All kinds of things

Essentials: On the plane next to me was a girl from the UK spending a month in Belize and then a month in Fiji doing some kind of medical internship. On the other side was a lady from Belize City who told the med student and me everything we need to know about Belize City. She had been visiting her daughter in Florida and thought it was hilarious that we came from the UK and the US to study in Belize, and her daughter left Belize to study in the States. She wrote out her address and phone number on an index card and gave one to each of us. She told us to call if we need anything, like lunch in Belize City. We’ll go out, she said. Unless it’s hot, then we’ll order in.

After spending an hour in baggage claim and immigration, and another 15 minutes with no power—200 of us clamoring for carts and luggage and air—somehow the three of us landed right back in a row in the customs line and were able to say goodbye as our personal items were spread on a table for all to see.

Onward!

The minute I caught that first campfire and coconut smell and saw my first raccoon on a chain in the back of a truck (what?!) I knew I was home.

Racoon

David picked me up, and when I turned to thank the baggage guy, he was climbing in the front seat**. That’s Belize. Your luggage guy is your neighbor. The postal guy is your grandpa. The checkpoint guard is your cousin. **This guy would turn out to be Antonia’s principal at a new school 2 years from that point, and a good pal of mine.

We took off down the Western Highway at sunset—my exact favorite way to drive the Western Highway—and an interesting topic came up. I learned that the city is having a meeting tomorrow about a dam that was built a few years ago. It was contested by the Belize Zoo lady, along with many different environmental groups, and pushed forward by the electric company, the Belizean government, and those who wanted Belize’s electricity to come from Belize, not Mexico. The only problem was the entire dam. Environmentalists warned that the rock wouldn’t hold, the river would suffer, the quality of the water would decline, energy prices would go up, and the flooding would kill off the Scarlet Macaw (side note: The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw is a must-read. It’s a story about the Belize Zoo lady who fought against the dam, and the rich descriptions of the Belizean government and the people here are unbelievable. It’s full of history about Belize and Cayo District. And the author is funny. His first impression of Belize City had something to do with a pedal-by shooting.) Anyway, I read this book before I came, got really into the dam issue and had meant to ask about it, then right there out of nowhere, David brought it up. He said they were calling a village meeting to discuss the dam. Apparently the water is orange. The orange water is downstream from the dam, right in San Ignacio. This is the water they bathe in, play in, clean with, wash clothes and dishes in… It has something to do with the chemical makeup and silt that have filtered out and around the dam, and worse, in order to remove or fix the dam, they’d have to release the wall, which would flood all of San Ignacio and the surrounding valley villages, like Santa Familia. David said they came around this week to the villages with a blue siren and said: If you hear this sound, you have 2 hours to get out before the flood comes. Omg. I just knew that Zoo Lady was right!

I arrived in Santa Familila to a welcome surprise, and also termite season in my room. Antonia, Ricardo and Inez had spent the day rearranging all the rooms so Inez and I could be roomies and each have a bed in the room that doesn’t rain!

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Before I could even unpack or think about how tired I was, they whisked me off to the Miss Bullet Tree pageant.

(I am trying to upload a video of a punta dancer, but it’s taking forever…)

Sunday I went to church, and then to Guatemala in the back of a pickup truck, then squeezed into a cab with 6 people and spent an hour in the Melchor hospital. Richard (the son of the principal I am staying with) had a cough that wouldn’t lift because of the dusty roads and needed to see a doctor today for asthma. But there are no doctors in Cayo on Sundays, and so we had to cross the border. There are apparently also no doctors in Melchor on Sundays, which is how we ended up in the hospital. He got his treatment, and I bought all my little Belize gifts for you all at 1/3 price from the Gulatemalans. Finally a Guatemala stamp in my passport… although I’ve already been to Melchor. Figure that one out. Wink!

Today I am supposed to meet with my supervisor and she will accompany me to Mary Open Doors to begin the internship. But I have not been able to reach anyone. None of us have ever met each other, and the last contact I had with them was 2 weeks ago, by email. I still took (read: chased after) the 8 o’clock bus, and if I have to hang around the French bakery eating Mennonite cookies until I figure something out, so be it.

I have a phone number, and I will soon have a phone- hopefully by the end of the day. I can receive calls for free, but your carrier will charge you for the international call. I can make calls sometimes. And I can text sometimes.

My phone number is: 011-501-621-8102.

If you see this number, answer it! It’s me.

