Friday, December 21, 2007

It must be true!

"While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats."
Mark Twain

Friday, December 14, 2007

I don't like suckerfish!

I don't care if they are Whitefin Sharksuckers or just plain old Sharksuckers, I don't like suckerfish.

I almost hate them. Ok, maybe not, but I really really don't like suckerfish.

The first time I was in the water with a few suckerfish (close to 3 feet long) I didn't have the opportunity to realize my dislike for these particular fish. We were finishing a dive at Tuffy when three suckerfish appeared. One of the three stole the hair band out of a lady's hair and was playing with it. It would toss it out of its mouth, let it drop a little, then scoop it up and do it over again. This was amusing, until one focused on me for a few seconds. I used my console (the part of my dive gear with the gauges attached to it) to tap at its nose. It apparently wasn't interested in my game, so it went on.

I discovered that I don't like suckerfish during the lobster surveys, at the end of the lobster season, earlier this year. This was discovered as I was very innocently looking in and around some outcrops of coral for lobsters.

When we do surveys we carry around a white hard plastic board that we attach the survey sheets to. The surveys are printed on waterproof paper or are written directly on the board in pencil. We attach the pencils to the board or our wrists by links of rubberbands.

Back to the story... So, I was looking in and around all of the bits of coral and I noticed that my pencil kept dragging around my leg. But then I realized it was not a pencil, it was in my hand, it was a suckerfish. This little (about 8 inches long) fish was trying to attach to me. Did I calmly handle the situation? NO, I freaked out. I proceeded to squeal like a little girl being attacked by sharks. So, I was swimming, bouncing from the bottom (about 5 feet deep) and trying to get the attention of Sherwin and Aldo. I looked like I was being attacked. They got there and I was nearly hyperventilating. What did they think? That I was being attacked by a shark or something of that nature. So I got into the boat, that evil little fish was still trying to attach, and I finally escaped. They asked me what was going on. I started laughing and telling them about the suckerfish.

Every dive and snorkel after that I have had a preoccupation of looking out for suckerfish. The sharks I have encountered have had a healthy fear/respect for humans. The barracuda that I have been in the water with always bolt in the opposite direction when I make a quick movement in their direction. Moray eels, well, I don't like to get too close to them either. Anyway, the big, supposed to be scary things don't bother me as much as these fish, whose main purpose in life is to suck onto other organisms to clean them. I don't even think they have teeth. It should make me feel better, but it doesn't really.

The fish surveys that I do have 8 transects per site. For each transect I swim the same 30-meter length 4 times. On the first pass I lay the line and count the adult fish found within the parameters. The second pass I count the juveniles. On the third pass I count the long spined black sea urchins and on the final pass I reel in the tape. I can usually get 5 or 6 transects done on about 2500 pounds of air.

So, I know as I entered the water on Thursday that I would be looking out for suckerfish, but I would be ok as long as they left me alone. I had on a full wetsuit. The only exposed skin was on my hands, neck, and a little on my face. I had my dive knife in case I got tangled in fishing line or something. I was ready. I was almost done laying the 30- meter transect and counting the adult fish when something to the right of me was caught in my peripheral vision. Yes, you guessed it, a suckerfish. He was about 2 and a half feet long and watching me. My heart started beating faster, my breathing was faster, my eyes darted between my survey and the fish. I continued. I counted the juveniles, I was on the way back for the third pass down the transect when it happened. He came after my head. I had been fine with him swimming next to my legs, they were covered. The toothless fish couldn't help himself. He tried to suck onto my head! Maybe my hair looked like an huge growth of algae. With all of my might I tried to hit him with my board. Did it help? NO, the board crept through the water, not finding its target. The fish swam away to only return and come after my head again and again! Did it hurt? No, it actually felt funny, but that was not the point... I will continue, he will not prevent me from completing the dive! I moved my shoulders as close to my ears as I could, tilted my head to the left and back, tucked my board beside my neck on the right. He was STILL trying to attach to my head! My heart was racing, my breathing was even faster. I decided to take a stance. I was beginning to reel in the tape, part 4 to my first transect. He was watching me. I contemplated my options. I started poking at him with my equipment- the survey board, the reel to the tape measure, my pencil. I contemplated my knife. I would only injure myself. My pencil was the easiest to handle, has the least amount of drag in the water, so it became the weapon of choice. We turned circles, me in the middle, the tape twirling around below me as we spun. He grew tired of our game momentarily and went to harass Alicia for a while. I was getting ready to lay the next transect when he appeared again. I laid down the tape and started the circles again. I would jab at him and would swim away. I was beside Alicia at this point so I told her that I was heading up to the boat.

