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Paradise comes with a price, for the grass may always seem to be greener on the other side of the fence but yours would be just as green as your neighbours with a lot of fertilizer and creative maintenance and a little attention now and again. For nothing comes easy in life and in Belize multiply that by ten.

Charley Wolf though he knew the odds when he came to Belize and so that's why he moved the family in the first place to the heart of the jungle. He was a gambler for fun but never truly calculated the stakes beforehand. And now they were all here whether they liked it or not, to live the clean life without a television or cell phone blaring out megabytes of useless retainable dialogue at a dollar a second. But hey, in the developed world you get the cell phone for free until it breaks or you loose it.

Charley arrived into Belize with his share of heartaches as well as big time dreams, just as countless other gringos had done before him, just as more are sure to follow down the line. He realized that although he and the family were from the old country of Europe and that they harboured no prejudice, to the every day Belizean they were all still gringos.

Charley for the trip over had every family member holding his or her own and so one backpack was prepared for each family member. They were all filled to capacity with shorts and funny worded t-shirts and lotions and ointments. There were also extra toothbrushes though no one could ever remember going on a trip where someone broke a toothbrush, much less lost one. All the same the Wolfs came to Belize with two extras per family member, though they found rather quick that even toothbrushes were available in Belize.

There was also one backpack allocated for the library that would be needed in forging a new frontier in the Belizean bush land. The pack therefore was loaded down with handbooks about sustainable living. Charley knew the books were penned by authors that did the bulk of their field research surfing the Internet without ever leaving home and to Charley that was just fine. He believed they were noble in their cause to provide reliable information for planning purposes whether they ever planned to use it or test it for themselves. This to Charley was neither here nor there.

Because Charley openly referred to such writers of self help books or travel guidebooks as "living parasites plagiarising others". The others being whom Charley referred to as "knights of the largest roundtable". A table filled with those that have made their livelihood pecking out words that hold the character of ideas which formulate thought and change, there to Charley "the mutation of dreams occurs, there lies the only real frontier left for man". And so for Charley for these writers to copy the words of others worked well for him. Though they saved him lots of time on deadline, they served little to alter the charges on his monthly direct-way satellite bill.

Charley as any husband and father wanted he and his families dreams to be realized. All was going all to well too for the Wolfs in Belize until the fall of their first full year came around. This pushed forward the time schedule for the Wolfs, forcing them to get serious about whether they intended to stay in Belize or move on with the next passing ship.

As late August neared, the Wolfs were into their second six months of the application process for becoming residents of Belize. They decided to enrol young Charley in a proper kindergarten program. Although here in Belize it is typical for children to begin preschool at age five, in their homeland the Wolfs were accustomed to beginning the children at the age of two. So in the eyes of the Wolfs, young Charley needed to be in 'day care' sooner than later. With that understood the Wolfs went about the task of enrolling the little one in a local 'kindergarten' program.

The options were limited for young 'Charley the fourth' but there were indeed options, three clear ones. The daughter of the politician that runs that part of the district operated one. It was clean and she the daughter was congenial and the place was surely licensed. No uniform was required for young Charley to attend. However, they charged the most, about BZ$30 dollars per month, which included a morning snack as well as lunch. The daughter just wanted to be sure you had your kid out of the place before they felt like taking a nap. They should also be potty trained, for it would be best if they planned to enjoy the day in one set of clothes.

Then there was the Methodist Church that was experimenting with taking 2 to 5 year olds from 7 to 12 noon daily. It was located just off the main square and had about as much running distance for the kids to get their legs under them as my editors allow me to develop a storyline passed the end of this page. Uniforms would be required, they were burgundy and white. There were several women that sewed the uniforms to the required specifications of the kindergarten to insure uniformity not to mention meeting the general diameters of your child.

And then there was the kindergarten that seemed a little all too perfect parked down there just left of the end of the dirt road where mama and papa Wolf and there baby Wolf called paradise. It was the cleanest of the three kindergartens available, the most widely attended, and the kids at first comparison seemed the happiest.

The students had the most indoor as well as outdoor space for the children to be free as a bird without flying into the headlight of a car. The uniforms were blue and white, the parents were required to pay and have them sewn from the same ladies that created them for the other Methodist run school. Amazingly the kindergarten was by far the cheapest in overall cost.

Not that it mattered for the Caucasian Austrian Wolfs, but the school also had more white students than the other two kindergartens combined. The other two kindergartens both had none, so the math was really easy. And not that the colour of a persons skin really mattered to Charley nor Mrs. Wolf, for they realized long before they came looking for their piece of paradise that they would sunburn quick but would stand apart quicker for their Lower Austrian dialects. Charley knew they were a dead giveaway for being a bunch of Ausländers and that the astute Belizeans no way would simply take him and the Mrs. as just another couple of gringo honeymooners.

So the choice was made based upon price and return and proximity to their farm. After Charley proudly donned his uniform for three days, it was not the praise of the teachers that forced the Wolfs to rethink their choice of kindergarten for Charley the Fourth. No, though the teachers readily admitted that they considered the younger Wolf to be the brightest in the class, the clincher for the Wolfs was that third midday when they picked up young Charley. That day when he walked to the truck all glassy eyed saying that, "the Bible loved him", papa Wolf and Mama Wolf decided, he was a bit young at four to be contemplating philosophical righteousness and life after death and the love of an inanimate object like a book.

The Wolfs were simply looking for someplace for young Charley to see up close and personal that the Belize Maya and the Belize Garifuna and the Belize East Indian and Belize Taiwanese and the Belize Chinese were really no different from the Belize Austrians. The next day the Wolfs confronted the principle and assistants regarding their feelings.

What ensued was a back and forth debate about what was allowed in the schools where the principle hailed from in the United States and what they were teaching in their school. Charley also pointed out the differences from the system of education both in the United States and Belize from that found in Europe where the Wolfs were from. The turning point for the Wolfs was when the principle said he thought he knew what was best for the younger Wolf and that it was essential to start children on the road to righteousness at such a young age. The Wolfs politely bid the principle a good day and headed for the farm. In the car Mrs. Wolf just shook her head adding "and why do they teach the kids 'I' says it like an In-di-an with a picture of an American Indian? Here the Maya are referred to as 'Indian' and they don't like it. Three kids in the classroom are Maya and neither them nor the rest have ever seen or heard of an American Indian."

Charley the fourth never returned to the kindergarten. When they removed Charley from the all too perfect looking school the Wolfs promised him that though a book cannot express emotion, it can certainly stir in the hearts of all men and women just that. Charley senior inured the younger version that there would indeed be plenty of time in the future for him to explore books worth loving on his own informed terms as to their meaning and true intention

Books like 'Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas', 'The Reasons Why I Love My Mother-In-Law They Way I Do', 'Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', 'the Holy Bible' and 'The History of the Mongolian Empire through The Eyes of a Chef'. If and when he decided he wanted to read such books. Of course as Charley explained to young Charley, to his understanding the last title is now out of print and unavailable in Belize. Such are indeed the prices we humans are willing to pay these days for our personal piece of paradise.


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