Saturday, 12 January 2008

Westernisation of paradise...

The last few days I’ve been exploring the Island, there is so much more than the thin strip on the south side, the town side. When I first arrived I was told the whole north side was one huge swamp; far from it! The majority of the Island is undeveloped; the north side is virtually completely empty. There is the odd house, a few dirt tracks and a whole lot of realty signs. The development is slowly spreading, few people want to live over there, yet; the beaches are very rocky with no decent access to the water. It’s not safe to swim, and you can’t land a boat; despite some lovely surf you’d rip yourself to pieces if you tried surfing there. So the coast is deserted, just lovely sandy beach hardly anyone visits, perfect for me to sunbathe. Unfortunately more foreign visitors are seeing the potential and houses are gradually appearing.

It’s easy to see the average foreigner’s house, they are the ones surrounded by palisade fencing, or iron railings. They are the ones fronted by imposing signs, “PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING!” They aren’t necessarily the only large houses; there are many local people who’ve made a good living from the tourist boom. But how about the other local people; I guess there are those who had land, and those who have stayed on the poverty line. So many pieces of land have been divided up, sell your garden and keep your house; make a handsome profit in the bargain. Real estate has soared, it has been priced way out the range of most local people. Who can blame poor local folk for selling off their land to gringos!

I won’t condemn people for wanting to sell up in the western world and settle into paradise, best of luck to them. I do condemn those who buy a piece of paradise and don’t actually live there; I heavily condemn those who have a second home, when there are too few for others to have a first home. This problem is global, and getting bigger, where ever you go in the world a large portion of idyllic situated properties are owned by absent landlords. The affluent like to spread them selves around, unfortunately their money doesn’t so often get spread around. If local communities benefited for such affluence it would be great, they rarely do! Is it any wonder local people, especially the youths, have a dismal attitude to incomers.

As my stay on Utila has lengthened more disagreeable instances have been seen, all against white tourists. Nothing really bad, just shows of disrespect, crappy attitude; but with specific direction. All I have to do is bring up the subject of property purchasing, talk about opening a can of worms! Even those with some form of business i.e. a small hotel owner, can not envisage how his kids will ever afford to buy a house on the island. It really is a shame; I wish there were not the international barriers stopping natural migration of people. Don’t we all deserve a chance to make more of our lives, not everyone wants to, it would be nice if it were a choice though!

Each time I remain in one place for long the pain of loss catches up with me, when it does, it doesn’t go away; until I start traveling again. I can’t run away from this the rest of my life, or should I say I won’t? I’m not in the habit of running from difficulties, yet every time this comes up it’s still as strong, still as devastating; or so it feels. Now I have to be extremely self aware, and honest with myself. Having a slight weep, feeling sad and holding it in; even allowing a few tears to flow whilst writing blog entries, or reading emails is much different than total devastation. I must keep that in mind and use it to give myself strength, to keep me going. It is obvious though, when this journey is over the real work begins. Then I will have to start integrating my loss into everyday life, into a future!

For now, I must move on! I don't feel as if I'm running away any longer, nor do I feel I need to avoid North Wales and the abundance of memories it holds. I don't feel ready to stop travelling yet though, I've not even got as far as Colombia, my entry point for South America. I've got to travel enough to feel satisfied with my own effort.

To finish on a humorous note, here's a sign I came across. I don't know how you're meant to know which one you want, maybe it's pick and mix!

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