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

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons.... Make a Lemon Drop!

The following day (Tues) was the 29th of June. Mr Assi finally spoke to me--all he said was I had 2 days left in the house. Ahhh. So I ate and left for work early because I felt awkward at home. Work was actually a really fun, good day. We got an intern from Barbados who will be working with me for 2 months. Because she was knew, our big boss took us out for lunch-- yay free lunch! haha
That afternoon I spent time hanging with Michelle.... we walked around and took pics and chatted...very touristy, but nice. I needed a good relaxer. I tried to look around for some places to rent before heading home for dinner and quality time with those cute little puppies!

I went to bed early Tues because Nester, my host bro, took me with him to thatch his house in San Antonio village on Wed! Me, Nes, and Omar left at 5am that morning! Soooo early! I rode in the back of the pickup all the way into the village--already a great start to the day! Since the poles were already up, all that had to be done was the actual thatching part. We met up with some village men and headed down to the river to grab the cohune leaves that had already been chopped. There were probably 50 leaves! And these leaves are HUGE.... each leaf is basically it's own tree. They are the entire length of a house... I don't even have a good way to describe it. So google it! haha Anyway, we had to drag the leaves and pile them into the back of Nes's pickup.... it took us four full loads of leaves to finally get them all over to his lot. Meanwhile, the Maya ladies bathing and doing laundry in the river were all staring at the crazy white girl dragging leaves with the men! hahahaha Once we got the cohune leaves up to his place, we had to split them all in half, because when you thatch you stack each half on top of the other. It was really funny, because I had split the leaves before during training when we built our garden, so when I walked up and split a leaf with no instruction, the guys were all really impressed. But after about 5 leaves, I started to get tired! It was hard work! And they split them SO fast! They can do about 4 in the time I finish one! hahahaha Eventually, I learned a trick to thrust my hip into the leaf and get it to split easier---that sounds really weird, but it works!
After they were all split, the thatching began! 4 guys got on the poles up top, and Nes and I stayed on the bottom. We separated the leaves into two stacks, based on which side they were split from. Then we passed up 8 leaves at a time, and after every 8 leaves, the guys used a large pointy stick and some wire to essentially "sew" the leaves together onto the poles. It was really cool! As the thatch got higher and higher, it was harder to pass the leaves up to them. I was sweating my butt off!!! During the whole time, the guys were drinking liquor to hydrate.... every now and then a glass of water or two...but mostly just rum. hahaha. I didn't want to drink because it was weird being the only girl and in a village. Gotta play it safe!
I had to be back to look at a house to rent, so we piled in the truck and started to head home.... But Nester pit stopped for a beer at the village bar and we all went in and before I even opened my mouth, had a beer. So much for being a girl in a village! I was so paranoid, but I guess since I thatched a roof with the men, I'm entitled to a beer with the men! Even so, I tried to be discreet and not be seen in the bar.
After our pit stop, we headed back into town. I made it just in time to look at a house out in Hopeville, a small area right outside of town. Michelle came with me to look at that house and then three other houses in town. I liked them but either they were too expensive or about to be rented by someone else... everything seemed to just not work out. After the house shopping, I hung out with Michelle at her place for awhile. We had a few stouts and made some dinner before I headed home to my host family. Luckily, everyone was already asleep by the time I got back!

