Friday, April 29, 2011

Every Day is a Bad Hair Day

Today the temperature got up to 97, heat index 106, humidity about 110%. Then the power went out in town (brown out, I guess), so NO fans in our classroom. Our classroom manager showed up like a super hero in her white Peace Corps SUV and whisked us off to Belmopan to the Peace Corps office. Ahhh – air conditioning and internet access. Awesome!

This blog entry has no focus. I’m just going to put some events and thoughts out there to try to catch up chronologically. Not much happening lately – just hard work and trying to stay cool.

***The country of Belize is largely Catholic and the Easter holiday is BIG doin’s. The kids get out of school starting the Friday before Good Friday and come back a week after Easter Monday. Except that this year Belize’s Labor Day is the Monday after Easter Monday. So they come back Tuesday.
We went to church with Miss Sala on Palm Sunday. They have an itinerant priest, so mass is held only every third Sunday. It was neat, though. They blessed the palms and had a very traditional service. Music was just the voices of the congregation. They all knew the melody.

Good Friday is bigtime day of rest. Everybody is gearing up for the big weekend, I guess. Steve and I both worked a lot on our PC assignments. I spent an inordinate amount of time creating a puzzle from this picture:

I thought that this was a good picture to start kids thinking (adults, too) about the ups and downs of life. The lesson I have to teach is about self-esteem and being resilient. And about “don’t do drugs or have sex or shoot somebody.” I get all that from this picture, don’t you?

Easter Saturday was the big Cross Country Cycle Race. People from all over the world, mostly our hemisphere, come to ride their bikes from Belize to San Ignacio and back, about 140 miles. There’s a big money prize. The Belizeans were really hoping that one of their own would win, since it’s been won the last five years by someone from another country. This year a Guatemalan took the first prize.

The racecourse went right by our house. We were out there to watch, of course, as was every red-blooded  citizen of Camalote. The partying began EARLY, about 630, with people drinking and cooking out. The REAL party people next door, burned out about a 25 X 25 foot square (of vegetation, or “bush” as they call it) right next to the road. They set up their barbecues and chairs and coolers and a little tent, and MUSIC of course.

The 160 men and 2 women pedaled by about 8:15, led by a Belizean. The crowds were going crazy. He had already taken several station prizes, and there were high hopes. So he racked up about $1500, but fell back in the pack.

After they came back by on their return, there was a nice size group at the end of our drive, maybe 15 or 18. There wasn’t much to do then, so everybody just found something to sit on and hung around talking. Then the neighbor lady asked if we wanted to have some of the wine she had made. It wasn’t quite 10:00, but we figured we’d taste it. POTENT, but tasty. It was wine made from the palm tree. One glass was plenty; I really felt it.

All the pikni (children) and pets were there, running around and playing. One lady brought her pet parrot, which got along fine with all the kids and dogs. At one point, one of the kids was playing a little too rough to suit Polly, so she came over to me, and put herself right beside me on the chair, sort of nestled under my arm in the curve of the waist for protection. Then I guess she felt safe again, so she pulled herself up with her beak and feet, and sat on the back of my chair. The rest of the day was kind of a loss. The wine made me so sleepy, I did some napping and laundry and that was it.

Easter was quiet. We finally were able to get Skype going and we talked with people back home!
Monday I experienced my first Belizean diarrhea. Lasted 2 days. Enough said.

***One day we visited the market in San Ignacio. It’s a big town, wouldn’t mind being stationed there. There is a beautiful river running through with a nice park area. The town reminds me a little of San Francisco, with steep-sloped streets.

After we shopped for fresh vegetables and fruits, we headed back toward Camalote, but took a very interesting detour through Spanish Lookout. The quickest way involved crossing a river on a ferry. It’s a hand-cranked ferry, held by some big ropes. They can get about 3 cars at the most onto the ferry. It’s free, funded by the government.

