Sunday, September 11, 2011

About 30 on the Happy Meter

There are fewer "new" things to write about now that we're settling in to the home and "jobs." If any of you would like to suggest topics you want to hear about Belize or Peace Corps, please post a comment or send an email. We'll see what we can do :-) For now, we'll just let you know what's happened in the past couple of weeks.

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I had led some kids through some fun activities at the library summer camp. The theme for the camp was something like "plants and seeds and healthy eating," I think. The focus of my "lesson" was knowing the difference between fruits and vegetables. We pretended that we were captured by pirates and stranded on an island in the Caribbean. The pirates insisted that we learn about plant parts and which were fruits or vegetables. If we did what they demanded, they would give us a treasure map. So the lesson was loosely woven around that premise. We did Zumba - Pirate Treasure, Waka Waka, and a Salsa - throughout the morning. The kids loved that, for sure. We cut open fruits and veggies, tasted them (most had never had broccoli, but ALL wanted to try it). We played pass the balloon (a loud form of hot potato) and learned some fun facts. The treasure map had been ripped, so they had to put it together (like a puzzle) and then find all the parts of the treasure on the island. My able assistant, Ava, had put up signs around the library labeling Snake Lake, Tarantula Cave, Shark Lagoon, Haunted Forest, etc., etc. Anyway, brought the treasure back and it was all the stuff for salsa and chips. 

That was the high point of my two weeks (thus the excruciatingly long description). Here we are with the kids.

Not much else going on work-wise. I am working with a POWA woman, Marie, to gather information which will become a referral booklet. We will get services info from medical, legal, educational, civic, financial and other organizations. I'm hoping to have a big part in the layout and publishing of the booklet, since I have had some experience in that arena.
September is a big holiday month in Belize. It seems like the kids start back to school in late August, then immediately get out for BIG chunks of time. The first weekend, Belize City had Carnival, like a Caribbean Mardi Gras.

The two main holidays are St. George's Caye Day (sometimes called Baymen's Holiday) on the 10th, and Independence Day on the 21st. Here's a short description of the two (totally plagiarized from another website, and I'm too lazy to cite it):

St. George's Caye Day
Celebrates and commemorates a battle in 1798 when the Spanish were defeated by slaves, Baymen and British soldiers. Around the country similar official ceremonies and parades take place. Carnivals, sporting activities, fire engine parade, and pop concerts held several days prior to this event.
Independence Day 
Numerous cultural, religious and sporting activities held a couple of weeks before St. George's Caye Day. Flag-raising ceremonies, parades, street jump-ups, music, dance and foods.

We've been doing a little entertaining, with a couple of overnight guests last weekend, too. So I've been cooking a lot. Except for trying to come up with a variety of dishes, I do enjoy the creation/cooking part. So anybody who has some good recipes that use basic vegetables, fruits, and ingredients, PLEASE share! 

And speaking of the kitchen, here's a word about critters. When we first moved in here, we had no bugs. Not surprising, since there was nothing here to eat! However, we have been discovered and run into quite a few bugs. I picked up a paper towel yesterday morning and a roach ran up my arm. UGGGHHHH. So I danced around in disgust and then gave the bug some medicine. Here he is after the medicine. When I took the picture, he was still kicking a lot. Our accumulation of mosquitoes, roaches, flies, and ants has attracted the geckos! More pictures later - I'm sure you can't wait.

So the title of this entry refers to my general outlook right now. Last Tuesday, I was ready to pack up and come back to the States. You'll laugh when you read the reason; it's so minor. I've mentioned in earlier entries that the environment is very trashy, and that it bothers me a lot. Actually, in our neighborhood it's RELATIVELY clean. Last Tuesday, when the garbage truck (yes, we have garbage pickup here) stopped to get the trash from our can, a pamphlet fluttered out of the can onto the street. The garbage man leaned over to look at it, but left it on the street, and went on to the next house. OK, so I've seen that done in the States, too. BUT - then our downstairs neighbor came in the front gate right behind the truck. He picked up the can to bring it in, leaned way over to see what the pamphlet was, left it, and walked in with the can. Closed the gate. P.S. A few minutes later I went out and picked up the trash.

That basic attitude, a pervasive "what's in it for me?" outlook by a large majority of the people here, and the lack of purpose that I am feeling personally, just sent me into a bad spiral. LUCKILY, I teach Zumba on Tuesday afternoon, so that helped pull me up a little. Whine . . . .

Luckily for you readers, here's Steve's wonderful take on things. He is such an amazing man. I am very happy to be married to him :-)

From Steve:  We are becoming more comfortable in our community with less anxiety about the unknown and the unpredictable.

We had a dinner party for our former host mom and her good friend. Everything turned out great except for one optional dish that only I ate. Afterwards we went to watch the community parade for St. George's Caye Day but unfortunately arrived just after the parade finished. It was still a nice night for a walk and talk with friends.

Things at the Polyclinic have improved tremendously for me. My counterpart and I have been working on a newsletter that has run into lots of obstacles and very little interest. We were able to print one color copy of the newsletter and are at a crossroad in its progress. I think cost of color printing will make each copy an expensive collector's item.

When I mentioned that we could just make it into a video at essentially no cost, my counterpart, Isaac, seemed skeptical. Thanks to simple video software I produced a crude initial effort with local music for the background in a few hours. I talked to several staff members about doing "voice-overs" for the script, and they seemed enthusiastic. We watched a few minutes of the production and drew a crowd. People who had given me blank disinterested looks (about taking movies of them) were no longer camera shy and wanted me to expand the video to include news about their area of the Polyclinic.

We continue to face challenges at home with little tasks of daily living. Often we ask each other where the nearest Walmart or Home Depot could be. Things that could be fixed with no real effort require parts or tools that are not to be found.

Cathy has been amazingly successful in the kitchen with creating a healthy diet with variety that conceals the lack of variety in her resources.

In the midst of feeling lost in a strange place, we are consoled by friends and family who send us their email messages. We are limited in our phone usage since I lost my phone and Cathy has almost no minutes. We are trying to wait until the cell phone carrier has a three for one special on minutes. I hope it will be anyday now.

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