Saturday, August 14, 2010

First post from beautiful Belize

After a long wait, I finally have time to update my blog/actually use the internet.
I come to you from lovely Punta Gorda, Belize and from the window of the parish office (where the computer is) I can look out on the Caribbean and can see Guatemala and Honduras in the distance.
SO, from the beginning. Our flight to Miami from Boston was cancelled August 1, so we spent the day in the city, wandering around, with me as the tour guide. Finally we got a flight and spend the night in a Miami hotel. No, we were not able to go out on the town. Very sad.

Our flight that morning was quite short, only about 2.5 hours. From the window of the plane we were able to see Cuba (super cool). After landing in the airport, we could see a bunch of white people from the plane window waiting in the observation area, and after getting out they started yelling and jumping to get our attention. Thus we first saw the second year volunteers. They met us after we picked up our luggage then drove us to the Belize City JVC house.

Belize City is the biggest city in the country and it is very poor. It is built on a penninsula and has been destroyed three times by hurricanes. It's pretty dirty and while not as crowded as most cities in the world, there were still lots of people moving around. We were able to check out some interesting places in the city, like the Garifina museum (one of the many cultural groups in the country) and the national museum. The national museum as the Jade Skull, which the crystal skulls in the new (and crappy) Indiana Jones movie were based on. There was also some great information on pirates (yarrrr) at the museum. I will spend another blog later on the history of Belize, but pirates actually were some of the first European inhabitants of Belize after the British stopped supporting them financially. There's a pirate ship on the $1 coin. AWESOME.

After spending three days in Belize City, we headed out for a short retreat in the jungle, spent at a place called Banana Bank. Side note: I can buy like 12 bananas for $1.
On the way to Banana Bank, we stopped at the Belize Zoo, were we got to see lots of awesome animals, like jaguars, tapiers, howler monkeys, and sweet birds. I also got to hold a giant boa constrictor. Very cool.

Banana Bank was nice and had a pool and was right on a river. There were also lots of birds, a jaguar, and two monkeys. One of the monkeys took a liking to me and decided to hang out on my back and groom me. We also went horseback riding through the jungle and crossed rivers and stuff. That was definitely a highlight of the trip so far.

After two nights there, we split from the Belize City group and headed down to Punta Gorda (from now it will be known as PG). Father Jeff Harrison, the head of the Jesuits in Belize, drove us down and had many excellent stories. He spent many years working in refugee camps in Kenya and has been all over the world. After a few hours of driving through the jungles and mountains (a great combination), we took a turn and saw the ocean and found ourselves in PG.
PG is a town of around 5,000 people, though that takes into account a whole lot of people outside the town proper. It is very small. However, most of the residents are school age children. My school has 900 kids alone.

My house is great. It looks like it should fall down any day, though it is surprisingly sturdy. It is a mismatch of stuff inside, but it makes it quite homey. I will put up pictures as soon as the chord for my camera arrives. On that topic, if you feel so inclined to mail me something, think carefully. I have to pay for every package that arrives, and if there's stuff in it that is expensive or can't be bought in Belize, I have to shell out big time. Some volunteers get stuff shipped in easy mac boxes that are glued shut so it looks like cheap stuff instead. My house is great if only for the view, which, as described at the start, is to die for. I can watch the sun rise over the ocean every morning, and I do. 5:30 every day. The ocean is also very warm, much warmer than our shower water, which has no hot water. Hooray two years!

Anywho, the past week in PG has been great. We've spent time cleaning, reading, swimming, exploring, meeting people, and doing some work around town. The other day we helped nuns move furniture and later organized donations from the US.

I went on a homestay for two nights at a fellow teacher's house and just got back a few hours ago. It was great living with a family and getting to hear a bit about the culture and school right away. I also met my host, Teacher Cindy's fater, Tony, who may be the most interesting person I have met. He was in charge of the fisherman's cooperative many years ago and addressed the UN twice. I shall spend more time with him, a wonderful 80 year old.

Well, I wish I could upload my pictures. They will come, I promise. Updates will be more frequent when school starts, as the school has a computer lab that I can use. I'll try for an update a week, or at least every two.

So thanks for visiting and come back soon!
Fare thee well!