Well, that’s the day we are celebrating here in PG, though it is actually less celebration and more relaxation, something I am strongly in favor of.
This was a most wonderful week. On Monday I started doing some teaching for the reading program and it has started off very smoothly. I worked on letter recognition this week and drew letters in chalk on the ground and had the kids jump from one to the other after they completed assignments in workbooks. It got them moving and was pretty fun. Hopefully the next several months have similarly positive activities.
Throughout the week I got some excellent letters, including some from Ecuador, Micronesia, and Montana, as well as glorious emails (if your name starts with a K that includes you). I am also beyond ecstatic for January when the Fairfield service group arrives in PG. I don’t even know.
Matt headed out for Nicaragua on Wednesday morning, so until Thursday or Friday, there’ll be just three of us (and Baxter of course).
On Friday morning I awoke at 5am to give my wonderful mother a birthday call (hi mom!) and stayed up to watch the sunrise and to begin writing a story that has been floating around in my head for the past month. I’m about 15 pages in, with illustrations in the works.
Friday at dawn.
Al giving some music lessons to Evon and AJ.
The long weekend started with a dinner party at the home of two American doctors, Dan and Maria. They cooked up some splendid food and proved to be great hosts. Apart from the three of us volunteers, a couple also came by for dinner and stories. The husband, Ted, has been living in Belize since 1968 and told stories of how it used to be. He blames American television for bringing the downfall of Belizean society, pointing out that Belize had the lowest crime rate for a nation above 500,000 people in the world. Today Belize City is a dangerous place.
On Saturday we first went into the market to pick up some tasty eats, and found it packed with lots of people. It was sunny and everyone was in a good mood. We also bought some dragon fruit and star fruit, both of which proved to be mighty tasty. It was a great start to the day.
I have been itching to do some more exploring, so Al and I headed out in the afternoon on bikes to find some new places. First we rode down some roads, down the coast a bit, and came to a spot on the sea.
Maybe my favorite picture I've ever taken.
After stowing our bikes in the bushes, we headed out on foot, down the coast. After sloshing through water, we came upon the mangrove forest, a fascinating and wondrous place.
On the edge of the mangrove forest.
Inside the forest
These trees are truly incredible and the silence that pervaded was something to remember. After walking a bit, we found that there was a sailboat moored out on the other side of the trees. It reminded me of a mystery novel. I kept my search up for pirate treasure just in case.
Sailing skiff moored in the bay.
Roots of the Mangrove
After trekking around there for a bit, we headed back out and down a dirt road labeled, “Falcon Forest.” Down the road a bit we caught a glimpse of a house. As we crept closer, loud barking sounded. My paper boy instincts kicked in and dust was left in my wake.
Some pretty wild flowers.
Both these locations are right off of a place called the Toledo Free Zone. Now, ironically, this place has the highest fences I’ve seen in Belize. There’s some cows grazing within the outer fence, but inside the inner one, there’s a bunch of abandoned buildings. This is the former Voice of America station. The VoA is a radio station that broadcasts into nations where there is a strict controlling of the media, allowing citizens to get an alternate source of information. Belize happened to lie near Guatemala and Honduras, two locals where the US government wasn’t too keen on the ruling bodies. Thus, this station was built sometime in the 1980s (also when American TV came in and brought about the downfall of Belize. Figures). Anywho, this place is now apparently abandoned.
Voice of America Station
From there Al and I continued on our bikes for another 10ish miles through the back roads of town. My butt was quite sore from sitting on that seat, but we did get to see new parts of PG and a large tarantula.
Yesterday there was a big TIDE festival. TIDE is one of the many conservation groups in Belize and one of the largest. They had lots of events going on, like a kayak race, watermelon eating, soda drinking, volleyball, fishing net throwing, greased poll climbing (seriously. I entered, but apparently you needed a team), and a fishing contest.
Vollyball tournament at the TIDE festival.
Starting line for the limes on a spoon race
Our friend Mando, who runs the fishing coop, won two categories of the fishing contest, gaining him great accolades, prizes, and $350 cash.
Competitor in the "biggest fish" competition. That's a 14 pound barracuda.
I also met a guy who works for the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation, not the wrestling folk), who chatted with me about fishing conservation. Nice fellow.
Ah, the view on my walk home.
Well, I hope you enjoy your shortened week.
I am attempting to upload 30 pictures today, so this might take 26 hours. Minimum. (I've been sitting here for an hour now and nothing has uploaded yet. Aw jeeze)
((I started this at 7am. It is now 12 noon. Hooray internet!))
Enjoy the autumn. Take in the colors and the crisp air and the apple cider. I miss it greatly.
Shanks for visiting, my friend. See you next week!