When I got to the surface I was worked up to the point that I didn't even want to have him near the parts of my body that were covered. I got out of the boat, amused Aldo and Sam with my encounter, and relaxed in the sun.

I checked my air pressure just before getting out of the water. I used 1500 pounds of air on one survey and defending myself from the suckerfish.

I told my friend Enes about my suckerfish attack. She said that the suckerfish probably thought that I was playing with him. It is true that that was probably all that was happening, but I still don't like them.

Over the "bridge" and across the bay to the Reserve...

So, I went to the reserve on Wednesday. I was supposed to be ready at 8 am to leave. I was, well, almost. Anyway, my bags were packed and by the door. All I had to do was borrow a wet suit from a friend. At 8 am I look at the dock, conveniently located less than 100 feet from my front door, and the boat is not there. I had a feeling that Aldo wouldn't be there yet, I also knew he wouldn't mind waiting for just a minute or two.

I went to visit my friend Suyapa at Ecologic Divers and borrowed a full wet suit. (they always loan me anything I need, but I really dislike the guy who has controlling interest in the company) I returned and Aldo was just coming off of the dock.

We had to wait a while so that he could get some gear from the Hol Chan Marine Reserve staff. It was just as well, when we got to the reserve the wind was blowing from the east. Wind from the east = rough seas, at least that was what it meant Wednesday. This was actually really lucky for me. I had been feeling a bit yucky for about three days at this point so I was more than happy to get a day of rest. I was also happy to find out that Alicia, the reserve's manager, was able to hire Sam as our new caretaker. Sam was a fisherman at the nearest fisherman's camp from the visitor center. After my bowl of spaghetti I walked upstairs to my room. It took about all of the energy I had to put my sleeping bag and pillow out. Alicia came up, we chatted a few minutes, then I took a nap for about two hours. I felt a little better, but I still wasn't great. I went down to find a kitchen full of Belize Coast Guard fixing supper. I wasn't all that coherent, so I'm not sure how many there were, maybe 4. Anyway, I stayed as long as I could, and I couldn't stomach more food, so I went back to bed.

The next morning I woke up a refreshed as you can after being sick and worn out for a while. It is amazing the quality of sleep you get when you don't have dogs barking at your bedroom window, taxis passing the house at all hours of the night, and listening to the music from the club down the street.

Despite the plans we had made to dive Thursday morning, it wasn't looking good. The winds were still coming in from the East and it didn't look as if it would change. So, I stayed in bed. The winds eventually shifted to north- northwest. I went down for my Honey Nut Toastee Ohs and peanut butter and found out that this was a good thing. If they held until 9 we would go on our dive.

So the winds held and we prepared for our dive. I found out we would be returning to San Pedro after the dive, so I packed as well.

The dive is another post all together, but the theme of my diving is "I don't like suckerfish!"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tomato Cream Sauce

So, Jess inspired me with a cookie recipe she posted on her blog.

I happened on this guess-ipe (recipe) tonight out of necessity. Might get a chance to fill you in later on how this came to be, but I am getting a bit giddy from being awake for too many hours, for too many days...

Tomato Cream Sauce

1 can condensed milk
1 tomato
1 clove of garlic
1 small onion
1/4 teaspoon of salt (about)
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (if you have it)

Peal the skin off of the tomato- it is easier if you cut the skin in a few places from top to bottom
Chop/Dice/Mince (pick your favorite method) the tomato, garlic, and onion
Saute the vegetables if you feel like it
Empty the condensed milk into a sauce pan
Add vegetables, parmesan, and salt

Heat on low to medium and stir almost constantly until it thickens- about 30-45
minutes (pure guess, it could have been 10 but I was hungry...) - add to pasta and fresh wahoo ;-) and enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lots to be thankful for...

Despite having lots to be thankful for, I am possibly the most thankful (at least for today) for the amount of common sense I have.

I have a friend that doesn't take care of herself, pushes others away, and is about to run her health into the ground. She doesn't have the sense to go to the doctor, ask for help, or think before jumping into something head first.

I worry about her, but have come to realize that I can not help her. She needs someone to yank her up, shake her, and then give her a hug and take her to the doctor. I am not the person to do this, but she hasn't figured it out yet.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The scacrifices schools make...

It makes me sad hear about kids being treated this way...

The Onion

Overfunded Public School Forced To Add Jazz Band

MANALAPAN, NJ—Benjamin Harrison Middle School faculty members regretfully announced Tuesday that, despite their best efforts to prevent it,...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Q tip Fix

This is not giving me the options that I want exactly, but I guess they will have to do.