Spanish Lookout is a big Mennonite community. The Mennonites are the “rich” people of Belize. They grow almost all the produce and raise livestock and poultry. The appearance of Spanish Lookout is different from any other part of Belize that we’ve seen so far. The farm buildings are large and modern-looking. Everything is very neat and well-cared for. We stopped at a  place to eat pizza (!!) and it was air-conditioned (!!!) and they had toilets (!!!!) Then we went to a place that was like a Walmart. We hadn’t seen that much merchandise in one place anywhere else in Belize. Good prices, too.

***Another day we went to San Ignacio to visit their hospital. One of the doctors gave a presentation on vector control. I already knew about malaria and dengue fever, but I had never heard of the parasite called chagas. Lives in the chinch bug until it poops on your skin (while it’s stinging you – is that insult and injury?). Then you scratch ‘cause the poops tickles I guess and the parasite crawls in and 20 years later you die of a heart attack. Or something like that.

We toured their facility, a two-year-old hospital. It was pretty nice, and they have an excellent vaccination system in Belize, good infant and pre-natal and post-partum care especially. They took us right into all the departments – maternity, lab, x-ray, pharmacy, and a few other places. I wouldn’t mind working at a hospital or clinic.

***I am having a tough time getting enough exercise. Obviously the heat is a factor, and my skin and the directive from my dermatologist limits me even further. Still looking for a good indoor place to work out. We managed to have a couple of e (while it’s stinging you – is that insult and injury?). Then you scratch ‘cause the poops tickles I guess and the parasite crawls in and 20 years later you die of a heart attack. Or something like that.

We toured their facility, a two-year-old hospital. It was pretty nice, and they have an excellent vaccination system in Belize, good infant and pre-natal and post-partum care especially. They took us right into all the departments – maternity, lab, x-ray, pharmacy, and a few other places. I wouldn’t mind working at a hospital or clinic.

***I am having a tough time getting enough exercise. Obviously the heat is a factor, and my skin and the directive from my dermatologist limits me even further. Still looking for a good indoor place to work out. We managed to have a couple of exercise classes before we came to Camalote. I taught a cardio drill class and a Zumba class. They went over pretty well, and we talked about having some more when we return for our last two weeks before swearing in. Boy, I MISS my regular 8 to 9 workouts a week!

***As for the hair problem, it is so far at the bottom of my priority list, I barely even think about it. Does that mean I’m integrating?

Note: I heard from some friends that they liked my "Ed and Jeannie" entry. But they didn't know about the other two entries I posted the same day. So in case you missed 'em, scroll down a few :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

All About Ed and Jeannie

We get feedback frequently either in comments on the blog or direct email. Our good friend from Chapel Hill, NC, Ed, and my sister-in-law from Smyrna, GA, Jeannie, are two of the most “regular” commenters. Thank you, Ed and jeannie!

So today, I’m answering their questions as our blog entry. We figured others may have the same questions. And just for fun, I’ll include some Kriol (with translation) so you’ll get a taste of what we’re trying to learn J

Before we start, here’s a pronunciation key. It’s very phonetic. And NO double consonants; NO initial c, use k instead; NO initial dr, use jr instead; NO th, use t intead; NO initial tr, use chr instead; NO oun or own, use ong instead. Word that ends in vowel followed by hn takes the vowel sound with nasal close, but the n is not pronounced, kinda like French. Mi before a verb makes it past tense. Kyant memba aal di roolz.
a = ah
aa = aah
ai = long i sound
ay = long a sound (with a little eh at the end – don’t worry about it)
e = short e sound, like eh
ee = long e sound
i = almost a long e sound
o = short o sound
oa = long o sound (with a tiny little ah at the end – don’t worry about it)
oo – same as English, like choo-choo
u – uh

Here goes. Questions from Ed:
No problem I’m your Internet and IT research office!  Can you see the Beez Pond from your host family’s home (or almost see it)? You know, no big forest or other large structures in the way?  If you have a line of sight from the Beez Pond? 
Too bad for us. We are about a mile and a half from the Beez Pond, with two hills between L
Wi gat badlokid. Wi no kud si di Beez Pon schrayt.

