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Some of My Host Siblings

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Daring Adventures of San Miguel Village

After computer camp in Crique Jute, I just did NOT have enough village time in my life!! So I headed over to San Miguel village, which is one of the villages our RCP program is in. I was there for a week doing full-day supervisions with our Rovers, while staying with my new PCV pal, Tracy!

I got abandoned for a ride by my organization...again.... so I took the noon bus into San Miguel on Monday morning. When I arrived in at Tracy's, she had made guacamole and cake--instant friends!!!! It was DELICIOUS. We ate and then headed up to work on her World Map project at the school. Pretty much as soon as we started painting with the kids, it started to downpour.... oy vey! So not much got accomplished as far as helping her out that day!

We headed back to Tracy's and Greg came to hang out w/us. (He lives in the next village over). We hung out for awhile before deciding to go to Greg's house for the evening. Tracy brought over dinner she had made and frozen and we went to Silver Creek to stay at Greg and Kevina's. Their house is SO nice! It's a really neat thatch house that's in a compound along with other families--so cool! We had a delicious shrimp scampi meal and then played bananagrams all night--which I had never played before and am now officially addicted to!!

The next morning Tracy and I headed back early to shower and get ready before I met the first Rover, Guadalupe. I had a productive day of supervisions and stimulations, a PB&J lunch, followed by the most amazing and dramatic adventure of my time here in PC.

So Tracy tells me about these caves that are just outside San Miguel village. Loving any kind of adventurous activity, I was immediately on board with the idea. We borrowed a bike from her host family, and I borrowed clothes and sneakers from Tracy, and we headed into the bush to see this awesome cave. Now, let me preface this story by telling you that Tracy is a huge animal lover. She has a dog that stays in her house, Blackie, who she takes care of, as well as two of the neighbors' dogs who hang out looking for food and attention: Mickey and Sleepy. When we walked to the school for the World Map, they followed...and when we biked out to the bush, they followed again. Quite loyal, these potlickas. So anyway, we 2 gringas and 3 potlickas go biking out of town on our little adventure. It's about an hour bike ride or so til we get to the Maya Dam. We have to climb down the side of the dam, cross over the dry rock area, hike in a little bit of jungle, until we finally reach the caves. Quite exciting!

So we get up to the cave mouth and I'm videoing and taking's absolutely beautiful! Tracy has her headlamp on and I'm trying to get close to her light to make my way through the cave. The beginning part is just dark and damp, and I'm stepping in puddles and bumping into things. All of a sudden I see a bat fly past me! We're in the dark and this thing starts swooshing by, dive-bombing us! We freak out like 2 little girls, assuming upward fetal positions on the ground...oh boy! There was screaming and grabbing on to each other, but we finally gained our composure and headed onward. Next we reach a small opening, about the size of a manhole, that we had to climb up through to get to the major part of the cave. It's a difficult climb, but once we made it through the cave becomes lighter in the wide-open space. It was amazing! We are exploring the cave and looking around all the different areas, while we hear the 3 dogs whimpering from outside. They could not figure out how to get in! Tracy and I continue walking around and climbing different areas, just taking in the scenery. All of a sudden, Mickey shows up inside! The brave little dog made it into the cave! Not long after, we once again had 3 dogs at our heels as we explored the cave.

After a good while, we decided it was time to head out. I was hungry and ready to dig into the next amazing dish Tracy had prepared. We make our way back out of the cave--very carefully. We get to the outside and rest on some rocks, once again hearing the whimpers of 3 pitiful dogs. It's kind of amusing, because we know they can get out, but they are just being babies! So Tracy and I are giggling as we wait on the rock for the dogs to find their way. After about 10 minutes or so, brave ole Mickey gets out and is back along with us. It takes Blackie a good number of minutes after Mickey, but he soon makes it out too. So now we only hear Sleepy crying inside, unable to make the trek. At this point, Tracy and I can't see him but we are looking at this giant cave mouth while his whimper echoes out it. If a stranger were to approach the cave right now, they would probably freak out! So I take a video and Tracy is cracking up--it's hysterical!

