Belize Adventures

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

oh yeah---

oh yeah--i cut my hair! i donated it to locks for love. good thing i can't come back to the states for a year....i hope by then it has grown! i don't love all...but i guess i'm getting more used to it. you should hear the comments i get about it though. perhaps it wasn't a terrific idea to cut my hair boy short while in belize....hmm.....

ps---i added about 4 posts today (i've been writing them and saving them to post when the internet turned back on) so make sure you scroll down to check them all.



i wish i could label these, but i'll try to describe them so you can tell which one is which.

the first three are in st. martin's at our commissioning mass. the group of 4 is the PG group. Susannah, fino, sarah, and bobby. (fino and sarah--2nd years; suzy and bobby--first years).

the next picture is the Belize City community--trey, monica, me, kate, molly, meghan.

the nicely dressed group of 5 are all the first years.

the three of us on the bed are the three 2nd year girls in belize city--myself, monica, and kate. we were on retreat at banana bank.

the two at the end with only 5 people in them are the 2nd years. one is at our house the night before the newbies arrive and one is waiting at the airport for the newbies to come through customs. the picture where we are all standing goes as follows: monica, fino, kate, sarah, me.

hope this helps for some mental pictures of my new (and old) roommates!

Summer fun and new roommates

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.

hurrican dean

Hurricane dean…

Well, hurricane dean has come and gone and everyone I know personally is safe and mostly unaffected.

Thankfully, the worst that happened in Belize City was lots of wind and rain. There was enough thunder and lightening in the beginning to freak me out, but that subsided and the rest was just gusts of wind. A few fences were knocked down, some vendors stands were turned over, and rain puddled into houses, but that is it. And truthfully, that’s not altogether different from a regular storm here. The scariest thing for me, at least, was reading online and watching the news. At one point I read a headline that said “hurricane dean turns into a category 5 monster.” There were so many uncertainties and possibilities of disaster---my mind was reeling. The six of us were huddled around one computer looking at projections and wind speeds and damage already done in Jamaica and Haiti. One of my roommates finally said that we had to turn the computer off and go play cards or something because there was nothing to be done but waiting at that point.

Today everyone is thanking God and exclaiming how blessed and lucky we are. My supervisor said that if the hurricane had come one centimeter lower, it would have been devastating. I’m not sure where the centimeter comes in, but I can only imagine Belize City if it had been hit worse.

I haven’t been able to check up too much on Corazol and Orange Walk yet. I hear that families are displaced, crops were lost, and houses were ruined. I am anxious to learn the full extent of the damage.

My roommates and I made out like bandits during the hurricane, which was terrible and strangely great. We spent Monday to Tuesday with the Jesuits at St. John’s College (SJC). Minus lifting heavy boards to cover all the windows on multiple floors and moving things from the verandas, including the Jesuits’ entire collection of plants (seriously, who needs an entire rainforest in your house when you live basically surrounded by the jungle!?!?!), it was like a vacation for us. It was wonderful in so many ways. It is always great to get a break from our house, so spending the night with at SJC was fun. It was relaxed, unstructured time for us to hang out and get to know each other better without the pressure of being on retreat or having anything else that we should be doing. Ummm, also, the Jesuits have TV AND INTERNET, so while the power was still on, you bet we took advantage of that. And last, they fed us! Man, we ate so well. The Jesuits have multiple kinds of cereal (we have none) AND real milk (we have KLIM, powdered milk). Oh my gosh---we ate so many bowls of cereal. I think we finished each meal with cereal. We may have given the Jesuits the impression that we starve normally, which is entirely untrue, but our enthusiasm for the simple pleasures of hot water (oh yeah, forgot to mention that) and cereal were overwhelming! It was hard on the psyche though, to know that the hurricane was treating us so well and others so poorly.

That’s the update for now. Thanks to everyone for thoughts and prayers during the scary last few days. The people of Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and northern Belize (and everyone else affected) still need those, so keep ‘em coming!