Friday, August 24, 2007

Dios Dear Friends,

It is hard to know where to begin this blog as so much has happened and not happened.

Our last days in Medina Bank were fun filled. We (the volunteers) held a health fair for the villagers. Almost the whole village put on their Sunday best and showed up for fun and games - mostly for the children. We had self-esteem building activities, a nutrition store and the Manleys had the race from the pigpen to the cotelebal (latrine) with a handwashing event between each stage. It was a crowd pleaser. We were all so pleased at the turnout of the villagers. Much laughter was shared by all.

We left our village almost 3 weeks ago. We will miss our host families very much as they are now part of us. The past couple of weeks were there,the other volunteers as well as many of their family members joined us for nights of spades and hearts. Our little plywood home would be full of us sac i quinks (basically white folk) and many more Mayans. We played in the candlelight til late least 9:00pm or later. Woohoo!

Our village thru us a good-bye part in the form of a Mayan Marimba evening in traditional garb. The instruments were all hand hewn. A "guitar", "harp" and "fiddle". The music started and a young couple in Mayan colors began the dance. After that it was time for the village to watch the white folks dance and sweat. Many of the elder woman would join in but it took about an hour and a half for the shyness to wear away and then we were all dancing. By that time we were literally dripping and wringing water out of sweat rags. The gathering lasted about two and a half hours and we all gave in before they did.

The sac i cuinks threw a dinner for the host families. We made fajitas for 65 people. All of us gathered in one thatch - made cua(tortillas) - cooked chickens, peppers and onions over the fires. We also made guacamole and beans. They did seem to enjoy it but one never knows as there is very little emotion ever shown. Still it was fun. Again they wanted the white folk to dance to music but none of them participated. We had learned our lesson and that particular fiesta didn't last as long. We left this village with a little tear in our eye.

Since then basically our backpacks have rarely been off our backs. We spent three days in our new village before the first evacuation. Off to Belmopan to ride out "Dean". After that we were sworn in as official volunteers. We headed back to Punta Gorda on Friday (couldn't begin to know what date) and spent the night. We had much business to attend to such as opening a bank account and gathering some essentials for our permanent stay.

After our first three days at our new home we had to discuss the food situation as we were not going to maintain well at the level of lard we had been receiving. One egg would be scrambled and cooked in three inches of oil. Won't bore you with other eating dishes as it is all basically the same. After what we thought was a positive gathering which culminated in lets cook together (18 people and no less at a meal) and share what we eat and teach nutrition. This resulted in confusion and then no food! So, that didn't work. Meanwhile, we hooked up with TOLCA (Toledo Children and Adolescents) and have begun to go to other villages as well as our own and teach nutrition and hygiene. Much inspired we returned to our home and have attempted to cook meals with our family in very small quarters with multiple species of animals biting and eliminating in the same arena...from pigs, ducks to children. We will just say "challenge". ....Michael has came up with a way to rat proof our sleeping area and we think we have it conquered. "challenge"...want to say all in a day's work .... since our village has the highest rate of worms the head of our PC project is going to help us facilitate a change. xoxoxoxxoxox

This past Monday as you know we were evacuated again...just as we had fixed a breadfruit salad for dinner that night. (sort of a potato salad with lots of veggies) We will never know if they liked it. Did get a few duck bites cooking over the fire and piglets nibbling on the toes!!!!!!????

Off to Belmopan we go again. As Felix "Petered" out it did flood a few areas in the Toledo district where some of us live so, those of us living in that area didn't get to leave Belmopan until yesterday.

We have stopped along the way and are spending two days in Hopkins with Bertie one of the volunteers. We are in a little cabana watching the manatees float by in the blue green Carribean Sea. This morning a "flotilla" of dolphins silently passed by. A welcome relief. We will be heading home tomorrow and waiting out the change that must be made. Will fill you in later.

Meanwhile, we have made many friends and are anxious to be working and productive. It was very fun going out to the villages deep in the jungle to teach the nutrition classes. Heard the howler monkeys from Aguacate. Very cool. Overall, our job is to teach nutrition, hygiene and help with latrine building. Seventy-five percent of the homes in our village do not have latrines. They use the bush. It will take time to effect they don't see that as an issue but request help with adding on to the school. Time............

Much love to all