Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year’s trip to Yo Creek, Mexico and Caye Caulker

Edrei at my first Home stay family in San Antonio, Cayo. I went back for a visit.
My favorite Mayan dish.. PirishPak!!! Glorified tomato soup with boiled eggs and flour tortillas
Visit to the family farm. I was sent home with 2 bags of fresh veggies!
My host mom walking barefoot in the clay earth!
Our feet after our walk to the farm
Mile 25 Christmas celebration. Cute Mayan babe!
Some of my fave boys in the village grubbin' on rice and beans and stew chicken
Evil Santa bwai!
Women's group Christmas dinner!
Christmas for the kids on Mile 25
Kevina and Heather after a day of snorkeling on Caye Caulker
I got my hair braided... whoops...
Sailing back.
Before the trip
Sea sickness is setting in

On the 26th, Heather and I woke up early and packed our bags to catch a bus in to Belmopan. I dropped Heather off there, as she would be joining all of us in a few days and caught a next bus on to Belize City. There, I met up with another volunteer, Adam, that lives in Belize City. We walked around for a bit, but most of everything was closed on the 26th. We then walked back to his apartment to check out his new digs. Volunteers in Belize City live the most Koosh life!!! They receive almost twice as much money for their living allowance as those of us in the village receive. Yes, it is a bit more expensive to live in the city, but not twice as much. Adam has a hot shower, which is unheard up anywhere else, a washer and dryer in his apartment, which is the first dryer I have seen in this country, cable TV and it came fully furnished. Tough life. He brewed up some eggs and beans for Breakfast and then I went on my way to catch a next bus up north to Orange Walk. I was heading up north to visit Kevin in his village. He met me in Orange Walk because there were no village buses on the 26th and we had to hitch 6 miles to his village, Yo Creek. This is something everyone up north does because of the lack of village buses. There is one intersection in Orange Walk where everyone stands to hitch a ride. It took mere minutes before we were bumping along the pothole filled road in the bed of a pickup truck. There is no experience that mirrors the experience of riding in the bed of a pickup truck, feeling that fresh Belizean breeze, and surrounded by lush and scenic Jungle. It may not be the most comfortable ride, but it is unique each and every time. In the 4 times we hitched to and from Yo Creek, we met some very interesting people that either lived in Kevin’s village or the next one over.

Kevin lives in one of the nicest houses in Yo Creek. Complete with marble counter tops, a Crystal Chandelier, and tiled floors. An American that has since moved back to the states built the house. He just wanted someone to mind the house for a while and Kevin was having a hard time finding a decent house in his village when this fell into his lap. On top of that, the location is perfect for him. He lives directly next to the school where he works and across from his counterpart and best friend in the village. The history of Peace Corps Volunteers in Yo Creek is really interesting. There have been volunteers living there for many years. And a lot of them that lived there in the 70s and 80s have come back and build houses to live part of the year in Yo Creek. A few of them even married local Yo Creekian Girls. Kevin has a lot to live up to in the village, but I have full confidence that he can and will marry a Yo Creekian.

The thing to do up north, is cross over the Mexican border to the town of Chetumal. It is an easy day trip and many people do it because things are a lot cheaper over there and there is more variety. Also, it is like a whole different world from Belize over there. Chetumal sparkles in comparison to most parts of Belize. The lawns are manicured, there is an actual highway with onramps and road signs, the streets are clean and have sidewalks, there are choices and options of things to buy, there is mall with a movie theater, and there is fast food. I felt as though we had landed in Texas or something. It was amazing and so different from the daily scenery I have had in Belize over the past 5 months. We toured the mall, had McDonalds, ate Gelato… yeah I said it… GELATO, bought a giant bottle of Tequila for 9 USD and toured the local market. Chetumal was a successful day and a great escape from Belize. After returning to Orange Walk, we met up with two more volunteers that live in Orange Walk Town and headed to the famous Ceviche restaurant for dinner. Ceviche is a popular local dish that mirrors a fresh, home made salsa, but with the added delight of shrimp or conch. The raw shrimp or conch is saturated and ‘cooked’ with limejuice before added to the diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, etc. It is then eaten with tortilla chips. We hitched back to Yo Creek for the night. The next afternoon, we impulsively decided to head to Belize City. We were planning on going the following day to head out to Caye Caulker with everyone, but we thought we would head in a day early and meet up with some other volunteers living in Belize City. Belize City isn’t exactly a place I would take visitors. It is big, dirty, and unsafe. Because many cruise ships stop in Belize City, they have built a tourist village that only tourists are allowed to go into. It is nothing special and for all they know, the tourist village could be located in Florida because they don’t go anywhere else in Belize. It is sad that this is the impression so many people get of Belize, because beyond the city, there is so much more culture and scenery than that.

After a night in Belize City, 5 of us headed out to Caye Caulker. We found a place to stay right on the water and set out to explore and reacquaint ourselves with the glory that is Caye Caulker. Nobody walks around the island with shoes on, and neither did we for the four days we were there. The following day, 18 more volunteers arrived to the Caye. It was so great to see everyone again and be in such a beautiful place together. We all signed up for the sailboat/snorkel tour that 3 of us did the first time we came to Caulker. We had the entire sailboat filled with only PCVs and our two Rasta Captains. It was like a private tour of the reef. We saw stingrays, sharks, turtles and tons of fish. It was great fun and the perfect day to end an exciting 2009.

Reflection on 2009

This last year I………

- Completed one year of my Masters in Public Administration

- Made some great friends in the MPA program

- Partied and enjoyed live music at Sasquatch 2009

- Lived in the same city once again as my best friend, Monika!

- Moved out of our beloved 6621 house in Seattle and left the city I have called home for the past 5 years

- Gave and sold a lot of my junk in Seattle and drove a Uhaul to Montana filled with my possessions

- Sent off my dear friend Katie to Peace Corps Niger

- Said goodbye to my Seattle Lovers

- Went on a road trip down the 101 to California

- Joined the Peace Corps, Duh.

- Learned Spanish and Kriol

- Moved to a new country that I now call home

- Made 40 new best friends in my fellow Peace Corps Belize Volunteers!

- Made some new Belizean friends that I know I will remember for life

- Changed my path in life forever

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