Karaoke at the Beez Pond
Sheep! Not goats, well that puts my animal husbandry in doubt :-). They look pretty fat, but not too wooly. Are the sheep for wool or food? Wouldn't seem to be much use for wool near the equator? If you find out more about the sheep let us know!
I think I mentioned in a previous blog entry that the sheep have it pretty good here; they get to wander around. But that’s only until it’s time for supper. No wool needed here.
Ai tink Ai mI seh bifoa dehn sheep gat di gud laif; dehn goa drif bowt. Bot den wi gwain eet dehn. Ih too hat hat fi wul!

Do nights get cool enough?
Well, define “cool enough.” We have a fan in our bedroom which makes things bearable when we go to sleep. Sometimes during the night, I have to face the fan away from us, or pull the sheet up. The last two nights we were cool – got down below 70, I think.
Eniting anda 80 da KOAL!

Is cooking electric, gas, or something else? For the people without power, or limited power, how do they cook?
More than 80% of the residents have electricity either directly or through a drop from someone’s house. Our house has gas stove and oven, and also electricity. Some people use propane cooktops.
Moas pipl gat di korant; lata pipl gat da shyaa wid ada pipl. Wi gat boat korant ahn gyas fi kuk ona tap ahn di oavm. Sohn pipl yuus wahn propayn stoav.

Oh and I forgot to mention, I zoomed in to look at the sheep and discovered you guys are taking really high quality photographs!
Well, high praise coming from a techno-master!

I can’t imagine computers are very common in Belize. Speaking of which, what are you using for a computer? I mean how do you get everything on to your blog? Do you have a tablet, laptop, or netbook?  Or do you just take pictures off your camera and compose the blog entry while seated in an Internet CafĂ©? I’d love to hear what kind of hardware is actually keeping us together…And your host family’s TV? Is this satellite or Cable?
Many people have computers here, but they are likely to be pretty old. Businesses are pretty up-to-date with their technology. Steve and I both have netbooks. His is a MacBook Air – Niiiice. And mine is a super-cheap Toshiba Satellite – hate the keyboard, but I’m getting used to it. Typically Steve or I write the entry during the week, decide what pictures we want to use, and then paste the text and upload the pictures when we get to the Peace Corps office, using the blog editor. Our host family has cable, brought to us by a cable on top of the ground from one house to the next.
Yu gat a lada kweshans! Wi gat kampyootas eena Bileez. Mai kampyoota da Toshiba ahn fi hihn da Mac. I da kampyoota wizgyal. Rait da stof ahn put op di werdz at di Pees Koar Aafis. Eezi! Wi gat caybl, mein.

And these are from Jeannie:

I'm curious to learn more about the community organization program and how that works there? I wonder about the tv programming content and the media culture influence?  Especially on kids.
You’re in luck, Jeannie. The blog entry just before this describes how the PC teaches us to help with community development. I also wrote a little bit in a previous entry about the violence on broadcast news. Other than that, I’m seeing most kids wanting to be like American kids – clothing, music, attitudes!
Yu go rid di neks wahn op.

I noticed the horse.  Any horseback riding?
One of the other PCTs (Peace Corp Trainees) near us has ridden while she’s been here. I’m pretty much not going to be trying it. ALL the animals have fleas and skin diseases. It will be awhile till I’m ready to deal with their problems rubbing off on me. I’ve got enough bites and bumps and itches just from walking to class every day.
Wahn Chraynee mi raid di haas las wik. Shee da laik ih, bot Ai no laik no haas raidn. Dehn bogs gwain jraiv mi krayzi, krek!

Your images and posts somehow make me think that your environment is quite relaxing because of its simplicity.  It's all about the connections with people?  You both look very happy.
The lifestyle here IS pretty laid back. We hear jokes all the time about Belizean time. The people are SO friendly, and ready to help or have a nice conversation (with the exception of the next door neighbor and her early-morning wake-up habits. By the way, this morning it was a 5:45 wake-up). But honestly, I’m feeling lots of stress (Steve less so, I think) just because everything is different, because I never know when some critter is going to jump on me (a bat flew through the house this morning), because of the strange sounds (I’m a light sleeper anyway), because of the dangerous highway we have to walk on at least twice a day, because of being thrown in with the same 6 or 7 people every day in 98 degree heat while we try to work as a team under pressure. I have every confidence that I will get used to this and adapt and love it here. I just needed to whine awhile.
Ai alataim waahn smail fi di kamara :--)

Hope you enjoyed!

