Monday, March 28, 2011

Arrival and First Day of Training

We’re in Belize! It’s a very small airport building, but has a long enough runway to allow large jets to land. Just like Dallas, we didn’t need to be in a hurry to get through Immigration and Customs, because we still had to wait for everybody.

As we exited the airport to find our bus, we were surprised by a huge crowd and a Peace Corps Welcome banner. They cheered us and introduced themselves. Made us feel really special.

We hopped on a Trailways-type bus and were off to Belmopan, the capital. Steve and I sat up front, and got to listen to the driver telling stories the whole way. Jim told us about home remedies from his grandmother. Here’s one: Soak your feet in a strong mahogany tea for a half hour or so for five days in a row. You’ll have really red feet, but it goes away eventually and you’ll never have to worry about athlete’s foot again! He also told us that all the speed bumps along the main roads were Belize’s “highway patrol.”

We ate at a nice hotel restaurant, all of us together out on the lawn. Beautiful weather, exotic birds calling, “potlicka” dogs barking (not too many). We had watermelon juice to drink (Well, I did. Watermelon doesn’t agree with Steve.), and barbecue chicken, rice and beans, and potato salad, bread pudding for dessert. The PC country director, Nina Fernandez, made a nice welcome speech. She is just back in the office after giving birth to twins!

Oh, and they gave us money – “walking around money.” This was Belizean money, and it’s pretty, don’t you think?

The hotel where we’re staying is pretty basic. It’s a different one from where we ate. Twin beds, no lamps – only overhead lighting, two towels, thin walls, and that’s it. Well, there IS toilet paper. Our room is in the middle of the building and has no window. There are other rooms with windows that open into the hall, but we didn’t even get one of those! We do, however, have hot water AND air conditioning, so we’re pretty happy about it.

We managed to unpack before collapsing into bed. So happy to be here!

Friday the 25th was a pretty busy day. We met all the staff again, and had more of those interactive group sessions, learned what to expect from our pre-service training. We also received some real practical information about cell phones and internet access. Steve and I got the cheapest phones available, but added $50 worth of talk and text – which was immediately tripled because it was Friday! Nice.

The two of us ate dinner for $10 Belizean ($5 American), then raced back to the room to try to catch the UNC basketball game. Now I didn’t talk about the television in the room before because we couldn’t get it to work on Thursday night (I wanted to see the Duke score. Wasn’t that trouncing awesome?!?). One of the guys told us the trick, so we turned on the TV only to find that the UNC game was already over. Duh, two-hour time difference. Anyway it was a good outcome, so I couldn’t be too upset.

We went to bed pretty early because Saturday is Culture Day. Can’t wait to tell you about it in the next entry.


Martha said...

Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and following your blog. mhicks

Karen said...

Great post! Keep 'em coming! --Karen

Jim Weaver said...

I think you are going to have great time.