Monday, November 22, 2010

A long, wild week


Ah ha! I meet you again on a Monday. The internet has been down for a few days so I’m back again in the world of speedy communication.

Editorial Note: Last week I posted a picture of Garifuna dancers with masks on, taken at the Battle of the Drums. These men are in fact the “white men”. When the Garifuna people were still in slavery, they were told to put on traditional performances for their masters. To get a bit of revenge, they created this masked character who openly mocked the white men, who realized nothing of this jest. Thus, this dancer has become a part of the dances to this day.

So, one week ago, I arrived at work like any other normal Monday. Around 9:30 I found myself working with one of my reading groups when a teacher entered the library. She said that one of the Infant I teachers had just gone home sick, so with another already out, they were down to two and needed my help. I said, sure. Bad choice. Infant I children are around 5 years old and the worst human beings on the planet. In fact, this particular class might have included the very top echelon of terrors this generation has to offer. I believe they would have been better off had there been no authority figure present at all. I was punched, attempted to be robbed, mocked, and utterly ignored. I got home for lunch trying to figure out how to get out of teaching in the afternoon. No plans materialized. In the end, I survived, yet if another teacher walks into the library from Infant I, I shall be running far away.

This week was culture week at all the schools. On Tuesday, St. Benedicts, where my housemate Allison works, held their culture day, so Peter Claver students trekked to the back of town to check out the festivities. There are seven main cultures in Belize, though since St. Benedicts is quite small, only a few were represented by the students. There were some good dances and interesting displays in the classrooms. Mostly the students just ran around, causing trouble and playing soccer.

Thursday was the day of Peter Claver’s culture day. All the kids were dressed up in their traditional outfits, making for a splendid fashion show.

Dressed up.

Sweet outfit, man.

Why can't we Americans look this cool?

I wish this was how they dressed for school everyday. The day kicked off with a reenactment of the Garifuna people landing in Belize, albeit in a motor boat filled with children.

Eagerly awaiting things.

Yeah! Sweet outfits. Carlos is in the background. He sells donuts his mom makes. I eat lots of them.

Waiting for the arrival of the Garifuna boat.

The boat coming into shore.

Kids drumming off the dock.

There was then an 18 hour mass. Ok, maybe not that long, but a church filled with energetic children who are listening to a pretty old, blind, Garifuna speaking priest is not the best situation.

Garifuna mass. Thank God this ended.

The rest of the day was filled with more dances, presentations, food, and fun.

Mass of children gathered at school.

All of this was the lead up to Garifuna Settlement Day. Held every November 19, it celebrates the arrival of the Garifuna people to Belize. Now, there is a big reenactment at approximately 6am on Friday. I awoke at 5:45. Out my window I see nothing but rain. At further inspection, I found a few men bailing out the boats on which the landing will be performed. Eventually, after a long delay, the boats set out. They came to shore three times, with the first two ending in rejection by a British governor. Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure there were no British governors waiting on the shore of a quite uninhabited location in Belize. However, that’s the tradition, so on we go. On the third time the boat tries to land, the governor allows the boats to land and celebrations ensue.

Yay! They landed!!

The sizable crowd, with surprisingly gathered in the face of the rain, marched off to church. I marched off to dry clothes and tea.

Dancing off to mass.

The rest of the weekend was filled with a barbecue at our house, much revelry, and finally relaxation. I enlisted Lee, my British friend, to do some painting in the room I’ve been fixing up downstairs. Joining us were the one Alyssa DeConto of Sandwich, and Ekat, formerly of Russia, then the US. We spent a few hours putting up some quite excellent images. If you find yourself in our house any time soon, feel free to come downstairs and paint something up there (or down there. I’m very much hoping for floor paintings).

Ekat rocking the Menonite fishing

Alyssa and her abstract painting.

Lee and his awesome elephant

This was my painting. I shouldn't have picked one with some much detail. Darn tiles.

Well, I must depart. Christmas music is now heard wafting through the warm air of PG. I can smell the snow. False. December? Ok, that is definitely in the air.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving my friend. Happy turkeying.

And cranberry sauceing.

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