THE STORY BEHIND WRITING 'IN THE TREES'

EXTRACTS FROM MY TRAVEL JOURNAL

Entries in 1) London to Belize (3)

Wednesday
Apr202011

5th FEBRUARY 2008 - BELIZE CITY, MEAN STREETS

First day over. What stands out?  Broken pavements.  Palm trees and wasteland, even here in the heart of the city. Fruits I’ve never seen before piled up in open street markets.  Crumbling clapboard houses.  Supermarkets so dimly lit that I can hardly see inside. Police weaving along the pot-holed roads on ‘Easy Rider’ bikes.  The shock of what I thought was downtown - and a rough downtown at that – actually being Belize City’s banking district and top streets.  Dogs and cats everywhere.  Birds shrieking, not singing.  Four-by-fours with blacked-out windows cruising up and down.  Girls in school uniform, white dresses, red buttons.  Women in smart office suits, how can they dress like that - aren't they hot?  Cyclists in the middle of the road, regardless of what's coming at them.  Reggae blasting out of speakers stacked up in a doorway. People marching up and down with banners, many of them really young.  I’ve only been in the country five minutes and I know that change is in the air and the guys with the blue logos are on the way out and come the election, which appears to be imminent, the red-logo people are on the way in.    

Belize City so far is a full-on experience.  After my strange cocooned flight, I’m overwhelmed to be here in the real world again - and what a world as well....

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Tuesday
Apr192011

5th FEBRUARY 2008 - NEW YORK TO BELIZE CITY

John F Kennedy Airport, New York, midnight, everything shut up, bodies lying everywhere, cleaners whirring up and down.  I keep thinking about the word home. I picture it in my mind - my home, its rooms, Dave moving through those rooms without me.  I’m a nowhere person living in a nowhere limbo-land between lives. 

The man on the bench next to me says I'm mysterious.  I’ve never been called mysterious before.  ‘Why?’ I ask.  He doesn’t reply.  I try to get to sleep beneath a hoarding depicting Gwynneth Paltrow and some puppies advertising perfume.  Why would anybody want to smell like a woman in a house full of dogs?  

The quiet hall is broken into sound zones.  Down the far end is the floor- cleansing machine, then closer is the coffee area with its tinkle of cups, then there are the long benches [unlike mine] which the seasoned travellers have all nabbed and I can hear them snoring.  Then there are the sighs and rustles of people like me who are on the short benches and therefore can’t sleep. How long can a night be....

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Monday
Apr182011

4th FEBRUARY 2008 - HEATHROW AIRPORT

In 2008, I travelled out to Belize with my son, Idris, to do research for the novel 'In the Trees'. This is the serialization of my travel journal, charting all our highs and lows. Our six weeks in Belize was full of adventure. I learnt a lot, met some extraordinary people, visited some fantastic places. Here's my first entry:

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