Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Mustaches, Brothers Shea, Thorny Trees

Happy Christmas!
The jolliest of greetings to you from Belize good friends. I hope all is well this holiday season and the fatted calf has been consumed and now you are putting on a good imitation. Here in PG, we have a surplus of cookies, cake, and candy, and not much else. Greg and I just split a bag of goldfish and a thing of double stuff Oreos for lunch. Mmmmm.

Much has happened since the last blog of mine. Including....

Jeremy starring as Santa in the Punta Gorda Christmas Parade, as well as at the St. Peter Claver School Pageant. Now, I'm sure some of you recall my previous roles as Santa. Those were fine. A big suit and beard go well together in the winter. Not so in Belize. After the pageant, which lasted for many hours, I lost perhaps five pounds in sweat. The suit took days to dry. It was horrible. Never do that again, Jeremy. Never. Also, since I was without paint for the beard, I used flour. A kid touched it and asked if it was my magic dust. I said yes.


Matthew Shea, the brother of Jeremy Shea (me) came to visit! It was quite glorious. His flight was cancelled (darn American airlines) coming down, but we were still left with a solid five days. Activities included sitting on buses for many hours, cooking lobster, eating, exploring caves, learning about the crystal skull, and hanging out.

Brother Matt at some Mayan ruins.

Also included in the visitor excitement was (and still remains) the family of Al. The Schommer clan has been camping out (not literally, too many mosquitoes) in PG for about a week. It has been swell and we enjoy having them around. We had a big Christmas Eve dinner, then a glorious brunch on Christmas day. Many pounds have been added this past week.

Greg cutting up the pork dinner.

John making some gravy for the Christmas meal.

I had a mustache! It was the greatest thing I've ever done.

The Greatest Mustache Ever

Christmas Happened!!!

Yes, that is an angel, Joseph, Mary, and supporting nativity cast at Christmas Eve Mass.

Thorny Christmas Tree.

Christmas Morning.

We ate iguana! This is the meat, the eggs, and rice and beans. Tasty.

Guatemala across the street.

Freshly shaved face of me.

That's all folks. I might get sued by Warner Bros. for writing that. Ah well.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It has been too long since I've communicated via the blog, so I shall reward your visit with lots of pictures.

Mmmm, breakfast. Orange, tea, homemade tortilla with bananas and peanut butter, and Dubliners, by James Joyce.

Somehow we have made it to December. Now, last year December came quickly, but this year it has used super stealth mode. We have been listening to many Christmas songs in the house and last night we made glorious Christmas cookies. I ate many. They also made for a nice breakfast. And lunch.

Evening from my abode

Since last time I wrote, there have been many happenings in PG.
There was culture day at school, so all the kids were dressed up in their cultural attire.

Mr. Kevin Zuniga teaching the students how to make hats from palm fronds.

Some cultural dancing.

The Belize National Anthem in Creole. Read it, I dare you.

So, the colors for the Garifuna people are black and yellow. This also happens to make them the best Bruins fans around. The B's also seem to be killing it right now, so the Garifuna people chose wisely.

Parading back from the landing.

That weekend was also Garifuna Settlement day, so everyone was up early on Saturday (or simply stayed away all night) to watch the reenactment of the first Garifuna settlers arriving in boats. My favorite part was the token white guy dressed in colonial attire playing the British governor who supposedly turned them away two times. Everyone booed him, including me. Darn Brits.

Garifuna Settlement Day

The week after that it was Thanksgiving! I rolled up to Belize City where some nuns had us over for tasty food. The next day all the Belize JVs headed out to Cayo for a retreat. It was freezing (65 degreesish), so we were all bundled up. It was nice to get away from PG and see the very pretty district up north.

Hanging (literally) in Cayo.

Early morning run with Jon.

Ah, sun rise over, wait, an oil well. Scenic.

Winded at the top of the hill.

Running through Cayo. Hopefully Runner's World enjoys this one and makes me famous.

