Our training started at 8am on Friday (which was 10am back home since we are an hour behind but also don't have Daylight Savings). We started off with a Belizean breakfast... it was egg-type food with papaya. Yum! We also got a treat: juice! Training is a lot of basic information about Belize and the Peace Corps and security and such. Lunch was chicken, rice, beans, & "salad": potato salad on top of a few pieces of lettuce. haha. A handful of lucky people got fish instead of chicken! haha. We did a lot of ice breakers and more getting to know the staff and everything. At 5pm we were done walked back to the hotel. A group of us decided to walk around for food and exploration.... of course, we got lost. hahaha. But it was a scenic experience! We discovered all the places in Belmopan and got some tamales from a local vendor for dinner.... We ate them back at the hotel & watched a movie: worst tamales EVER!!!! They were so bad! Not a good starting experience for dinner on our own in Belize! haha.
The next day, Saturday, was our first day off! Well, technically is wasn't "off" but it was Cultural Day! We took a field trip to the Bermudan Landing, which was a small village where there is a baboon sanctuary! It was about an hour bus ride--now when I say bus ride, I mean yellow school bus-- before we arrived. We got a brief introduction to the Kriol culture ("creole") and the baboons they live with. Then our tour guide, Robert, took us on a walk through the rainforest, pointing out all the plants and trees and their medicinal purposes as we went. It was so impressive what he could tell us about the plants! You could solve everything from warts, to natural pregnancy tests, to fevers, to sedatives! I was in awe! Then as we are casually walking down the path, a couple of baboons came to join us! First it was just a mother and her baby on her belly, which was TOO cute! Then the father came and had a verbal fight with Robert, which was weird, hahahaha. THEN, another family came to join! They were so friendly!! It was amazing! Robert gave us pieces of banana and we even could feed the baboons right out of our hands!! I fed the mother and the baby...so cool! The baby was so tiny and he grabbed onto my hands for dear life. The mother would casually prop herself on people as she ate. It was great. Oh yea, & we ate rice & beans....& chicken. Shock! haha
After the tour, we had lunch and enjoyed some Kriol music and storytelling. It was neat, even though I can barely understand the language yet! The men played their music on turtle shells! (along with other, more traditional, instruments!) Following lunch, we watched some cricket across the street before having to come back for more presentations. The women of the village taught us to dance and we danced for a LONG time! It was quite a workout in the hot Belizean heat!!! The women never stopped! & they event started getting down and dirty, grinding on each other and on us! It was so funny! The next presentation they showed us was making a mosquito broom, which is hard to describe, but when I put up pictures you will understand. It looks kinda like a broom, but it's lighter and to swat mosquitoes and you make it by beating a branch of this certain type of tree against a rock! So the guy showed us the demonstration and then he picked a volunteer to try & I was able to do one too! It was SO HARD!!! I beat it as hard as I could and barely busted it! But it was so great to try it out!! Hilarious!!! Once that presentation ended, we got a rice and nut grinding presentation (I don't know if that's the best word to describe it). We were all able to try that out. So fun!
And that ended our Cultural Day at Bermudan Landing. Great!
When we got home, I was able to run to a local phone store and get myself hooked up with a cell phone! So I can get calls now!!! Yay! Then we went to dinner at a local place and bought some rum before going out! We drank a little in the hotel and then headed down to the main part of town to meet up w/some others of our group. The some older PCVs found us and told us about a club that was on the other side of town! So we went to "Twilight" for the night and it was so great! They were playing Belizean music and the 10-15 of us stuck out for sure in the tiny club. The DJ then started playing some 70s, 80s, & 90s classics and we went crazy on the dance floor!!! It was so much fun!!! Favorite moment of the night: Grease medley. I'm pretty sure they only kept that music on for us! hahahaha! But it was a good night out, especially since we are all getting separated on Thursday & won't have another weekend all together.
Sunday we were completely off! We had an optional trip to the river, which most of the trainees went to. It was SO fun!!! There was a rope swing and all the local boys were showing off and showing us tricks for us to do. We even went cliff jumping! (Which I literally thought was gonna be the death of me!!) But after the initial jump, you just can't get enough! It's a thrill!!! There were SO many families in the river: children swimming, dogs playing, mothers washing clothes.... I couldn't help but to watch and take in all the culture around me! Plus, the scenery! It was gorgeous! So native! It was a fantastic day AND I officially got some sun!!! (& I'm now a little burned even! haha) Immediately following the river, the PC staff set-up a kickball game at the local field. It was really fun!!! Most people came out and if they were playing, they cheered and watched. We divided teams by sectors, so Business Organization and Youth Development were against Healthy Communities and Teacher Training. I'm not sure who won, I think my team lost... But I kicked a home run & it was a winning moment! hahahaha (along with a couple of great catches!) I was glad to play sports again! I felt like I hadn't done that in forever!! Then all the girls had a girls night in the hotel, where we chatted and did hair and nails.... it was so fantastic because pretty much ALL the girls came: & our ages span from 21-71!!! So it was really cool to get everyone together outside of official PC stuff!!!