My life on an Iguana Reserve…

Good news, the cold front passed! It is still raining (and has been since I got here) but tonight I am sleeping in a tank top with the fan on– back to the Belize I know and love, whew! I was really only cold for one night, and I say cold relatively since it was in the 60s, but with the rain, everything was damp and chilly. (Alarmingly cold for me since all I brought was a sheet and, like, 2 long-sleeved shirts.)

The house and family I am staying with is so interesting I’m not even sure how to describe everything. It’s the very last house down this long gravel road, and it backs right up to the river. It’s within walking distance to Hammock bridge– the really narrow (scary) wooden slat bridge that separates San Ignacio from Santa Familia.

Anyway, here’s the craziest part: the house itself sits on an Iguana reserve at the edge of the jungle. To the left is a karaoke bar.

Here is my backyard:




Last night I fell asleep to every kind of bird squawking you can imagine, loud Belizean versions of songs like “stand by me” from the bar next door, and HOWLER MONKEYS. I had dreams of monkeys tearing through the rainforest with chainsaws- because that’s what the screeching sounds like- and I thought they might crawl through my window- which has 2 missing glass panels- and eat me. Then, this morning I woke up to fifteen thousand roosters- four or five for each family on the street- and loud church music from the bar next door again. So weird.

To get to the bathroom in this house, you have to go downstairs, through the living room, under the stairs, under a tin roof and then turn left. And since the plumbing at Ms. Ida’s is mostly a giant rain water barrel, the water usually runs out sometime after dinner, so you have to rush to brush your teeth and wash your face or whatever. I washed my face with a baby wipe and brushed my teeth with crystal water on the balcony because I didn’t make it. Strange things to get used to! It actually makes me glad for all the rain. Ida, the grandmother of the house, said that in April and May its hard to get water because the weather is so dry, and the village water turns off and on in different parts of the village.

The house (window on top left is my room)

My room

The kitchen is in a separate grass hut outside with a huge wood burning stove and cast-iron pans. The kitchen is right below my window and I can usually smell tortillas cooking in the morning when I wake up and in the evening when I am getting ready for bed. After dinner, everyone just sits around the kitchen outside and talks until bedtime. The pace is sloooooow. And they get one TV channel that jumps.


Sarina, 3 yrs.


In the house is Ida, the grandmother of the family (she has 10 kids and lots of grandkids), her husband Leonardo, two of her sons– Paulino and Alvaro, and 4 grandkids. Next door is her daughter, Elsie, and her daughter’s 4 girls who range in age from 20 days to 7 yrs. So far, I have become fast friends with one of Ida’s granddaughters, Stephanie, who is 11 and sleeps right across the hall with her two brothers. Tonight I helped them study for confirmation, and then we spent the next hour with flashlights searching for all their uniforms because it has been 3 weeks since they’ve been in school for Christmas break…

I am so thankful for Stephanie and Ida, and Antonia and her whole family because between the two families, I have not had time to feel homesick. I actually look forward to 8:30, when everyone goes to bed, because I get some time alone to write or read or process and unwind.

Classes start tomorrow, and I am nervous about teaching this week (will the kids like me, will I do a good job, will the curriculum be relevant here, etc.) but tomorrow I am just observing. I’ll start on Tuesday, and Antonia says I’ll just have the kids who are about 11 and up because the younger ones will not be able to understand English.

Team 14: you’ll never believe what meal I have eaten 4 times in the two days since arriving? BBQ chicken, rice & beans and potato salad. Even the wedding I went to yesterday (yes, I went to a REAL Belizean wedding on my very first day!) served the staple meal. Today after church, Antonia gave me my first cooking lesson and taught me how to make: what else? BBQ chicken, rice & beans and potato salad. Come April, I’ll be a pro.

Praises: food I recognize, warmer nights, a faint internet signal at the house!
Prayer: I can’t shake this sinus infection/cold and the girls next door are all sick with “fever” whatever that means. But I hear them coughing a lot. Please pray for protection and healing.


6 thoughts on “My life on an Iguana Reserve…”

  1. This is soooo amazing. I printed off copies of your blogs and photos and I am sending a copy each to Ben in Ga., Brandon and and Aunt Sharon since none of them have access to your website.

    Wow, what a lot to get used to. Can the Iguanas crawl in your window? Do they make noises?

    The kids are so cute…guess you can’t go to the kitchen for a midnight snack too easily. Everyone is asking what you need…what could people send if they wanted to?

    You are doing an incredible, courageous thing! I love You. mom


  2. I’m thankful that you have arrived in Belize safely & are getting settled in. I’m also totally thankful that you have an internet signal, no matter how faint, as it means more updates and pictures for me to read.
    The internet doesn’t work at home anymore, so I read the updates at work, then go home & tell Ty what you’re up to. I am quite sure he will get a laugh out of the iguana situation.
    Can you get postal mail. If so, where do we send it & is there anything you need?
    Miss you!


  3. Love the details!
    Tells us more about the wedding…please tell me they don’t have the tacky bridesmaid dresses we subject our friends to.

    If you can get hold of some peppermint, it will help with the sinus problems….of course, Antonia probably has a special drink…

    You are covered in prayer, Brooke!
    It is so exciting to hear your stories! Suzanne


  4. no way! i started to get a little twitchy half-way through reading this!!! between the iguanas and the LOUD MONKEYS. that’s even worse than mississippi monkey…………….hahahaha


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