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!