2002

Occasionally, I take a visit to the website of the ESL school where I used to work (ESL= English as a Second Language). Today, I found that the latest pictures of student activities were from 2002. (Link). This depressed me.

Imagine someone from another country looking to take short term ESL classes in the United States. They're looking for a fun school with people from all over the world. So they go to the school's website and the pictures on the "Student Activities" page are four years old. No thanks.

For me, an out-dated website is a deal breaker. Rather than keep a web page that hasn't been updated in four years, my old ESL school should have a Student Activities page that says, "WE COULD GIVE A FLYING FUCK." It would probably attract about as many students as admiting that they haven't had an activity for their students in four years.

On another note, finding out that a company where I used to work is still a dog-and-pony-show makes me feel better about my current situation, and helps me stop romanticizing the past so much.

So for my sake, thank god for no student activities since 2002.

Quote of the Week

"The babyish rumor-fueled tantrums that erupt all the time, especially in the Islamic world, show yet again that faith belongs to the spoiled and selfish childhood of our species." - Chris Hitchens


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Rainy, windy and cold? Fuggit. Let's go sailing.

I couldn't wait until spring so I gathered two of my hardiest (or stupidest, depending on how you look at it) mates together for an early February sailing trip ... in the rain.


It was coming down pretty hard right here.

Thank god for cigarettes and Henri Lloyd jackets to keep us sane.

Coming up on a duck blind in the Chesapeake.

A key piece of equipment.

Climbing back from the bow.

The thousand yard stare.

Drinking at the Old Stein afterward makes the whole experience worthwhile.

Update as of 2/18/06: Greg was so pissed he couldn't come, that he Photoshopped himself into the trip. I appreciate that. Cheers, Greg. See you on the Segel in May. But leave your hat at home.

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