Published: February 7th 2008February 6th 2008
Belize elections are tomorrow. When I first arrived, I started hearing talk of upcoming elections, but the date had not been set. Somehow Feb 7th was chosen, so that in combination with Carnival has made for an interesting week!
There are 2 parties. The UDP (United Democratic Party) and the PUP (Peoples United Party). The PUP is currently in power with Prime Minister Said Musa (palestinean descent, but born in Belize). There have been many parades throughout town lately as well as blue and red banners and vandalizing for the 2 parties promotional materials. Wikipedia has a good summary of the political system here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Belize
Most people have the day off tomorrow to vote. This requires the entire day off for most people because I assume polls are less organized here than in the states, and you have to vote where you are registered. You cannot register at the polls the day off. It must be done a bit of time in advance. So tomorrow, many Belizeans in San Pedro will be taking a boat or a plane to Belize city (or wherever they are registered) to vote. Likewise, many on the mainland will be taking a trip here to vote because they are registered here. And all children are out of school so that the teachers can vote. In fact the children have 3 days off this week. One for Ash Wed, one for elections and one for Carnival.
In preparation for elections, I have been told to just be a little more careful if it looks like any commotion may be occuring. There may be some small riots i've been told. When I asked my friend who told me this what a small riot was, I was told fights or fires and vandilism. Now I am not saying this is connected to what I have been warned of, but this morning there was a very big fire in the San Pedro version of a department store. Black smoke billowed through town and the wind was very strong which made it easy for the fire to grow and I could see big tall flames just by standing at the spa here. The firefighters (I only actually saw 2 of them) had a hose running from the sea to the fire and took them many hours to put out, but I believe it is all out now. There have been many rumors around town as to what happened, and many people find it suspicious it happened right at elections.
Also, it is Carnival here. Which from what I can tell, means that everyone paints eachother from head to toe. Local business's with signs around town covered them in plastic to protect from being painted. Even with that prep work there is still a lot of paint in the streets and on walls throughout town. The children really get into it. For 2 days I say kids completely covered running through the streets with paint cans and brushes. Luckily I avoided it and didn't get a drop on me! Here's another link to learn more about Carnival. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival
Another change occuring right now is that the winds have really picked up! For a couple weeks it was fairly calm and the tide was very low. This meant that you could see the see grass sticking up out of the water, and the sand bars that are usually below water were either level with, or above water. Now the wind has come in and the tide has risen so that water is splashing up over the sea wall in spots. This makes my bike rides to town and back twice as hard, but who's complaining? I ride to work on the beach everyday! With the winds, it seems everyone is getting sinus issues. The temp hasn't dropped, but just this shift has caused our immune systems to struggle a little bit. People are more irritated as well, which may not be a good thing along with the other events of the week.
Still loving getting to know this beautiful culture and all it has to offer! I am blessed to be able to have this amazing experience and all I am learning.