Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Belize Navidad

Late is the time the blog arrives.

And it isn't even all that exciting. Or is it....

The next blog, however, will be most excellent. On Friday I am leaving for a six day trip through Guatemala with Al, during which we should be hiking up the highest peak in Central America, the 4,220m Volcan Tajumulco.

That is called a teaser.

This past week involved no teasing, but mostly just lots of work. It was exam week at school, so the kids had three or four exams a day for the week. That is way too much if you ask me. Mind you, this isn’t college. Seven year olds have the same schedule. I used the down time to hang out in the library (thankfully not subbing) and repaired torn and well loved books. If one has the time and motivation, you can read probably 30 picture books in a few hours without breaking a sweat and simultaneously accomplishing actual work.

On Friday we hosted a collection of interesting individuals, including Martin and Karen. Martin works for one of the conservation groups in town, while Karen is his girlfriend from Belgium. Martin worked as a street musician for a few years, so he is insane at guitar, then joined the circus (I know, right?), where he met Karen. They ended up splitting off and forming a hula hoop troupe. Let me tell you, watching a professional hula hooper perform in your living room is simply incredible. Just picture it: a person laying down, hula hoop spinning on her foot, then quickly standing and suddenly the hoop is spinning around her neck. Spectacular. We got some lessons too, though it will take a while to get that good. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, she travels with a collapsible set of hula hoops.

This weekend was splendid. It was hot and sunny both days, so it was nice getting to relax and unwind after some long weeks. Saturday night was St. Benedict’s (where Al works) Christmas party. We got all dressed up then ate more than most human bodies can hold while Caribbean Christmas music was playing at deafening levels.

Our house!!!

Yesterday I visited every class at school and named names of those with late books to the library. This list included a few who, as of today, find themselves with books three months late. I mean, I’m really bad at returning books, seeing how at times I was banned from borrowing at the Sandwich Public Library due to my overdue fees, but seriously now. Three months is a long time. Hopefully I’ll see the books arriving sometime this week.

Hmmm, well my friend, this will be my last post for a while. I return by Christmas Eve, but I sure won’t be updating this until after the holiday.

So, dear reader, I wish you a very lovely and merry Christmas filled with joy and feasting.

Belize Navidad!!!

(and to those Fairfielders coming: see you in three weeks!!!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Visual tour of PG

Greetings faithful readers,
Greetings unfaithful browsers,
Greetings stumbler.
Greetings you.

I hope this finds you well on a fine Tuesday of the seventh day of December. I am hopped up on a diabetic amount of sugar right now after a most excellent community night run by Al. We have been making Christmas cookies for a few hours and there is perhaps a solid pound brick residing in my stomach. So, before the crash occurs, lets do this, shall we?

Oddly enough, this semester is coming to a close. This past week I re-tested all the kids in the reading program to see how much progress has been made, or not. A lot of the kids, including the one who stated “I can’t read” in the beginning of the year, have made so much headway and are reading so many words now. I was very proud of them and the ones who need more work, well, we have lots of time next semester.

I decided that the time has come for the library to send out late slips. I mean, I would like some of those books back before Christmas. I went through all the folders filled with library cards and compiled a large list. Currently there are 264 books checked out of the library, with 143 of them overdue. Quite a few were due three months ago. Good job kids.

In the midst of sorting through the vast plethora of cards, a student walked into the library and told me that the principal was looking for me. I tracked him down and promptly found myself substituting for a Standard IV class. These kids are around 10 or 11. Day one consisted of me quite confused and caught by surprise by my teaching assignment. Day two was far better planned out, so I had some good things planned for the students. This class was quite poorly behaved, so I spent a lot of time settling them down. There were a few moments of bliss when I looked out across the class and saw them all working quietly. I had my payback today, Monday, when they were taking their exams. A few decided to talk during them, so we had a nice crowd of six kids in detention. Now, detention at Peter Claver consists of chopping. They give the worst kids machetes and have them chop the school compound. Why we give these kids, the ones most likely to rise up against authority, large, sharp weapons is beyond me.

Apart from teaching, this was a pretty relaxing week. We find ourselves over four months in country and ¼ of our way into our jobs. Quite strange. Matt returned from his trip to El Salvador, so it is nice to have my basement buddy back.

So, no pictures yet? you may ask. Well, here we go.

Per request of my mom, I decided to give you a view of the different sides of Punta Gorda. Often I feel I focus on the ocean or nature or other picturesque or interesting things. Doing this, you might not really get the feel of what I see everyday. So, here is a tour through PG, focusing on the different living situations people find themselves in. I went on an hour run during which I took all these pictures. Most wonderful.

One of the first things you notice, particularly around my house, is how many unfinished houses there are. Many, many shells of homes sit empty around town. The most likely scenario is the owner just ran out of money mid construction and abandoned the project. Thus we have scenes like this one.

Lots of houses you see are raised up on pilings. Lots of homes in these pictures look abandoned because all the doors and windows are closed, but it was chilly when I took the pictures, and, having no heat source, the openings were closed up. However, this house was just abandoned.

Nice little home close to me.

Here’s a playground a little back from my house. Notice, no swings. A bunch of kids were playing basketball in the court next to the playground. I’ve never actually seen any children using any of the equipment.

There are lots of little restaurant places in town, often called “something cool spot”. This one is by far the coolest cool spot, by name at least.

As you head further back from the sea, you start entering what is known as Indianville. This area has a large percentage of Maya residents, and lots of livestock around. Here’s a friendly horse. Actually, the kids told me it is very mean. Oh well.

The nights are filled with the smell of woodsmoke drifting through the breeze, as cooking is predominately done over fires.

There are a lot of thatched roof houses in Indianville, though often you see signs of new, more modern looking structures cropping up, often right next door.

This is St. Benedicts, in Indianville, where Al works.

PG does have an airport, which cuts right through town. Instead of walking/riding bikes all the way around it, everyone simply goes across. Thus, a view from the middle of the runway.

The kids clearly don’t care about the signs. What signs? You ask. Well, this one.

As you progress back to the ocean, there are a number of nice houses. Really nice houses. This one belongs to the ambassador to the UK.

I don’t know who lives here. But their house is lovely. As is the view.

Hmmm, other than the random thatched little huts by the sea where people wait for buses…

There isn’t much else to show you this week.

My sugar is wearing down. My eyes are growing heavy. I hope I don’t have to substitute anymore this week. I hope you don’t either. Happy Pearl Harbor Day!! Well, I suppose that isn’t correct. Not the happiest of days, unless you are a warmonger.

Oh, books/readings Jeremy recommends this week:

The Tale of Desperaux, by Kate DiCamillo
The Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Walking, by Henry David Thoreau
The Shipping News, by Anne Proluix

Well friend, I hope you have a splendid week that is full of merriment and cheer.

Until next week.

Jeremy, signing out.