Orientation

Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
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Trip End Jun 01, 2006


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Flag of Belize  ,
Wednesday, September 7, 2005

A week has passed and the sun has baked my skin. I feel like I am in a perpetual dream, on the cusp of consciousness, before reality slaps me in the face. The house that I am staying at is situated across the sea. Belize city does not have a beach but a sea wall outlining the city. There are three other girls living in the house and I share a room with one of them. We all share one bathroom.
This week was orientation. I don't start my job until next week. I have no idea what to expect. For the first part of orientation, speakers spoke about Belize. I thought that most of the speakers were too general. One thing that I did not know was during emancipation of the slave after the civil war many southerners fled to Belize. One reason for choosing Belize was because the language spoken is English. However, growing crops in the jungle was too hard and most went home. The most interesting speaker was a lady from the woman's center. She had published many poems and she introduced to us some good books about Belize. She read one of her poems and a folklore from one of the books. The folklore story was about Anansi the spider, who is a mischievous character and very prevalent in stories told to children, often with a moral. Next she taught us some Creole. Creole is basically broken English mixed with African. Sometimes I can understand it pretty well and other times I am completely in the dark. The words we learned were pickney (child), ka (car) , kar (carry) and chuch (church). For instance to say ,"where did that child go?" in Creole would be something like," where pickney da gone?"
Thursday after the morning presentation, we went to Old Belize. Old Belize is new not old. The taxi cab driver said that the reason why it was called old Belize was because that was what Belize city used to look like thirtyyears ago. First we had lunch, then we went to the museum and finally we went swimming. Swimming was fun. There was a water trampoline and a rope swing.
Friday we took a guided tour to Xunantunach, meaning stone maiden. Historically, locals used to avoid the ruins because they believed that a maiden lived in Castillo, the main building and guarded the ruins. We were able to climb the stone steps to the top where we could see parts of Guatemala and Belize. There were no guard rails.
We climbed down the other side of the building to see where they played a game called Tlachtli. The game was played with a little rubber ball. The rubber ball was made by being extracted from a rubber tree and mixed it with a certain type of morning glory vine. The juice from the morning glory causes a chemical reaction to form rubber. The rubber balls were so important that they could act as currency. Also, the outcome of the games often decided important decision as well as human sacrifice.
By the field were huge termite nests and a strangler fig. Strangler figs are interesting because they begin as an epiphyte and then slowly take over its host. The advantage is that the tree can get lots of sun.
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