Sunday, January 3, 2010

Celebrity Status in Mile 25

After spending much of my adolescence completely engrossed in celebrity gossip, I finally can empathize with how they feel on the daily. Before arriving at Mile 25, we volunteers were forewarned that people would be extremely interested in our every move as we settle into our new homes. We will bring the most excitement to some small towns that they may ever experience.

Lives are simple in small villages. The men work hard in farms with the sun beating on their every move during the day while the women stay at home and keep the house. Let me remind you that your idea of keeping house in cushy America is vastly different than keeping house in rural Belize.

· While you drop your clothes in the magic washing machine, we carry a bucket of dirty clothes to the river and proceed to beat them against the rocks until all the of dirt is removed from the clothes and rise and ring them out before carrying them home to hang up on the line to dry- which if the sun is out, can be as little as 2 hours, but during raining season it could be up to 4 days until the rain stops enough to let the clothes dry.

· While you shove your dishwasher full of dirty dishes and watch TV while the magical future machine cleans your dishes until they sparkle, we first carry our water from the river or pipe in buckets and then proceed to tediously wash each dish while desperately trying to conserve water to rinse with so as to not lug more water. Then we set them in the sun to dry for a few minutes.

· While you let roomba vacuum your carpets and tile floor, we don’t vacuum- at all. What is a vacuum? That shit would blow these peoples minds. Armed with our broom and bucket of water, we drizzle some water on the cement floor and sweep the dust out the back door. If we can afford it, we buy the only cleaning product known to Belize, flash, and sprinkle it on the ground. I’m pretty sure it is only perfumed and colored water. Those of you who don’t sweep your house out 3 times a day would have no idea that there is a science to this sweeping thing. Slow, low to the ground, short and tight strokes, bend in the knees, elbows in, and wooooosh. Stuff here gets really dusty – which brings me to the next topic.

· While you casually remember to drag your trashcan to the curb once a week for the magic trash fairy to whisk it away to never never land, we burn it. Did you ever stop to think exactly where your trash ends up?? Think about it… I will never take trash and recycling services for granted again. There is little infrastructure set up to collect and deposit of trash in Belize. On the Western highway one will notice mounds of steaming trash on the sides of the roads that continue to grow and grow with no future plan. In my village, the trash tractor pulling a trailer passes by once a month to pick up trash, so they say. Nobody knows when exactly it will pass by. You just have to be home and armed with your barrel of trash to drag it out to the street when the horn blows from the tractor. As you can imagine, this is not functional. Thus, we burn it. Pile it up out back and light it up every few days. Cans, plastic, paper, food waste, the whole nine yards.. burn baby burn. It produces the rankest of smells when burning and spreads ash and trash around.

· While you hop in your cozy shower with the perfect temperate water, armed with 14 different products for each crevasse of your body, we grab our bucket of water and a plastic cup, armed with a bar of soap to bathe. I have grown fond of the elusive bucket bath as I discovered it is possible to boil a giant pot of water and make a warm bucket of water. To symbolize the constant flow of water from above, I place my fingers over the cup and jiggle to sprinkle said water down my head and face. I will admit that I carry my Shampoo, conditioner, face wash and bar of dove to wash while everyone else sticks to the bar of soap from head to toe. Some things I just don’t want to give up in the Peace Corps, especially when our PC Nurse will issue us Neutrogena Face wash J

· While you lay your head to rest on your $2000 USD box spring and mattress set each night, we sink deep into our 5 inch thick piece of hot spongy foam- if you are fortunate enough to own one. Families of 8 or 10 may only have a mat on the floor for their children to curl up on and sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Emily, it is so fun to read your blog! I wish I had done a better job at keeping mine up when I was in China...
    That mattress sounds pretty familiar, I had something nice like that too. And we never had a clothers dryer, though we did have a pretty ghetto washing machine... :-)
    Hope you're well! Miss you and traveling with you! You will always be my best cruise ship cabin roommate!