The next morning I woke up early because we had workshops at COMPAR. I told Mr Assi in the morning that maybe we could negotiate extending my stay over lunch... maybe I could pay him weekly or something of that sort. He didn't oppose, though I can't really remember him saying yes either. But the family was sitting around the table and it just seemed like an "ok." So I went to work and came back around noon. Mr Assi wasn't home yet, so Mrs Assi insisted that I start laundry. I had been dreading laundry (it's such a LOOONG process), but I had nothing else to do. Finally, Mr Assi came back and lunch was on the table. I get inside and it was just me and him eating some pigtail. He asked if I had found any places to stay and I told him no luck as of yet. Then, without even being sympathetic that I had just explained I had nowhere to go yet, he told me that he needed the key to my room by that evening because they were leaving for San Antonio. He was rude and I was completely caught by surprise! We were the only two in the house and I wanted to cry! So I told him I would pack when I finished and went outside to get my laundry done as quick as possible. I had texted a few people, and before I knew it PC heard about the situation. But I couldn't talk because I was there with the family, so I left them in limbo for a few hours. Then, like an idiot, I got my phone wet and it stopped working! Right in my hour of crisis! Ahh, I was so upset!
So I finished up my laundry and proceeded to start packing in my room. I had to leave briefly to go look at another house, but I told Mr Assi I would be right back and finish packing. I came home and nobody came in to talk to me or help me or really say anything at all! I thought it was so weird. So finally, I finished getting all my crap in order and started bringing it out to the veranda. Once nearly everything was out, Tonya comes out and asks me where I was going. She said, "Mal, you goin on a trip?" And Mrs Assi and the family come to look and I told her no, that I was moving. I suddenly looked like a major jackass. I realized that Mr Assi didn't even TELL his family that he told me to move out. They had no clue whatsoever!!! I felt so stupid to assume it was a family decision, it was Mr Assi being bitter about PC. So I tried to explain that I had to leave. I went to collect my laundry that was still wet, and Mrs Assi and Romana told me to just leave it and stay one more night. Mr Assi wasn't in the room so I was trying to tactfully tell them that I wasn't welcomed another night. That he was the one who wants me to go, even though I don't have anywhere to go. So I felt really bad. Mrs Assi insisted I at least leave my laundry to dry and come get it tomorrow because they will be gone but Romana will be home. Mr Assi asked me how I would be leaving and I told him I would call a cab, but then Mrs Assi insisted Nester take me in his pickup truck. He, Cor, and Ant helped me load up and took me over to Nate and Michelle's house. Tonya started crying. She gave me a hairtie and some trinkets as a gift and was so upset. Mrs Assi gave me a pillow and some sheets. I felt weird accepting them w/Mr Assi in the next room just not saying anything. Before I left all he said was, "did you leave the keys?" and I told him where and left. Mrs Assi started to cry.... I felt like such a jerk.
We headed over and they helped me dump my stuff into Nate and Mich's spare bedroom. I told Antoinette that I would love to have stayed but I think her dad really wanted me out. The only comforting words I got that night were from her: "Sometimes I don't know what Daddy is thinking..." The way she said it made me feel like she understood the situation. Anyway, I said my goodbyes to them, and then sat in the empty house and starting crying. What a bad way to leave... What a bad situation!
I was a lot more upset than I even realized... I felt bad because Nate had to come home to me balling my eyes out... What a rough night.

The next day I didn't really do any work. I needed to relax. Michelle came home and we hung out. She went with me to grab my laundry and be completely done with the house. We went to watch the world cup game at Sports Bar before I got on the 2pm bus up to Cayo because I had another football match that weekend. Luckily, we made friends with the owner, Felix-- good connection to have. haha

I headed up to Cayo and was happy to escape the madness that had just erupted in my life. Luckily, I had a good weekend planned for me! Out with the old and bad, on with my life and fun! I got off the bus in Belmopan around 7pm and was starved!! I had been talking to Bernardo, my old host bro, and he came to meet me on the walk from the bus terminal. He had asked me out on a little date! (But I really wasn't sure it really was a date til that night, hahaha!)He didn't even tell his family, which is huge because they would've all wanted me to come visit and we couldn't have had dinner. We caught up and chatted all the way to the pizza place where he ordered a pizza for us to split --he asked me what toppings I wanted on it-- and got us two cokes... pizza is a BIG deal in belize....it's expensive stuff! He ordered and paid.... cute little guy! It was definitely a date... hahahaha. We had a really great time and talked a LOT about football. After dinner he walked me to my friend's house where I was staying. I dropped off my stuff and hung out with them and then we went to go watch his game. I was glad they came with me, because I would've been the only girl out there that night! It was just safer to have 3 of us instead of just me, too. Esp since the game was at 9pm...so late! Nardo's team tied, even though they should've won... I could tell he was a little angry about the outcome. But it was nice to watch.
At the end of the game he came over and I went to tell him "good game" and as I opened my mouth a HUGE FLYING COCKROACH went in it!!! I started spitting everywhere...how gross! I could not believe it!!! Well, I can believe it because it's me and weird things happen to me. hahahahaha

