Friday, June 29, 2007

Mission Impossible: San Ignacio

We finally got to get out of the office for an adventure a couple days ago. It was Mission Impossible day, and my group of three was directed to hop on a bus for the town of San Ignacio, not far from the Guatemalan border. Some taxi drivers tried to dissuade us from taking the bus, but I'm kind of enjoying the mishmash cultural experience of standing in the aisle of an extraordinarily crowded American schoolbus. One of them even had a civics poster from a West Virginia school on the wall. And if you stop to listen, you can hear people speaking Spanish and Kriol and any number of combinations of languages.

I get the sense that San Ignacio is one of the larger towns in Belize, but in a country of just under 300,000, that’s kinda relative. It's a charming hilly town, with a number of pizza parlor, ice cream shops, and internet cafes. We passed the same taxi driver about ten times, who greeted us heartily each time, gave us tips on where to eat lunch (Hanna's, where I indulged in quesadillas - with capers! - and fresh squeezed limeade), and told us where the best ice cream was to be found. Of course the shop is only open Thursday-Sunday starting at 5pm, so that was really just a tease.

A couple miles out of town is the Mayan site of Cahal Pech. We didn't have time to go for the guided tour, so we wandered around by ourselves. It was shady and peaceful and highly mysterious, and I wish I'd had more time. But there are many more sites to be found, and I do have two years, right?

Rachel has become our resident hairdresser. A bunch of us crowded into Liz and Kathy's room last night to escape the pouring rain and to watch her work her magic on Liz and Ashli. I'll post some pictures as soon as I can manage to get one to load on our pokey freaking internet connection...

Thursday, June 28, 2007


It's been a week and a half since touchdown in Miami, and I'm having a hard time believeing I haven't been gone for a month. Our arrival in Belize was touch and go for a while there. We boarded the plane in Miami only to sit on the tarmac for two hours while mechanics worked on a vague problem involving one of the tires. Problem solved, they attempted to remove the jack they'd placed under the plane and found that it was stuck. So they had to bring in another jack in order to free the first one. It's never a good thing to hear your pilot proclaim that, "our mechanics have never seen anything like this before." We proceeded to deplane and waited at the gate for another hour before we were informed that our flight was canceled, there were no other flights to Belize City scheduled for the day, and that unless we were connecting from another city, the airline wouldn't be providing us with a hotel room. I don't think there was one among us who wasn't wondering if this was set up as a test of our flexibility (a characteristic much vaunted by the Peace Corps).

We did indeed get on a flight the following day, however, and touched down exactly 24 hours later than expected. As I write I'm sitting on the back porch of the house I'm staying at with two other trainees in the village of Armenia. It's a community of roughly 1200 people, mostly Spanish and Maya speakers. There's one main road through town and the big happenings of an evening are either at the soccer field where the kids pass the time by catching and throwing enormous beetles at each other, or at one of the 12 churches, where all the music is amplified and broadcast through town. All 38 members of our trainee class are staying here during the first 2 1/2 weeks of training. We flag down a bus or the local guy who runs a shuttle service to ride the 18 miles to Belmopan, where the Peace Corps office has recently relocated. And in the evenings you'll find us all out walking the main drag with children of various sizes hanging from every appendage.

Our host family has fed us admirably, taken us down to the river to wash our clothes with the village women, and even brought us along to a birthday praty where swarms of small children destroyed a Spongebob Squarepants pinata. We get fresh mangoes every day from one of our family's two trees (they have an avocado tree as well!), a few days ago I made my very first flour tortilla on the stovetop, and watched our host mother make watermelon juice. Yes, the bugs and critters are of a size I'm unaccustomed to, and I sweat pretty much all day long, but so far life in Belize is treatimg me pretty well. Can't wait to see what else is in store...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

thanks, Schmalex!

so, i thought i'd take this opportunity to thank brother Alex for taking me to see the Police last weekend. it was a thrill! i can't imagine i'll ever get another crack at seeing that maniac Stewart Copeland work his percussive magic from such a fantastic vantage point. gracias, senor!

here he is, in his full serious roofer business glory...

Friday, June 15, 2007

hmmm... let's see...

ok. here's a test to see how this all works. gotta find the quickest, easiest way to communicate with a ton of people in one fell swoop. can she make it happen?

look, it's the back of my head! and for some reason, it's on it's side!