Saturday, January 5, 2008

Yes we have no flour today

I know those are lyrics to a song and that “flour” should be “bananas.” But, the unthinkable has happened here, and Belize is in the midst of a flour shortage, which seems just as unlikely as a banana shortage, although it’s equally inexplicable, and a lot more inconvenient. Belizeans deprived of their white flour tortillas are not happy people. And the fact that it happened the week before Christmas meant that a lot of yellow and black cakes didn’t get made. I was lucky; I had purchased ten pounds of flour the week before, and still had a little from my last bag when we realized that all the stores were out of flour, so I was able to conserve so I had enough to make a day’s worth of Christmas cookies. Not everybody was so lucky, and lots of people are just doing without, and are less than thrilled. I use whole wheat flour or oats for bread anyway about half the time, and I’m now also using them for tortillas, but they just aren’t the same. Some of the women are cooking with ground white corn, and I think a lot more rice and potatoes are being eaten. It’s funny, because even in restaurants all the sandwiches have been taken off the menus because the restaurants can’t get bread or flour either.

We thought this was normal Christmas shortage but we have been told that a flour shortage has never occurred here in Belize except for when Hurricane Mitch went through and prevented the ships carrying the wheat from docking here. My theory is that the gods know that Tom’s mom, who recently found out she has celiac disease, is scheduled to enter Belize on Sunday, so they just rid the country of flour. Other theories are that the only flour mill in Belize is broken, and nobody knows when it will be fixed. Of course with the elections coming up sometime before March, political conspiracy theories abound, and the word is that the out party disabled the mill to discredit the in party, and to assure the people that if they’re elected, Belize will never suffer another flour shortage. Without our internet connection we’re pretty well cut off from the news, so I have no idea what the real story is or when we’re likely to have flour again. Tom was able to get enough flour for us and our neighbors at one of the Chinese stores in Santa Elena yesterday, but he said that he took half the store’s stock, and when what’s on the shelves is gone, they’re out again until they don’t know when.

I think everybody, including me, is keeping a little stash of white flour, just in case. My just in case happened the Sunday before Christmas, when Tom delivered cookies to our neighbors Damion and Olmi. The day he delivered them was Daisy’s ninth birthday, and when she saw the wrapped box of cookies, she was thrilled that I’d remembered her birthday. Of course I hadn’t remembered her birthday – I never remember anybody’s birthday, including mine, until at least a day or two after the fact – but Olmi told me this later that afternoon. I, of course, had to mix up a quick birthday cake for Daisy, just so she wouldn’t feel forgotten, and we sang Happy Birthday in Spanish and ate the cake while the whole family was over here watching Christmas specials on our neighbor Mark’s TV with our VCR and Tom’s collection of Christmas specials.

No comments: