Global Handwashing Day!

Global Handwashing Day!

My Pueblo Viejo Home

My Pueblo Viejo Home

My Pueblo Viejo Home

My Pueblo Viejo Home

My Latrine and Shower

My Latrine and Shower

Some of My Host Siblings

Some of My Host Siblings

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Longest Day Everrr...

Sunday was the longest day of training yet! We woke up to run at 6am... because we are clearly insane. I had corn flakes in hot evaporated milk for breakfast... yum! haha  It was SO HOT that day! We walked to the PC office in the heat of the morning, which was like death... But it was nice to get some AC before our midday health fair.
We had about 30 kids show up for the health fair. They all showed up well after 2:30, because that's Belizean time for starting at 2. haha The next 2 hours we attempted to teach them about hygiene, dental health, & nutrition... oy! We did a bunch of games & I think they may have learned something...maybe.... but we pretty much swore off children after that day... hahaha. We had a nutrition tug of war, and nutrition muscial chairs, a tooth decay version of red rover, & a germ game with paint! hahaa Longest 2 hours of my life! Oh, & also I missed lunch & Mrs Sotz sent Alana to the school with lunch for me! It was so cute & really sweet! She's so nice!
After the fair, we were crazy enough to walk BACK to the PC office.... insane. It was nice to enjoy the AC & internet for the night... That night my family was so excited for me to shower in our NEW shower!  No more showering for the world to see me!! It's in the same place as the toilets, but it's oh-so amazing!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mennonites are just German Amish people.....

Saturday was our 1 month anniversary of PC!!! Woohoo!! I can't believe it's been a month! Sometimes I feel like I've been here FOREVER & sometimes it feels like it's been only days!
Luckily, the Belikin helped me sleep like a baby (without interruptions by the rats) so I was well rested for a full day! We were supposed to have language class that morning, but Mr Cal gave us the morning off! It was great! On top of that, we had fry jacks for breakfast---pretty much my favorite Belizean breakfast food! Fabulous! I spent the whole morning doing laundry!!! Oh man, it is such an ordeal here! This time I went all-out, no spinner at all (which is our makeshift "washer"). I used the washing stone! Of course, the whole family cracked up about me washing b/c the silly gringo couldn't wash right! Sofia was helping me out & showing me all the steps-- that sounds silly b/c I have washed things by hand before, but they have a system & I wanted to do it their way! Anyway, I failed miserably! hahaha So Mrs Sotz came over & said "let me show you to wash", which basically was "Now I'm doing your laundry b/c you silly gringa can't do it right!" haha So she washed all my laundry & I rinsed & Sofia wrung it all.... Even with the three of us doing 2 weeks of my clothing it was 2 hours by the time I had it all hanging on the line! Wow! (But a great arm workout!)
So by the time I finished all my laundry, it was time for lunch!  Lunch was awesome! I had Ramen again!!!! Who knew Ramen could be so exciting??! hahaha After lunch we headed to Mr Cal's for an unexpected afternoon adventure!

We were heading to Spanish Lookout to buy chickens for dinner.... The quick trip turned into an afternoon excursion! We stopped and bought the chickens-- yes, 2 live chickens!-- and had them tied up and put in a bag til we came back for them... Then we had Milky Ways! Stop right there.... we DON'T have chocolate here! "Milky Ways" are the milk version of "Ideals"... Ideals are what they call ice pops.... Milky Ways are the creamy version I guess you can say.... Nonetheless, delicious! So we ate those and drove for an hour in the back of Mr Cal's pickup truck....heavenly! We drove all the way to Spanish Lookout (where you find the Menonites!) to try their famous ice cream! (Yes, we just ate pretty much the same thing...) We got to a shop that had ice cream, milkshakes, and PIZZA! Mr Cal got us all slices of pizza! AMAZING! It was so good! And we all also got milkshakes! Probably the most amazing milkshake I have ever had..... just saying. haha

After the random trip for ice cream, we were so hot & really sunburned!! (Nobody planned to be in the back of a truck for an hour!) So Mr Cal surprised us with a quick stop at the river! It was a different river from the other 2 we've been to.... It had such a strong current! It was a workout to stay still! But OH SO refreshing!!! WE all just jumped in in our clothes! We dried off on the way home anyway!

Before heading back we picked up our chickens & one escaped in the truck bed! I screamed & jumped out of the truck! It scared me! hahahaha They were able to catch it & get it back in the bag...phew!~

The reason for the chickens was a learning experience.... The three of us were supposed to cook a traditional Mayan meal from scratch for my host family: chicken caldo.... So we got the chickens to my house and tied them upside down from a tree (to drain the blood)... One of the chickens died almost instantly b/c it was basically traumatized & didn't make it through the car ride. So that one we did nothing to.... Then Mrs Sotz broke the neck on the other chicken to kill it.... It was a fighter & WOULD NOT die! I screamed and was very emotional about the whole experience! We were actually all pretty pumped to kill chickens, but I'm glad Mrs Sotz did it instead b/c I would have been upset! I felt the broken neck afterwards & it was horrible!  So after I mourned the death of our future dinner, we stuff them in boiling water & plucked them! I really think everyone who eats chicken should really do this process....it's a must. The plucking took quite a while & once we got them all clean, Mrs Sotz & Sofia took them and got all the little fuzzes & hairs we didn't get, hahaha. Then we cleaned the chickens.... which was weird b/c we cleaned them with dish soap..... Hmmmm..... haha. After cleaning came chopping! Basically, Mrs Sotz broke a open the chickens & pulled out their guts, saving pieces like the liver, heart, & such & throwing away all the rest... Then, she broke a bunch of bones & brought out her machete to chop up the chicken! She gave me a knife & let me cut some too! Is it weird that I had a deja vu experience of the orthepedic knee replacement I watched in college during this process????! hahaha So we chopped up the chicken & Sofia cleaned all the parts while we boiled the heads....b/c that's what you do.?! All the good pieces were tossed in the boiling water & we starting collecting the spices from around the gardens in our yard. There were a bunch & I just don't care enough about plants to go into it... so we had spices in our caldo.... haha. While all the ingredients boiled in the pot, we made the corn tortillas ("wah" in mayan) on the xumuch (the tortilla grill). That was a long process, (one I've done before), but it was fun doing it with Matt & Dan.... letting all the women make fun of the 2 gringo boys in the kitchen! haha Finally, after 2 1/2 hours of preparation, our kaldo kax (chicken broth) was done!!!   Let me just say this.... kaldo kax never tasted so good!!!

