Thursday, February 07, 2013

Flashforward to 2013...

So... Needless to say, much has happened since my Peace Corps and blogging days. I miss writing and am actually considering starting up where I left off. Since Belize, I have lived in California, Hawai'i (for a very short stint), and now in northern Arizona. So many stories, adventures, lessons learned...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

After my birthday


Today was Wednesday and it was an emotionally trying one, but I'm able to escape for a while with wine (a bit of leftover holiday splurge as the cheapest bottle will cost around $25-$30bz), cheese (spreadable Happy Cow- not to be mistaken for the U.S. version, Laughing Cow), crackers (Saltines, but damn the People's Store for only having the "sin sal" variety) and some quality David Sedaris book time.

Some nights we've had up to 12 women show for yoga or pilates class in the upstairs wood-floor room at the House of Culture; other nights it's just Nikki and me. Tonight was one of those other nights.


I feel defeated by the lunch I managed to make myself today: heated baked beans from a can and stale tortilla chips from the bakery down the street. Now I stare at an orange.

Prior to this pathetic lunch, I was filthy and soaked from an unproductive bike ride to the post office (bike riding is ideal transportation until it rains). Spent $7bz at an internet cafe posting pictures and missing friends and life back in the States. The computers are often slow as hell and full of viruses, but I keep paying to use them.

It's rainy, so laundry's out of the question (the only time I curse life without a dryer). If I'm willing to pay, I can take it to the laundry place at the market, where they can never remember which gringa's which. They actually told me once that they wrote "Jenny-glasses" on their whiteboard in the back. Nikki and I look nothing alike.

I passed the morning cleaning my miniature apartment and practicing yoga in my kitchen/living room/exercise room/guest bedroom area.

When did I start focusing on the negative and lose sight of all the positive in my life? That Sedaris book was feeling like the only good thing I had to distract myself while home alone in this apartment and I finished the damned thing last night. I need to pull myself out of this slump.

Will a "to do" list cheer me up? Doubtful.
Will the electricity people come today? Doubtful.

I feel an itch to change the focus of my projects. I want to be involved in the early childhood education sector here, and not just through ballet classes (though dancing with the kids is fun as hell). Can my lethargic body get through 2 hours of ballet tonight? God I hope so.

Is this what all of being 25 is like?


Ahhhh the weekend.

Friday I planned, packed, and taught ballet to two "babies" (as they call the preschoolers here). Then Story Hour at the library. This is another project that is hit or miss from week to week. Sometimes kids show, and sometimes they don't.

The District Magistrate was commuting home to the city and offered me a drop (which would save me about 30 minutes, $4bz, and the chances of something going wrong with a bus ride). I was grateful for the quiet and comfortable ride and he took me right to the terminal. Timing was perfect- the Belmopan bus was just about to leave.

Then I get on the bus and no music. But then there was a young drunk guy 3 seats back talking shit to everyone for 45 minutes of this radio-less ride. Hilarious. Gahtlin had told me to text when I was close to Belmopan so he can start walking to the bus terminal there. How am I supposed to know when I'm "close?" And he texts me: "When you make a left."
Classic directions in Belize.
He met me at the terminal. We ate soy patties from the stand down the street from his house and watched a movie with the other volunteers in town. As soon as I lay down I was out. It was a long, draining week.

Up early, we spent the lazy morning at his house before walking to Formosa's. Bubble Milk Tea. Butterfly shrimp and chop suey. Red bean ice cream. Full bellies. We headed to Cayo for the futbol game and met part of the PC team in front of the TV at Cayo Cafe.

Football. The American variety. And stouts (the Belikin variety). Good to catch up with friends I've made along this journey. We meet everyone at the field and the game begins. The rain comes down. We lose and it's muddy. Everywhere is muddy nowadays.
We head to CocoPele's, a bar down town, and play pool or foosball. We visit a Returned volunteer who came back to Belize after his service and starting working in the country. I wonder if I could see myself staying or coming back after my two years here. Then off to a volunteer's house to disappear from the crowd in search of much needed sleep.
In the morning we stand on the roof and survey the view. Volunteers say their goodbyes until the next time we meet for a Peace Corps training or another futbol game. Breakfast is yogurt, bananas and banana bread from a "China Store" on our walk to the bus. Delicious. We ride to Belmopan, and then I'm on yet another bus headed for Orange Walk. But I feel rejuvenated and ready for the coming week. And excited peace.

Back to work this Monday morning, there's a teacher and Principal not at school today and I sub for Standard 2. We read and sing and play hangman for a good chunk of the day. I almost don't have a ride home, but luckily someone comes for me. Oh the unpredictability of this life.


