Where in the world are we?

Where in the World are We?

14 August 2007

Musings on Life in Belize

As our pre-service training rapidly comes to an end in the next week, we felt it was time to share with all of you some of the observations we have made in our first two months in Belize. These are in no particular order.

Strawberry Cake is delicious - why have we not had this in our lives before? Despite the fact that the true sweet tooth over here is Anthony, we both appreciate the wonderfulness of this dessert. Actually, an interesting observation in the sweet tooth area is the strange phenomenon that has recently occurred in which Ginnie is eating candy just for the sake of it - something that rarely ever happened before since she does not much like a lot of candies and when she does indulge in M&M's or Reese's Pieces it takes several days to finish an entire regular size bag. Anthony's candy habit has not much changed - he is still an addict and devoted to the sweets. This strange candy habit seems to have manifested itself from the habit all of we trainees have of sharing our treats when the packages come. It almost feels rude not to take candy that has been so thoughtfully mailed from loved ones in the states and passed around during hours of training. I think once we all go our separate ways and do not have easy access to treat sharing the overeating of candy will subside. However, it is quite doubtful the love of strawberry cake will ever go away - we have had it at both host families and it's always good. For a person who doesn't eat much of these such floury breadlike products - somehow the mix of fruit and soft cake just overcomes any thoughts of useless calories! It's practically a serving of fruit, really :) At any rate, it is one of those things that makes living in Belize that much better! (Quick note, another delicious dessert which we had been prepared to have thanks to the wisdom and personal experience of Karla, is fresh fruit - when the mango comes out freshly cut it is a perfect way to end a meal!)

We can get Ben and Jerry's ice cream - if we want to not eat meals for a few days. Actually, we can get a lot of things you have in the states, but we live on a Peace Corps budget so it is not affordable. Take the case of Ben and Jerry's, at the Sav-U grocery store today (it's ten percent Tuesday!) we stumbled upon the ice cream case and our friend John spotted the B&J's {of which they only had 3 flavors, Ginnie's favorite Chunky Monkey, John's favorite Phish Food, and Anthony's favorite Heath Bar Crunch - what are the odds?} and then we saw the price - $18.96 for one small lee container. We will NOT be having Ben & Jerry's in the Peace Corps, but that's okay, we have Western Dairies (homemade ice cream by the Menonites, among other of their homemade products) and a nice little ice cream shop called Zero Degrees with extremely creamy soft serve.

82 degrees is chilly - who would ever think this would be the case? But, this morning, when both of us bundled up in our blankets because we were "cold" we discovered this new insight. Living in the high 80's and low 90's day and night we must be adjusting somewhat. When we looked at the clock with the temperature reading on it and saw 82.4, it was pure shock to us since we had gotten so cold overnight! But, this is just a small step since the true hot season doesn't come until late March, and we hear it's pretty hot around then and it is also the dry season so we won't be cooling off with any lee rain showers.

It is wonderful to have time to read again - we were always "too busy" in the states to have enough time to read all the books we wanted. Now, despite having lots of work for training, we have plenty of time to delve into books and love just spending hours reading. This picture shows Ginnie on a typical afternoon (especially since getting hold of Harry Potter!). Just substitute Anthony or imagine him next to Ginnie and that's a nice Sunday. (just below that you'll see the view from the veranda where we enjoy reading with a nice sea breeze - you get a glimpse of the sea just at the far end of the street)

Stray dogs just want love too - they are not out to harm us. Well, not all of them, but some are downright scary. Being the dog lovers we are, every stray dog makes each of us want to just give it some food. None of them has bothered us, but that may be due to our addiction to the Dog Whisperer and the use of calming signals we learned in training for Maya, or it could just be that the dogs are so hungry/thirsty they ignore us. Needless to say, there are a LOT of dogs here and many of them are living on their own, looking for food and love. There is a mom and puppy we have seen a few times on our walk home, and they stick together well. A lot of people have dogs at their homes too, they are generally here as guard dogs so most live outside in the yard and they bark, a lot. We've grown accustomed to the sounds of dogs barking to lull us to sleep each night. We have a few favorites we see on our walk - like the big scruffy dog who used to bark once or twice, but now he is just hot and lays across his porch and rarely even lifts his head. We think he just likes us now. We also have encountered some super scary dogs - right outside the PC office on the way to the store behind the building there is a chained up dog who just jumps out from behind anything and he has one scary bark - no one wants to cross his path at this point. The truth is, these dogs are probably fine this way, they've not known anything different and it's in a dog's nature to walk and roam and look for food so they may just be happy.
Belizean people are very welcoming and everyone knows everyone - everyone we have met has been so friendly and willing to help. When we try out our Kriol, while it may elicit a chuckle now and then, people enjoy it and like to help us learn. The best part of the walk each day is saying Maanin' or Aftanoon to our fellow travelers. We've felt welcome here by everyone and have loved talking with the many people we've met with Miss Udeen and with all the folks who work at ITVET, where we take our language and culture class. We're really lucky to be living among such amazing people and look forward to building our relationships with our host families, coworkers and new friends. Being such a small country, people know each other and they are very close and loyal. Just through the connections with our host families in our small training group, we've been able to meet so many people and someone who knows someone who can help us out or give us another connection. And, we run into people we've met already and it keeps making the place feel smaller when we are out in a busy event and bump into people from ITVET or a friend of Miss Udeen's...

We are taxi magnets - because people don't realize we are not tourists until we tell them, even though we are dressed in work clothes and only carry a small backpack. We may take a tally on one of our walks of how many times a taxi honks and rides by saying "Taxi?". It's nice that they want to rescue us from a walk in the heat, but we hope it subsides since two years of turning down taxi rides may be tiring. Ginnie's walk will be mostly through neighborhoods, so she may not see as many taxi's as Anthony will walking on a busier street to his school. We'll have to update on this as time progresses.

Many creatures like to live among us in our houses - you may recall the tale of the giant spider from Armenia. Well, we have resident geckos in the house who like to make their little noises every so often. We like having them, they eat bugs! Most recently, a blue crab tried to join the family, but only made it as far as the front door. This is our friend below...

We love our fellow PCT's - we just have to shout out to the great class of trainees we work with - it's been so fun to get to know everyone and spend so much time together these past 9 weeks. In fact, everyone at PC/Belize has been amazing, from the volunteers who so readily share their experiences and insights to the staff who really takes care of us, we are lucky to be part of this new extended family and appreciate everyone!

We really want letters:) - feel free to take out that rusty pen and paper and write to us, we want to hear from you. Letter writing is a fun way to stay in touch and we will write you back - fi true! Our address is on the right hand side of the blog, so you can't miss it.

The Rotary Club puts on a great show - we saw Breadfruit Kingdom at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday and we laughed so hard our cheeks hurt! It is a show that was adapted from one in Jamaica and is a political satire and sends a message about taking care of what you have and appreciating others. It was hilarious and Anthony made his Belizean acting debut when he was made part of the show as the king spoke to him and pointed him out among the people of the kingdom during the audience interaction portion. He did well, even spoke Kriol! Everyone should be very proud.

If di pin neva ben, di story neva en - a favorite Kriol expression that comes at the conclusion of folktales. Since there are many more things we will discover and so much more we already have and just can't fit it all in now.

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