So, The image to the left is the before and the right is the after...

However, tonight I am noticing that there is enough wind that either one of the Q tips has fallen off or I need a third...

I wasn't home for the weekend so I don't know if the door rattled the whole time I was gone or not.

I guess I will see tonight.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flying Furballs!!!

Ok, something very traumatic just happened to me after a verrrrry long day.

This is an Alli version of a short story about her day...

  • Wake up... well kind of
  • Took a very long, simi-warm shower. It probably is what I would have considered hot just a month ago, but it is somewhat frigid for this climate and therefore me as well
  • Reheated some pretty fabulous hamburgers and mac and cheese I made last night for my mini dinner party/ meeting
  • Panicked because I was running late, cut off my computer despite needing to respond to emails, and remembered that I was actually running 10 minutes early versus 5 late as the screen faded
  • Went to meeting number one of the expected 4 for the day with a promise to pick up a next one with a returned PCV that is on the island working on his doctorate in something
  • Near the end of the meeting I get a call from Sterling about a search and rescue that the emergency team I work with got called out on.
  • I go in organize mode, slightly frenzied since someone's life is on the line... only to find out an hour or so later that we are being organized to comb an area that a boat was found earlier in the week from a "boat wreck" that has I think 7 people missing from it since SUNDAY!!!! I suspect as do many others that either A- these guys were killed immediately and dumped or B- kidnapped. One was a govt minister, another is a lawyer, and I am not sure about the others. It doesn't look good.
  • After organizing people, attempting to organize boats, dive gear, etc I realized that no one had decided that they were going to eat....
  • We all know that my stomach is one of my favorite guides. I send one of the girls with my debit card to the atm and she returns with 5 gatorades and 5 snickers. At this point I am the only one that seems to realize we will be gone hours. So we return to the store for peanut butter, crackers, cookies, and granola bars. The guys take my advice and get a 5 gallon jug of water for the ride.... I am on one boat, the majority of my gear ends up on the next. Oh well...
  • We return, do the final check list, I grab the charger for the vhf radio PC provided me with, already had the gps, radio, headlamp, binoculars, and multi tool. (I could probably take on the Swiss Army with all the gear I have)
  • We head out, "have coordinates", have the location we are meeting the other boats...
  • We get to the location and no one is there. We head to the next location.
  • No one can spot them. And fishermen said they were at a completely different location! Great.
  • It is "cold" at this point and we head back towards San Pedro.
  • We stop at the little bar at The Split on Caye Caulker. One of the guys with us had a pair of shoes made by a guy on Caye Caulker. So Scott had his final fitting and we returned with an additional pair of shoes on board. And the guy got an order from Cha Cha a friend and business partner of Sterlings. He is from NC tool
  • We get back, I am carrying my dive bag, a bag of towels, the food we didn't eat, extra clothes, my life jacket, and my bike helmet. I got a few stares on the walk home
  • I reheated leftovers, Ethel and I ate, I went to the bathroom and nearly scared myself. I looked like a screaming banshee! My hair had suffered from the boat ride today.
  • I put on a pair of pants, put my hair down and headed out.
  • Ethel cleaned up for me from dinner. YEA! Ethel!
  • I arrived 30 minutes late to my meeting and 3 of the guys were there from our little rescue operation today.
  • Ok, you would think that something during the rescue operation would be traumatic, but it wasn't. No, that happened on the way home.
  • I am riding my bike, listening to my friend on the telephone, I KNOW! but that isn't it. So, I am riding along and I got attacked by a flying furball! This little white and orange cat came tearing out from under a car, ran into my foot, under the wheels of my bike, and I rolled him. It was pretty gross! When the cat ran into me some yuck that was liquidy got on my toe and the end of my flip flop! EWWWWW! YUCK! GROSS! I thought I had part of an eye ball stuck on me!!!! Disgusting. I looked back and I had not squished him, he was not dead, he wasn't even lying around in pain. I didn't see him at all... Then from under the car, yet again, was a little white and orange flying fur ball.
  • So I stopped and checked out my toe. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't an eye ball stuck there. It is still gross, but not as bad as I thought.
  • So I got home, wiped my toe, and had to tell you about my flying furball.
  • I just realized that I made 3 of my 4 meetings today, and that is kind of cool...
  • And now I am exhausted! and heading to bed.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Excerpt from an email to a friend...

When it comes down to it, no one wants to really hear about the hard stuff in an email. And for the most part they wouldn't understand, so it isn't worth mentioning. Even with PCVs around the world, there is competition for who had the most genuine PC experience. The competition is invalid. Every experience is genuine.

