by Jason Lee Norman


In Belize there is muddy water. Rivers turned brown from the silt and clay of the soil. Water that looks like chocolate milk but the kind of chocolate milk that came in a box like a juice box and not a carton. That type of chocolate milk.

Belize comes from an old Mestizo word that means: leave your raft here or a place for your raft. Everyone in Belize travels by raft. They move up and down the rivers like cars on a highway. In the towns and cities of Belize anyone can just leave their raft on the shore and won’t have to worry about it. Nobody in Belize would ever steal someone else’s raft.

In Belize they make rafts out of the bones of their ancestors. The cemeteries are all full and there isn’t as much wood as there used to be, so they let the bones dry and bleach in the sun and then lash them together for their rafts.

Most of the trees in Belize that are still standing are mahogany trees. The people in Belize believe that all life came from the seeds falling from the mahogany. Everything in Belize is shaded by the huge canopy of the mahogany tree. The seeds fall and land in the shaded areas and is born. That is why the motto of Belize is, “under the shade of the mahogany, I flourish.”

El Salvador

In El Salvador, it snowed once at the top of the highest point in El Salvador, on the coldest day in its history. At first they thought the snow was volcanic ash but when it hit their skin and it was cold, they knew it was something else. This just happened a few years ago so the people in the area knew what snow was and what it was made from. They knew what they could do with it and what they couldn’t do. If this had happened fifty or so years ago the people may not have known exactly what was happening. They may have thought the sky was falling or that the clouds were coming apart.

When snow falls anywhere in the world it makes the same sound. It sounds like rain whispering. If it falls in a place that is usually very warm then you’ll hear a sound like grasshoppers or butterflies landing on the roof of your tent and then you’ll hear, all at once, the sound of millions of flakes evaporating like tiny applause. If it’s cool enough outside for the snow to accumulate, you’ll hear the same sounds but then eventually the ground and the roofs and the tops of the trees will all be so soft from all the snow that you won’t hear any noise at all.

In El Salvador, it snowed only once in the history of El Salvador and it was on the coldest day in history in El Salvador and at the top of the tallest mountain in El Salvador. They gave all the children in El Salvador the day off school anyway because of the historical significance of the event. In some cities there was free ice cream.

At the top of the tallest mountain in El Salvador, some hikers who were camped out nearby stayed up all night helping to keep the mangos warm.

In El Salvador, it snowed once at the very top of the tallest mountains in El Salvador. Only one person witnessed it and he wrote it down in his journal.


In Honduras they say a prayer that sounds like screaming at the top of your lungs. On the second Wednesday in September the citizens lie on the asphalt and shout at the sun in unison. Their skin sizzles like bacon in a pan as they scream their prayer in the afternoon heat. The prayer that sounds like screaming at the top of your lungs is a prayer of thanksgiving. The people of Honduras are thankful for the trees and the thousands of birds that share the island with them but they are most thankful for having been discovered. They had been waiting around for as long as anyone can remember, just waiting for someone to come and say hello and get some word of mouth going. Honduras is alive with prayer. Honduras is alive with people screaming at the top of their lungs.

In Costa Rica they do not pray. Instead they eat scallops rolled in lemon pepper and skewered on the barbeque.  Sometimes while eating they hear the sounds of screaming brought in from the ocean breeze. In November they have a festival but it usually rains so it is poorly attended. Later in the month many inhabitants leave to follow the trade winds.

In Newfoundland the arctic terns rest in the snow banks on the last leg of their journey back to the North Pole from Antarctica. They are the most tired creatures in the entire world. They huddle together to shelter themselves from the wind. When it blows it sounds like people screaming at the top of their lungs. Terns hate being alone. They hate it as much as wind, and sea lions, and albatross. Newfoundland is an angry place and will devour the terns if they stay even another hour. They fly blindly into the blowing snow.

Back in Honduras they drink tea over ice to soothe their throats. In the evening some of them will go out to dance, others will have sex. The night air smells like grilling scallops.

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