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She told my wife that her husband had died after being bitten by a Yellow Jaw Tommygoff snake while walking back from the field following a hard day of farming. Dolores also told my wife that following the death of her Monico, hard times have set in for her and her family. So that's why Dolores says she accepted her forced economic fate and left the simple village of Mafredi.

Forty-one or forty-three, she really couldn't remember the day I asked Dolores just how old she was, admittedly she was born 'ketchi maya' long before they ever thought about bringing electrical power into the remote villages.

Since they departed Mafredi and her birth land in the foothills of the Maya Mountains of in the Toledo District of southern Belize, Dolores and her family headed due east. Dolores and her family now live in a three room wooden house on the outskirts of the port city of Punta Gorda that she rents for sixty dollars a month. And though no more than fifteen miles separate Mafredi and the home Dolores left behind, today her life in Punta Gorda is a far cry from what it use to be with her Monico.

There are also a lot of mouths for Dolores to feed, for she is a single mom trying her best to raise nine children on her own under the metal zinc roofing of her small though caring home. The children's ages run the gambit of the young age spectrum, ranging down from Rosaria who now lives in Belize City, twenty-three at the time, all the way down to the youngest who was three, her son named Jonathan, named for her late husbands youngest brother.

The day I befriended Dolores she was selling wooden canoes hand carved out of blocks of discarded mahogany left over from the process of splitting into pieces of lumber hundred year towering old trees. That day her brightly coloured indigo blue dress was near blinding in the bright sunlight of midday as I sat on the sidewalk arguing with Dolores over the price of the canoe. Over the course of the weeks to follow there would be many negotiations, though till the end Dolores would never budge upon the price she had originally quoted me.

Terciopelo Snake
In a land where day to day can be the difference of a lifetime, the trinkets and woodcarvings enable Dolores to pay the rent and put nightly food upon her table for those that depend upon her first. The days are blistering hot as she sits and waits for the tourist to come and go from the decaying inn down along the sea front.

There was even a rumour floating in the back street barrios of PG that the gringo hotel owner requires a percentage of sales, and offers nothing more in return than the concrete slab for her smallest two children to play, and wooden plank fencing for Dolores to lean her back upon as she carries out her enterprise to make ends meet. We knew the gringo and though we found him to be arrogant and condescending, we doubt that even he would stoop so low as to take money from a single mom of nine.

But you're likely to never to hear a word of complaining from Dolores for she truly enjoys her work and she is proud that she can make ends meet for, this you can see in her dark eyes. Others she explains are simply not as fortunate as she and her family. Back before the hurricane business from the tourist heading through Punta Gorda for Guatemala was occasionally brisk. At those times Dolores could sell several canoes at once, as well as countless wooden replicas of local snakes, always a big hit with the cash strong tourist.

Despite the money the wooden snakes would bring, Dolores says she does not like to sell the snakes, since her husband Monico died from the snakebite of a Tommygoff as he was clearing bush country to plant additional cacao. They say the snakes are so lethal that locals refer to them as the seven minutes snake referring to how the venom can kill a person in less than seven minutes from the time you are bitten. Other locals say that is just plan foolish, arguing to any that will listen that they have seen people after being bitten by a Yellow Jaw Tommygoff live a full day longer.

La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Race

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