We fed the whole family & it was a nice little event! I tried the chicken foot, heart, & liver.... they were all surprisingly yummy! But I don't really understand the foot part.... it's really hard to suck the toes of a chicken..... hahahahahaha (Never thought I would ever write a sentence like that!)

Anyway, after an amazing day, I showered & headed to Matt's as we attempted to do some work for our Heatlh Fair & watch some Arrested Development..... Oh just another day in the life of a PCT......  =)

my life is uncomfortable.... or hilarious??!

Upon returning home after my last blog, I was greeted by a huge, naked Mayan woman.... no, this time a different naked encounter. Mrs Sotz's oldest daughter, Anastasia, was visiting and hanging out in the nude when I walked in on Thursday....to top it off, her attempt at covering up was to put her tiny arm in front of the nipple area...... very unsuccessfully. Oy vey! I averted my eyes and tried to pretend I was very busy behind my curtain. I finally left and hung out with the guys til she got some clothes on!! After that awkward experience, I had a really great night with my host family! Mr Cal had told us that Mrs Sotz does Mayan dances in festivals, so I asked her about her dancing & she got all embarrassed but was so excited to share her culture with me! She, of course, would not dance for me, but she did make Alana put on all the traditional Mayan attire (even the special hair ribbon) & dance for me. The dresses are made by her & they are SO intricate and beautiful!  I took a video & some pics & they were all so excited by my camera! Alana & Eluvia proceeded to put on a few puppet shows, plays, & dances for me that night, (mostly to see themselves on video), but they were all about me, Matt, and Dan. It was so sweet & too cute!

The next day I was exhausted b/c my pet rat came back to visit! There are 2 things I really seem to dread in Belize: meals and bedtime. Which, funny enough, were my two favorite parts of the day in the States! jeez!
So anyway, I woke up at like 2am & could NOT sleep.... so I wrote a poem about PC Belize! (I will share it at some point when it is perfected.... lol). Friday was a PC day....always a goodie! Mostly the interaction w/everyone is good....usually I get bored with the lectures.... it's mostly stuff you need to know but you are too tired to really pay attention. However, Nurse Jackie did do a stress talk and ppl were volunteered to tell stories about their host family situation.... Dan talked about his family & then I was convinced to tell my host brother frying my laptop story which Nurse Jackie was so mad about! I immediately regretted opening my mouth! It is a pretty sucky story, but nobody seems to have any solution.... Oh well....

After training, we hit Pasquales! yay! We had some pizza & beer til the Dangriga ppl caught their bus. The rest of us headed to a PCVs for some fusball (?I dont know how to spell) & Belikin. It was great to hang out for the evening, even though we had to be back for curfew by 9pm. As soon as I got home, my family asked if I was drunk.... hahahahaa. They think I'm crazy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Mallory Needs in the Jungle....

So I have decided the best way to answer any questions of people thinking about care packages is to put it in my blog.... lol. So I dedicated this to all the things I miss and need from home! hahaha

What I ALWAYS need:
-LETTERS FROM ANYONE!!! =)
-chocolate! it's impossible to find here!
-anything edible that can be shipped!
-gatorade/crystal light powder packs
-ntbks/journals/pens
-tide pens &/or stain remover
-tampons!!! (nobody uses them in Belize!) that's a big one!
-bathing products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash....the good kinds!)
-body lotion...my skin is dying!
-bandanas/sweat absorbing cloths.... ? haha


Other things: (besides a laptop, which I am officially starting a fund for....)
-an agenda
-backpack
-"adventure" sandals (aka not my leather rainbows that make it impossible to swim & hike....)
-memory cards
-tank tops!
-shorts!!

I tried really hard to think of things for those lists! haha Really some foods are what we are always craving, especially chocolate & such... Right now I'm not dying too badly for anything... We will see how drastically that changes when I get to my permanent site! hahaha

Thank you in advance!!! =)

& in case you forgot:
Mallory Begley
PCV
PO Box 492
Belmopan
Belize


B'otik! (thank you!)


also check out:  http://picasaweb.google.com/pcbelize2010 for pics!!!

chukuh!!

Our little reunion is Belmopan was great before going back to our host families! It was Matt A's bday, so we hung out for a bit and I tried Papaya wine for the first wine!! ...very interesting... lol.
I was not looking forward to coming back to San Martin after all that fun, but it was a surprisingly great reunion! My host family was genuinely excited to see me & hear about my weekend! and I even got hugged by Dino when I gave him the FIFA PS2 game! (Thanks Matt, they were SO SO excited to have a "real" game! The only versions they get are bootlegged.... You are great!)
And they have finished almost ALL of the new toilets they are putting in!!! ANDDDD, they are FLUSH toilets!!! .... I'm getting so spoiled.... lol.
I also cut myself on my windowsill.... now i have a huge gash on my back.... I'm such a klutz! haha

But, everyday I am reminded that I do, in fact, live in the jungle....Spiders & roaches & rats during dinner.... oh belize it! I woke up dreading going back to training on Tuesday morning.... a great 4-20: language class all day! oy! It was long & tiring.... ugh. The girls were kinda annoying all day b/c they hadn't seen me, so I got really no privacy...but that's how kids are in general.... haha not a Belize thing! We now have 2 extra people in our house: Mrs Sotz oldest daughter and one of her sons. Her son, Evangelisto, goes to high school in the area so he stays during the week. And Anastasia is one of the aunts & she just hangs out for periods of time. (they live in Armenia, a village not too far away). So quarters are a little tighter, but that always makes things so much more interesting! haha Anastasia also made some great-smelling gingerbread! But I did see a cockroach crawl into a pot on the stove & I watched the amount of lard she put into it.... I just could NOT bring myself to actual eat it.... But fresh ground ginger is amazing!!! hahahaha

That afternoon I went on a walk w/Dino... basically we looked at video games & he showed me off to his high school buddies at work.... Oh, sixteen year old boys.... It was funny, but he's a sweet kid.

