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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Well, it hardly feels like Christmas time here in Belize.... I walk around in shorts and tank tops; none of the shops have Christmas ads, candy, or decorations; I have not seen one person dressed up as Santa, and even more strange I haven't seen anyone dressed as Santa ringing bells outside of local supermarkets for the Salvation Army; and I hardly ever hear Christmas carols (even though I think they do play on Love FM-- I just don't have a radio!) It's hard to feel like the Christmas season has really started-- or maybe I'm just finally adjusting to the non-commercial Christmas season! (breath of fresh air?)

Anyway, in the spirit of the holidays, I'll put out my general Christmas list for the world to read.... haha. (Email or facebook me for my current address!)

My Jungle Christmas Wish List:

• Tapestry for my walls
• Cookbooks (easy ones)
• Belts
• Facewash
• Biore Strips (the jungle is terrible for my face!)
• V05 hot oil hair treatment
• Tank tops
• Pictures and frames! –(I need some familiar faces in my home)
• Flashdrive
• IPod
• Wallet (the clutch kind, preferably)
• Bananagrams
• Cleats
• Gatorade/crystal light packets
• Aussie leave-in conditioner
• Agenda –good one!
• Baseball mitts (for kids)
• Soccer balls (for my football team)
• Yoga & Workout dvds
• Tic Tacs
• Razors
• Quick-dry towels
• String (to make bracelets with children)
• Belize, NY, and SC maps

Some things are just more necessity-type items, as always! haha Who really WANTS razors for Christmas?? And for those of you who love me, but just feel you may be too lazy to put the effort in for an international package, you can always donate money to the Mopaneers La Ruta Maya fund! Matt, Dan, and I are officially racing in La Ruta Maya-- a 4 day, 175 mile canoe race from San Ignacio to Belize City. We have to find mulah for a fast canoe, paddles, life jackets, registration, food, water, rehydration salts, sleep stuff, gas for our support crew, and truck rental!

To see the route we are canoeing (and take pity on us) go to:

I'm planning to set up a PayPal account or something of the sort, so contact me for details!

Anyway, hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It will be weird spending my first Christmas away from my family, but luckily I have an amazing Belizean family of friends down here.

Thank you in advance for any packages! I promise to be a better blogger in 2011!

Red Wine, Catamaran, and a Wedding

This past weekend turned out to be a quite eventful pre-holiday event!

It all began on Thursday, when we had our Christmas party for the Rovers and Toledo staff. It was a nice luncheon, and they even had rum and beer for everyone! Even though hardly any of the Rovers drank, being noon on a weekday and them being Mayan's not their culture. But the food was a nice change of pace and it was good to be out of the office for the afternoon.

Then the real party started on Friday! I was lucky enough to be invited to the Ministry of Human Development's Christmas party. The event left from Tourist Village in Belize City on a big Catamaran boat! It was all government employees under the Human Service's Dept, plus two PCVs, (I was allowed to bring a guest). Unlike most things I go to in Belize, this was a pretty elegant affair- probably the nicest thing I've been to in this country thus far! I even had to have my mom ship down one of my cocktail dresses from my closet just for the occasion, having nothing suitable for the event in my wardrobe down here!

So the adventure began about noon-ish Friday, as we headed up in the Ministry's truck with our driver, Fido. The deal for the party was the Ministry provided transportation but not lodging in Belize City, which was huge because it saved us $50 a piece and we just stayed with another PCV in the city. We got into Belize in record time, heading to a fellow PCVs house to make Christmas cookies and get ready for the boat. Around 7pm we headed to Tourist Village, all spiffy in our elegant-wear. Of course we were one of the first few people there, because we should've known the boat was leaving 7:30 sharp, Belize time. People wandered in anywhere from 7:30-8-ish, and the boat didn't actually pull out til a little after 8:30. It was a nice boat, decorated in Christmas lights and red ribbons, and PACKED with people. I had my doubts that all the people on the dock would fit on the boat, but I it was deceptively smaller from outside. The PG Vibes, a local band, played for the evening. They threw down some Beliezan punta-renditions of classic Christmas carols along with a lot of the popular Belizean music. During their breaks, the dj blasted wedding-style old school music, which is always my favorite. Even though, I must admit I thought I was an expert in "wedding/old school music" knowledge, but these Belizeans gave me a run for my money! It would be the first beat of a song and they were already yelling and singing along! It was truly amazing-- I felt like a failure! haha

But overall the event was really nice. We had a delicious ham and turkey Christmas dinner, with dessert and tamales to go, lol. There was also an open bar with RED WINE--yes, you head right--WINE! We danced with some important Ministry staff, even trying to get some moves in with the Minister, who started the night by saying, "Tonight I am not the Minister... I am here to party!" He even jumped in and sang with the band, (but his son IS the lead singer, so he has some pull...haha) It was quite spectacular... a night sailing under the brightly lit up Caribbean sky! Awesome...