Creepy crawler.

I liked these leaves.

Apart from that, not a whole lot is going on down here. I've been here for something like 16 months, which is a long time.
Matt, the brother of mine, will be arriving in a week and a half, so I am very excited about that.

New painting I finished in the library.

If anyone has a library stamp, one of those stamps where you can change the date, lying around, dying to be used, please send it my way. One was stolen from the library last year and another just broke, so I'm down to one, and the year on it is stuck at 2007. The kids have to return all their books three years ago.

School gets out next Friday, followed by a nice long break of three weeks. Thus, there might be time for another blog prior to Christmas, but if not, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and there's plenty of snow and cookies to appease the huge appetite of Santa.

The crab that lives in the downstairs bathroom. He's super excited Christmas is coming. His arms are raised in celebration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Day in the Life

(Writer's note: there will be no commentary other than the time each photo was taken. I tried to take one each hour, give or take five minutes.)

This photo blog took place between 5:01am 10:15pm on Monday, November 14


















Saturday, November 12, 2011

Morning Run

For the past three weeks, I’ve been rising when the green numbers of my clock flick to 5:10am. The air is still cool when I step out of the house, dressed only in shorts, a tshirt, and sneakers. Above, the sky is still dark, often speckled with stars. Orion’s Belt glimmers down at me, bringing some calm to my heart. My so-called lucky star juts from the Belt and I would often stare at it as a child, head pressed against the car window on drives home from dinner or relatives, the heavens and coolness of the glass relaxing me before slumber.
Instead of sleep, the sight of the star begins my run. If the breeze is right, the calls of howler monkeys can be heard as I step onto the street. Their cries mingle with the sounding off of roosters. It is a common misconception that roosters only crow at sunrise. In fact, they crow to their hearts content, at any time of the day or night.
I started running early as a way to get out of the funk I’ve been in. Working from 7:45 to 5:00 everyday, plus the added strain of working 45 seconds from home, was taking its toll. The morning run forced me to wake up early, get some exercise, clear my head, and go beyond the block of work and home. It has been glorious.
As I began today, I resolved to go further than my normal 4mile route. Saturdays are always good long run days, so I woke up earlier to get a jump start and make sure I wasn’t out when the sun was up. At 4:50 I kicked off and headed down through the quiet streets of PG. As I approached the central park, I was startled to hear a commotion. To my surprise, I found a number of children playing on the swing set. An hour before sunrise is a quite peculiar time for fun and games, but if your parents are in town to sell produce in the market, and the bus leaves the village at 2am, you have a lot of free time on your hands.
Apart from the small group of players, town is normally quite still at this time. Not entirely, though. There’s a small group of early morners who are out and about, mostly exercising in some capacity. Initially they must have been confused to see a heavily bearded white guy out that early, but we’ve developed a nice bond. We see each other every morning, a nod or “mahning” as hello.
The first two miles of the route pass by the sea. It is often as still as the town, only a few ripples betraying the dark mirror of its surface. A few pelicans or a solitary fisherman are the only intruders this early in the day that scarcely has begun.
Today I was going further than the normal route. As I passed my turnoff point, I saw a man standing up ahead of me, waiting for the 5am bus. He started chanting “uno, duos, uno, duos,” as I ran toward him, then shouted “good morning” as I got near. He was carrying a large rifle over his shoulder and looked like he was going out to the jungle to do some early morning hunting. Only in Belize can men with rifles on the side of the road not elicit consternation.
The run continued up the road, with my mind straying far beyond the trees bordering the strip of asphalt. After about five miles, there’s a turn off back to town, a road known as the dirt highway. It cuts through the jungle, over rivers, past lush hills, by homes of a number of people.
Even this early, the sounds of stirring could be heard. People were filling buckets with water, stoking fires, and even the sewing machine purred away in one home.
By the time I returned to the house of ours, I had traveled almost ten miles. My knees were a bit creaky and ankles sore, but it was worth it. The sun was still low in the sky. I chased it up and already had made my run around the planet I’ve grown familiar with here.
And thus the run ended, with me stretching, looking out on the Caribbean, welcoming the day of promise and infinite possibility. And hopefully a nap. I was up darn early.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Video Blog!