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Britney Spears and Confirmation (unrelated)

Did you guys know Britney Spears was committed?

I did, because I got a fantastic package today from my mom with the February 18th issue of People Magazine.Yesssssss!I also got hair clips AND mini packs of chips ahoy AND Valentines Day cards AND Mucinex (I was desperate for this because my chesty cough has been very unproductive, if you want to know) AND dove chocolate and little Crystal Light water bottle packets.It was a good day.

Before the actual Confirmation and confirmation partying (for those only tuned in to see Teachers, Preists and confirmation candidates gone wild) took place, we had to decorate the church.

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(I am super serious about this bow)
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Not thrilled about me and my camera
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My important (and tall) job of hanging curtains, then taking them down because they weren’t ironed, then hanging them back up
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Finished project:
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View from Church

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Water system (this one’s for you, Denise)

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Confirmation

Girls

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Boys

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Me & Antonia

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Noreli & Juliet

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Francis & Javid

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I hate this pic, but its the only one I have with Stephanie and Ronnel, who both confirmed.
(I was laughing, okay? Can’t a girl laugh?)

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Lined up and ready to go

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Fathers & Bishop

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David & Nelly

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The way we roll, dresses or not

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Inez & David Cabb Sr.

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Parties!

We were invited to a bunch of confirmation parties in the village, and made it to about 6. I ate 4 dinners, and like, 10 pieces of cake (I took them for the team, okay? It would have been rude to not accept :)

The fam- From top left: Rosio, Rachel, Inez & David Sr., baby Imanuel and the Bishop

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David Sr & Imanuel Jr.

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Santa Familia Teachers & Adan

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Me & Frances

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Rachel

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Me & Diana (Ms. Mig’s daughter)

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My 6 yr-old boyfriend

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Me & Father Foley (they made me take this…)

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Stephanie’s Par-tay

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And…the afterparty. The crazy looking one is Inez. And I picked out her dress in Chetumal. It’s just like mine only a different color. So there.

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Dwayne, Inez, & Me- VIP

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Week Seven

I know 6 days is, like, a year in Brooke blog time, but its been a busy week.Also, my “chesty cough” turned into bronchitis thanks to dry season and dusty roads.I never used to understand why all the kids walked around with little rags until I got sick of hacking up a lung every day to and from San Marcos and got the bright idea to hold a washcloth over my mouth whenever I saw a dust cloud on the road.The next morning at school, when I showed up with my own rag in hand, it all came together for me.

I’ll give a quick run down of the rest of the week (and by quick, I mean long)

Monday

We did normal programming in the morning for the Standard 2-6 classes, but in the afternoon, Nelly (David’s wife) was sick, so I taught the Infant and Standard 1 classes. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of Monday- and yes, my shorts are totally hiked.

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Tuesday

Mexico!Antonia needed to go to Chetumal to buy decorations for Confirmation, which is this Monday (its cheaper to buy from Mexico or Guatemala).We got up at TWO-THIRTY in the morning to catch the 4am bus from San Ignacio to Belize City to Chetumal—a SIX hour trip, arrived in Chetumal at about 10, then caught the 3pm bus back to Belize City. We got back to San Ignacio at about 9:30.It was a long day, but really fun.Antonia managed to cross and re-cross the border with an old passport, crossed back into Belize with 6 bags of decorations and talked her way out of the tax.I paid $37.50 plus $40 in transportation and bought nothing.

Before we left, I met two Americans from Portland at the 4am bus stop in San Ignacio. They were also headed to Chetumal to backpack their way through Mexico.They were the first Americans I’d seen since January 4th and I almost jumped into their arms when they left. I told them they might make the blog.

Antonia at 3am waiting for the bus

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Portlanders and me

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Best moment of the day: hitting sunrise and sunset with the Caribbean out my window and Michael Jackson’s Number one Hits on the ipod.It was really great to be able to see the northern part of the country—Orange Walk and Corozol Town.

Wednesday

Prepared for San Marcos’s annual soccer tournament.The boys and teachers went into the bush to gather sticks and palm leaves to make the goals and shelters.I taught the girls and the Standard 2 & 3 classes (an by taught, I mean we played hangman and jacks all day).

Making the shelter

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Lining the field

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Washing dishes- well, they’re washing. I’m like, what is this so-called “cooking utensil” ?

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Teaching (before I knew they had the camera)

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After I realized they had the camera

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After they’d had enough “teaching” from me

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Wednesday night, we had a total Lunar eclipse, and I stood on the porch singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to Inez and Bryon.