Saturday I left Belmopan and headed to Cayo, a different bus but only an hour or so trip away. I got there early and walked around the market for awhile--- Cayo has the BEST market! I actually ran into Alana and Eluvia, my old host family! They were so cute and hung out with me as I walked around. Eluvia wouldn't let go of my hand the whole time. It was cute. Finally, I met up with Amber in Cayo and we went to lunch. We were hanging out, when I get a call from my coach that the game was moved from Cayo to Esperanza! Ahh. It wasn't too far away, but still, I was in Cayo. So I had to get a taxi over to the field, but since I was late he took me off the starting lineup. So I had to sit out at first...sad, especially because Amber, Dena, and Jenna came to watch! But I got in and they got to see my team kill Dangriga 11-2! Intense! hahaha. After the game, my friends left and I was invited to one of the player's houses for the post-game party. It was awkward at first, because most of the team live all on the same hill. So we all walked over there and they went to change and eat dinner and do their own thing before we all met up and I was just hanging out. But soon the fun got started and we drank some rum and partied it up with some Belizean music... it was a good time! And the guys even gave me a ride back to Cayo to stay with Amber for the night, so I didn't have to worry about getting home! It was a fun,fun night!

The next morning was the 4th of july! Amber, Jenna, and I headed to see Dena's house and have breakfast with her. She made us pancakes!! Yum! They were delicious! And her place was so adorable! We ate and chatted and I had to scurry out of there in order to get the bus back home.... long journey ahead of me! The bus on sunday sucks! So it was packed and I was hot and gross and just wanted to make it home. I left in the morning....somewhere between 9 and 10... and got back to PG finally around 5 or 6. Dicky, a PCV in town, was having a 4th of July bbq and a lot of the village vols were in town. So I cleaned up and headed over there for a night of fun. A lot of ppl were there... even a bunch who were PCVs! It was a fun shindig. Owen and I played a fake Mayan flute and made it into a production... I played the entire My Heart Will Go On song on it...even though it was basically me just humming loudly into this wooden decoration, hahahahaha. The party ended relatively early, which I was glad because I was exhausted.

Oh, July has turned out to be an interesting month thus far!

Hurricanes Galore!!

June 22nd:

By Tuesday, we were in "Standfast" mode for our practice hurricane, which meant we would probably be evacuating for the drill on Wed. Typical me, I never got the call from our warden because my host mom was having me peel shrimp and I wasn't around my phone for awhile! haha. But Cali came over to tell me to check my phone and let them know I got the call.

Sure enough, Wed morning we got the call to take the noon bus to Belmopan. So it was a huge gringo fest, as everyone from Toledo brought their bags and hurricane supplies and headed on the bus up north. It was really funny and kind of ridiculous how many of us were on this bus....but still fun to get to see everyone! I think the conductor was overwhelmed by all of us, he couldn't tell us apart and skipped me and Cali at first when he went to collect money! We arrived in Bmp after 5 and headed to the PC office. It was a little bit of a walk, especially since we just got there, checked in, got a paper with instructions on it, and then had to head back out to the Garden City Hotel. Luckily, some of us got a ride back out there. Wed night was free for us... we just had a curfew so they could account for us during "hurricane zeus." We were able to go out to dinner and hang around in the hotel with everybody before then. It was fun! We had a couple of birthdays to celebrate--which meant cake and candy! woohoo! -- and then Kevina did hair cutting for everyone who needed it! I got a little trim trim. haha

The next morning, we all headed to the PC office bright and early at 8am. We had talks and went over the good and bad points of the hurricane drill--just standard things we have to do but are never fun... After that, nobody was in a rush to get home, so we hung out and got lunch, watched WC games, and did nothing.

Laura had 2 friends drive down from NY, all the way through Mexico, and into Belize to come visit her! So we met and hung out with them for a couple of days! They were pretty cool guys, and they gave us a ride into Placencia for Lobster Fest weekend! (Lobster Fest was this big weekend event that everyone was excited for because it was partying, dancing, games, events, lobster, the whole 9 yards!) We got a hostel with them for the night and had a fun time! Since we were in their car, we beat everyone there.... but soon enough the party started.

Lobster Fest was so much fun, but we barely got to enjoy it because we had to evacuate for a REAL tropical storm! (alex!) We had booked a hotel for the rest of the weekend, (a really nice hotel with a hot tub and tv and everything!) and we couldn't even enjoy it! Saturday morning we were told to get to PG and wait further instructions. Everybody was really bummed. We ate breakfast and headed back down south. Luckily, all the village people were put up in the hotel in PG, so we hung out and watched the World Cup and watched movies for the next 2 days. Thank God we never had to get fully consolidated to Belmopan again! hahaha At one point we did attempt to get some exercise, and a few of us went to the football field to kick around. Otherwise, it was straight bumming it was a few days! hahaha.

