Since I was 8, my father and I would eat at this chinese restaraunt in Korea Town. The owner is the same, and the lines in his face and wrinkles are much more pronounced now that I'm older. He still remembers me.
We always order the same food. I get, what's in literal translation, "Dry Flavored Shrimp." It's an ugly literal translation. I would call it Dry and Sweet Prawns. Father always gets either spicy noodle soup or bean paste soup. I always like the seafood versions.
This is the best dry shrimp I've had. It looks like they made it extra crispy. MMMMMM. We talk. I tell him the news.
"Father, I'm going to Belize."
"Where?" he asks.
"It's in Central America."
"Hmmm, how long are you going?"
"What?! Have you lost your mind?!!!"
That's how that conversation went.
Home in Baldwin Park
I'm carrying my cat Luke with me to the kitchen. He's hanging there limply, not resisting. He looks at my mom with those green eyes of his.
She screams, "Get the cat out of here."
I said, "No, mom. He's a human being. You're hurting his feelings."
She said, "He has hair. He sheds hair!!!"
I said, "Mom, you know he's a human being. He was reincarnated from another life." I used to make up a story that Luke was reincarnated for bad behavior and his punishment was to have a master like my mother. She never knew whether to think the story was humorous or spiteful against her.
She rolls her eyes and leaves this fight alone.
I sit on the kitchen table. Luke's on my lap. He doesn't last there long. He jumps off and goes to the door. He turns around. Looks at me. He "Meows." Its my sign to open it for him. He runs eagerly out into his kingdom.
"Mom, I'm going travelling."
"Oh, yeah where?"
"It's south of Mexico, but they don't speak Spanish."
"They don't? I thought everyone speaks Spanish south of Mexico."
"I thought so too, but not there."
"How long you going?"
"Oh, you're so damn crazy?!!!"
"You just take these long trips. By yourself sometimes! You're just crazy! Oh, well. I'll give you some money. Have fun."
"Ok, be good to Luke ok? He used to be a human being." She rolls her eyes at me again.
The Mentor's House
The mentor asks me, "What are you going to do in Belize?"
"I don't know."
"Where are you staying?"
"I don't know. Lay at a beach. Read a book. Something like that."
"For that long?!"
"Well, I do have some essays to write."
"Well that makes more sense."
Rick and his wife then pray for me to have a safe trip. I feel a sense of peace cover me.
I arrive at the airport at 5:00am. I check in at 5:30. I get scolded by American Airlines for cutting it to close. Oh well.
Why did I chose Belize? That's simple. I have all these miles, these useless British Airway Miles. And the only place that made economical sense to go to was Belize or Central or S. America. So, there we have it. A free airplane ticket.
I arrived into Dallas, TX. I only have to wait one hour in transit. I fly to Belize. I still don't know where I'm staying. I don't know where to go.
I notice the flight is not full. I ask the flight attendant if I could move seats. She says, "of course." I get the best coach seats I can all 5 of them. I go to the front row of coach, right behind the curtain of business class, and enjoy the spaciest seats available. The flight attendant tells me, "Good one."
There is no public transport from the airport to Belize City. A taxride is $35-$50 USD. I'm not paying that. I hitchhike out of the airport. By my watch, it'll take me less than 15 minutes to be picked up. It always has in the past.
Less than 15 minutes pass, and a truck full of luggage stops.
In Jamacian accent the black driver says, "Where you going?"
"To the junction."
He drives me to the junction. He goes, "Do you want a ride to the City?"
I said yes.
He drives me. An armed police officer looks at me in the back of the pickup. I wave. He says, "Ni hao." I think Ni hao to you too.
The driver stops. His tall, very athletic looking, with long braids. We have a conversation. He says, "This is the best fried chicken in town." So he orders some fried chicken, as do I.
His right, in only that they cooked it at the right temperature, the batter was the right texture. The problem was that it was bland and not salty. My first meal in Belize was fried chicken. That's also Luke's favorite meal, that or bacon.
He says, "I'll take you to the pier."
He takes me to the pier. I give him $2 USD as a thank you and say, "God bless you." I buy my water jet taxi to a Caye (we in American say Key and in England its Quay).
On the water taxi, I'm doing a complex mathematical equation to pass the time. People think I'm a braniac, crazy, or weird. But they are noticing the X's, Y's, and numbers on a piece of napkin I'm scribbling on.
Most of the tourists here are German. I stop and speak some German. They didn't understand. Then I repeat myself and they go, "Ah, it's Deutsche." Yeah f*(&(*&ers, just because I'm asian doesn't mean I can't speak German. They're even more surprised I have perfect English and they had to ask: "Where are you from?"
At sunset, we arrive at Caye Caulker. I arrive at my island in the sun. I have internet at my hostel, so I can do my work. I ate a lobster for dinner with beirs and rum and coke. It was awesome. I paid $10USD for the lobster cooked. And again, it was awesome.
I'm chatting it up with people. I'm sure they think I'm weird I have work on.
I'll go out lobster diving today at the Carribean Sea. When it gets too hot, I'll start on reading my essay.