Welcome to CHill-i-pedia! There are all sorts of anecdotal things that I observe that don’t fit into any particular story, but which interest me. I thought of calling it ‘Odds and Sods’, ‘Anecdotes’, ‘Bits and pieces’ – but none of these felt right. It occurred to me that it is like Wikipedia – disjointed pieces of information that do not have to hang together! I will do a CHill-i-pedia every now and again.

Where I know it, I have added the Creole pronunciation, and the stress is almost always on the last syllable, with a rising intonation.
Most words have an ‘a’ as in an English RP ‘bad’ or ‘mad’ as the predominant vowel and mouth shape. Thus ‘dollar’ becomes ‘dahLAH’.
The voiced (as in ‘the’) and voiceless (as in ‘thief’) forms of ‘th’ are pronounced differently. The voiced ‘th’ is spoken as it might be in London, as a ‘v’ sound. So ‘the’ is written as ‘veh’ and sounds like the first bit of ‘ve -g’ with a breathy ending… ‘veH’. The voiceless form is spoken as in parts of Ireland, as ‘t’ – so, ‘tief’ or ‘tanks’.

Scorpions (SeecorpiYAN)
I have been reading up a bit after our introduction in Crooked Tree. They are arachnids, like spiders, with eight legs.

Our Trinidadian friend  Charleen, who we have been giving stories to about eating mangoes just to make her homesick in wet old Bristol, advised us that if stung, you need to dilute the poison as fast as possible, using juice, pee, spit – whatever may be handy.

The guide books assure us that although painful, scorpions in Belize are not fatal. The fatter the tail and thinner the claws means the more deadly.

Scorpions hold their prey with their claws, and puncture the prey with the sting on the end of the tail, spraying the poison into the wound at the same time. Ingenious.

A work colleague told us that August and September tend to be the mating season here, so scorpions are more active. She said that if there is one, there are probably two! And that she never puts on a pair of trousers without shaking them first, or checking her shoes. It is second nature, she just does it automatically. I was surprised, as I get the feeling that there are not many within the city – maybe I am being naive!

Hammocks (HamMAK)
I tried sleeping in the hammock we slung up for our friends to sleep in for our last night in Crooked Tree. It was surprisingly comfortable. I discovered that just as having the houses on stilts allows air to circulate all around them, and keeps them cooler; equally being in a hammock allows the air all around your body. I was lying with the front and back doors shut only with an insect screen, so there was a through draft. I had placed a sheet into the hammock to lie on and protect me from the strings a little, and wrapped it around me like a shroud. It was almost cold!

I started in a more upright position, bum and legs in the base, but when I awoke I realised I had found the optimum position in my sleep! My head and back were level in the base of the hammock, with my legs slightly higher (very good for both the circulation and the back).

So this ancient method of sleeping in the Tropics takes up little space, keeps you out of reach of creepy-crawlies, keeps one cool, looks after the back, and keeps the heart pumping well. Clever!

Air Con and the outside
A man remarked today, as he moved out of his air conditioned office for 5 minutes and returned with sweat dripping down his face, that you go outside to defrost!

I have lost hair and gained heather. It is so springy grouse could nest in it and not be spotted! Provided they kept quiet of course…The crisping and baking of the relentless sun – despite sun hats; the coarseness of the sea; the constant sweat: all has conspired to create a thatch thick enough and coarse enough to re-roof Aunty Lynda’s thatched cottage! My hair was cropped before I left Edinburgh by my much loved hairdresser, and she reassured me it could probably last the full 6 months. I wish! I have gone 3 ½ months, but it is now dire! Not because of the shape, but because it is nearly standing on end, having been fried and burnt to a crisp. I am hunting for a hair dresser! Or maybe hand my scissors to Conor!!!!

Lloyds Bank
Shortly after I arrived, I was asking someone where something could be found, and she said “Lloyds Bank”. “Oh”, says I, “Do you have a Lloyds Bank here? I didn’t realise.” She looked at me very strangely.

A week or two later, I realised that she was referring to a place, not a bank: Lord’s Bank!  Pronounced ‘Lards’……