We finally rolled back into Tourist Village around 1am, and our partying shoes were ready to be hung up. It was a great night!

Saturday, the Ministry brought us back to PG, again in record timing. I was exhausted from the night before, so I called it an early night.

Sunday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to catch Bol's bus into Crique Jute to attend a Mayan wedding! I was pretty psyched for the event--I even wore my Maya blouse and a long black skirt to match-- I'm practically a Maya gyal already.

I met Dan by his hill before walking to the church. The service was Baptist and lone Maya-- aka, there was 3 hour of clapping and very little dialogue that I understood. But it was a very nice and lively ceremony. The bride had a beautiful dress and there were cohune leaf arches framing the doorways of the church. Contrary to the very elegant attire of the boat ride event, the wedding consisted of women in mostly traditional wear and men in jeans, though that was still pretty calssy. The mother of the bride was even barefoot in the church, which made me smile in appreciation of this culture. Overall, it was a nice, nice ceremony.

After the service, everyone packed on a bus to San Antonio village, which is only the next village over, to go to the reception. San Antonio was where the groom's family was from. We got served eken (pig) and it was so nice! Pig, rice, beans, and red fanta- the combo of champs! We hung out talking to Dan's villagers and meeting new ones from San Antonio.

After a long period of repetitive conversations, we decided to take a walk around the village. There was a football marathon down at the field where 21 teams were participating in! It was huge! There were tons of people and music playing and it was a big party vibe from down there. We saw some of our friends from the Indian Ville team, and watched their team win the first game. (They ended up winning the whole tournament after we left). San Antonio was a hopping place! Not only was there a big marathon going on, but up the hill the school was having a bizarre. They were selling tons of food and had various prizes for people. I couldn't believe how much activity was happening in this village on a Sunday! It was busy for ANY day of the week, for that matter!

We headed back to the wedding after hanging out for a bit and ran into one of Dan's villagers on the road. I know the man because he works at ITVET, where we ran both the computer and chess camps. He just told me how his son had a baby and they named her Mallory! I have officially made my mark on Belize! hahaha I left a legacy.... in Dan's village, hahaha. How random! Anyway, we danced a little merimba at the wedding before expressing our gratitude to the family and heading out.

What a pleasant (& quite diverse) weekend!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wondering What's Kept Me From Blogging These Past Few Months??

Hello people of the world!

First of all, it's been way ridiculously long since I last posted.... sorry! Maybe my New Year's resolution will be to post regularly! I cannot believe it's DECEMBER already!! This is going on my 9th month here in Belize!! Can you Belize it??!

Time seems to FLY by here! (well, I guess that's true of anywhere-- but it seems to be going by extra fast lately!)

Things have been really good in Belize! Let me fill you in on some of the exciting happenings in my life in recent months! (since I have been TERRIBLE at keeping you informed!!)

I recently finished my first grant to help fund for a girls camp we our holding in July 2011. It's called Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) and it's for teen girls from all over the country. It's a weeklong camp put on by the Peace Corps WID/GAD committee, which focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment. I'm also the Fundraising Coordinator and Public Relations Coordinator for the club, so I've got my hands full in that project!

In other news, December 1st was World AIDS Day. The Peace Corps HIV/AIDS Committee collaborated with the Toledo HIV/AIDS Committee and we put on a very productive 2 day event. On Nov 30th we held a candlelight vigil at central park in PG town. Students and adults came to hear speakers, poetry, music, and to light the candles. We even got a bonus because PG's "dancing bum" gave his own little performance after the event! He's always a source of entertainment on the streets of PG... Then on Dec 1st, we held a torch run--which basically was the local high school men's football team plus me and Taylor. So we were the only girls and the only PC reps. It was interesting! We just did a loop around town... not a very long run. But it was fun. The kid in front held a torch that actually had the Olympic rings on it-- I felt pretty legit! hahaha Following the run, we had a full day's event with 8 different high schools from Toledo. There were skits, songs, a rap contest (which I judged--because clearly, I'm qualified for that sort of thing!), speakers, and HIV testing. Our PC committee along with other organizations had booths where students could walk around and ask questions and get information about HIV/AIDS and related topics. It was a very productive day!

In relation to HIV/AIDS and testing, I've become friends with the nurse of BFLA (Belize Family Life Association) and will be helping her both out in the villages and in town, promoting safe sex talks and offering HIV testing and PAP smears. I'm very excited to have this opportunity! The women in rural villages don't always get into town or are too afraid to come forward to be tested or have proper check ups. So BFLA is going to bring the check ups and testing to THEM by going home to home! It eliminates both the embarrassment and inconvenience associated with coming into town.