Then there was a mini crisis at the house! Mrs Sotz's other daughter, Ricarda, (who is Alana & Eluvia's mother) was having surgery... I tried to figure out exaclty what on & it sounded closest to something like an ovarian cyst (which is ironic for anyone who knows my medical history!) Anyway, there was some drama & she was at the hospital with her 2 year old son & the newborn baby & then her husband came & took them & so she left the hospital & it was a major crisis! On TOP OF THAT, Mrs Sotz told Alana & Eluvia that their mom was going to die the next day b/c she was having surgery while upset..... OMG, suck drama! Everyone was going crazy.... understandably so. But in the end, I think Ricarda was ok... They never really all know what it happening.... It's a very confusing culture....

Anyway, to ease everyone's minds... we watched Disney movies! haha I have watched so much Disney lately! It's crazy!!! Mrs Sotz even watched Sleeping Beauty with us (again) & it was so cute... she reminded me of a little girl! I don't think she had ever seen Disney movies before. She's precious! I was exhausted on that first day back (& watching 2 disney movies in a row!) so I headed to bed... but, of course, was met by spiders galour! I had a pregnant spider in my room!!! Which has now caused a huge spider problem!!!! I was freaking out, killing spiders left & right.... I still am, lol. Ugh, I really need to take care of this siutation! Matt and Dan tease me that spiders are just attracted to me.... I'm starting to believe them!

The next day I was psyched that I had RAMEN for breakfast!!! a treat!  I was actually EARLY that day, (an hour ahead!) so I walked to Dan's for a change.... Dan's family got a new puppy!! It's so cute! But I know it will be neglected.... so sad. As Matt and I headed to Dan's, we realized we were all dressed identically..... White shirts & khaki/brown pants.... We officially hang out WAY to much! oh man. Wednesday was good b/c Cristo Rey-ers came back into town & we love seeing them!! So the day flew by. I hung out with Dan and his kids a bit after before dinner and then Matt, Dan, and I did work at Matt's and watched some Arrested Development before bed. For the first time since Matt has been here, a spider came in his room! He blames me.... hahaha. Really, is it my deodorant or what???! I don't get it!
I was a little bit pissy that night b/c I battled the spider fiasco again & the girls were not making it an easy killing event.... So I kinda of just tidied up, showered, & went to bed.... Craving some independence!!

Today was AMAZING! I used a FLUSH TOILET! They finally finished it!! I am officially in the lap of luxury!!!! On top of that, our HC group went to Cahal Pech for the afternoon (even though I just went on Sunday!)... We woke up early for language classes & then ate lunch out--a treat! The three of us got burgers & fries before heading with Chanda to San Ignacio! It was great! Then we all explored the ruins (& I got to be a bit more touristy!) & took LOTS of pics.... they will be online soon.... sad. But yea, it was so great! After the ruins, we spent the WHOLE afternoon in the resort pool.... AMAZING! We stayed there til we were all pruney & it was well after 5..... What a fantastic day!!

Oh, also... my Tech Trainer worked for Dick Clark Productions before PC & knows Dick Clark.... Dick Clark went to school w/my grandma! How weird & cool!!! Random....

Tomorrow is another PC Friday so we get to see everyone!! I think the Mopan-eers are going to watch Along Came Polly now.... So I'm gone.  I've been told to blog about what I should be sent.... so I'm gonna try that... lol.

ps: chukuh is "it's hot!" in Mopan...

Monday, April 19, 2010

oh host brother....

So I hit a rough patch of training.... it gets tiring being a teenager again! I like my independence! So I was kinda a pill all day.... just quiet & blah. But as classes started & such, I always get in a better mood.... Oh I love my fellow PCTs! We learned some Mopan songs in class & it was helpful material! I can actually understand some of what my host family says now!!! I'm practically a native.... hahaha.
That night I did some homework & busted out my computer again.... Well, that was a fail move b/c all the kids flock around to look at your computer... So I showed them some pics & then let them have a field day watching Sleeping Beauty... After that was over, Choni asked if he could listen to my music...Well, "listening to my music" turned into him hooking his phone up to my computer & downloaded stuff that made my computer explode..... you better belize it! Oh man.... bad day! So I was kinda crushed by that! So now I am computer-less & am starting the Mallory needs to by a new computer fund.... feel free to contribute.

I think I was in denial about my computer the next day.... We had a morning meeting with a local principal for teaching HFLE classes at their school.... It made me feel so productive! I'm so excited for our presentations!!! It's gonna be great! So that took up most of the morning & Mr Cal was in a really good mood for some reason, so he brought us coke & ice cream to class! (I'm gonna rot my teeth away!) haha We had an easy morning session & a quick & easy afternoon session. Now I drink coke a LOT because my family saw me with a coke & they think I'm obsessed.... Never show a Mayan that you like something.... Between that and bologna sandwiches, I can't escape anymore!!! hahahaha Mr Cal took us on a truck trip to Belmopan in the afternoon, always fun! I bought a new memory card b/c I apparently take millions of pics & used all of mine up!!! jeez! That night I had a serious girl night! I painted my nails & toenails, which all the neighborhood girls watched & joined, and EVEN plucked my eyebrows.... it was a seriously needed escape from boys club...hahaha. That night I also helped Alana with a homework 3D project of an airplane, car, & boat... I was impressed with my teacher innovation! hahaha I guess it runs in the Guizzetti blood.... I made an airplane out of a coke bottle & corn flakes box!!! go me! Alana told me I was her best friend that night.... It was sweet. I was glad to be a helpful hostee. Choni also told me not to leave b/c they like me..... Ok, I forgive him for exploding my computer..... maybe.