The Peace Corps Development Philosophy

I thought you might enjoy learning a little about how Peace Corps is teaching us to do some of our work.

There are three major categories of volunteers here in Belize – Education, Business Organization, and Health (that’s ours). There used to be a fourth – Youth – but work with that group has been incorporated into the other three groups, rather than being separate.

The Peace Corps is unlike many NGOs (Red Cross, UNICF, or WIN – Women’s Issues Network) that focus on one area, and mission groups who choose their project and come in to accomplish a specific task over a finite length of time. Our goal is sustainable development and we approach it using PACA, Participatory Analysis for Community Action. We want to assist community members to select projects where they would like help and feel they will be able to continue on their own.

Here’s how PACA works.  Working with diverse groups - community leaders, working men and women, women who stay at home, business owners, professionals, and representatives from many areas – over a several-month period of time we gather information about the community (or subset, such as a school system or agency). Each separate group such as I mentioned above goes through a series of exercises using PACA tools – community maps, daily schedules, seasonal calendars. There is always a focus on assets and resources, not what they are lacking.

The different groups then share their own versions of each tool with each other. Many times there are surprises for the groups as they see what one group identifies as an important asset or convenience when the other group does not perceive it as such. Using the schedules and calendars insures that there is a good representation at meetings. For instance, if meetings have always been planned for 7:00 on Wednesday evenings, it may be convenient for most of the men, but the women are busy at home finishing clean-up from dinner and taking care of the children. A weekend time would be more convenient for everyone. (The Peace Corps is very gender-sensitive and is constantly trying to improve conditions for women in the countries where we work.)

Using the list of assets and resources, put together with the combined map, schedules and calendar, a needs assessment is performed by representatives from all groups. The group identifies and prioritizes projects, and creates an action plan.

OK, so that is a greatly abbreviated description of the process; there’s much more to it. But you can see that because it is the community members who created the plan through all phases and they take ownership and pride in the project, which in turn promises more likelihood of the success and sustainability of that project.

So where do we come in? When a PCV is assigned to a site, we are paired with a local counterpart. The two together facilitate all phases of what I just described (in the best of all worlds). The PCV understands the process and knows techniques and activities to help pull the potentially diverse groups together. Wow! I thought I knew lots of tricks for training and facilitation. The PC has a huge bag of tricks to insure participation, engagement, and comprehension.

I think it’s a pretty good system. I’ll keep you updated, and fill in more as seems appropriate.

Regarding our training, we now have a number of Pre-Service Training projects:A big report about Camalote, created using the PACA tools and interviews.
  • A vegetable garden for the school (obviously in two months’ time, we’ll barely get things started)
  • A flower garden (iqualmente)
  • A health fair
  • A booklet regarding reaching puberty (one for the boys, one for the girls) to be handed out at the health fair
  • Teach a lesson in Health and Family Life Education to 8th graders
  • Teach a lesson to our fellow trainees
  • A final team presentation of all we’re learning over this 8-weeks in Camalote
  • Write in two different journals
  • A talent show, which is optional, but I’m trying to convince Steve that we should do the tango!

Ice Cream Break!

We are given loads of time for “self-directed learning,” or SDL. We need it. There’s LOTS to be done!

Things I’m Not Crazy About

I thought I’d include a few thoughts on things that I perceive aren’t so great. A year from now, or two, it will be interesting for me to see how my opinions have changed.

Before I continue, let me address my Belizean friends who are reading this. Please don’t interpret any of my comments as criticism. For Steve and me, first and foremost is our goal to integrate into your community. I know I will grow to love your jewel of a country as much as you do. However, this blog is written for a wide audience, primarily for my friends and family in the US. Because they are all SO jealous of us, we try to fill them in on all aspects of our lives.