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I headed home to my host family. Unfortunately, Mr Assi was now home for summer break. He had had a little run in with the PC bosses and the Ministry of Education out in the village he works in and was not a happy man with Peace Corps. So he was pretty rude to me and made me feel very awkward when I came home. It was a weird situation, because he lived out in the village during the school year, so I don't really know him. I know and love the family, but when he came home, Mrs Assi never left his side! And they wouldn't speak to me! The night I came home after Lobster Fest weekend, nobody even got me for dinner...they ate and I was in my room reading and nobody bothered to tell me! It was so strange! Luckily, I'm close with the 2 daughters, Cornelia and Antoinette. I almost feel like their older sister... they tell me about boys and ask my advice now! It's cute.

Anyway, what a crazy week of events!

Placencia Mental Health Weekend!!!

June 18th:

So luckily for me, my football team was traveling to Placencia for a game!Saturday morning, I set out and headed up to Placencia for my first time! I met up with KC, a PCV in Independence, and we took the water taxi over. Beautiful!! Molly was also coming down for the game, and she brought Kim from Hopkins--our own little party. To top it off, Owen, Zander, and Cassidy were in town for Owen's b'day....so we had a whole little crew! We met up at the beach and KC paid for a night in a lovely hotel for us....she's so nice! Our mother hen!

We spent the morning swimming and relaxing by the sea, getting some sun.... probably the worst thing to do before a football match! hahaha. But it was much needed after the stress of last week and just being busy and overwhelmed. (It's amazing that it's a $9 bus trip here.... to paradise!)

Finally, around 3:30 Molly and I headed to the field for our game. Typical Americans, we were about an hour early... the team didn't even arrive in Placencia til about 4:15! (Our game was supposed to start at 3:30).

Our team barely warmed up and we got out there and looked like crap!! We were passing to nobody and missing stupid shots--it was terrible! We were down 2-nil by halftime. In the 2nd half we finally got our act together. Around 70 min into the game or so, I hit a through ball to Naki and she had a perfect finish! The momentum of the game instantly changed. We pounded in 2 more goals, to finish with a 3-2 win! (It was like the US World Cup game.... but our goal counted!) haha It was really great!! The team was pumped after the game! One of our fans came with a cooler full of Mexican beers-- non Belikin! woohoo! We drank beer and rum and had a little tailgate dance party! It was so much fun! And I felt like I was integrating in the best possible way! The girls were teaching me Kriol and it was just really, really fun! I learned "wah don kill ya, fattn ya!" Which basically means, what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger (fattens you).

Finally, they all had to pile into the bus to get back to Cayo. I got a ride back to our hotel and hung out with my friends. We ate and chatted and finally Cassidy and I decided to go out dancing. We headed to the Tipsy Tuna, which actually one of our fans was playing the drums at that night. So we said hi to him and he bought us a drink and then we ran into random people we knew! Cassidy saw a guy from her village, and then another guy who she hitched in with once. It was such a random night, but we danced and met people and just had so much fun! It was fantastic; really a hilarious night!

We headed home after we were beat from dancing and enjoyed our nice air conditioned hotel room....ahhhhh. The next morning I woke up late and relaxed for awhile. We all left the hotel to check into a cheaper place for the next night, because KC was leaving and we are poor! hahaha. So we moved our stuff and were heading to the beach when Ian, the guy we hung out with from Cass's village, called to invite us out on his boat for the day!! Twist my arm, we all agreed to go.

Ian was able to call in a favor and get us some snorkeling gear, so we got a free snorkeling trip! My first time snorkeling, too! It was beautiful!! We went out around the different cayes of Placencia... we snorkeled in the clear, blue water. I swam around coral, so beautiful. And we saw a LOT of fish and creatures! We saw stingrays, barracudas, giant starfish (that we picked up), sanddollars, and I even picked up a HUGE conch shell and Ian gutted it and we ate it! I never had conch before!!! It was a little bit weird to just eat right there, but not bad! hahaha. It was such an amazing day! Oh, lovin Belize!

We got home that afternoon and were pooped! We all kinda crashed and laid around lazily. Once we got the motivation, we got up and made garnaches with the stuff we bought on the way home. As we started to use the stove, we realized it wasn't working, so Cass went upstairs to make friends with our neighbor and borrow his stove.... turns out he's a former Peace Corps volunteer!! He was an older man, named Time, and he served about 30 years ago! He was such a cool guy, a real hippie from Cali who had just left everything to come travel down here and ended up falling in love with Placencia. He's been here for over a year now. We brought him up some dinner and hung out on his porch that night, just talking about PC and all kinds of random stuff. It's so great having random encounters with people like that!What a great night!