That night i woke up at 4am to rain & rats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I freaked out! They got all in my stuff! I think they liked my bubblegum flavored dental floss! yikes! what a night! I was so upset I couldn't sleep... I even made a frantic call to my mom.... I'm sure she appreciated! hahaha. I hate rats!!! I'm the only one I know of our group who has a rat problem in their room & stuff! gross. Rats have diseases! So now I'm getting rat poison, b/c I'm at war!!!  This is not over!!

Though I was exhausted from rats, still mourning the loss of my dear laptop, & we had no electricity or water, the next day was surprisingly great again! All HC (Healthy Communities).... sidenote: if you haven't noticed, the PC (Peace Corps) is obsessed with acronyms.... one day I will make you Americans a key so you can always be in the know.... ahhahahaa.
Anyway, we went to Belize City! The most dangerous city in Belize!!!! Wohoo crime! It was a GREAT day! In the morning we had two meetings with organizations our group will be working with: the Nat'l Drug Council & COMPAR, which might be the organization I will work with in Toledo! (One of the Mopan ppl will be). Anyway, there talks were so interesting & exciting because you got a feel of what PCVs will be doing once we start our service! So I got back on the "honeymoon" bandwagon & loved my life again! hahahaha
after our "serious" morning.... we went to Crocland! woohoo! Crocland was deserted! all to us!!! yea! it was basically a big pool with waterfalls.... apparently there was one croc somewhere, but only Dan & Owen saw it.... hahaha. I did see a jaguar! It was caged up & sad.... haha but we had a great time in our own private pool for the afternoon!!! awesome!
when we got home I hungout at Dan's house for a bit to play with his cute little host sister, Charlene (she's 3 yrs old!) & to check my email on his comp. I went home for dinner & some down time before we headed into Belmopan to meet ppl at Perk Up! Georgeville ppl were in town this time & we had a few beers and talked til it was time for our curfew again.... oh I love being a teen! hahaha. But, AS ALWAYS, great to see people!!!
that night i woke up to rats again.... but this time I didn't freak. I think you officially become Belizean when you don't even bother to try to chase away the rats rummaging through your stuff.....I'm there! hahahaha.
Nonetheless, I was pretty tired Friday after being woken up by rats 2 nights in a row.... So I struggled through group training... Luckily, Friday we were heading to our mini vacas with other PCVs for the weekend! So we got through our sessions & we had the Ambassador from the US come talk to us! (His wife is friends w/ Obama from college).... he was a cool guy.... His wife got 5 Bot Flies in her scalp! GROSS! anyway, he was a good speaker & seemed pretty nice.... He gave us some good info. We got a lot of information Friday, from volunteers about secondary projects & HIV information & all that jazz... We even all got to use a condom on bananas! Can we say repeat of 7th grade health class??? I think so! haha Finally, we left for our sites visits!!!!
Me, Heather, Shannon, Larry, & Colleen were all heading west. We luckily caught an express bus around 4 and got into San Ignacio pretty quickly! It was so nice! We met up with the volunteers we were staying with and all headed out for a beer! Oh, I love town life! hahaha. We enjoyed a weekend of normalcy! Away from our host families & away from being a Mayan radical! hahaha It was a good break. The first night we talked and hung out in a blackout watching the heat lightning! So cool. We went to the river a couple times, which is amazing and gorgeous! We could jump off a rope bridge.... it reminded me of that game with the Golden Monkeys? Someone help me out with that game?? With the big Mayan stone that shook the bridge? Anyone?   Anyway, we saw pigs that were the size of giant cows!!! I thought they were elephants.... no joke. They are on steroids or something!!! oh man. We also got up to the Cahal Pech ruins.... my first Mayan ruins!!!! They are not very tall, but so amazing! And the best part is how free you are in the reserve! You can climb all over & up the ruins... it's very cool! I took lots of pictures, even though my camera was having a heat stroke! We had to climb a MASSIVE hill in San Ignacio in order to reach the ruins.... I'm so tan though!!! hahaha. San Ignacio also has the most AMAZING market on Saturday mornings! We got some fresh veggies and food and we combined to make an awesome dinner on Sat night! It was bbq chicken & salad with REAL ranch dressing & even croutons! (sent from the States)... & then we had mashed potatoes & watermelon & pineapple!!! SO SO SO SO GOOD!!!!! best meal ever.... hahahaha. I also ate a cheeseburger one night!!! Haven't had one of those bad boys in so long!!! I also got to watch pretty much the whole season of Glee at Christa's house! Gillian will be so proud!Basically, San Ignacio was an amazing weekend of fun! 

OMG I think I have finally caught up!!!! I am back in Belmopan & hanging out here til later when I have to go back to San Martin! So I am going to HANG OUT with people now!!!!! til the next lizard bites my toe.....

gardening!

Sunday we built a garden! We sharpened our battered machetes from the cohune adventure & headed to Dan's house to build our very own little vegetable patch! So cute! I never knew gardening was such hard work!! (That is probably why I never helped my mom garden all those summers in NY when she would spend endless hours in the sun.....) hahaha! Sorry Mom! We made our own fence out of sticks & cohune leaves, even with a gate to get inside! It's pretty classy... I'll post pics one of these days...
Dan's kids "helped" us with the garden, which basically meant they stole our tools and broke things.... haha But they did actually find us some really good black dirt, which turned into a big project for the 7 of them. they were cute & by the end of the afternoon we had racked up about 10+ kids helpings us out!
after the garden I had empanadas for lunch! so SO good! best meal yet.... loved it! I ate & headed out w/ Choni & Dino to a Bernardo's soccer tourney! We show up to the field and, I kid you not, there were 60 men & not a single woman.... Wow, talk about out of place. But whatever, it was so cool to watch these guys play, many of them without any shoes! Crazy! I started kicking around with Choni & then some of the younger boys wanted to shoot with me & stuff. It was fun & I got a good sweat in for the day. I came home a little before the tournament ended to do ALL MY LAUNDRY! Now, if you need a good arm workout in your life, get rid of your washer and dryer & do your laundry mayan-style. Oh man! My arms were like jello when I finished!!! It's so hard to do laundry! And my family even has a spinner, which is less work! Jeez, I can't wait til I'm in the river & it's even more work! ahhh!  When Choni got home, he told me all the guys at the field said that Gringa could really control the futbol.... Ahh, my favorite thing to hear.... hahahaha. 