Met with the district education officer today about project concerns (aka: Are we actually going to train teachers at some point?). Pull-out reading programs and library projects are great, but when you know something will end when your service does, it's not sustainable. Someone must be trained to take over whatever you've been doing, and someone must want to be trained for that to happen. Sustainability occurs when the parties involved in a project believe it is an achievable goal.

We're told we'll be a part of the annual teacher training workshops over the summer.

Then Nikki and I are off, biking to the water company to pay my monthly $7bz bill. Right before we reach, a man on a bike stops us to try to convert us away from the Book of Mormon. It was all in quick Spanish, but when I figured out what he was getting at, I looked at us and our "clear" skin... in our helmets (required and distributed by Peace Corps)... and then I managed to locate enough Spanish vocabulary swimming around in my head to say "No man, we're not in a church right now." (aka: I'd appreciate if you wouldn't preach to me on the street.) He responded with a "Disculpame." The exchange was weird and ironic and made me laugh inside.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Seeing as my last Peace Corps post was a journal entry from January 3rd, 2007, saying I'm behind in getting this blog up to speed is quite an understatement. In "real time" it's December 2008, almost 2 years from the events that were happening in my life then and, needless to say, much has changed.

But I'm not giving up, and I do plan to get this blog all caught up at some point. Perhaps that shall be on my list of New Years resolutions. My hope is to get back into the blogging groove after the holiday madness is over and the new year has begun.

To those of you that read this, and especially those who have left words of support, thank you thank you.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm a horrible blogger.

Okay, quite possibly the worst blogger ever. But here's the deal: I'm going off target for just a bit because:

A) I'm so behind on continuing my story where I last left off that it's a bit overwhelming
B) Politics is taking center stage these days and I wanted to make note of something I feel is important.

So for those of you (if anyone's still reading this) that saw the major party Presidential candidates speak on the subject of service a few weeks ago (it was a forum specifically on the subject), I wanted to write a response to what they had to say. Both mentioned the Peace Corps, acknowledged its importance in today's world, and expressed their support for the organization and its accomplishments around the globe. In reference to service and who is able to serve, they both mentioned that young people fresh out of college and in debt are not necessarily able to join service organizations.

Let me say that my family is not well off and I had to pay for my college tuition through student loans. I came out of school and was, yes, in debt. However, what was not mentioned was that joining Peace Corps allows a person, like myself, to place their loans on deferment during their service. Of course all loans are different and there are restrictions to deferments, and yadda yadda yadda, but I would hate for anyone to think that they are unable to serve in a volunteer organization such as the Peace Corps because they have their monthly student loan payment to make. Also, some loans (though unfortunately not mine) can be forgiven because you served in the Peace Corps. And if a person has other types of debt, Peace Corps can work with you, helping you make your monthly payments from your final readjustment allowance that you would normally receive after completion of your service.

So I would say "Buck up, American youth! You CAN be a Peace Corps Volunteer after all!" Unfortunately, I also feel the need to share the following article:,0,5768469.story

(I tried to link it, but I'm a failure, so just copy and paste the address if you can...)

Bummer that so much money is spent on war...

P.S. I'm an educator, and Obama was the only one during the forum on service to include teachers in the list of those serving the country. That's all I'm gonna say.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Under the farmacia on Main Street.

(note: this is evidence of how behind I am on updating...)

It's January 3rd, 2007.
A new year.
A new home.
A new life.
A new companion.
A new start.

Gahtlin just left on the bus for the 3-4 hour ride back to his site after his vacation in Orange Walk. Back to work and life; away from the mini-world we create in our small homes on weekends and holidays.

Spent the afternoon of Christmas Eve with the host family and Nikki's parents. We went to Mexico (and into the mall), where Gahtlin was a reserved kid in a candy store after a year and a half away from something that looked so similar to the States.

Spent New Years Eve weekend on San Pedro. Ate a lot of food, which is what vacations and holidays are clearly for. We indulged with AC and TV. I got some minor food poisoning on New Years Eve and ended up watching the Entourage marathon until 3 in the morning. But it still turned out to be a great night. Spent some time on the hotel balcony, watching the drunken crowd stumbling through the streets. We had eaten lunch that day under a thatch roof with a view of the blue-green Caribbean Sea, the light sand and palm trees. Swaying. Picture perfect.

It was an 11-day roller coaster. Impossible emotional whiplash. But we're standing here together still, having these moments. Living this beautiful life and learning about the world and ourselves. It feels fast, but our time here has been dense. And we understand each other. I've never been quite this open about my fears. We devoured rice and beans we bought from the trunk of a taxi in the City. It was delicious.

I'm listening to music that takes me back to my life before Belize. I flip back through these journal pages; this has been an intense experience. Living feels good, even when it's hard. I kept pushing and growing and finally made it to where I sit now, and I am so thankful for the view from here.
On my crappy bed.
In my miniature apartment.
Under the farmacia on Main Street.