No “Adopt a Highway” – Like many urban areas of the United States, usually places with a high population of those who live below the poverty line, some parts of Belize have trash strewn around. There are a few public trash cans and dumpsters available for residents to use. I don’t know who empties them and how often they are emptied. In the rural villages, where we live, and in Belmopan, the capital, one can see litter in parks, all along the roads, in people’s yards, up on the roofs and under the houses. It’s quite common to see people throw trash out their windows onto the yard, or dump garbage from their cars onto the highway L

In Belize, the percentage of people living below the poverty line is approximately 43%, one-third of all households, with the majority of them in the rural areas. Maybe priorities are different when you are living at a subsistence level, but I believe that pride in the neatness of your surroundings goes a long way toward increasing self-esteem no matter how many worldly goods you have.

Just to let you know, there are many areas of Belize that are clean and green, pretty vistas of low vegetation and interesting configurations of hills or mountains. We have yet to see the rain forests, so we’ll be sure to include pictures when we go.

Air pollution – Compared to the US, the air is very clear of vehicular and manufacturing pollution. However, there IS an amazing amount of smoke all the time here in our village. People burn their trash (from the inside garbage, I guess, not what’s lying around on the ground), and the farmers burn off the stalks and other waste products from the fields. The field fires are huge, with flames reaching 8-10 feet high. If you’ve done any reading up on Belize, you know that we are now in the dry season. The trash fires are largely untended. I haven’t been close enough to find out about the field fires. The smoke is very irritating to all those mucus membrane-y parts, and leaves me with a dull headache pretty much all the time. Also, our clothes hanging out to dry pick up the dirt and smell of the smoke, so they ain’t so fresh when we bring them in.

Time to Get Up! – We get up at 6:20 most mornings because that’s when our neighbor gets up. Her house is about 75 feet away, but it seems to be right beside us when she starts blasting (SERIOUSLY blasting) her music. On Saturdays, it’s from about 7:00 a.m. till after midnights. Loud music is also played on the buses, the market, and many shops. A lot of people listen to “radio-TV,” that is, a TV station that broadcasts a Belizean radio station with different announcements displayed while the music or news is played. Sometimes, the only thing displayed is a Windows desktop, complete with icons and Start button J

On a side note regarding radio and TV news, the Belize reporting is the epitome of “If it bleeds, it leads.” Not only are the fights, murders and arrests reported, they come complete with gory details. “The murder victim was pronounced dead from seven gunshot wounds – one to the left ear, two in the cheek, one in the mouth – “ Well, you get the picture. My least favorite was the description of the machete fight . . . .

No SPCA – Here the chickens (the ones that lay eggs) and sheep seem to have the best life; dogs, cats and horses have the worst. Sheep and chickens run free and fend for themselves as far as sustenance. Dogs, cats and horses get their food and water and are ignored.

It’s common to see dogs chained with no shade. They get about 5 minutes of human contact max per day, when the table scraps and water are brought out. Some are allowed to run free, but those may be the ones that don’t belong to anybody. Almost are ALL mangy, flea-ridden, with tumors and infections. The stray dogs are called potlickas.

Many people have horses. They, too, are kept on ropes, tied to a different tree or fence each day so they can get enough to eat by grazing. I’m not sure where they get water. I have seen people riding horses, but not any of the ones around our house here.

That’s IT for any negatives. Our experience here is SO limited; many more things to see. This weekend, I believe we are going to San Ignazio to the big maakit. I’m hoping we’ll have time to see the two big Mayan ruins that are in that area.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day to Day

Steve in our classroom
Here's an excerpt from an email Steve sent to some of his family.

"We are healthy and happy. Each day we walk about 3/4 mile to the school room where we get our community-based training. Our host mother sends lunch to us. Today it was rice pilaf, chicken, and lettuce with sliced tomatoes. We also had left over iguana with rice. It is fine textured like chicken and has a mild taste. It has a lot of bones. The Belizeans call it bamboo chicken.

The training is half a day of Belize Kriol language training and half a day of learning how to do community organization skills. Today we went over the health assets of the country and talked about the details of setting up training sessions and meetings in the villages.