The next day was another Cristo Rey day! Cristo Rey is beautiful!!! It's in the hills and a spanish speaking village & just so gorgeous! We had a great day of training.... lots of motivation & info! We got to see all the Cristo Rey ppl's houses & the river during lunch, which they are in palaces compared to us!!!!!! Oh man! After sessions, we convinced Chanda to take us to the waterfalls for an hour or so.... she's awesome & agreed!  The falls were so pretty! It was such an amazing place! You could jump off the rocks & swim & there was no one there but us. So much fun!!!   Then, on the way home, we followed a tractor full of cow intestines..... only in Belize. =)
That night I was able to call my parents for their anniversary! Always love calling home.... Then we did some homework at PC before going home.... My host family asked me if I was drunk..... They hate me..... hahaha I was completely sober! Oh my life..... They judge this radical gringa!!! hahahahaa

Dyoos! Bikiileech?

Tuesday started language classes, even though we had all kinda picked up some Mopan over the weekend with our families, it was SO exciting to officially start class! Mopan is an incredibly hard language! & it's not really a written language, so it's all about emphasizing the correct letters in each word. So strange, but crazy cool! We got lost on our walk to class b/c we listened to Matt, haha, and ended up taking the long way around....but we were still early, b/c we are crazy Americans. Class was fun & went by pretty fast! We had sessions from 8-12 and then walked home for lunch, where Mr. Sotz acknowledged me for the first time since I got to their house!!! He asked me if it was hot outside in Mopan and I understood him!!! It was a major breakthrough... I was stoked!! He & I ate lunch together before he headed to work & I went back to class. After class we went into Belmopan to get some internet time and AC!! When I got home my host family watched Apocalypto with me...so cool! They understood the language & were explaining to me every detail! It was funny. Who else can say they watched Apocalypto with real Mayans???! That night we hung out and then i went to bed.... fail. There was a rat in my "room" area!!! Yikes! I was so scared! It was right above my bed! There was rat poop on my little shelf and on my bed and mosquito net! So yuck!!! The rat scurried around and Sofia chased it with a broom.... it would not leave! Finally, Choni came in and got it outta our house! It was a crazy mess... so the rat finally left and I was just about to lie down when I noticed there were ants ALL over my wall! Ahhhh! I killed all of them...yes, I'm a murderer.... so ONCE AGAIN, I tried to get into bed, when all of a sudden we had huge roaches!!! Ahhh.....there were like 4! Oh man... so bad. As we are chasing the roaches, we find huge spiders too! OMG it was too many critters to handle for one night!  I was FREAKED...  So I finally got to sleep, but I left the light on to keep the rats away! Oh man, the next day I woke up in crisis mode.... I was in the worst mood of my entire trip thus far... I woke up and went to the latrine & there was poop all over the seat again!!! I was disgusted! Matt & Dan came to pick me up & knew from my expression that it was a crisis day... But as soon as I vented to them & we got to the Resource Center, my mood altered dramatically. I love my PCTs! It was also a great day b/c all the other Healthy Community volunteers came to San Martin to do our Tech Session! So we got to see the other 5 who are in Cristo Rey! It was a great class day! and during lunch we showed them our village & our host family places! It was so nice! Lunch was actually fantastic that day! So amazing! After lunch we were given our machetes!!! Who would of thought I would be allowed to play with a giant knife??!! OMG, so cool! Anyway, the end of the day was sad when they left, but such a great day!
That night I played with my host family and all the neighborhood kids.....so exhausting! They love "bat" which is their version of baseball... We use a tennis ball and a plank of wood.... It's fun! They tired me out.... But it was a great afternoon and so much fun! After dinner, I hung out in the kitchen w/Mrs Sotz and Sofia. Mrs Sotz was telling me a bunch of family stories and trying to be very personal, which is always hard with the language barrier... Anyway, she was telling me about how she got beat up by her ex-son-in-law a few years ago and that's how she lost her front tooth and lost a lot of weight. It was the saddest story I ever heard... She said that because that incident she got the "sweet blood" which is diabetes. Clearly, she didn't get diabetes from that, but it just shows you how little people know about health in the community. Still, I felt closer to her...like she trusted me! It was a sad night, but I was glad to have the conversation with Mrs Sotz.
The next day was our 1 week anniversary in the village! I had eggs for breakfast....again.... it was egg soup, which is really just eggs in a massive amount of oil! Gross! So unhealthy! Anyway, we met Mr Cal in the morning to ride on the bus to San Ignacio! It was our bus riding practice day! hahaha We rode to San Ignacio, walked around the town & market, bought a bunch of bananas, & ate about 20 tacos before getting back on the bus! haha On the way home we stopped by Georgeville to see everyone, which was so great! Then we headed home and breaked for lunch.... That afternoon we were dead in language class! It was SO hard & we were exhausted from the field trip! We decided to ride bikes, (since we have helmets now), to the river in Belmopan after class. So fun! Matt's chain kept falling off, but we made it there & got to cool off in the nice river!!! On the way back we stopped at an italian/American restaurant, Pasquales, for food & beer! We hadn't drank in so long! We had an amazing italian dinner & split a pitcher & then the owner bought us another pitcher! It was awesome! We were nice & relaxed & then headed out to meet all the belmopan ppl at Callahan's for dinner! Matt & Dan ate again, but I resisted for the 2nd dinner, haha. We then all headed to Perk Up for open mic night & beers! It was such a fun night!! We had to be careful & not drink too much before riding home, but it was still really fun! Me, Matt, and Dan headed back around 9 & when I got home I could tell that everyone was talking about me in Mopan! It was so awkward! Then Fernando asked me if the italian place was good! HE KNEW! Somehow he saw me at the restaurant with my friends!! Ahh, I couldn't escape. I'm not sure if he saw me drinking, but oh man, what a bad day! I tried to play it off like "oh, you should have come say hi!" But it was bad... I was so uncomfortable..... I went to bed.
The next day was our first all-trainee session back in Belmopan!! It was so exciting to see all 38 ppl again!!! Mr Cal gave us a ride in his truck, so it was an awesome start of the day.... & we spent the first hour just catching up with everyone!! So fantastic! Everyone has funny stories & shoosh to share! The sessions that day were really helpful & interesting...& I was in a good joke-making mood so it made it go by faster! woohoo! A bunch of us went to dinner after before the southern people caught their bus outta town... we went BACK to Pasquales... haha. But this time it was just dinner, no beer. It was a great meal & then we walked back to Ring Road before getting a taxi home in the dark. Dan, Matt, and I thought we were SO clever to take a taxi to the chiney (store) at the beginning of our town, thinking no one will know we stayed so late.... & then I get home & not only did Fernando see me at Pasquales AGAIN, but Choni saw me at the chiney get out of the cab!!! OMG I cannot escape my host family!!! I have such bad luck!!! It was such an awkward night... I pretended like I didn't eat & helped my host mom cook some fish for dinner.... FULL fish again.... so odd. I get weirded out about eating a fish that looks into my soul as I devour it..... hmmm. Anyway, the rest of the night I busted out pics of family & on my computer for them to see. Everyone really liked them & it made the night a little less awkward.
On Saturday we had a GREAT morning language class! We learned so much & played really productive games to remember the vocab! I was pretty impressed with our progress all before lunch.... it was great. We headed home for lunch & I hung out with all my host bros & the guys working on their new, cement latrine in the back of our property. I tried my Mopan out on them & it was fun, hahaha. They get a kick out of the Gringa trying to speak Mopan! I ate lunch quickly, even though we had a mini monsoon & we had to run outside & save the laundry frantically!!! But I finished quickly & headed to Mr Cal's so we could sharpen our machetes!!! So cool! I feel pretty badass carrying a machete, I'm not gonna lie... hahahaha. Anyway, the machete adventure had to wait until our afternoon session, so sharpening them was a tease! We had a quick language session & headed out into the bush!!! It was amazing! Mr Cal, his brother, his son, & his friend, & us three gringos headed to the "backabush"! It was so cool! We were on a mission to cut a cohune tree down.... we needed the leaves for a garden fence. You should look up a cohune tree.... they are HUGE!!! But Mr Cal's bro and I cut down one all by ourselves!!! It was so hard! I never sweat so much in my life!!!! Oh man, I think it took us so long! I got a huge blister on my palm AND the blister popped all before we were done cutting --(yea, that was a painful experience later...) But I had some pretty sweet battle wounds, & it showed all the men I was with that I could handle the backabush.... go me. hahahha.
That night we had planned to have a party at one of the current PCV's house in Belmopan.... Well, I had to ask to go out... Yes, I am a teenager again... & my host mom told me no when I asked if I could be out til 10!!!!! OMG can you believe it??! Yikes! I had to beg & basically tell them that I WAS gonna go out in order for it to happen.... Oh man, is this real life? hahaha So we headed into town & had an amazing time w/ friends! Everyone was catching up & drinking, but I had to get home to Mom & Dad, so I had to behave.... yes, I was responsible! hahaha Imagine that! It was worth the judging looks I got from my family when I was home again.... hahahaha.

