So. Things have been kind of busy and spectacular lately. Last last week, Dr. G came from the States to meet my supervisor and do a site visit. She was able to sit down with A and the Mary Open Doors founders, a couple of volunteers, Antonia and the fam, and visit both Faith Nazarene and Santa Familia schools. She also went to PG for a day to find out about possible internship possibilities in the south. Everything went really well, and I think both sides (Tulane & Belize) are excited about the potential internship placements here in the future, which I will henceforth refer to as My Legacy.
We also finally managed to pull off my first training with the staff and volunteers at Mary Open Doors last Tuesday. We’ve been trying to arrange this for 5 weeks, and even though it was an hour late, it happened. Even a client from Mary Open doors sat in on the training and asked if she could come back next week to participate in the therapeutic activities, which I had just thrown in for good measure. I was trying to demonstrate how the program feels to the kids, but everyone accidentally got a lot out of it.
Also, I had a beautiful moment with an 8 year old who hadn’t wanted to participate in the program at all to begin with—she has been very depressed and withdrawn—but she agreed to one session, which I disguised as “art activities” and “games” and “little stories”. At the end of the session, she said she would come to one more session, but no more. At the end of that session, she agreed to one more session, but that’s all. At some point, she started asking which day I was coming back, and would I bring play-dough next time, and can she use the orange pencil case next time instead of the pink one, and can she bring a picture of her dad to show me how their teeth are alike, and could I bring gummy bears instead of chips, and do I want to come to her cousin’s party this weekend? It’s been fun to watch her grow and smile and play and open up a little, and I already feel anxious about starting the termination process. Lucky for all of us, my supervisor A has been involved in these cases from the beginning and will be taking them over after I leave. She’s incredibly competent and caring and I trust that the kids are in good hands entirely. Con permission:
Also… smile… J came to visit. Inez gave up her room for a couple of nights, Antonia and Ricardo and Antonia’s parents welcomed him and then grilled him do death for incriminating information about me, the Chinchilla family took him canoeing and then drove us all to Spanish Lookout in the back of the pick-up truck for ice cream. We also walked up to Mr. Neil’s house, the tallest hill in the village, and Mr. Neil invited us in for a coke on his deck, which has the most spectacular views of San Ignacio.
After a weekend in the village we went to Cahal Pech (a village resort in San Ignacio) and spent a couple of days in town, and also lots of time on the cabana hammock. I introduced him to one of the founders at Mary Open Doors and went on a little walking tour of my day-to-day routine between the office and the school and the Ministry and the French Bakery and the juice guy and the bus stop, and all the other little places I like to eat and shop and check e-mail and sit. We also got to join a trip to Tikal, this old Mayan city outside of Flores, Guatemala. It has over 4,000 structures, including the tallest one in the Mayan world, and more are still being excavated. We saw howler monkeys (which sound like a horrifying combination of chainsaws and dinosaurs) and spider monkeys and toucans and one snake, all in the wild. We had our own private tour of the grounds by a really interesting guide, and I’m still not sure how that happened, but it was great. Mayan Ruins aren’t even my most exciting to-do list items, but I’ve always wanted to see Tikal, and the views and history were amazing.
After a few days in Cayo, we headed to Caye Caulker and, thanks to Hugo, got a free stop at the zoo and lunch at Old Belize. The important thing to know here is we saw jaguars and ate Pirate nachos.
We arrived at Caye Caulker via water taxi just in time for a panoramic view of the island at sunset, from the very top of our discounted low-season gorgeous hotel/condo, which was still being renovated since it just opened in July and tourist season doesn’t start until November. In all the times I’ve been to Belize, I’ve never gone on vacation. But THIS was one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever stayed, and we found it on accident! Two days before we arrived! And it was cheaper than the cheapest Holiday Inn Express! We had the building to ourselves, a sea-facing balcony with a hammock at sunrise, a sunset-facing bedroom over the other side of the island, and a rooftop Jacuzzi with a panoramic view of everything. Also, because it’s still slow season, the island was quiet and calm and sleepy and peaceful. Only a handful of places were open for business and the only sound we heard was an occasional golf cart, water lapping and some island music. It was a perfect recharge. With perfect company. And good food. (Except the cereal we bought from 2007. That was gross).
This week I’m back to the real world. Trying to finish papers, find a job, counsel kids, train volunteers, and begin the process of leaving… one month and I’m home to graduate. Weird.
More pics of San Ignacio: here
More pics of Caye Caulker: here
More pics of Tikal: here