That I was traveling and sick to boot should sufficiently explain my failure to put virtual pen to paper. Indeed I was "On the Road to Belize" but Bob Hope had left the building and a straight man without a sidekick just isn't near as funny overall. Further adding injury to insult, within a few days I was reminded that no good deed goes unpunished and suffered the indignities of a body-breaking, mind-fogging, flu-like attack.
Near a week post-deadline I was reminded, once again, via email, it was time to write but the gentle exhortation failed to motivate. I was in an illness-induced funk with my mind as cloudy as my sinuses were clogged. The blog had to wait for it wouldn't be fair to my readers to post simply for the sake of posting. No wine before its time, yes?
Which sets me up nicely for failure for a two-week delay in writing should produce something worthy of an extended interlude, yes? No.
Through the fog of flu a few vignettes float and flitter in my mind's eye as a record of my travels and travails. These I offer to you with but a modicum of editing for decorum's sake...
Belikin sucks. It really does. Anyone who says it's a great beer is lying or suffering from dysgeusia. Yes, at one time I even said it was an OK lager. Fact is, I was lying through my teeth and I admit it. Mea Culpa. Mea Ultima Culpa. It's a freaking' monopoly! It's more bottle than beer and the only thing that saves it is its alcohol content and the fact that it is a superb colon cleanser. Good as it is for it's cleansing abilities, the only reason I wouldn't recommend it for colonoscopy patients is that lemon-lime crap cleaner they give you at clinic the day before isn't too bad with sufficient vodka. Belikin and vodka would be an abuse upon vodka. I'm reminded nostagically of the old Schaefer song..."Belikin...is the...one beer to have when you're having a beer in Belize!"
Social medicine sucks. Oh sure, it's free. But like advice, you get what you pay for. Oh, except Radiology...billed separately and...where no English is spoken because the tech was from Guatemala and the assistant was from Mexico. Seriously. Recommended for CatScan...but the machine was down and Merida (dare we say Mexico?) was closest. Phlebotomist...they can't even spell the word but they can poke an arm just like an orange. What the hell, you can't see veins in an orange either. Vacutainer...you know where they stick a needle in the vein then plug a test tube like thing to draw blood? The test tube has a built in vacuum held in place by the plastic top which, by the way, is coded based on the type of preservative or other chemical in the tube. I'm sure anyone who has been in the ER in a 1st world place has heard "Tiger top, red top, purple top, etc." Come on, it was invented in 1949!!! Well, at Karl's they take the tops off and fill from a needle aspiration. They don't seem to care that the lab results come back with no readings because the blood was improperly collected. At least my cholesterol was good. Always important in an emergency to know one's cholesterol levels.
Tropic Air is great. OK, they could improve their routing a little. After all, going from Belize City Municipal to Corozal requires stops at Caulker (sometimes) and San Pedro first (hey, last time I had to stop at Caye Chapel too!) and somehow there was time to transfer my bag but not my body to a connecting flight, but otherwise, a truly well-oiled machine. The rubber bands are tightly wound and they hold fairly well to schedule. Kudos.
The roads in Belize are horrible. The rains...the inundation...the wet apocalypse of November 2013 will be remembered until the next record-setting period but these rains were, by all accounts, the worst since 1955/56. The roads suffered with potholes appearing everywhere. Potholes inside of potholes. Reports of kangaroo sightings and lost VW's in potholes. Chetumal had problems too. Fairness demands honesty. The potholes in Chetumal have been fixed. The potholes in Belize have been named. Big difference.
Hopkins. May God forgive me but I still like Hopkins.
Belize City. Speak softly and carry a big stick. Seriously messed up place with gangs operating in plain sight. Kudos to the current mayor trying to cleanup the streets by paving them...going from asphalt to cement in many places. Sadly. he's getting screwed by the contractors and it will be evident in short order. Hopefully the faults won't be discovered until he's safely esconsed in some ministerial position. Poor guy...his predecessor managed to build big houses in Belize and Miami during her tenure. He, not so much. China Syndrome: Sum Ting Wong.
I remarked to friends, as we were driving down Insurgentes the main drag running west/east through northern Chetumal, how good it felt to be back in Mexico. They commented it was the feeling of "coming home" because this is my home...there where I hang my hat. But no, that wasn't it. Yes, it's where I live but the concept of "home" as most people understand it is foreign to me. I have no "home", just places where I live. But I feel...different...in Mexico. I feel as though I belong despite the language, despite the culture, despite the time...I feel good in Mexico with all the emphasis on "feel". I never quite felt comfortable in Belize. I'm no less on the "qui vive" when I walk about but here it's an exercise. There is was de rigueur.
I was with my friend Gerry today and we had a cup of coffee and a sandwich at Cafeteria Milgaros. It was called a "Zofritas", essentially a local version of the Cuban pressed sandwich. Tasty. But for some reason it gave me a hankering for a meatball sub. Which is odd because that's not something I would normally order. Wifey likes them, me, not so much. That written, I made some meatballs. I made some small ones for spaghetti and I made some large ones for meatball subs. All will be frozen until their time. Putting them away, I see it's time to buy a chest freezer...
Bread crumbs. I make my own. In this case since I use the oven to finish the meatballs, I simply toasted some bread slices then finished them in the oven. Then I put them through the food processor. Perfect dry bread crumbs.
1 very large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
3 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmigiano
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Crushed red pepper to taste (big pinch for me)
Double pinch cumin
1 TBS Mediteranean spice mix
1/2 or so cup water
Saute onions in olive oil, season with salt and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
Combine the meats, eggs, Parmigiano, parsley and bread crumbs and mix by hand. Add the onion mixture, more salt, and water. The mixture should be quite wet. Test by making small burger and frying. If flavor is weak, add salt.
Shape meatballs into golf ball size rounds for spaghetti, larger for meatball subs. Brown on all sides then finish in oven. Use or freeze.