rest of Easter weekend...

Easter Sunday: began at 4:45am! Oh Boy! It was the City Council sunrise service, which was an interesting mix of all the churches and denominations in Belmopan and also the City Council, making it an awkward mesh of church and politics. There were a LOT of gringo missionaries there and it was a basic repeat of the same 20 words during the whole 2 1/2 hour long service! It was a lot to handle. Matt, Dan, & I were so uncomfortable! But we did get to meet the mayor of Belmopan, because Matt's house sister is on the Village Council. After church I got dropped off at home just in time to attend Easter Mass at the Catholic church with Alana. As is the Belizean way, we were about 15 minutes late, taking a slow stroll into town for church. The mass was standard Catholic mass with a Hispanic feel in some areas. It was cool and familiar, so I enjoyed it. And Alana was so excited to have me with her so it was nice. Also, I ran into Nate & Michele, two other volunteers, in mass! So that was fantastic!
   Alana & I got home from church around 9:30 and the day was just beginning but I had been up for so long! I hung around and ate a little--because my host mom is always feeding me!-- before calling my parents for Easter. I talked to them for a good 45 minutes & all of San Martin knew by the end of the convo. The "shoosh" (which is gossip) travels so fast! Except it was that I spent 3 hours on the phone today. Oy!
    Around 12pm we headed over to Mr Cal's, our LCF (language & cultural facilitator). He had us over for an Easter lunch that was amazing. We had chicken caldo, rice & beens, corn tortillas, bananas, oranges, & ice cream! (which my host mom had also given me ice cream on the WAY to his house! haha) It was so good! We just relaxed in his hammocks and stuffed our faces, enjoying some separation time from our host families. It was a great break and was much needed by us 3.
   As is always the case, as soon as I got back from stuffing my face at Mr Cal's, my host mom had lunch ready at home. We had fish caldo.... which was a full fish in my broth!!! It had the fins, the eyeballs, the scales, & everything! Eek! It was so weird to eat!!! Crazy! Another day of 2 lunches.... jeez!
    The rest of Easter I just hung out w/my host family. I watched them play PS2 and talked with my host mom, trying to learn Mopan here & there. The only really weird thing I've noticed about my host mom is that she is constantly using her metal hair clip as a Qtip....it weirds me out! hahaha

