I know I’ve made some promises I didn’t keep about posting about Caye Caulker and the rest of my Belizean experience, but I think some time away during the holidays to think and reflect was quite nice. I’m back and ready to take the blog in a new direction, but just for those of you who want to see and hear about the last two weeks in the Caribbean, here ya go!
As you can see, this is pretty much the only place we hung out at in Caye Caulker. It’s called ‘The Split’ and was created when the island was cut in half by Hurricane Hattie back in the sixties. Belizeans did what they do best: build a bar and party—no worries. The bar at the split had everything we needed: music, drinks, and sun. We spent about five hours there on Saturday!
During my last weekend in Belmopan I decided to bake and decorate Christmas cookies with my host family and invited Chelsea and Michelle over (we were the only Miamians in town that at that point. Everyone else was either traveling or home already!) It was so cool to bring a tradition I love doing with my family to my other family in Belize!
I couldn’t believe my days in Belize were numbered at this point. It had flown by without warning. While I was happy to come home to mom, dad, sisters, and then boyfriend (now fiancé!), I had mixed feelings. While I was waiting around to tour the ATM cave on Thursday, I came up with this list:
Things that at first I freaked out about but now realize I can live without:
A car: Yes, I had that super withdrawal from being able to tote myself everywhere in my little compact hyundai accent. The first time I took a taxi solo was frightening; ‘what if this man is a rapist?!’ News flash: this guy would rather get my five bucks. The bus: it’s jank, it’s noisy, it’s dangerous, but it’s CHEAP. You see some interesting folk, too. The school bus: free for me, but the catch is that I have to ride around with my students. You’d think it’d be awkward, but it’s really not.
A cell phone: This was perhaps the most frustrating, but I lived. My biggest thing was security; if I could walk around with a cell phone I thought I had some protective shield against potential, again, rapists. While this could be true to some extent, I have a feeling were I to be kidnapped they’d just take my phone. Anyway, since none of us Miamians had phones, we obviously communicated through other means (like internet and smoke signals), so phones were not necessary.
Milk: Milk is super expensive here. It’s four dollars U.S. for a half gallon. Needless to say, my milk drinking days were over. In my cereal I used a powdered milk called Nido, leche mexicano. In coffee I used powdered non-dairy creamer. These were all things my host family used. I could have easily gone vegan, I think…if it weren’t for the mass amounts of eggs we had in the mornings.
Makeup: Don’t need it. Sun warms my spirit. Makes me smile. Try it sometime!
A whiteboard: Teachers, whiteboards are awesome. We love them. We can erase cleanly, use different fancy colors. But I was not fortunate to have one. I had an old school chalk board. I got around the nasty chalk by using what I call “Big Paper.” It’s big paper that you use markers on when you need to jot something for the kids to see. A lot of elementary teachers used to use it when I was a young’un. It definitely saved me from chalk induced rants!
Things I freaked out about and…could definitely live without:
Things not being on time: Nothing is on time in Belize. The school day, the class periods, the busses (although they were probably the most on-time. go public transit!), the events, the parties, the businesses and restaurants. Being an American, for whom time = money, this ticked me off. I will be glad to be back in a place where 8:00 a.m. means 7:45.
The barking dogs: Dear lord. Get them fixed. Sever their reproductive faculties— because people, there are too. many. dogs. in Belize. They bark all night, fight all night, have dog sex all night. Outside my window! Luckily I’m a heavy sleeper.
Crappy coffee: You’d think in Central America the coffee would be great. Noooope. You’re lucky to find not-instant in a streetside restaurant, and if it’s brewed, it still sucks. My host mom unearthed a coffee maker from a friend just for me (such a sweetheart) so I could drink brewed coffee. The Belizean coffee is not bad, it is quite earthy and lightly roasted. I’m missin my Colombian, though. I was lucky to find some legitimate coffee shops in the touristy places where they know picky Americans like me are willing to drop three bucks on a good latte.
Slooooow Internet: Internet is super expensive in Belize. I was lucky to get it at my house (thank the Lord) but it is low-speed. This means not loading twenty youtube videos at a time. That’s cool, but when it comes down to video chatting with family (because I don’t have a cell phone), things got a little sad. Low speed also means faulty connections, so often times I would spend more time that I wish on loading pages and getting stuff done. Small grumble, but I’ll definitely appreciate the high speed at home.
Belizean men: They were very…complimenting, in ways I did not invite or condone. No, I will not be sad to say goodbye to Belizean men. I think the next time I get a cat call I will give the big finger and tell him f**k off, because I’m outta this country and flyin’ away from the creepers. Not that all of them were like this, but I rarely felt comfortable around most of them.
That’s enough reflection for now. Next time I should have a wrap-up with a “what I learned from student teaching” focus. And some Belizean sunshine. My, how I miss that.