This afternoon we used Miss Sala's washing machine (on the front porch) to wash our sheets and pillow cases. There is no shortage of water here, and we are allowed to shower twice a day if we want. The water is not heated, so a good time is late in the afternoon as it begins to get cool.

This is a picture of our house. The sheep belong to the next door neighbor. Mr. Kent has an extension cord coming through his wall to the neighbor's house since they do not have electricity.

We have an indoor shower and toilet. We have electricity all the time, but we will not have internet access until we go to Belmopan on Friday. We have a meeting at the Peace Corps office and get some more shots. Our malaria pills are not causing either of us any trouble."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jrif Bowt

Our first Saturday, Miss Sala invited us to jrif bowt (drift about), in other words, go visit and see who we see! We thought, “What a great opportunity to learn some Kriol and meet some great people!” We went across the highway to Miss Jennifer’s house. Her house on the corner is a gathering place for many people in the neighborhood. She has nine children, three of whom are still at home. She is also the host mom for another PCV in our group.

Well, learning the Kriol was pretty difficult, since, like all big friendly gatherings in the US, everybody joined in the conversations at once, laughing and throwing in their two-cents’ worth. The “meeting great people” part was definitely true, and often they spoke English so we would feel included. Also, like many rural communities everywhere, many people were related. There were lots of kids, grandkids, cousins, aunties, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Miss Jennifer, Miss Juliette, Moi, Miss Terr, De Shawna
The children were just delightful, twinkly eyes and huge bright smiles, and a curiosity about and friendliness toward us as new people that was endearing. EVERYONE on that day made us feel so welcome and have continued to exhibit friendliness beyond the usual, “Hey, how’s it going?”

One man took us back a couple “blocks” to his house to see his work. He is an artisan who creates Mayan wood carvings and other pieces carved from slate. He has a booming business selling to retail businesses that cater to the tourist trade. He was very proud of the living he made with his creations. He learned the craft from his father, who was also there that afternoon, and had struck off on his own just recently. Their work is excellent, and sold in the tourist areas for very high prices.

Miss Jennifer raises chicks until they’re about 2 months old, then eats them (or gives or sells them for food). She also keeps turkeys, but they get to live longer till they become dinner. Her house is on the corner of a neighborhood road and the Western Highway. They have a little open thatch hut with a counter and small kitchen area – a roadside stand. They sell meat patties (tortillas wrapped around a beef patty and deep fried), and snacks and fruit. They cut up the fruit like pineapple and watermelon and peel the oranges (25 cents Bz for an orange or 12.5 cents US). Then various members sit out in “di tach” (pronounced dee tahch) and hang out and talk with each other and everybody else who comes by.
Di Tach

Fun day!

Let’s Talk About Reptiles

Our host family consists of a “mom” and “dad” only, no kids – in the house, that is. But lots of pickni (children) live all around and come to visit frequently. More about them layta.

Our house is up on stilts, with 5 rooms and a bathroom. We are really lucky because of all the amenities – running water (and who needs hot water anyway? It’s too hot to do anything but take a cool shower.), indoor FLUSHING toilet, electricity and a big TV, washing machine with a spinner! Our room is spacious, with a closet and drawers, and lots of spots to hang things. And they give us the fan every night. Sometimes I actually get a little chilled in the early morning.

Miss Sala, our mom, is the assistant principal at the same school where we have our community-based training. She is on a leave right now for five months. In Belize, if you teach for nine years, you can apply for a leave – PAID leave. Her husband, Kent, is also a teacher, fourth grade at a different school in the next village, Teakettle.

Miss Sala is a really good cook, and she’s paid lots of attention to our needs and wishes, and is NOT pushing too much food on us.  We had heard that most host moms serve huge portions and lots of beans, rice, potatoes, with a meat and a little lettuce and tomato salad. Our meals include some of those starches, and also LOTs of vegetables and fruits.