Easter Monday: Was our last day of vacation before classes started! Which we 3 were excited about because it was getting tiring to be at home with our host families ALL day! Mr Cal decided to take us to the river for our last day off so we were stoked! We thought we were going to the same Belmopan river, but he surprised us and took us down the Hummingbird Highway out past Armenia somewhere (I forget the name of the place/river). It was beautiful! Just the drive there alone, which was about an hour in the back of Mr Cal's pickup truck, was gorgeous! Just jungle and random little villages. Armenia is also such a pretty and quaint little villages. It was similar looking to San Martin, I thought. The river was full of children swimming, women washing, and people bathing. It was so nice. We swam forever! It was SO nice!  On the way home, Mr. Cal took us to Blue Hole, a national reserve. It was amazing! It's a whole jungle of different plants and trees and paths and down at the bottom is a small lagoon. The water is SO blue! Bright blue from limestone deposits! It's beautiful! We swam in the blue part and then explored the other side, where there was a scary cave! We weren't prepared with flashlights, so we didn't explore to much.While we swam, Mr Cal's wife bathed. Apparently there are tons of caves and places to explore around there as well. Maybe I'll go back to explore....
  We drove home in the amazing back of Mr Cal's truck... best place ever! Then I hung out with my host family for awhile, helping cook and wash and such. That evening, I went over to watch Bernardo play soccer with Dino. We went to the UB field right by our house, but they were wrapping up to move to a field in Belmopan. I decided to go with them, so we walked all the way there. On the way back between one field and another, we stopped home to grab extra water and such and I totally walked in on my host mom naked! It was so awkward! I think she was about to shower and normally doesn't mind being naked around her family, BUT so awkward! I tried to pretend I was texting and she ran to the other room and put on a towel. My life is so weird.... So anyway, we walked to the field and it was about 45 minutes to get there. There were 2 other teams playing, so we kicked around for half an hour before Bernardo's team played. It was fun to kick the ball around and hang out w/Dino. And then Michele & Nate met me there b/c they were on a walk! American interactions are great!!! I get all excited! hahaha We stayed for Nardo's whole match and they won 2-1... it was a pretty awesome game. We walked back & it was almost ten by the time we got home. I think my host mom and Sofia were kinda mad at me for hanging out with the boys.... Apparently it means you are a whore in Mayan culture.....fantastic! I got home and ate, dealt with some cockroaches, ran over to Matt's to watch the end of Apocalypto with Dan and his family, and then went to bed.... Phew! Exhausting holiday weekend!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

my mosquito net has a blood stain....

Unfortunately, I'm still in catch up mode.... So much is happenining and I never have internet or time to write! So here goes...

Day 2:  I made it through the first night! Unfortunately, I didn't tuck my mosquito net under my bed before I went to sleep and a large lizard bit me in the middle of the night! I woke up to pain around 2:30 am and scrambled for my phone to see my toe was bleeding! I got blood on my mosquito net, too! Yikes! I was so tired, I couldn't even be bothered to get up and see what got me! hahaa The next morning I woke up and everyone was so concerned about my toe! The kids, (Alana and the neighbors), were searching around my room and found a HUGE lizard under my bed! They chased it out but it was easily the size of my forearm! Unreal! My first official PC injury.... hahahhahaha

The second day was Friday, so it was still Easter vacation. I was a little skeptical about the day because I scared myself with the latrine incident! But it was actually pretty nice. I hung out w/ Mrs. Sotz and learned to make flour tortillas and helped with general duties. I also experienced the shower for the first time! Second speed bump! Of course, all our water is cold, so that takes a little to get used to. Then, my shower is just a little too small for me... Mayans are short! So I had to squat a little bit or else, well you fill in the blank... It was very awkard, but I'm used to it now!
The day was pretty laid back. I played softball, or "bat", with Alana and some neighborhood kids for awhile in the afternoon. Then I watched the Lion King with Choni, Dino, and Alana...they love Disney movies! The only really weird thing that night was a bat flying into the guys' room and hitting Mr. Sotz in the arm and then flying out! I freaked out and they all laughed at me! Also, the guys got a PlayStation 2 that night which was a major deal! They have Madden and Tiger Woods games and it's the novelty of the block! All the boys come play now! It's funny. Boys are boys everywhere.....
Otherwise, nothing else really happened that I can remember....

Day 3: Holy Saturday!
Holy Saturday is the big day for the cross-country bike race in Belize: Race de la Garland I believe it's called. The guys turned on the tv really early to hear the start of the race. Nardo was talking about going, but decided not to until he saw the look of excitement on my face! So he took Alana and me down past Roaring Creek to watch them cross through there. It was a few miles to walk to, (they were on bikes and I ran the first half of the way....ugh! so hot!).. but it was totally worth it! On the walk there, we passed a HUGE., GIGANTIC turkey! I got really excited and pulled out my camera to take a pic.... Well, that very large bird did not think that was funny and proceeded to chase me down the dirt path! It was so mean! I was scared for my life! Yikes! After that crazy happening, the rest of the journey was smooth.  We waited for about an hour for the bikers to pass by. It was so cool! I got a video and pics of them.... awesome! When we walked back it was only like 10:30 in the morning. I stopped by Dan's to tell him about the race before heading back to the house. We hung out and showered until lunch, and then Alana took me over to Maya Mopan, the neighboring village, to meet her mom. It was her mom's birthday and she planned a big lunch that I was invited to, even though I had already eaten-- i find this lack of communication often happens in Belize-- so I ate again! Lunch number two was amazing: bbq chicken and beans and ariina (which is flour tortilla in Mayan). It was so good and I was FULL before we left. Matt & Dan came to pick me up with a bunch of kids and we walked around for awhile. Then we went over to Mr Cal's house (our professor) to hang out...we brought practically the whole neighborhood with us! But it was nice to chill in his hammocks! After a relaxing time, we all went out to play futbol on the field by our houses. Matt had to eat, so he went home, but Dan and I took all the kids out. It was madness! One of Dan's host brothers got tackled and knocked his front tooth loose & was bleeding! (The baby tooth ended up falling out the next day!) We couldn't handle the madness of 20 kids for too long, so we left after only about half an hour or so. On the way home, Matt's host family us in off the street for my 3rd lunch of the day: amazing chicken kaldo! It was so good!  I was exhausted by the time we got home that evening. I helped cook dinner and watched Spirit with Choni and Alana before bed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

welcome to the jungle!