It took many days to finally get these videos uploaded. I hope you enjoy them.

Part Uno:

Second Section:

The Final Clip!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October!? Woah!

Hello my lovely friends. It is a beautiful Sunday morning and my clothes are hanging out to dry. There was just Garifuna mass, full of lots of good drumming and singing.


I painted this in the library a few weeks ago.

In other news, we had our first full week of school this past week. It was terrible. Such a grind. Luckily, this Monday is Pan-American day, then there's a teacher's retreat the following week, then a teacher's workshop the week after. In all, there will be one full week of school in September and October.
Shockingly, it was just reported that the children in our school are under-preforming. In a recent exam, it was shown that only 4% of the children in Standard 2 (1st grade) were able to pass math. 4%! Then, only 64%, in the same grade, passed reading.
Debates continue to figure out how to better educate our children. Perhaps the lack of time in the classroom has something to do with it.

We went fishing yesterday. It was a very productive outing indeed. He's some fish we caught. I was responsible for six of them. Not too shabby.

Fish we caught.

Frankie caught two at once. It was awesome. Notice his sinker, hanging next to the bottom fish. Yes, it is a spark plug.

Starfish waiting to attack.

Most of you right now are feeling the beginnings of my favorite time of the year: autumn. Last year I was very sad not to have a real fall, though this year it has been compounded. It's good. I've realized that seasons are essential to me. I need change, even forced change via the weather. I've been doing a lot of writing lately, and I find I'm writing in many cases about the fall or winter. There's not much else I can do, so all of you who can feel the cool air and see lovely foliage, enjoy.

Well, you, good luck. I hope to talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I know, it's been a while

Alright, I feel badly about this. It has been far too long since the last blog. It has been a busy past month, so it isn't like we've been lazing around, twiddling our collective thumbs. No, we've been busy.

School started two weeks ago. I love the first day of school more than any other day of the year (other than the last day of school). Everyone is so excited to be back together. Even though the air isn't chilly like that in good ol' New England, there is still something fresh about the whole day.

Yay school!

The library has been the place to be these past few weeks. Of the 700 or so students who have library cards, about 350 of them have borrowed books. I've been working long days to keep the books in order, from usually 7:45 to 6, so that's been a bit draining. It's wonderful to see so many teachers encouraging their students to read, so I'm not complaining about the long hours.

In other news from PG:
We had a minor earthquake last week. The ground shook for maybe eight seconds. It was neat.
There was a parade for the students. It was incredibly hot and I drank many galleons of water afterward.


John, Greg, and I have been playing a whole lot of pool. Mostly Frankie, the greatest man alive and who works at the parish, plays with us. He might be a champion pool player, but he's a great coach as well.

Hanging out at MJ's

I've been reading Hemingway's complete short stories. They're really good. My stories can't compare, though I'm about 40 pages into a new book, so keep a close watch of the bestseller lists in the coming months.

Hello. Yes, I have a large beard right now. It's awesome. Girls apparently hate it. Children think I look like Joseph.

We missed half a day of school last week because the teachers went on strike. Why? Well, there's currently no propane in the country because the government has been taxing the companies so much that they're losing money. Thus, schools can't cook for children and they're very hungry. I think a deal was met, but we're conserving our propane just to be sure.

On this past Sunday, there was a charity fishing tournament and ocean volleyball game. Both were entertaining, as were the people selling tasty food in front of our house.

Sea volleyball tournament.

Fishing competition. That's a 16 pound barracuda.

There will be another post soon, I swear. If there isn't, send angry emails.
Thanks for reading, come back sooooooooooooooon.