Trip Start Jun 16, 2005
23Trip End Jul 24, 2007
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First up in this update is...
From Amy: I am continuing to balance the two projects, and am finding that there's a lot of potential for overlap between the two. I've been cranking out proposals and letters and have actually had a few small successes getting donations for the literacy program. We're getting books for the resource library, lumber and supplies to build classroom desks and a free airline ticket to fly a teacher to a reading conference in Chicago next year
From Rob: I've been hitting the books and brushing up on my statistics to analyze data collected along the reef. Still beating the bushes trying to get a grant to build a ranger station on an offshore atoll, but many funders don't seem to like the idea of giving a grant to the government. I'm making some friends at work, and the days generally fly by. My chess club kids are really making great strides; I think all of them know all the pieces now, and mostly how they move. Baby steps, I guess.
We've had some fun adventures over the last few weeks traveling around to different parts of the country. Rob ditched Amy and went to Caye Caulker again in October. It was for work, so she wasn't too annoyed, though still jealous. At least he's learned not to come back complaining of "a bad snorkeling day" where he "didn't see anything interesting."
We also visited our friend Isaac in Belmopan a few weeks ago. (With a population of around only 8,000 it's one of the smallest, if not the smallest, capital cities in the world!) Not much happens there on weekends, but we did hike over to Guanacaste National Park to go for a swim in the Roaring Creek
For Halloween, we bused it across the country for a party in San Ignacio. Luckily, one of the party hosteses made cupcakes so Amy got out of actually baking a cake for Rob's birthday! We've put up a photo of ourselves from the evening, but there were far more imaginative costumes that played on Belizean themes like a plantain tree, a jaguar, a manatee and a bottle of Marie Sharp's Belizean Heat Hot Sauce. Maybe next year we'll get more creative.
And just this past week, we trekked into "the bush" to go to Bermudian Landing. It's only about 30 miles from Belize City, but any time you go away from the main towns here, you really get into the secondary and primary growth forests. Amy was tapped by another volunteer to lead a session on proposal writing for teachers and community leaders in the area, but that only took the morning, so we hiked around the Community Baboon Sanctuary in the afternoon to check out the howler monkeys and wiwis (leaf-cutter ants). Very cool.
Though the daytime temps are still in the low- to mid-80s, it's started to cool off in the evenings and at night. We noticed a considerable change in mid-October. In fact, on October 20, Rob actually said, "I'm chilly" for the first time since arriving in Belize. Luckily he had a fleece jacket to keep him cozy - and we thought he'd *never* wear that!
The "cold snap" started in the middle of 4 days of strong, gusting winds from Hurricane Wilma passing through the Caribbean, but the evenings have generally remained pleasantly cool leading us to actually purchase a blanket for the bed!
Apparently this change in temperature is drastic for Belizeans as there were many days when we saw people wearing sweaters, jackets and wool caps. We, of course, were basking in the glory of sweat-free days.
After a week of nice, temperate weather, we're back to an August-like scorcher today though. Global warming, we think.
We discovered that the trees in front of our fence are plantain trees
And the garden we planted continues to grow. Well, everything but the peppers. We can't seem to get them to take. But the corn and zucchini have sprouted flowers and it's just a matter of time before we get to eat the results!
Fun Facts and Observations
* mold likes to grow here and leather shoes are a prime target. Pants apparently are not immune either.
* the prime minister does his own grocery shopping. We saw him just this morning buying Fruit Loops and vanilla extract. And a friend saw him buying bananas a few weeks ago at one of the fruit stands we frequent.
* we discovered that the water pumper that we mentioned in our last update is not supposed to be an arm workout. Ours is just broken. We might just leave it that way since we're not exactly getting to the gym...
* there is one phone book for the entire country.
* we just noticed that the dish soap we've been buying is "Non-Ultra" Joy. We're wondering how much better Regular or Ultra Joy would clean our dishes, if we can find it.
* food vendors riding around on bicycle carts often honk horns that make it sound like a parade of clowns is coming by.
While some of the novelty of this whirlwind experience has begun to wane (mosquito bites and malaria-drug side effects got old a while ago), the people and country of Belize continue to be sources of learning and energy, friendship and support, surprise and delight. Just as at home, days are sometimes interminable, but then we turn around and wonder where the weeks and months have slipped away to. So, until next time, we're off for another time around this crazy ride.
Love to all- Rob and Amy