Belize Adventures

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This and That

Well, earlier this month I went on my last retreat in belize! So sad! We affectionately call it ‘re-o/dis-o’, which stands for re-orientation for the first years and dis-orientation for the second years (as in, the opposite of orientation, which I went through two years ago before coming). Well, a friend asked me if I felt ‘dis-oriented’. My reply was ‘dis-oriented, like, having no sense of direction about life in general and only having questions but no answers. . . .why yes, yes I do feel that way! But, dis-oriented, like, feeling some sense of completion and conclusion to my life here. . . . .um, no, not a chance!’

Retreats are always nice---we get away, we eat great food that we don’t have to cook for ourselves, we sometimes have hot water---it’s the little things. This retreat I felt a bit disconnected from my fellow jvs; I’m not sure why, but it was sad for me, as I knew that this was our last retreat all together. However, I did revel in the strength that I always feel when the 9 of us are together---the unquestionable presence of God that I feel when we are in a room praying together, when we discuss our lives and our struggles in living the 4 values, when we look at the covenant and recommit to each other and to its principles, and when we interact, as we do, as JVs, friends, and brothers & sisters. Sadness crept in periodically as it would all of a sudden hit me that I will not be surrounded by these people whom I have formed my life around for the past 2 years. Oh, sigh.

I did get in a few good ‘runs’ though. When did I ever get to a place where I can call a run good!?!?! Anyway, a change of scenery on a run (and please know that I use the word ‘run’ ever so loosely) does wonders, apparently! I have been running the exact same street for almost two years now---wow, what a new environment will do! One run, though, could be categorized as not-so-good. I went down a path and through a river (only up to my thighs) to get to a road off the property of the place where we were staying. It was our day of silence and so I wanted to go on a long slow run. I made it to the next river crossing and saw that they were burning both sides of the road beyond the river. They were burning them to clear the land, but the smoke and debris made it not as enticing to go either ‘long’ or ‘slow’. I already had it in my head that that is what I wanted from my run, so I went a bit further, feeling the heat from the brush fires RIGHT next to me and trying to not breath in too deeply. Shortly, I saw a big ol’ snake directly in the middle of the road (this road, mind you, is a rocky dirt road, not anything sophisticated or paved). I freaked out and sprinted past it---great thinking, true, because then I had to go BACK past it to return home. After sneaking past the snake (as though that would do any good at all), I beat feet back towards the retreat place. I was going really fast because I was convinced that the burning was going to bring all the snakes out of the bush to get me! I got to the ONE house on the road that I had passed several times in the previous days. I am always wary of dogs, you know, since the dog bite incident of 2007, and in situations like that, I run with a rock like I was taught at orientation. To my surprise, TWO huge dogs come snarling after me at this house! I had passed that house multiple times with no dog attacks---why after i see a snake and am tired and shaky from sprinting and running through fire do dogs decide to come get me? So, I dutifully throw my rock at them and start screaming STAY (as if that will do any good!!!). I learned from previous mistakes and didn’t turn around and start running (thank goodness) but stood my ground and continued to feign throwing rocks and alternately actually throwing a few (though I was worried this would make them more mad!) while screaming as loud as I could ‘stay’ (don’t laugh, it’s the only thing that came to mind!!). I was really scared. I kept thinking that if the dogs came and bit me on my legs (for some reason, that’s where my mind would allow them to bite me) I didn’t know how I would get them to remove their jaws from my limbs, nor how I would then get myself back home. Thankfully, none of that happened, as I slowly backed up (throwing and screaming all the while) and finally backed down a slope and the dogs stayed up on top. I made it back to the retreat center both bursting with nervous energy and utterly exhausted from the sprint/run/adrenaline rush, but could not share a thing with anyone because we were still on our day of silence! GEESH.

What else---well, I did not get accepted to UW for my MSW. What a huge disappointment. It wasn’t terribly shocking; I knew I had an average chance and that the program was extremely selective. But it was still disappointing. So now I’m looking at other options. I’ve applied to Seattle University for a Masters in Pastoral Counseling. In some recent external processing, I found myself saying that the degree I think I want is an MSW, but that program I think I want is with Seattle U (Jesuit school, theology and spirituality incorporated in a degree program). I don’t think I need an MSW to work in the social work field---I do think I need a masters degree and want that masters degree to benefit me as much as it can. So I’m still deciding (and waiting to hear if I’ll even get in) about Seattle U. I know that I always want to be working for social justice and I know that I always want to be doing something faith based---so now my dilemma is how to meld the both of those. In some sense, my options are endless, in others, I feel limited. One of my concerns is that a masters in pastoral counseling will be too limiting. But if I know that I want a program that incorporates the things that a MAPC does, then why not go for it? I’m still grappling, and I’m definitely open to any thoughts or advice. My poor family and some close friends have heard (err, read) many many thoughts on this, (ps, thanks again guys!) and I’m happy to expound more to anyone who thinks he/she might have some insight.

