Marley All Colours


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It is 12:00 at the bridge foot and everyone has somewhere to go. Few, if anyone at all is taking notice of the drama happening in the 1974 Volkswagen bus. As the one legged man makes his way across the street accustomed to all the time he needs, the driver of the blue bus, confused by all the congestion, the narrow bridge and the seeming disarray, fails to notice him. Her husband yells at her, causing her foot to mash the brake and her nerves to fray. Having just arrived with the intention of sharing with the people of Belize their love and good will, it would not do to injure one of their citizens. The ethnic mix and diversity of culture is evident. It is, in fact, the unique character of Belize. In the early days when most goods were imported from Great Britain, they came by ship. Shop keepers put their orders in months in advance and waited with anticipation for the ships to arrive. When the goods were finally docked and customs cleared everyone rushed to be the first to claim their merchandise and display it in their stores, printing a placard announcing that new items were on the store shelves. So it is today. Housewives and dandies eager for the latest and best want to be the first to have the best selection before goods are picked over. One such item is linoleum floor covering, called marley. It is so called after the English company that manufactures it. It comes in an infinite variety of colors and patterns. The sign outside the shop tells passers-by the selection inside is in all colors just as the people outside are of The bally in the Bob Marley T shirt who wears the ANC colors, the blond governor’s daughter who wears her school colors or the British military personnel in drab camouflage, each make a contribution to the character of Belize.

It’s 12:05 at the bridge foot. The lady driving the van has regained her composure and driven on down Albert Street, yet another new arrival to add to the ethnic mix that is Belize.

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