Shazia & Jerry updates
- From: Shazia Davis <shaziadavis@...
Sent: Monday, October 16, 2006 6:27:39 PM
Subject: My new homeJust getting back from my visit to my site and have to say that I am looking forward to living there. Think it should work out just fine being at the most a 5 minute walk to the beach! The town is small, a little less than 500 people. The houses are all concrete and close together, maybe 10-20 feet apart, most of them. Little paths in between the houses, walking paths of course b-c no one really has cars. Definately a poor town of course. There are toliets inside the houses though, which is awesome! There is also water and electricity, but it has lots of problems. In the 5 days I was there both the water and electricity each went out 2 times. So, when the lights go out, everyone lights candles and it´s kind of funny at night when you look at and see all the candle light. After a short time, people just go to bed. When the water is out for a long time I´ll need to walk to the river. It´s not too far though. Maybe 10 minutes. The town and everything is really close together. There is a primary school through 6th grade, a church, couple of tiendas (shops), cantinas, a couple restaurants, so yeah, basically all the stuff I really have to have. Should only need to go to the city for special stuff, like powdered skim milk!!! Some people have fridges, not sure if I´ll have one. Kinda would guess no. The beach is gorgeous I think. The sand is tan, feels good on your feet and the water is really clear. They say it gets more clear in the summer-dry season. There are snorkeling and scuba places close to me within an hour or so from my site so I would assume there are at least some reefs there. Another volunteer lives only less than a 10 minute bus ride, maybe 45 minute walk from me. That´s pretty exciting and I was able to meet my new neighbor. His name is Mark and seems to be a really great tranquilo guy. We will be working together on some environmental conservation education in the area.Looks like my other projects are not really defined. Probably will become more so after I am there for a little bit. Need to learn more about the community first. But there is a tourism group. They do receive tourists now, but I need to help them develop tourism packages, promotion techniques, and develop guides. Right now there is not really anything set up for the tourists to do except sit on the beach, which is pretty nonetheless, just the road out there is not the best. Over a scary bridge and lots of potholes in the road. But, it´s the real campo of Panama. There are mountains close and waterfalls too, so I think that could be another attraction as well. They have a womens group that is interested in setting up a bee-honey project, cabanas project, and also artisinary work to sell. A youth group and environmental group, interested in reforestation projects and other things. Of course there will be teaching english as well. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.My cellphone does get service in my site but only on the beach. What a shame that I have to walk 2 minutes to the beach to make calls and check messages! Just kidding! So, it is a bummer in some ways, because it´s likely that I won´t receive your call if you do call. But I will be able to check my messages in my town and call you back. Internet will be about a two hour bus ride away. I would guess that I´ll probably make it there maybe once every 2 weeks ish. We´ll see how it goes.Anyway, need to go for now. Hope all is well in the states. I miss you all and wish you the best in everything. Keep your updates coming. I enjoy hearing what is going on in your lives! Thanks, and talk to you again later .....probably when I am an official PC Volunteer. We swear in as official volunteers on Thursday the 26th. Big day is coming soon....!Love, SHAZIA
During our Pre-service Training our training leaders warned us about how we write back home. Without noticing it some volunteers only write back when they are stressed or only report the most obscure. Relizing that I am slipping towards this conundrum I thought I would let you in to see the brighter side of Belize.
Everywhere I have stayed in-country all of my host families and I have become quite close. I recently revisited the village of Armenia where my good friend Mike is now a volunteer. Located along the Hummingbird Highway, just 8 miles from the capital of Belmopan, the village is placed in a valley surrounded by dense jungle, hills, and and rolling mountains. Armenia is mainly comprised of Guatemalans, who have found a better way of life in Belize, and Mayans, who continue to live the way their ancestors have lived forever- huts made from mud, sticks, and cahoon leaves.
During my first stay, while still in training, I stayed with the Gonzalez's, a beautiful young family of four, who lived near the highway and were equipped with modern amenities such as indoor plumbing and electricity. Surprising was the presence of not only a TV but a DVD player to match. Surprising, more so, was the unattached thatched house complete with two beds, light, and fan where I slept. Jamie, a PCV friend, now nicknamed Kato (the former roommate of OJ Simpson) also stayed here after the first night. He was not comfortable sleeping with his present host family where all eight of them slept in the same room, in hammocks or on mats on the floor. The Gonzalez's also had a functional shower, though, it was outside underneath a palm tree with a great view of the stars during chilling night time bath.
Making the stay special was Ms. Gonzalez's fabulous cooking, Julissa, 6, Daniel Jose, 3, and the slew of cousins that lived in a two block radius who endlessly asked to go to the playground. "Jerry, you go to the playground, yes? Yes!," Julissa repeated in her Spanish accent until we were in route of monkey bars, swings, and the horse that was positioned at the playground to keep the grass short. Daniel Jose earned the nickname of 'Cheese' for his constant giggling and facial displays of joy especially as Jamie and I tossed him, through the air, to each other. One morning I stepped outside from the unattached thatched hut and saw Cheese on his doorstep as the new sun broke just over the tress making him difficult to see in the light.
"Hola, Cheese." Instantly he replies, "Hola Loco!," and giggles.
I also earned the nickname of 'Conejo' as Julissa pointed to a rabbit and turned to me well within 17 inch American comfort zone, and said, "You are a conejo, no? Yes! Yes, you are a conejo!" Not sure why but it stuck.
While walking through the village, on my return trip to Armenia, I told Mike about my recent feat of carrying a 6 ft ladder on my bike to finish painting a classroom at the primary school. At that time a young child, on an adult mountain bike, too short to reach the seat carried a large shovel in one hand and steered with the other.
We both laughed. "Anything I can do on a bike, a six year old can do," was all I had to say.
Best to you,