When I read Miguel Neal’s letter to the editor CCC dated December 26 I went to look at the new palapa of Roses restaurant and was very impressed. After the publishing of Miguel’s letter Eduardo had erected a chimney in front of his new place but it was later moved to the back because of the fire danger to the palapa and maybe partly because the conflict was raised in the social media .
So now we can congratulate Eduardo with his beautiful palapa and Miguel and Eduardo with solving this conflict so the Neal family can look after their child like it deserves unhindered by the annoying and unhealthy smoke from the grill. Win,win,win.
As the village chairman Wayne Miller expressed some time ago that all the problems we have in Caye Caulker can’t be solved by the chairman and his village councilors only, but it is also up to the people of Caye Caulker.
It inspired me to write this commentary and ask the villagers for advise in how we can solve the conflicts with our neighbors. For me it all came up in the following situation:
When my neighbor started construction of a swimming pool next door, the pump house was to be built as close as possible to my place of work, the spa. So I asked the constructor which also is in charge of renting these kind of properties if it would be possible to put the pump house on the other side of the property since the owner of the property does not live here neither the owner of the next property so I would not have the noise as close to my place as possible since I do live here as I have for the last 25 years and this is what he answered me:
I, as Ms. Y’s representative here in Belize, will respond to your email. She will not.
I have repeatedly said to you, in several different conversations, it is not in our best interests, to be poor neighbors. We are and will continue to be, cognizant of the effects our actions have and will take steps to try to mitigate those effects, should they be negative. We do so because we are good community members and not because you are so very important and say we must.
I do find your reactions to be somewhat hysterical and extremely exaggerated, considering you are complaining of noise that so far, is imaginary. It is also interesting that your knowledge of acoustical effects extends to unfinished, inactive pump houses on other people’s property and ignores the roosters that have lived on yours and have made mornings hell for your neighbors, including my guests at Villa Gemma. As Mr. Rogers of television fame used to say “ Being a good neighbor is a 2-way street.” Not next door to you, though.
It is obvious that you are struggling, as many other Caye Caulker, long term ex-pats are, with the fact you no longer live on an almost deserted island, populated by simple fishing folk. Your isolated way of life, where you have been able to pretty much have your own way is disappearing. However, the term “destroying one’s livelihood” seems a tad over the top, does it not? After all, if the rental properties beside your business do well and attract a lot of tourists, is there not a slight chance that some of them might trickle into your shop? Put money in your pocket? Contribute to, rather than, destroying your livelihood? Or are there only specific places where your customer base is sourced? Would not a little pump noise accompanied by more clients be preferred to a failing business? Sounds to me as if you want your cake and to eat it too.
And if you are able to dictate where Ms. Y’s pool pump house goes, will you then dictate that Tropic Air, a major noise producer, has to move their airstrip? Where will it end, Chris? Where will you stop dictating? Will you follow me around this place, dictating everything I do?
In closing, it may be an idea to have a long think about the changes that are happening on this Caye and in your neighborhood. It is no longer the place you have become accustomed to and never will be again. Unfounded, unnecessary complaining will only get you labeled a whiner. Perhaps there is another deserted island where you can live completely under your terms and have only the narrow interactions with others that you prefer. It is no longer this one.
The pump house is where it is, for good reason. The pump house is not finished and you do not have an understanding of the design and implementation being used. While there has not been one decibel of noise come out of that pump house, the noise emanating from you has been deafening. Please go on about your business and leave Ms. Y alone. Please leave my workers alone. Please get used to sharing your neighborhood with others who do not share your viewpoint. Please try to understand and come to grips with the fact this island has changed and will continue to do so, no matter how hard you try to fight it.
As far as I am concerned, the matter is closed.”
Now my friends and some neighbors have come with different suggestions, but I got inspired by the ending of the Roses/Neal family conflict resolution to put it up in the social media and get some response because I have no clue how to solve this situation. A French friend suggested that in France they have a committee in the village consisting of elders and former legal professionals or former officials who reside over an open discussion like village court without any jurisdiction to discuss and solve these kinds of problems.
So please come with your input and I thank you by forehand.