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Thursday

Soccer tournament!10 boys teams and 9 girls teams came.They played from 8:30 in the morning until about 6:30 in the evening.The winners were Duck Run 2 and La Gracia.My job was tournamenteer (I made that up—it means to create and fill in the brackets throughout the day…)

Behind the scenes- taco prep

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Your favorite tournamenteer and mine

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The sequence of finding out I had blue streaks all over my face after the marker burst

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Santa Familila team

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And victory dance after first round

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Santa Familia teachers (they tried to get me to switch sides)

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Duck Run II cheering squad (check out the kid in blue tights)

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Coach David

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Cute Infant 2 student with her aforementioned rag

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Nelly (David’s wife) and Imanuel (David & Antonia’s brother)

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Rousing game of Jacks

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Winning teams and trophies

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Sunset (after an hour of picking up trash…)

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Friday

Half day, spent mostly in church going through the Stations of the Cross.Its really interesting and meaningful for me to go through the Lenten period with everyone here.And it helps to be doing it with kids, since I am learning and things are slow and simplified to teach them.The rest of the morning, I did Math with the Standard 1 class.

Whew! I think I’m caught up. I’ll try to stay in touch this week. Don’t forget about me, please?

Week six, I heart you

Week 6

I can’t believe I’ve been here for 6 weeks!

And I can’t believe I forgot to tell you that we had a tremor this week. I think it was Monday or Tuesday morning. I got up because i felt my bed shaking, and (funny line of logic here, beware) I thought someone was ironing outside my room, that the ironing board was bumping the wall, and the wall was shaking the table, and the table was shaking my bed. But when I looked, no one was ironing, and the ironing table was about 3 feet from the wall…

Later I learned it was a tremor. That made more sense than an animated ironing board, but, you know, I was sleeeeeeping.

Here are some pics of classes this week.Every morning the kids line up and sing the Belize National anthem while raising the Belize flag.Then they do morning prayers together and begin class.I can almost sing the anthem myself…

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I have know idea what’s going on here, but obviously it was VERY funny…

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On Valentine’s Day, I went with the Standard 6 students to a science bee in Los Tambos.San Marcos school won second place, out of about 8 schools.

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Think if this is what it looked like outside your classroom window

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The bus

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In the afternoon, we did an art lesson in each class and made Valentine’s Day cards.

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My two valentines

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On Friday night, Santa Familia school had a Valentines Day Festival. Lots of food, games and dancing…

The girls

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The boys

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The teachers

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And these jokers

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My Santa Familia Valentines

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Oh, and PS: My phone card didn’t work. I guess on double minute days, everyone tries to call and the network gets jammed :( So much for my $20 worth of happy phone time.

Week four, get behind me.

Well, the good news is my cellulite is almost gone.

The bad news is I spent yesterday in the hospital receiving hydration and antibiotics through an IV.

(The worst news is that I puked on two people. I was on the bus from Santa Familia to Belmopan trying to get my Visa renewed. Antonia put the window down, but it was too late. I put my hand over my mouth and ran to the front of the bus while Antonia yelled, “Stop the bus!” I jumped out while the bus was still moving. Everyone watched me get sick on the side of the road. That’s when Antonia decided it was time to visit Belmopan General.)

Today I am home and feeling much better, thank you.
I moved to Antonia’s house, where, unfortunately there is no internet. Updating might be less frequent. I have to roam the open streets for a signal- or just walk to Davids. BUT, on the plus side, I’ll be healthier here, we think.

Some other tidbits from week four:

  • Ben called from Boot Camp. He used his whole 8 minutes to tell me that he’s proud of me. (He’s the nicest brother.) His birthday is February 16th, and we are trying to send him some love. If you would like to mail Ben a birthday letter, send it to:PRIVATE BENJAMIN WILSON
    RN #242
    D Company 1-19 IN
    9075 Holcomb
    Ft. Benning, GA 31905
  • Elaine called from Germany. I miss her.
  • Mr. Gay (my French uncle) called from France. He received the picture book, and said, “Bwoooookie? Elan. Bwooookie photo. Happy. Happy. Happy. Bwoooookie resemble Karen. Happy. Happy. Bwooooookie and Elan. Photo. Thank you very much Bwooookie.”

This weekend I am supposed to go to the Blue Hole and the Belize Zoo if I am feeling better. I really hope to be feeling better.

Thank you so much for the prayers, phone calls, emails and letters.
I miss you.

B.