Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Words from Stevie
Thursday, August 25, 2011. I participated in a workshop for community health workers from Stann Creek District. I talked about the basics of diabetes. It was an interactive session with about 12 attending.

Community health workers work in health posts at villages that have no rotating doctor. I was stunned to hear that they do not have a glucose meter for monitoring diabetic patients. They do everything, including dispense medicines. For example, when I visited one of the outlying villages, I saw a kid with a cough and runny nose get evaluated and treated. The mom had to bring an empty plastic soft drink bottle to get the decongestant and antibiotic liquids.

I was also surprised that most receive a stipend, but it is only BZ $100 a month. Obviously they must have another job or a spouse or family member to support them. For the most part, they are very positive about their job.  

Steve teaching Community Health Workers

Let’s Talk about Food
We are eating very well, much healthier meals than we had in the States. ALWAYS lots of vegetables. I think we missed vegetables so much while we were staying with the host families, that we are making up for it now. Some of our favorite dishes:
  • Salsa fresca – better than anything I’ve had before. And so simple! Just chop up tomatoes, sweet pepper, onions, garlic, wan lee bit a hot peppa, cilantro and lime.
  • Herb and cheese omelet topped with homemade salsa fresca
  • Vegetable and chicken curry – I can’t believe I could make something so delicious. It was so much fun to dump in huge quantities of fresh herbs and spices. I didn’t really worry about a recipe (I rarely do), just looked at what I had in the cabinet and refridge. Then we got to smell it for a long time as the food simmered.
  • I wrote about the black beans in an earlier blog entry. I have made them several times since, WITHOUT damaging my hands :--) I love the citrus added to the beans – juice from one orange and two limes.
  • We tried my version of Belizean stew chicken. I marinated the chicken in a diluted vinegar mixture with garlic and onions, oregano, red pepper flakes, bay leaves. After three or four hours of marinating, I simmered the chicken slowly, adding back a little of the marinade liquid (all of the onions, garlic and spices) with some cornstarch – not much – to thicken the gravy. I’m not sure how much I like this dish. I like it a little better than what I had previously, mainly because the Belizean version is always the boniest part of the chicken. They love the bones, and sometimes EAT the bones. Our version was meatier. I know that eating (drinking) vinegar is good for digestion, but it’s not a taste I have developed yet. The mind is willing, so I’ll keep trying.
  • Chicken burgers – They sell “grind” chicken in the stores. Sometimes I mix it with diced onion and sweet pepper, and form it into patties, and cook it in a pan. Makes a good little sandwich.
  • I also like to use the cooked grind chicken for burritos. Burritos are very popular here, made with a flour tortilla, refried beans, chicken, and slaw, maybe a little hot sauce. We beef ours up a little (did I really say that?) with more beans and chicken, cheese, salsa fresca, guacamole, brown rice, and we have the slaw on the side. This particular dish is pretty labor intensive (including the cleanup of SO many dishes), so I’m learning that it’s best to prepare everything ahead of time and heat it up when we eat it. Fine dinin’.
  • Once in awhile, I add a little italian sausage to some veggies - with pasta or rice. Yum!
  • So in case you think we’re heavy meat eaters, I have to add that more than half of our meals are meatless. We had agreed before we came down to Belize that we would be OK with becoming vegetarian while we’re here if necessary. Well, there’s meat to be had – in fact, Belizeans are BIG meat eaters. Pork and chicken mostly. We are happy, though, to have vegetable fried rice, stir-fried veggies (and rice), beans and rice, usually topped with salsa or cheese.
  • Avocadoes (they call them pears) are in season, and we have some almost every day!
  • Maybe I’ll just mention the fruits they have here, most of which we don’t eat. Craboo, molly apple, moringa, monkey fruit, breadfruit. There are more, but I can’t remember them. 

For drinks, we usually have “purified water,” that is, bottled water. It’s sold in the large 5-gallon plastic bottles. Deposit on the bottles is $25 BZ, and the refill is $3.50 to $5.00, depending on where you buy it. It’s a pain in the neck, because Steve carries the full one from the store – not his favorite thing. I shouldn’t complain. Can you imagine what it’s like to haul buckets from a well every day?

Sometimes we drink juice made from “squash.” It is what they call a concentrated form of juice, mixed 5 parts water with 1 part squash. It’s GOOD, and a very cheap way to some juice. Unfortunately, they do add some sugar, but not much.

I like to drink milk. I can get Lala Light, which is a Mexican milk in a  1-quart carton. It sits on the shelf, not refrigerated. Once opened, it must stay in the refrigerator. Pretty good milk.
On special occasions, we drink a Belikin Beer. (Read about it here -  http://www.thebeerofbelize.com/) Each beer is about 9 ounces, but the bottle looks like a regular 12 oz. bottle like the ones we have in the States. The bottom of the bottle is about an inch and a half of solid glass, so it feels like a regular 12 oz. bottle, too. So just when you’re enjoying that beer, you get a surprise because it’s all gone! Steve and I usually split a second one. They cost about $3 BZ each. They taste good!

If you come to visit, we’ll feed you!

Post Script
We had our first theft last weekend. Someone stole the front wheel of Steve's bicycle from the downstairs porch, sometime after 10pm on Saturday night/Sunday morning. There was a bright light overhead shining on the bikes. We each had our locks on, but we used only one of our cables. It was long enough to wind through both my wheels, around a big post and one of Steve's wheels - the back one. We had been warned that we should bring our bikes in at night, but our neighbor leaves her motorcycle out, and nobody ever took it. We thought we were safe with all the locks and cable.

Steve's quote: "There are two kinds of people in this world - Smart People and people with no front wheel."

Post Script 2
I've started another class on Monday nights - a strength class. We use our own body weight and some ropes (similar to TRX). Gettin' that good sore muscle feeling!


Anonymous said...

I just LOVE Steve's quote at the end. Made me laugh at loud!!! I love that man, I do!!

PS -- and ok, Cathy, yeah-yeah-yeah...your blog was good too. ;-) Can't wait for you to cook up these meals for me when you return!

Rebecca Clay Haynes said...

Love all of the tasty details. If people in developing countries would stick to their traditional diets -- that is fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds -- they would stay much healthier. It's when they mix in American foods that their health goes downhill. But you already know that! And nobody needs to eat meat every day, me thinks. I love eating very simply here in Turkey; only animal protein is eggs. I once read that traditional African communities have virtually no colon cancer, heart disease, etc. because their diet is so full of fiber and basic foods. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox. Keep on keeping on there in Belize. Hope Steve can find a new tire or new bike. Also love his quote!