Where do you go when it’s time for a relaxing, sun-soaked vacation? For many, those who don’t want to travel too far, use their dollars rather than exchanging for foreign cash, and not leave America somewhere like Mexico or even Belize probably comes as a possible choice. Long, clean beaches, few tourists, but with a tourist infrastructure. Somewhere out-of-the-way, but not too far. Today both Mexico and Belize are popular vacation resorts, with their mixture of cultures, the sights we don’t normally get to see back home, and a wealth of history. And if we do go, then one of the better resorts like Cancun or, further south just belong the Yucatan Peninsula, the Cayes. Life is relaxed, without stress, living is simple but with everything that a holidaymaker needs.
It wasn’t always so, there was a time when tourism wasn’t the big business that it is now, at least, when you get down to Belize, to Guatemala, Honduras. Life consisted of simple tasks to bring the daily bread to each family table, without the need to hurry from one appointment to another, without the pressure of that pay check at the end of the week or month. The boats riding gentle waves were used for fishing, for occasional trips back to the mainland, to bring explorers out to the Cayes.
Photo Credit: brongaeh – Creative Commons
Norbert Schulz has managed to capture these times perfectly. His writing is easy and relaxed, laid back and flowing. He takes us into a time when Hollywood was still a place people wanted to go, to a time when fish were plentiful, when the great globalization move hadn’t brought fast food restaurants and soda to every foreign high street, every makeshift bar along the beach. He takes us into a time when Marilyn Monroe was at the height of her fame, and to a young man with a dream. It is the early Fifties. The United States is confronting the Soviet Union, casting awkward glances towards Cuba, still recovering from the losses incurred during the Second World War. Belize – at the time still British Honduras – is a country hardly recognizable on the map, a British colony where few travel for their vacation. Those few, though, fall in love with the land, with the water, with the Cayes as much as Pablo, a young fisher still learning his trade, falls for the image of Marilyn Monroe, his first love. We are shown the close bonds between man and boy – the adopted Grandpa – as one learns and the other recounts his exploits. We see the rivalry between fishermen, sometimes joking, sometimes serious, and almost always brushed out-of-the-way over a few drinks. We see a world which is fast disappearing, and can immerse ourselves in it, in the hopes and dreams of Pablo, as if it is just across the road, just a few days in the past.
Easily written with a very calm and enjoyable pace, Am Meer Damals is a pleasure to read, an experience of bygone days and the true ease of living.
Published by Rothenstein (in German). ISBN: 978 3 9814491 0 5.
- Viktoria Michaelis.