It is HOT HOT HOT these days. No, I know I always say that, but I’m totally serious. It is so blinking hot (Bernie always says that). I don’t even know what it is like not to sweat every hour of every day. UGH! My friend Ines says that he’s never felt Belize like this before. Awesome.

I hate that my time is winding down here and that from here on, everything is starting to be ‘the last time ____.’ I try not to think that way, but it seeps in, you know.

Similarly, my mind has started to wander to what life will be like in the States and has started to concretely visualize things that I will do/eat/make (bagels&cream cheese, cottage cheese, vegging out in front of the television for as long as I can stand it, picking up the phone and calling someone because I just want to, washing my clothes in a machine, seeing people I LOVE. . . .). so, I’m starting to kind of get excited about things like that---but then my mind instantly makes lists of things that I will miss here and that tends to be more drastic (the relationships that I know I’ll never have again, the greatest job ever) and then I can’t figure out if I should be excited or sad or anxious and it all leads to lots and lots of overwhelming feelings! ugh.

Gosh, it will just be really really hard to leave here.

One of the saddest things that Fr. Dan said to us was this: he was talking to us about when we get back, we'll think about Belize all the time, but then soon, we'll start to think about Belize less and less and then there will be a day when we don't think about Belize at all. I can't imagine a day when I don't think of Belize, but I know it will happen. So sad.

Yesterday, I had to go with Bernie to pick up his vehicle at his house. He drove me on the back of the scooter so that I could then drive the scooter back and he could drive his vehicle. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I drive a scooter around the city, true? If not, how cool is that!!! It’s a cross between a motorcycle and a moped. I have to switch gears, but I don’t have a clutch. Regardless, it’s a whole lot easier (and way more fun) than biking around the streets. Also, riding on the back of one (as in, when I’m not driving) is somehow SO fun that I can’t stop smiling. I love it when Bernie has to carry me somewhere and when our route goes past the sea---yeah, I’ll miss that! Anyway, as we got to Bernie’s house, we saw a horse in his yard. I asked whose horse it was, and he said he didn’t know but that someone always ties that horse in his yard! Can you imagine arriving home and finding a strange horse in your yard? Alternately, can you imagine not asking, but just tying your horse to graze in someone’s yard? yeah. . .so Bernie did what he always does, according to him, which is to untie the horse and lead it into the street for it to then graze in someone else’s yard! The whole thing was so funny to me. I think you had to be there.

My friend Mel just came to visit---that was really great. I love that some people get to have some sense of what my life is like here. Thanks Mel. Plus, it’s just so fun to be around people that I love!

These are all very random thoughts---sorry---that’s why I titled it ‘this and that.’

This past Sunday, I went to a birthday party. Last week when Mel was here, I had Ines do his garifuna drumming for us at this little bar called los cocos. We've been there a few times --it's so cute, I'm sad I only discovered it this year. To get there, you turn left on Currasow Street and stop a few feet from the dead end and then walk up a little path and the bar is right there. It's an outside bar and there's palm trees and it's just great. We 'know' (to the extent that you know a person that you see at a bar a few times) most of the folks there. So last week, this woman named pearl told me that she wanted me to come to her birthday part next week. Sure! Of course, why not! I promptly forgot. Weeeeellll, Sunday morning at the 2.25 hour long confirmation mass, THIS WOMAN was sitting next to Monica (the girls they were sponsoring were the same height). How random is that. oh belize. She’s not a Martin’s parishioner and we definitely would not have remembered about her birthday party---that night! gosh. She again told Monica to come to the party and gave the directions as 'my house is right before complex'. Um, okay. That could be, just about anywhere in the mess of streets in that general area, but that’s cool. She said Ines knew where it was. I tried Ines two times and his phone wasn't working so Monica, Kate, and I decided just to bike 'around complex' to see if we could find it. We had the help of one guy named 'Moses' who is related somehow to my client ms althea. He didn't want us riding around by ourselves so he came with us. We biked around, asked a few people (we didn’t know the area, the street, or even her last name, but that didn’t stop us!) and we ended up finding the damn party!!! I could NOT believe it. She's from Barranco, which means she's garifuna and so they had all the drums and instruments and it was totally awesome. I played the turtle shells all night! Turtle shells---who plays turtle shells! I loved it!

Okay, I think that’s all the thoughts I have for now.