The following morning was the end of our trip....sad. Mental health weekend was over. Molly and Kim headed out on the bus early, while Cass and I had a little bit of time to kill before heading back on the water taxi. It worked out that I caught an express bus home from Independence, so I got home quick and had AC! woohoo!

Almost as soon as I walked in the door of my host family's house, I found out that we were going to be having a practice hurricane consolidation in a day or two and that I would be leaving for Belmopan. Ah! I just got home! I tried to explain what would be happening to my host mom, to no avail, and went out to make sure I had hurricane supplies.

That night, Mrs Assi decided to make homemade bread. Apparently, she wanted to teach me how...but she just started making it and never said anything to me! It was like 9:30 at night and I was tired and I started to head in to bed and that's when I found out she was making bread for me! I went in to read for a little and told her I would be out soon, but I was so tired, I just passed right out with the light on. The next morning, she told me she tried banging on my door at 1:30 am to tell me it was ready.... I sleep like a log, so I never even stirred. But why the heck would she make bread so late!!! Crazy lady, hahaha. Also, why would she try to wake me up! I was so happy that it's impossible to wake me out of my coma of a sleep because I had to get to work early the next day.... I would have been very cranky!

All in all, Placencia weekend was amazing!... But I could barely get back into the work routine because I awaited to hear further instructions for our practice hurricane event soon to follow...

world cup and PCVs

Monday 6/14/10:

Another working day. The internet was down, so I did a LOT of productive things at work! The best was, figuring out that COMPAR has the exact same camera as me! So I uploaded their pics and then uploaded MY pics to the comp too! Yay! I could finally share my pics! A lot of people were in town Monday, so I seemed to run into PCVs wherever I went! I watched the World Cup game before heading home to my family. I had some fun playtime with Pachy til he peed on me…. He peed right through my skirt and when I stood up it looked like I was peeing---oh boy, that kid!
I had football that night, so I finally asked if I could make myself a meal before playing. Since everyone knows I can’t cook, 2 sunny-side up eggs it was! Delicious! Finished off with mangos…Hahaha.
I met up with Sam to kick around at the field before playing with the Jah Roots. They were heated and more competitive than usual that evening—I thought there may be a fight a couple of times! But overall, I still had fun! And I played well, so I was pumped! I started learning names of the guys and I’m officially becoming a friend—well, maybe an associate. Hahaha
That night I used my great chess workshop experience and taught Cor how to play! It was fun!

Tuesday 6/15/10:

Village day, once again! I did my supervisions all morning, and some office work in the afternoon. I left around 3 and passed Michelle during her run—I asked her to come hiking with me and Cor because we were going up Sarah Hill again. It had poured the night before, so the hike was very slippery and muddy! I didn’t really prepare Mich for that, and I felt bad because she was slipping and sliding. I was torn because Cor was practically running up it no problem (she’s used to it), and Mich was struggling a lot and I was in the middle. Eventually, Michelle decided it was too slippery, so Cor and I finished the hike together. And the second time was just as good as the first—beautiful! I love that hike!
I spent a lot of time on my butt on the way down—the mud definitely was not on my side. Hahaha. But it was fun still. We met Michelle at the bottom and were exhausted walking back…. Luckily, we were able to hitch with someone back into IndianVille—yay! It was good we hitched because I made it home just in time to grab my spikes and head to the football field for practice!
That night we had more thunderstorms…. Which was cool because I showered after soccer outside in the thunderstorm…. Two-fold shower! Hahaha

Wednesday 6/16/10:

I took the day off from EVERYTHING on Wed! I woke up stressed….people were yelling in my house and madness was happening… come to find out, Panda, one of my host family’s dogs, had puppies the night before! Sadly, one died the first night, so only four remained. They were outside in the thunderstorms!
We had a PCV meeting with the PG police that morning, basically where the guy told us that we stand out and not to hang out with druggies…. Obviously! They also told us not to hang out with Rasta guys because of how they look….. interesting. All my football guys are Rasta men! But, I took what they said with a grain of salt, because they also said that we were just looked at as tourists anyway. Thanks a lot police force of Belize!
After our meeting, I enjoyed the various WC games with different people in different places. I enjoyed doing nothing for a full day! Oh life!
I went home and Mrs Assi made me a cohune cabbage meal that was surprisingly very good! I had cohune cabbage for 5 meals after that, so I got sick of it, but the first time was really tasty! I spent the afternoon playing with baby Pachy and Panda and her pups. Poor Panda—I felt so bad for her! The puppies are so tiny and cute…. Sad. I hope they make it!
I enjoyed a lazy afternoon nap before meeting people in town for dinner…. There’s always someone coming into town to visit it seems! Haha I rode my bike home and almost missed the rain…almost. I got drenched the last minute of my trip….fail. I went to bed listening to puppies crying all night…. So sad!