Finally, we decided we have to go get this mutt or we'll never reach home before dark. Right as Tracy is about to head back in, I see Sleepy come out on a high ledge near the front of the cave mouth! We have no idea how he got that high! But he is still crying. So we think that maybe we can scale the outside on the cave mouth and get up to the ledge he is on. I climb up and get to about the equal height of Mickey, but there is a large gap between his ledge and mine, and only a steep drop in between us. So I scale back down the side and we decide it's time to head back inside. We are able to get all the way up to the ledge Sleepy is on. I was up first, while Trace waited. But Sleepy didn't trust me and wouldn't come down, and I was too nervous that he would bite me, that I didn't try to grab him. So Tracy got up and was able to get him down the first really high ledge.

We're all happy and glad we saved him and we get to the next sort of difficult ledge, and Sleepy freaks and runs back up to the top! At this point, it's starting to get dark and we can't be out in the bush in the dark-- it's too dangerous. So we figure that he's just being a big wimp...if he wanted to make it out, he could. He got down the hardest ledge, the rest was easy. He will surely follow once he realizes we are definitely leaving.

We head home and are confident that this dog will find his way.He's a Mayan potlicka, for crying out loud! Meanwhile, we are cracking up hysterically at the ridiculous afternoon we just had!

We eat lasagna and laugh pretty much the whole night. Officially the best ab workout I've had in country thus far. haha.

That night, there were weird sounds coming from the spare room I was staying in at Tracy's. I wasn't sure what the sound was, but it woke me up a couple of times. Tracy mentioned earlier that she may have rats, which I'm used to, but it didn't sound like rats. I woke up in the morning and we were talking about rats and rat poop, etc. I looked upstairs under Tracy's spare bed and saw there was a MASSIVE amount of poop. Now I know rat poop and gecko poop look similar, but Tracy said she swept under the bed before I came and rats and geckos don't poop that much unless there are millions of them! I shine a flashlight around the ceiling and realize there are bats up there! She has a bat nest in her house! No wonder I heard weird sounds all night!! (She's all clear now though, her landlord took care of them).

Meanwhile, still so sign of Sleepy that morning. The hilarious story was suddenly becoming less funny by the minute. Tracy went into town for the day and I went on supervisions with another Rover, Wilhemenia. During the afternoon, one of Tracy's neighbors comes asking about the dogs and if I knew where they were. I played dumb and pointed to Blackie, asking if she meant that dog. I felt terrible! Tracy was feeling guilty too, texting me to hear if any positive updates happened in the village.

I went to Guadalupe's house during the afternoon and stayed over for dinner. She made some amazing escabeche, which is a chicken soup with noodles and tortillas and potatoes. It's like kaldo, but not red and different spices--hard to describe.
I had a relaxing evening with her family. They were very nice and made amazing food. I left around 7 and her brothers rode me home so I wouldn't walk alone in the dark.

When I got back to Tracy's, the Sleepy tale was now a sad story. We realized that we were going to have to go back to the cave to rescue that dog.

Thursday morning we woke up and Tracy made a hearty breakfast of eggs and hash browns, which I know she was really just buttering me up because she convinced me to stay an extra night to come rescue Sleepy with her.

I did my RCP supervisions that morning with Florita, the final Rover in the village. Then I had been invited to lunch by Wilhemenia's family, but Florita told them I wasn't coming because I was going to her house for lunch. Typical village drama. So Florita was jealous and mad, even though she never actually asked me, just assumed. Ey yey yey... these girls. Basically, there is a lot of drama because there is a spirit curse in San Miguel. It possesses people apparently. So families have been falling victim to it and thus leaving the Catholic church. So now there are feuds between the Catholic villagers and the villagers who are members ofthe House of Prayer. It's very dramatic, esp for a village where there are only 2 last names!! (In other words, EVERYBODY is related!!) Madness! Nonetheless, I was glad to have lunch at Wilhemenia's. We had kaldo kax with cassava in it! Cassava is soooo good!! It was a delicious meal! And her family was extremely nice and welcoming. I really enjoyed myself.

