Gosh. I have been meaning to write an update for a while now. I’ll try to make it brief, but a lot has happened, so no promises.
This summer I had two visitors—my friend Bridget and my sister! It is tough here to have visitors for a lot of reasons, but it is also so fun. It’s tough because my work is not extremely flexible in letting me take time off and the days that I am at work, there’s not much for the visitors to do around Belize City itself. Plus, having visitors means that we do touristy things, which is really incongruent with the way we live our lives here. We strive to live simply and be in solidarity with our neighbors who don’t necessarily have the means to take a day off to go hang out on the caye. That said, it is a tremendous relief to be able to do that, visitors or not. Plus, having visitors is a great excuse to see some of the country that I haven’t seen yet. I also LOVE having people understand what my life is like here, so having Andy and Bridget tag along and meet my coworkers, clients, and neighbors was so great. It’s also neat to show them things that were surprising and just downright odd to me at first because I can see how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned in the past year. I love hopping in the back of a truck with a visitor because I know it’s a novelty and kind of exciting for them, and it reminds me to be thankful for all the things I get to experience here daily.
I won’t go into too much detail about their visits. It was exciting to go places but it was also wonderful to have someone around who has known me for longer than a year. We talked about things important to us that happened more than 12 months ago! We went to Hopkins (a Garifuna village on the coast), Caye Caulker, Tikal (Guatemala), San Ignacio, and Placencia. Phew….what adventures. Bridget was here for one week in June and Andy was here for two weeks in July.
Also during July, the two PG volunteers moved in and ran a summer camp at St. Martin’s with Monica. It was such fun to have them. They’re silly and supportive and amazing. We had a wonderful time. It gave the 5 of us a chance to reflect on last year---to laugh, vent and tell stories. We played cards (a TON), danced in the kitchen, sang along to CDs….we bonded so much. We all had such different journeys last year and yet there were, on the brink of this next year when our roles as second years will be so different from the year prior. Those few summer weeks that I was dreading for the chaos they would bring, turned out to be life giving. Each time I looked around at the five of us, I was just so proud of us.
Our new roommates came July 31st—that seems like a lifetime ago! We got to the airport kinda late (how quickly we adjust to ‘Belize time’) and literally went running through the airport (good thing it’s the size of a postage stamp) to see them get off the plane. We screamed and waved and were bursting with nervous excitement. We waited downstairs for them to get their bags and get through customs. We waited….and waited….and waited. Afterwards, we talked about how great it was that they didn’t come straight off the plane because the 5 of us would have flattened them while rushing trying to hug and greet them. Turns out the not one piece of their luggage arrived! Oops. They were total troopers though, saying “well, we did sign up for simple living!”
All 10 Belize JVs spend the beginning of August together for phase 2 of orientation, the ‘in-country’ part of orientation. This is planned by the 2nd years….yep, the 5 of us! We had a blast. The newbies are really great and of course, I’m in love with the 2nd years. How much fun was it to spend a few weeks all together…! We did pretty much the same things as last year, except it was so much more fun this year because I actually knew what was going on! Last year I was clueless, lonely, homesick, and disoriented. This year was GREAT! We have a retreat, we run a summer camp, we eat dinner in Mayan village, we all jump off a waterfall into a river (well we actually jump right beside the waterfall) we see Garifuna drumming, and we get talks on all different aspects of Belizean life. Good times.
And now, the Belize City community is back at home, after Hurricane Dean, trying to form some sense of normalcy. It is community building time, which is awkward, confusing at times, joyous, unexpected, and uncertain---all exactly as it should be. I really like my three new roommates. I know that in time, I will love them, and I am happy that for now I think they’re neat. They bring so many different things to our house.
One of the biggest challenges is trying not to compare everything to last year and to remember that this is a new community. It’s hard because I’m still in my same house and working at my same job and I expect things to be the same as last year and they’re just not going to be. That’s not a bad thing! I just have to get used to three new roommates, continue bonding with the other two second years, and accept life, changes, community day by day by day. And I have to pray. A lot. About transition. Community. Journeys. And the weather.
Phew. That should do it for now. I know there is no way to summarize all that has gone on over the past months, so please email with more specific questions or remind me to write about things I’ve left out.