Thursday 6/17/10:

I started eating half of my meals and feeding Panda the rest. Poor mama dog! I went to work and Fido and I headed to the villages. All the recent rain flooded the bridge in San Jose, so after the long, long trip there, we couldn’t even get in and had to turn around! Ah, so bad! We did some of the closer villages before making it home for lunch.
That afternoon, the other dog, Scooby, chewed through my new bike handles and seat! Ahhhhh! I was so mad! Oh well, things get destroyed here!
I headed back in to work a little angry with Scooby. I then was told that I would be doing the staff meeting the following day that Samuel Choc was supposed to run…. Not prepared! I got overwhelmed and frustrated….. I was in the bitter barn. Haha. I’m not really supposed to be running staff meetings, that’s something the boss should do, so it was frustrating and when I tried to refuse, Samuel had the big boss in Belize city call me and kinda back me into a corner…. So0o0o, I agreed.
Luckily, I had football to get my frustrations out! Rion, another PCV, came into town to play that night—so it was extra fun! (And he helped me get out of going on a date w/one of the Rasta men!) I love these PCV boys that can always pose as my boyfriends….so handy to have around! Haha

Friday 6/18/10:

Friday I woke up and ran the staff meeting. It was actually a really good discussion and I got through to all the girls, (we call them Rovers). By the end of the meeting, they were even asking me questions and participating in the discussion! It felt rewarding! After we finished, I rushed to meet up with people to watch the USA world cup game! I went back to the office after the game and meddled around all day…

Seems like football was on the brain this week! I love it!

Dear Napkin, How I Miss You So....

Anyone who knows me even a little bit or has had the pleasure to dine with me knows how much I value my napkins....

I like to dig in and enjoy the disaster of messy eating, knowing after every bite I can regain my ladylike image with a swift wipe of the napkin. Well, in Belize...things are different!

People don't believe in napkins here in Belize... I mean, maybe they do, but throughout my host family experiences, I have yet to see a napkin.....not even a papertowel! But I just can't understand how they do it! On top of the fact that they don't use silverware either! I can't figure out how to use a tortilla to eat kaldo or pigtail or eggs and NOT get it all over my fingers and my face!! It's a mystery to me!

Kaldo is the worst of it.... you have spices and chicken and sometimes a potato or two. I just stick my hands in the bowl and really dig in.... but at the end of the meal, everyone else looks the same way they did before and I'm covered in remnants of all these ingredients!

Peace Corps goal 4: master the art of clean tortilla eating!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chess Club Weekend!

Friday (6/11):