After work stuff was done, Tracy and I gathered our gear for the hike ahead of us. Tracy had been telling Roger the story throughout the past few days, so he knew all that was happening. He starts telling us to be careful, that there's a chance the dog is already dead, maybe an animal like a jaguar is eating it, etc. (Which San Miguel has had jaguar incidents recently). So we pack a hunting knife, a large kitchen knife, rope, dog food, a bowl, water, flashlight, headlamp, etc. We were READY! So I'm kind of excited to go on another adventure, ready to go! And as we;re biking over, Tracy is telling me all the stuff Roger has said to her. As we get closer and closer, I start to panic. Tracy says,"I feel confident that if a jaguar pounces on me that I could stab it and get it off me." And I respond with, "I don't!" I started to freak out a little as we made our way! I even made Tracy change the subject! hahaha. So we headed back in, past the dam, over the rocks, through the bush, and towards the cave. Every 5 steps I'm looking over my shoulder and saying, "what's that?/did you hear that??" Completely FREAKED at this point! Keep in mind this dog has been alone in a cave for over 48 hours now... For all we know, he could've fallen, been attacked, currently being attacked, etc...The chances of him being alive, let alone completely unharmed were not in his favor. But finally, as we near the cave mouth, a howling cry starts....the best whimpering cry I've ever heard! Sleepy was alive! And fine!! We were elated!

We climb in and he is back up on the top ledge... but in a matter of seconds he makes it all the way down to the bottom, past the 2nd ledge. I could almost strangle that dog with how easy he was able to get down! Then we got to the manhole part and he freaked. Exhausted from the emotions of this adventure, Tracy and I were NOT letting him escape again. We tied the rope around his neck and I pulled from through the hole and Tracy flat out kicked him down it! Don't worry, he found his footing and was completely fine. Oy geyvult!

We near the opening of the cave, and almost as if the cave wanted to spite me in one last way before leaving, I get knicked by a bat right in the ear as it swooshed past my face! Really? Is this real life? hahaha

So now it's mid afternoon, and we're heading home with Sleepy. Meanwhile, let me remind you that the owner has asked both me and Tracy about the whereabouts of her dog--both of us playing dumb about it. (Can you believe, the one Belizean dog in the WHOLE country who the owner actually CARES about what happens to it! Just our luck!) And Mickey's owner has now tied him up because they think there's a dognapper on the loose. And we are already suspect because everybody saw us leave the village with 3 dogs, and come back with 2. So we are riding home, hoping Sleepy will be glad to be free and run back to the village. Wrong! He is stuck to us like glue! He won't leave our sides! Crap! We're completely screwed!

It's about 4pm, so we decide we'll just wait out the sun before we go back. The sun sets around 530 or so, so as long as we hang out here, nobody will see us with Sleepy. As we are walking around doing nothing, we pass almost EVERY SINGLE person in the village. Two truckloads of men from the farms pass by us, then the young guys come down to the river to bathe while we are sitting there with the dog...everyone! But we still wait it out. The sun doesn't actually set til
around 7! So finally, it gets dark and we make our way home. Right as we walk towards Tracy's house, her neighbor is sitting outside and immediately yells, "Miss Tracy...Sleepy is back!" Tracy smiles and replies with a one word answer and we go into hiding for the rest of the night. Oh MAN!

Basically, we were heroes it what this story comes down to. Even though we had to hide our heroic acts from the people of San Miguel. In a way, that kinda makes us like Batman and Robin... at least, I think!

I ate one last great meal at Tracy's before bed and catching an early bus back to PG in the morning. What an adventurous week!!!

(To read Tracy's version of the story, go here:)

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