Amy Bracken

Amy Bracken (Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management – SATIIM): Amy is a long-time journalist with a passion for exploring the natural world, learning about different cultures, and sharing her craft. After graduating from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 2003, Amy moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she spent two years reporting for Reuters, the Associated Press and other outlets. She then split her time between Haiti and her hometown, Boston, where she worked as a freelance producer at the public radio program The World. She also spent a year in Valdez, Alaska, running the newsroom of a small radio station and reporting on ongoing effects and litigation relating to the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill. At the time of her fellowship Amy was studying for a Masters degree at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. After her fellowship Amy wrote: “I learned a lot from being in a place so culturally different from anywhere I’ve ever been. I saw little racial tension, little class distinction, little materialism, but also major problems like lack of education and economic opportunities.”



Saying ‘hello-goodbye’ to the villages

05 Sep

Part I: trying to get there

When I fell in love with Belize, it was really Friday nights in Punta Gorda that did it. It was drum classes with the amazing Emmeth Young at Gomier’s Restaurant; then a trek up the road with the drums to Earth Runnin’s, where Emmeth, his Mayan and Creole protégées, and a random assortment of Belizean, Japanese, Mexican, and European visitors and residents played drums and air piano, sang, danced, and, in one case, did some kind of ribbon show, while the bar owner’s kids walked around the front yard bonfire on stilts. And then there was the Garifuna drumming and dancing into the wee hours at Bamboo Chicken, one of the resto-bars that hangs over the ocean.

So I had a problem: If I wanted to take a bus into the indigenous buffer communities that SATIIM works with, spend the night and return the next day, I would have to leave on Friday, since there’s a return bus on Saturday, and that’s the only instance in which there are buses on two consecutive days. As much as I wanted to get to know the villages of Crique Sarco and Conejo, Friday night was a tough sacrifice, so throughout my time in Belize I waited for a ride to surface to take me another day. This didn’t happen, so here I was on my second-to-last Friday here, rushing to the bus stop with my cameras, food, water, and a giant tent-framed mosquito net. The schedule in the tourist office said the bus for Crique Sarco left at 11:30, so I got there at 11:15 and searched through the idling buses… only to find that the Crique Sarco bus had left at 11. The tourist center’s schedule was out of date. It’s not surprising that this fact had gone unnoticed. Tourists don’t take the Crique Sarco bus.

Wandering through Punta Gorda, wondering what to do with myself, I ran into Egbert, the SATIIM ranger from Barranco, whose bus home left at noon. He suggested I take his bus and get dropped off at the junction, then hitch-hike to Conejo. “You think I would get a ride?” I asked.

“Maybe.”

“If I don’t, how long a walk would it be?”

“Oh, just about two and half hours.”

“Two and a half hours in the hot sun with all my luggage? Are you crazy?”

“Well, you wouldn’t be alone. Other people probably missed the bus.”

I didn’t see how that helped me.

I would enjoy another Friday in PG.

My new plan was to take the 11 o’clock Crique Sarco bus to Conejo on Monday. Then, on Tuesday I would hitch hike down the road to Crique Sarco, and on Wednesday I would catch the 5am bus back to Punta Gorda. A number of people expressed complete confidence that hitching from Conejo down the eight miles to Crique Sarco would be no problem.

My mission was this: get to know the communities a bit — since everyone told me that each small indigenous village in Southern Belize is entirely distinct from the others, and to discuss with villagers what they have and want from SATIIM and its sustainable development program.


Posted By Amy Bracken

Posted Sep 5th, 2011

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