Friday I headed up to Caves Branch (not far from Belmopan) to attend a Chess Club workshop! Who knew Chess Club could be so fun and cool???!!!! No offense, I always thought chess was kinda a nerd game....and chess club--even worse! But I really had no idea how to even play chess!
About 20 PCVs headed up for the weekend.... we ranged from some who never played to expert chessmasters. We arrived Friday morning....I got lucky because I was able to catch a ride up with my counterpart---so no bus fare! woohoo! The guy played music on his MP3 player that consisted of Punta, Reggae, Garifina music, and Celine Dion....the obvious combo!!! hahha
That also got me there as the first one to Caves Branch! hahaha. So I got to settle into my cabana and look around the gorgeous jungle lodge. Caves Branch is this beautiful travel lodge place that's straight up in the jungle, bordering a river. The scenery is absolutely AMAZING! It's so beautiful there! We stayed in cabanas that had thatch roofs and bunk beds and little kerosene lamps for lighting. The walls were just screened in so you could hear and see all the jungle around you. Our showers were thatch community showers in the middle of the compound--but they had HOT WATER!!! and good water pressure, too!! It was like a weekend in paradise!!!
Some of the beginners started with a chess crash course before our actual workshop began. I mastered most of the pieces and went off the play with everyone else in the pool. The pool was AMAZING! Two pools with waterfalls and a hot tub! So cool! It was like a resort!! I got to catch up with everyone and it was really great. We were served an amazing lunch before starting chess camp!
Chess camp was SO FUN! I genuinely had a blast learning how to play! The people running the workshop were so awesome and made it a very educational and entertaining experience! It was a full day of chess-ness, but it was fantastic!
After the session, we had time to hike and enjoy the river and the pool before dinner. Dinner was a buffet-style 3 course meal..... the best part of the entire weekend. It was FANTASTIC!!!! OMG, we had real salad, soup, bread, pasta, beef, veggies, fruit, CHOCOLATE CAKE, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry muffins! Oh man-- I ate about 7 plates of food and almost died afterwards!!! I think I gained 17 pounds just from dinner that night!!! I literally almost threw up I was so full!!! It was painful, but worth it. =)
We finished dinner and went back to chess. We got to play a real game! My first real chess game!! And I won-- Mallory, undefeated in chess....master! hahahaha Who'd ever thought I would go into the Peace Corps and learn how to play chess????!!! Madness....
The rest of the night we enjoyed the pool and hot tub....chatting and being silly all night long. Great fun! We stayed up ridiculously late....so nice.
The next morning was an early start. I debated showering, but was SO HAPPY I did! Those thatch showers were amazing!!! Aside from my door hinge being broken and the door swinging open for all of the jungle cabanas to see me, it was a great experience! hahaha We headed to breakfast and had round 2 of "Mallory stuffing her face til she wants to keel over and die!" hahahha It was great: fry jacks, pancakes (with syrup AND BUTTER!), awesome eggs, fruit--the whole 9 yards!! We had our final chess sessions between breakfast and lunch. Lunch was good, but I was tapped out by then! I quit!
After lunch, everyone went their various ways. Molly and I had to get to Belmopan for our football match, but I am a slow goodbye-er and we left a little bit behind everyone heading that way and missed the bus by about 30 seconds! Fail! Luckily, we made it to the Belmo bus terminal in just enough time to catch the bus to Cayo! We got to the field 30 min before the game and it was good, good! The team was friendly and they got us some jerseys and we found a SKETCHY latrine to change in. Literally, this latrine was a HUGE giant square in the ground--we thought we were gonna fall in! I was scared for my life! On top of it, we were trying to change from our dressy chess attire to the sportswear we needed on without ending up in the massive crap hole below! hahaha Scary! Luckily, Molly had a roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer on her, so we were golden. It was a true PC experience! hahaha
We warmed up and they gave Molly some cleats to borrow. Neither of us had shin guards so they ripped up a cardboard box for us to use as shin guards-- so cool! It was a story I felt my dad would appreciate--he always tells those "when I played with nails coming through my shoes...." stories! hahaha
I started for the team in center mid, even though the coach hadn't even seen me play (his bro had recruited me!) But it was a good game.... very intense! They play like men, fast and less smart. It's more of a strength and speed game rather than mental and tactics. Still, it was good and we won! I was elated after the game.... it was the perfect ending after an amazing weekend at Caves Branch! So great!
We headed back on the bus to Belmo after and went to stay with Cisco and Kathryn--who, funny enough, moved to my training village--San Martin! So Molly and I decided to stop by my old host family to say hi before heading to our friends' house.
The Sotz family was surprised but so excited when we got there! Every person was trying to get my attention to tell me a different story--it was cute. And it was HYSTERICAL when I introduced them to Molly because they call me "Mally" (pronounced the same as Molly) because they can't say Mallory! SO they were very confused when we both had the same name! hahahaha too funny! Mrs Sotz fed us Ramen and gave us Sprite and it was awesome! Completely unnecessary, but awesome! Then, they gave me a traditional Mayan dress! Apparently, Mrs Sotz is making me one but she wasn't sure of my size....so she had me try on one of Sofia's old dresses and it fit, so they gave me it! It was so nice! The dress is a satin, royal blue dress with lace..... I'll have to take a pic of it! But they made me try it on (even though I was sweaty from my match) and they were so excited it fit and to see me in it! It was so cute! Sofia said, "Mally, now you a true Maya!"
We had Choni take us to Cisco and Kathryn's house when we were finished and we hung out in their cute little place with their landlord friends. We chilled and told them about the weekend and such.
That morning, Cisco made us the most AMAZING cup of REAL COFFEE!!!! Ahhhhh! I was in heaven!! Then we watched the World Cup game before I rushed into town to catch the bus home. I made it just in time for the 10:30 bus and Dan was leaving Caves Branch the same time, so he ended up catchin the same bus a little father down the road...
6 hours later we were in PG. Dan came to visit my host family and drop his stuff off.. My family was just gettin in from the village, so it was kinda awkward. But it was good because they all thought Dan was my boyfriend---yes, gets me out of marrying the cousin! Off the hook! hahaha A bunch of people seemed to be in town that evening, so we had some pizza and hung out. I had guilty feelings about being away from my host family too late again, and Dan had a fever, so we headed in early.
That night I walked from where he stayed home and this girl started SCREAMING at me! She was saying she would meet me later and all this really freaky stuff! She was probably about 12 years old--she seemed possessed! It was scary! She even threw her hands up in the air! Weird! I was freaked and rushed home! lol.
What an amazing weekend!