I've left the "paid carribbean vacation" and entered into the Mayan world. I don't even know where to begin with my adventures for the past 5 days. San Martin is a rural Mayan Mopan village just outside Belmopan... but even though it's walking distance from the capitol, it's about 7 worlds apart.

ok  i think the easiest way to do this is  break is down by days...so bear with me, this is gonna be one heck of a post!

Day 1:

We had early morning training on Thursday,with a few speeches by our training team: a stream of emotions and exitement filled the room! We couldn't wait to leave for our sites! After lunch it was like a mad house as everyone cleared out in a frantic and quick goodbye. It was madness! Matt, Dan, and I hopped into a car and were in San Martin in no time.  Dan was dropped off first to his host family. As proper etiquette, we all got out to see his new home and meet the family. He is in a one room house, with a wall separating his "room" from the family. The family is parents and 7 kids under the age of 12! The next stop was Matt, which incidentally was across the street from Dan. He has a MESS of people in his house, I can't even account for all of them! But he has a really cool set-up and his own room WITH a lock!  Finally, we headed to my site....which turned out to be directly behind Dan, so we are all SO close. (which was turned out to be so great!)  The initial interaction was so AWKWARD! My host family is my host mom & dad: Mr. & Mrs. Sotz, 5 of their 8 kids live at home, and one of their grandchilren. Only Mrs. Sotz and her youngest son, Claudino, were at home when I first arrived. Mrs. Sotz speaks very little english, so it was very hard to communicate. I talked with Dino a lot, but it was so, SO weird! My house is a few rooms that are separate "houses." When you walk in the front yard, to the left is the room where Sofia, the oldest daughter who lives at home (age 32), Alana (the 9 year old granddaughter), and I sleep. My "room" inside the room is separated by a lace curtain, so basically I'm in the same room as them. haha There are 2 "beds" and a hammock, which is actually pretty good for most of the homes in the village. They share a dresser and we have a shard of glass as a mirror, but I have a mosquito net! The next house is the dining room/storage room. That's where we eat. There is a small table that seats 3 and a tiny sink. (we DO have running water!) On the right in the front yard is the shower....yes, I have a shower! I really got the good stuff b/c the other guys bucket bathe! haha My shower is, of course, cold water and it's awkward that it's in the front yard and everyone can see you when you shower. Even MORE awkward is that the shower is made out of palm leaves.... yes, you heard right: palm leaves that are braided together. It looks really cool, like out of Swiss Family Robinson, but is definitely see-through. Hello Central America!
If you continue through the dining house you will walk right into the guys' rooms, which is probably the coolest place in our home. Right now Mr. & Mrs Sotz are sleeping with the 4 boys, who are 16 Claudino "dino"), 19 (Asunzion "choni"), 23 (Bernardo "nardo"), & 25 Fernando "nando"), because I stole their bed for the next 5 weeks. But the room has 2 hammocks in the common area and then there are 2 rooms with beds. And, a new addition as of this weekend is a tv and play station 2 that Asunzion just bought! they have 2 games and its a novelty among most of the guys/boys in the village! Quite the hotspot!

Mrs. Sotz also has a "kitchen" out to the back left which is a room where she makes all her big pots of beans and tortillas. And finally, the best part.........the latrines out back. We have 2 latrines. One that has an open door that I have not and will never use...hahaha.... and then one that is just a wooden box with a wooden block above ground and a whole lot of crap- literally- below ground! Ahh.... real life.

Phew, that's just the introduction of my new home! So back to my first day. Luckily, Claudino talked to me until everyone else got home, so it was not as bad. I did have one conversation with Mrs Sotz and in her very little amount of English she told me about the people across the street, (who she is related to because everybody is related someway or another), anyway she told me that their father died 2 years ago because he was pulled off a bus and sliced in the stomach with a machete and his guts pulled out!!! OMG, welcome to San Martin! I was scared....

Once evening hit, Mr Sotz came home and and the guys dropped in and out, but mostly ignored me that first day. It is kinda funny because Mr Sotz does NOT speak english at all and he basically just pretends I'm not there, which I think is more cultural of the men than rude, BUT he does CONSTANTLY burp and fart ridiculously loud the entire day. And nobody even flinches! I guess that's what happens when you eat beans for every meal!  One of the funniest things during the first day is when Nardo put on the radio and the Black Eyed Pease "I've got a feeling" song came on in Spanish! I felt like I was at home.... but also so nooooot!

As the night progressed, my host mom and Alana gave me a Mopan language lesson, which was intense and so hard! They tried to teach me as many words as possible and I was so confused! I also helped my host mom with lunch and dinner....yes, I cooked! We made homemade corn tortillas and also chicken, rice, beans and "salad" full of fresh veggies. Mrs Sotz is an AMAZING cook...her food is so great! (Even though I am definitely sick of rice and beans, she still makes great food!)  That was pretty much the first day.... I thought, "ehh, this isn't too bad...I can totally do this!" But alas, I faced my first real challenge of my adventure thus far: the latrine. Not only did I face the latrine for the first time, but I didn't even have to pee until dusk, so it was a dark latrine!! It is a SCARY experience! And the stench is probably the worst part! OMG a porter pottie is like heaven after you experience this!! haha Then, of course, I had to pee AGAIN later that night! So I grabbed a flashlight and headed to the ever so smelly box they call a bathroom. I held my breath and headed in met by flies and cockroaches, ugh! So gross! But the topping on the cake was a HUGE spider that was right below the wood squatting area that just looked like it was ready to attack my behind as I headed for the squat..... I couldn't do it! I ran out of the bathroom and acted casual as I went back into the kitchen.  I was trying my very best to hold it.... but I knew it had to come out..... I sucked it up and told Alana that I just couldn't go in, I was terrified of the spider! She came with me, yes the 9 year old girl, and took me back to the latrine, grabbed a pole, and killed the spider and waited for me to do my business. Boy, I felt like an American girl..... But yuck!  What a first day/night!!!!! I headed into bed and prayed that I was going to be able to survive this place.....

Ahhh....I thought I would get through more, but it looks like the rest of the adventures will be put on hold til the next time I can get into town. 

bineen!

Washing Pan Di Rock

Washing Pan Di Rock
Crique Jute Village
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