As far as my organization and primary project go, I recently gave a "Designing for Behavior Change: Conflict Resolution" seminar to our supervisors from Toledo and Belize. It was a successful presentation and I went on to present a modified version to our Rovers at the last Fourthnightly Session we had (our bi-weekly staff meetings). Both seemed productive and I was glad to put some of my PC training to use! Now my Belize City supervisor wants me to set up a workshop with the Rovers in Belize and Toledo focused on Conflict Resolution. In addition, I gave a talk on "Professionalism in the Workplace" with the Toledo Rovers, which also went very well. I am working with another PCV in the north to organize the workshop on Conflict Resolution and I think it will be extremely beneficial to our organization. Petty fighting tends to be one of the major issues we face when dealing with these girls. So work has been busy and good! I spend a lot of time in the office, which I hope to change in the new year, but for now it works!

The final major project news I have is my women's football initiative! I went to a meeting with the Ministry of Sports last week in which I was not only the only white person present, but also the only female present. I have to admit it was a little intimidating-- football is a guy's thing here and I felt out of place in more than one way. But I was glad I stuck it out... I definitely made an impact by just being present because people on the streets recognize me from that night. So it only brought about positives! My main reasoning for attending the meeting is that I want to start a women's football team in PG. In the north football is much more equal, (the majority of populations being kriol or mestizo)...but in the south things are still very different. I decided going to town is not the best way, so I'm now getting my foot in the door by working with the local high school: Toledo Technical College. TCC supposedly has a women's football team, though they don't practice and I'm not sure if they actually have a season. But last Friday I forced myself into a meeting with the director of sports at the school, (since I had given a Role Models talk to one of the classes earlier that day), and he was able to set me up with the coach and deemed me essentially the assistant coach for the team, starting Monday! I'm excited to work with them-- I feel like I'll get really frustrated in this role, but it will definitely be worth it.

So that's basically my "work life" as of lately.... I'm busy in weird ways, but I like the randomness of it all! Variety is essential to my sanity!

I was going to write more, but I think I'll save my dually hectic social life for another entry!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Toledo Thanksgiving Celebration

Since everyone knows Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday (yum, yum), some of the PCVs down in PG and I decided to make as big of a deal as we could of it! So we formed the Toledo Thanksgiving Party Planning Committee! (yes, I now have every season of the Office on my computer, so this is my latest addiction! haha) Anyway, we invited Belizeans, staff, and volunteers from all over the country to come celebrate with us and it was a HUGE turn out! We had roughly 50 people come celebrate the holiday with us! We had every kind of traditional American Thanksgiving dish, along with some Belizean dishes as well! And-- get this-- I cooked the turkey!!! No joke!!! Now, I can't take all the credit-- Dan did spend 5 hours in the kitchen at my office helping me baste this bad boy-- & solving minor obstacles as they came our way! First the gas wouldn't light, then the aluminum pan cracked and all the juice leaked out, then the juice burned everywhere and it was a smoky disaster..... but after those minor speed bumps, we ended up with a juicy, delicious bird! It was a big hit at dinner and I was so proud of myself!!! Only a few weeks before this cooking triumph, I messed up making hard boiled eggs for breakfast--- true story! hahaha

We started the holiday off with a traditional American football game at Union Field in PG town. It was a fun morning event-- and I actually got sunburned without even realizing it! haha November and still in the heat-- oh Belize! My team won.... I think.... even if they didn't, I refuse to admit anything else! haha. But I did jam my finer pretty badly! So I'm typing to you with a sore finger.... and I keep trying to quote Gretyl from the Sound of Music and saying "I have a sore finger" in my best Austrian accent, but I've been told my accents just aren't really that good! shocking! After football, we cooked and showered all afternoon before the big dinner event! We held everything in Parish Hall-- we were legit with these Turkey Day festivities! Everyone ate lots and we took pics and had a general fun time! It was really nice to spend the holiday with my favorite people from Belize-- made me miss home a little bit less that day!!

Thanksgiving seemed to last from the Tuesday before til the Sunday after! It was tiring by the weekend! People were trickling in and out all week long-- but it was a fun time! My house was a BIG disaster-- it was traffic central. But it was totally worth it!

We got to celebrate Dan's birthday early, which was just another excuse to make more food and party! haha We ate some nice vegetarian food and made him a cake with homemade icing! (courtesy of Amy!) And we found trick candles at the Chini!! It was hilarious! My new favorite Canadian, Marina, had never seen trick candles before and basically flipped out when they kept relighting!! It was amazing! hahaha.

Having had the serious responsibility of cooking the turkey--the most important part of Thanksgiving-- for a party of 50, I now consider myself an expert chef. haha. So I decided to try my hand at one next cooking experience: breakfast! On Wed I made French Toast for the first time! It was delicious-- if I do say so myself! (& I cooked for 2 other people-- they said so too!) hahaha. I'm pretty much the next, cuter, slightly more feminine, Emeril! Bazinga!

And I'm gonna learn how to make latkes on Friday! I'm pretty pumped about it, too!

Welcome to the holiday season!!

Washing Pan Di Rock

Washing Pan Di Rock
Crique Jute Village