Week in the life....

I haven't blogged in forever! The highlights of my life.....

Tuesday (6/8):
Tuesday morning I came into the office and my co-workers had seen me on tv from the PG game the past weekend! The post office guys saw me too! I was so embarrassed! But it helped me with some integration points, because now I'm that white football girl who was on tv! hahahaha
Later on that afternoon, I got a bike!! I bought it from some random bike guy who sells bike's out of his home--- he paints them all black, so I feel like there's a good chance they are stolen bikes. hahahaha Nonetheless, he put a new seat and handlebars and everything on it, so I'm good to go! (Too bad my host family's dog bit through my new seat and chewed up my handlebars the 2nd day!)
Tuesday night I started practicing football with the men's team: the Jah Roots. I love these Rasta men! They are my new friends in PG! They are good, good! But I can hold my own--it's a blast! I earned their respect the first night by scoring a goal! Wohoo!

Wednesday (6/9):
I went to San Marcos village with Samuel. We got dropped off by the driver...who then went to a  village on the border of Guat before coming back to get us. We got to San Marcos at 8:30.... walked the couple miles into and through the village (which I loved!!) and then did our supervisions. Samuel and I had some pretty good chats.... I learned a lot about that man. lol. Everything from thoughts on life, childhood discipline, Mayan traditions, and dating.... semi-awkward! hahaha We finished and were back to the main road by 10:30. Then, Samuel and I sat on the side of the highway til 1:30!!!! So dumb! Such poor planning! I wasted the whole day! I should've just hitched!
Anyway, the rest of the afternoon I spent preparing my nutrition presentation for the village meetings the following day-- I felt so productive! I went home and ate some kaldo kax--yum! Mrs Assi asked me if I liked hot tea... I told her I did not. Five minutes later she gave me a cup of tea..... what?? hahaha Later that evening I had some bonding time with Antoinette and Cornelia-- my host sisters. They are 18 and 16, respectively..and so great! We talked about Antionette's work drama going on and it was just fun acting like an older sis to them! I love them because they are so cheerful and carefree! They are great! They respect their parents and the Maya traditions of their families, but they do their own things when they can (which is not often at home--Ant has to wait til she's back at university in Belmopan). They are typical teenage girls.... it's cute. I love that they respect their parents and their culture, but they have their own minds and realize the way of the world...
Anyway, I finished the night off with Mrs Assi telling me a story about how her son, Nester, got badly injured once and it scared her so much that she lost the ability to produce breastmilk, so Cornelia was never breastfed. I love the interesting little stories I get to experience everyday! hahhaha

Thursday (6/10):
I was rushed to finish my breakfast because the truck picked me up for work at 7:30....only to roam around town and stop at various people's houses for the next hour. Oh Belize! We did our morning supervisions around the villages and then headed to San Jose. We had lunch in San Jose at one of the Rover's house before our Parenting Session. I was nervous, but excited to do my nutrition talk! Samuel was supposed to run the session--but he didn't prepare anything, so I ended up being the main talk of the event! Luckily, San Jose is our ONE Mopan village, so I started my talk off in Mayan and then explained that I would be doing the actual seminar in English..... I was so proud of myself!!! yay! I think the talk went REALLY well! I was so excited! People asked a lot of questions afterwards and it was really good. The only confusion was the people in the village thought I was coming to replace their current volunteer, Patrick, because Samuel introduced me as a Peace Corps. So I had to quickly jump in and explain that they may see me around town, but I am NOT the San Jose volunteer! hahaha We headed home and had a staff meeting w/the big boss, Shawn. It went well.... Samuel sounded really productive the way he talked in the meeting....which is, well, no comment.
The rest of the night I played football, ate, and went to bed!

Washing Pan Di Rock

Washing Pan Di Rock
Crique Jute Village
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