Saturday, August 27, 2011

August, die she must.

Helloooooo from where there are no hurricanes (for now).

In one week, the month of September shall roll around, unless you’re on the eastern coast of the US, then the hurricane might have sent you into another time zone. If so, good luck.

Here in PG we just missed being hit by Tropical Storm Harvey. It struck forty miles north of us, causing only a little damage and minor flooding. We were on high alert for a day or two, but nothing came of it.

The mountains of Honduras across from our house.

Prior to the storm warning, we, the Punta Gorda JVs, welcomed down the JVs of Belize City, as the last part of our Phase Two Orientation (In Country Orientation if you work for JVC and are trying to Phase Out Phase Two). There were twelve people staying in the house for a week, which, if you’ve seen it or watched the video tour I fabulously directed, filmed, and acted in, is really not a big house. We managed, with some couch sleepers and floor mattress rockers. Highlights of the week included a scavenger hunt around PG, swimming off the pier, jumping off waterfalls, and giving Greg and John a bit of orientation around the Toledo district, as they will be working out in the Mayan villages the next two years.

Hanging out at the waterfalls.

Jon's toe got infected by an ingrown nail, so he couldn't swim. Instead he wore my hat. His toe is better now.

Rain on water.

On one of the days, Jon (Landolfe), John (Rogers), Greg, and myself took a church truck, did some truck driving education, then drove out to the Guatemalan border. It’s an approximately two and a half hour drive through very beautiful land. At the border town, Jalacte, we parked, then crossed a river and hiked into Santa Cruz, the Guatemalan town over the border. Apart from purchasing a few Gallo beers, it was fascinating that a place like this can exist, where the border between two countries means absolutely nothing. People from both sides cross freely. We loaded up on some beers, then trekked back over the border and headed home. On the drive back, Greg noted that this was, “The greatest beer run ever.”

Thank you OPEC and Kuwait for building a highway to Guatemala. Further information on this will come later. A research paper is in the works.

Crossing the river into Guatemala.

Walking into town.

Trying some tasty tostados. These may have resulted in a few days of indigestion.

It was wonderful to have all the Belize City people down, but it was also nice when they left and we were able to get our house back into a reasonable state. Since our orientation is officially over, all of us have started getting back into work. I’ve been sitting in the library, fixing old books, putting envelopes and cards into new books, and making 1000 or so library cards. It is mostly tedious work, but quite enjoyable. I’m still waiting on paint for the mural to arrive, though I guess UNICEF is pretty slow in getting money through. Here’s what it looks like now:

Fresh looking library.

Apart from that, not much else is new.
I got an awesome donation in the library:

Greatest. Donation. Ever.

We watched Midnight in Paris last week. It is incredible. I highly suggest it, especially if you enjoy Hemingway.

There have been some great thunderstorms and sunrises of late.


And thus I leave you. School begins on September 5, so I shall let you know how life in the work place fairs in the next edition of the blog of Jeremy. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EPIC BLOG! Parents, Tikal, New JVS!!!!

Tis' a splendid morning here in Punta Gorda, so I bring to you a long awaited blog entry. Since it has been a long time coming, I'll make it good. Extra good.

When we last were here, my parents were on the verge of arriving. Arrive they did. I met them at the airport with lots of hugs, then we drove into Belize City. After picking up Jon and Christin, the five of us cruised on down to PG. It is a unique experience getting to see your parents after a year without, and a very cool one at that (notice how there isn't an "an" in front of "unique"). We had a lot of fun down in PG and out in the villages.

After PG, my parents and myself ventured out to Tobacco Caye. It is approximately 30 feet from the reef and maybe the size of two football fields. Maybe. We spent a night there then headed back up north.

Conch and the sunrise on Tobacco Caye.

Tobacco Caye accommodations.

The next leg of our journey found us in Cayo, from where we crossed into Guatemala and visited Tikal. For those of you not up on your Mayan ruins of the world, Tikal is wicked awesome. It is one of the largest sites in the world and took over a thousand years to build all the structures. We spent a while wandering around, with a guide of course, and were completely blown away by the size and splendor of the site.

Tikal and dad.

Cool carving.

Parents checking out Temple I.

More Tikal.

Tikal from Temple IV

Yes, a Star Wars scene was shot from atop Temple IV. Awesome.

Our last adventure took us into some caves near Belize City, known as Jaguar Paw. We went tubing down a river that flows through these caves. It was a very cool experience, even though dad's tube blew up in an unfortunate accident.

Awesome cave tubing adventure.

Cave tubing.

After a wonderful ten days in Belize, I said goodbye to my parents and settled into life in Belize City. The new volunteers were due to arrive in a few days, so I decided not to go back to PG. In the time waiting for them, I baked lots of bread, cleaned, and read many books.

Then the day arrived. Father Matt, our new In Country Coordinator, drove us to the airport, with Lenox, the Belize City JV's neighbor, who had a truck to throw all their luggage into. The tradition for arrival day is for the second years to dress up in strange costumes so the new JVs will recognize us. They too are in good outfits that we sent for them to wear, just so we pick up the right people. It was very exciting. Lots of yelling and hugging and finally back to the Belize City house.

Looking mad cool while waiting.

Kathleen befriended a nun.

Greg and John arriving!!!! And Jaret!

John coming out of the tunnel!!! And Monique!!! And Lenox, Father Matt, Kathleen, Christin, and Allison!!!

All of us in Belize!!!!!

One of the best parts of orientation in Belize City is Iron Chef. We split into four teams, each with a designated portion of the meal. Supplies are bought, then a secret ingredient is revealed. Furious cooking and fierce competition ensues. The end result is a feast of glorious proportions. Team Desert, John, Monique, and myself, made fruit smoothies and chocolate, pineapple, coconut cupcakes from scratch. We somehow only came in second.

John and I shredding coconuts.

John getting really into the hummus he made.

Matt displaying freshly sliced pumpkin.

Getting ready for consuming tasty eats.

After a few days in the city, we headed out to Cayo for a three day retreat. During said retreat, we got to visit Xunantunich, a very neat Mayan site previously highlighted in this blog.

Swimming in a jungle river.

John checking out the sites from atop the main temple.

The view from atop the temple.

Finally, after a long wait, the two communities split up and the PG crew made it down to our lovely home, not after 6 hours of bus rides though.

Life goes well down here. We're getting John and Greg oriented to PG the best we can. It has been a lot of fun being a second year, something I think I shall enjoy immensely.

So my friends, keep on coming and I'll keep on posting. Onward into Year Two!

Ah PG sunrise.