Speshal Dinna: We arrived Friday evening and sat around getting acquainted for quite a while. Kent came in later carrying something over his shoulder.
“Ever seen one a’these?” he said. He held up this trussed up strange-looking animal with a really long tail.
Steve said, “Is that a gibnut?” We had heard about gibnuts earlier in the week. It’s a kind of rodent, considered a delicacy. They served it to Queen Elizabeth when she visited here.
“No, mon! It’s an iguana. We’ll have it for dinner Sunday night! I got a great deal on it!” And he just kind of laid it down over in the corner of the kitchen with its head facing the wall, tail sticking out into the room. Its two front legs were pulled up and tied behind its back; likewise its two back legs. With the tail, it was probably 3-3 ½ feet long.
“And it’s got eggs!” Apparently, that’s the only kind of iguana you should eat. Nobody cares about the male iguana. They want the female to get the eggs to cook and eat along with the animal.

Now I watched that darn lizard all evening, and it was completely still, except for its eyes. When I went to bed, I checked it again, still no movement. I was satisfied that its presence was NOT going to intimidate me.

Two o’clock-ish. Time to get up for a pee. Flashlight in hand. Check the lizard – OOH, the tail had slid all the way to the side, but otherwise no difference in position.

Six-thirty. Steve and I get up to take a walk while it’s still cool. I open the door. You guessed it, the iguana was right outside the door waiting for me.  Really! Tried to keep quiet so our host parents could sleep longer. Silent scream, and a plea to Steve for assistance. We jumped over it (we had heard that the tail kinda hurts if it hits your skin). Went for our walk. When we got back, they had moved it back to its home against the wall.

Well, not to drag out this story any longer – Sunday morning, Kent chopped off its head, and was field dressing it when we came back from our Sunday walk. Steve didn’t want to have anything to do with it. For whatever absurd reason, I was curious about it. I got a biology lesson as he took out the long string of eggs and the organs and the scent glands. (Fun fact about iguanas: you can cook and eat it with the scent glands and it tastes pretty good. But you’ll fart the whole next day.) Kent finished up by cutting up the carcass to be marinated and cooked.

So you’re wondering how it tasted? Deeelish! Miss Sala simmered the meat in a pressure cooker for a long time with onions and garlic and lots of spices. We had to work a little to pull out all the little bones, but the meat was tender as could be – maybe a little like chicken consistency, not stringy at all, but the flavor (with all of the luscious gravy) was closer to pork. Now the eggs were not for me OR Steve. The outer covering was very tough to chew through, and the inside was like solid boiled egg yolk. We ate it over rice. With watermelon juice to drink :--)

One final word about geckos: We have our own reality show here with the little geckos that live up high. Each night three to six of them hang out on the ceiling around the fluorescent light in the kitchen, waiting for some unsuspecting moth to flit or flutter by. I’m telling you, those guys are FAST with that little tongue! And they eat moths of a size you wouldn’t think would fit inside ‘em, just suck the moth right down. Thought maybe they have a jaw like a boa constrictor. If I could Google it, I would.

Anyway, with the entertainment that we've had far, I think it's gonna be pretty tough to go back to Law and Order reruns.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Going Incommunicado

We got our host family assignments yesterday. Steve and I will be going to Camalote, a small town outside of Belmopan. We'll be learning Kriol as our primary in country language. The other languages being taught in six other locations are Spanish and Q'eqchi, a Mayan dialect. Some of you know that Steve and I spent a fair amount of time boning up on Spanish before we left Chapel Hill, but it was with the knowledge that we might not be sent to a site where the people spoke Spanish.

So, here we are, learning Kriol, the lingua franca of Belize. The official language is English, because of the British influence. In addition to Spanish and Q'eqchi, there are two other Mayan dialects and Garifuna spoken here. The language that pulls them all together is Kriol. EVERYBODY speaks it. So when we travel on the bus or go the market or eat at a restaurant anywhere in the country, we can use our Kriol to communicate.

And you're asking, "Why is she writing Kriol that way? It's supposed to be Creole." Well, yeah, unless you're writing in the Kriol language. More about that later.

Main reason for this entry is to let everybody know that there's LOTS to write about, but we won't be able to post for a week. Our host family does have electricity, but we are told there will be no access to the internet. If we find an internet cafe, we'll be excited to email and Facebook and Skype (if we ever get that VPN set up).

Layta den (Later then) - Cathy and Steve