Remember When …

Remember When …

Photo by David Trawin
Photo by David Trawin

I remember growing up in a small town in rural Michigan.

I remember walking down town and having people say “hi” to me on the sidewalk.  I remember going in to the 5 and 10 store and looking around at the stuff for sale and talking with the store owner about business, the weather etc…  I remember when there were two small grocery stores in town and just one gas station, no McDonald’s, and buying fresh corn or watermelons from the pick-up truck that would park at the corner.

I remember when the whole town would get together for the local Summer festival, or concerts in the park, or for 4th of July fireworks. I remember when the counties 4-H fair was a big deal and it seemed like the whole county would come out to be there. We all joked, hug out and had a great time.

I remember friends, and neighbors stopping by our house just to say “Hi”, or because they had to many tomatoes, and wanted to share.  I remember going over to friends houses for dinner, to play cards, or just to talk, sometimes for hours.  I remember helping friends with their gardens, their car, their tractor, their horse, their farm, getting wood cut for the winter, picking apples, pears, or berries,  and having their help in return.    I remember salespeople stopping by our home to sell encyclopedias or Watkins, and getting a cold glass of water and a polite “no thank you”.

I remember waking up to rosters crowing, gathering eggs and milking before school.  I remember spending my Summers days in the woods, fishing, in the fields, or just lazing around.  If I wanted something, I had to figure out how to make it, using what materials and tools I had.   I remember making fake guns out of sticks, or cut out with the jig saw in the garage, and whittling sticks into birds, and fish.

Do you remember when…?


Now it’s not the same

I walked those same sidewalks a few years ago, and not one person said “Hi” as we passed, and only about half even responded when I said “Hi”.  I went into some small shops on main street, but they are now upscale boutiques, and no one had time to chit-chat.  There are now four gas stations, one huge grocery store, a McDonald’s, Subway, and strip-mall.

I went to see the fireworks for 4th of July and even though there were hundreds of us with blankets laid out on the grass to watch the fireworks,  the only interaction between people you didn’t know was, “sorry for throwing my blanket right over yours” or an “excuse me” as they tried to make room for their family on the grass.

I still could get fresh corn at the corner, but what used to be field is now a parking lot.

I called up a friend a while ago and said we would be in the area and I would like to stop by.     I got, “Lets set a date & time”,  “I’ll set a reminder”, and “Be sure to call before you come, in case we are running late, so we don’t miss you”

When did we get so busy? And when did we get so wrapped up in our own little world that we can’t say “Hi”, or talk about the weather?

Things are different in Corozal Belize

I woke up this morning to rosters crowing, birds chirping, dogs barking, and my daughter saying “wake up daddy”.

Around 8 a man came bicycling down the street yelling out that he had produce to sell.  Soon after the neighbors children came by wearing their school uniforms, on the way to school.  They waived and said “Hi”, we told them to “Have a good day in school”.

This morning my daughter and I walked the neighbors dog and we were greeted by “Buenos Dias” twice and “Good Morning” once,  out of about six people to pass by,  of the others all but one responded back to my “Good Morning”.  So that is one out of six that acted like they didn’t have time for me.

About nine one of our friends dropped by to talk, she was on here way back home from walking her children to school, our home is not on her way back home but a couple blocks out of her way.  So she had to make the extra effort to stop by, and she has at least a couple of times a week.

Right now my wife and daughter are visiting our neighbor at her home, because my daughter asked “Emmy home?”.  My wife thought nothing of taking my daughter for a walk to the neighbors to see if they were home, just talk for a while, let my daughter play with their daughter and with the new puppy they have.  They just came back home and no surprise they eat lunch while they were over there.  They will often stop by our home and talk or play cards with us during the day.

Since we have been in Belize we have been invited to five dinners, four lunches, three tailgate parties, two barbecues, two weddings, & one funeral.   In five months, we have also had many card games, visits to talk, visits because they had extra food, or fruit,  and a few visits to ask for our help, to watch a dog, or child.

Of my now five neighbors,  I know all of their names, and If I needed help in an emergency, like a ride to the hospital, etc… I know I could count on them to do what they could to help.

Do you know your neighbors names?

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corozal literacy parade 5It’s not just our neighborhood

In the park when I take my daughter to play,  I am often spoken to.  Starting conversations about children, the park, the area, weather, where I am from, etc…

My wife, daughter and I usually like to take a walk every couple of days to the market.  When I recently twisted my ankle and my wife went by her self ,she was asked where I was, told to say “Hi” to me and that they hope my ankle feels better soon.  They also gave my wife some free grapes to give to my daughter.

When is the last time they missed you at the local store?

When they had the local school parade it seemed like the whole town came out to support the kids.  When I went to watch the parade with my daughter, we were greeted quite a few times.  A family I had never met before even made room on the wall they were standing on, so we could have a better view.

At the carnival parade people around me made sure I had room and that they weren’t in my way, since I was taking pictures.  They also chatted with me while waiting for the parade and during the parade.

When Independence day was celebrated on September 21st we were stopped on our way home from the market three times with offers for us to join their tailgate party.    We were only able to take one of the offers, and we did have a good time until the power went out (another story).

Changes in us

It has taken us a while to get used to this new level of social interaction, and friendliness,  honestly at first it just felt uncomfortable, we weren’t used to people just stopping by.  We were worried about how the house looked,  if we had clean towels in the bathroom, if the grass was mowed, etc…

Then I remembered how things used to be way back when I was growing up, and it kind of felt, well how things should be.

We realized that, people stop by to see us, not our house, yard, clothes, & people around here just seem to accept us for who we are, “Gringos” yes, but people just the same.

Now we kind of go with the flow and,  you can drop by my home anytime,  If we’re home we’ll make the time for you.  If we’re not home then, leave a note and we’ll drop by your home sometime, or you can come over another time, or even have a seat on our front porch, or lay in the hammock, we will be home shortly, and we can talk then.

Makes me wonder

What happened to us in the US in the last 30 years?

Why don’t we seem to interact in person anymore?

Will Belize, be like America in the future?


I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out.