Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Living by da Sea!
Punta Gorda Town
My first night in Punta Gorda town... Craziness! First off, I live with 10 people in a four bedroom house with one bathroom! Ms. Carmen lives with her father, her son, 3 nieces, 2 nephews, 1 cousin, and 1 family friend. Whoa!! Secondly, our electricity (called simply 'current') is intermittent – which then means the water is off for a while afterward b/c the water is pumped by electric pump. No current = no running water. (The family keeps rain cisterns for just those occasions.) Thirdly, the family is Garifuna, which means an awesomely rich culture decedent from freed slaves; plus drumming, dancing, and massively fried foods! Basically, it's all just a bit overwhelming right now...
Yay for the sea!
Traditional Garifuna drumming
It's been hard for me to move out of San Ignacio, where I was just getting comfortable, and start all over again with a new town, a new job, and a completely new family and way of life. I feel constantly out of place and in the way – I can't really tell if my actions are on par or offensive to my host family because Belizeans won't ever tell you if they have a problem, they'll tell someone else and eventually it gets back to you. Belizeans don't like conflict at all, and they go out of their way to make sure they aren't a part of it. Very different from America, where I'm used to constant feedback and honest evaluation. One more piece of the cultural puzzle...
But may I just say that PG is so beautiful! We are literally a few minutes walk from the sea from just about anywhere in town. For me coming from land-locked AZ, this is absolutely breathtaking. I make it a point to walk on the road next to the sea every chance I get. And I just found this amazing little chocolate shop called The Chocolate Center of the Universe! We got a tour and a play by play of how chocolate is processed from bean to delicious. And then we ate it! Amazing!!! I may just have to stay in PG and work for the lovely Julia making chocolates for ever and ever... I know you can appreciate why! If this happens, I will find a place to stay next to the sea for all of my friends and family when they come to visit and help pick cacao beans with me.
My new favorite place on Earth... scratch that, the Universe!
Lets see... my counterpart, Jose, with the BNYCF (Belize National Youth Chess Foundation) is a pretty cool guy. He has been taking me around PG and surrounding villages to show me the schools that have chess clubs, and those that want them. For the next two years, I'll be working closely with Jose and sharing his routes all over the Toledo district to help develop the program and keep it sustainable for when I leave. Plus I get to help with my fellow volunteers' projects as well. Cali (pronounced Kay-lee) is working with Red Cross which provides meals on wheels, disaster relief and more. Christine is working with the CRD (I forget what it stands for) which works with underprivileged people, primarily relating to at-risk youth and those affected by domestic violence. Erica works with a Mayan business owned and operated by Mayan women to fund their families in the poor rural villages. So I'd say we all have pretty awesome experiences ahead of us!
Christine and Cali found a snake (no worries, it had passed on...)
Ok, long blog... gonna go help my family of 10 make lots of food for supper.