Q-tips and Winter

It occurred to me earlier that I need a new Q-tip for my door.

What could my door possibly do with a Q-tip? The one that is there is about 8 months old. Not a good enough explanation? When the wind blows, my door rattles, and a Q-tip in the jamb allows me to concentrate on other things. (Such as the work I am in the middle of doing right now...)

The wind is strong now that it is "winter" and there is a system sitting off of the coast. I realized it was "winter" a few weeks ago when the shifting of the wind caused my door to become a nearly-lethal weapon. Luckily the pets who live here were not in the line of fire.

Ok, back to work.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Week in a Nutshell

I was going to tell you about my busy weekend, but I think I will start a bit earlier.

I started the week earlier than I had hoped. Michael, the wonderful guy who delivers my water, was yelling Ms. Alli through my window and knocking on my door at about 8:30. Most mornings I am beginning to be conscious since my alarm goes off the first time at 7, this was not one of those mornings. I had stayed up late playing on the computer as a treat since I had worked a lot over the weekend and knew a lot was coming.

Tuesday was especially busy. I was at El Pescador, a local fishing resort, with the owner's dad Steve working on revising all of the materials for the Apprenticeship Program. After Steve and I finished I dug up a turtle nest that had 108 eggs. Since the nest was about to hatch around the time of Dean most of the eggs didn't finish developing, but 36 turtles made it out of the nest.

I finally finished my Fish ID powerpoint- 85 slides and over 200 pictures with descriptions. This is HUGE! in both the time it took to create and send out. It is going to help studying for the surveys which are fun but exhausting.

After working on the Education Project all day I had the entire committee actually show up for a meeting at my house. Why is this surprising? I didn't call anyone about the meeting. (The last meeting we were supposed to have got canceled since no one showed up, despite calling them, and I had made a very large pot of chili. I ate chili all week and froze chili and gave chili away.) So, as they come expecting to be fed, that was the previous agreement, I thawed chili.

After the meeting I worked until the earlier hours, went to sleep, woke up- kind of, packed, washed all of the dishes from my 6 guests, rushed out the door- almost without any money, even though I knew the boat had probably left. I reached the dock as the boat was pulling away. One of the guys I know- Ellsworth- asked me what I was doing. "Hoping the boat hadn't left." I no more than got the words out of my mouth before he was yelling to the boat and calling it back to the dock. To my surprise, it came back for me. I found out that it was the second trip back to the dock. A few of the people on board were smiling and shaking their heads as I boarded, and then two others, I didn't feel as bad. My trip to Cayo was nice. I was almost there when I looked up and Ashley, one of the new volunteers, got on board. I met up with my hostess Catherine and roommate for the night Rebecca, also first years. We hiked the "hill of death" by Cahal Pech from the bus stop to Catherine's host family. (I am happy to say it wasn't nearly as brutal as the first month I lived in Belize!) They haven't reduced the better than 45 degree angle of the hill, but they have smoothed it out some. We went to town for a fabulous dinner at Cafe Sol. We returned for Cayo Twist. I know that I must have burnt off every calorie plus more returning to the house. The next day I went to Benque, about 5 miles or less from the Guatemala border. I met with the printer for our Education Project, returned for lunch at Cafe Sol, then went to Belmopan. I was waiting on Maggie, another second year, she was on the bus headed to Hopkins. I looked up and a young man asked me what I have been up to and how am I. It took me only a second to realize he was one of the kids from The Guardians in Armenia. He was my assistant for the day camp we had last year. I had to ask his name, Rony. (in the blue shirt) I was excited to hear that he is still in high school and will be finishing up his tour guide license in about two months. He told me that the volunteer from Armenia was on the bus so I went and talked to "Epic". Maggie arrives and we are Hopkins bound. A few hours later we arrive and Christine meets us at the bus stop. Christine is as happy for me to unload my bags as I am. I remove a comale (said- kuh mall) and a box with three bottles of wine. Christine's house is perfect and Hopkins is peaceful. You open the window, there is a covered porch, a strip of beach and a few palm trees, a shelter to hang a hammock, and the sea. The full moon rising Friday night was gorgeous. Debo and Micah (second years) joined us on Saturday. We had a wonderfully relaxing weekend full of pizza and my now famous grilled cheeses.

I was the only one to stay until Monday, I had a meeting in Belmopan. (I stayed up reading the final Harry Potter, I am sad to know the series is finished.) Christine walked me to the bus stop at 7. At 9:45 I was in the office. I don't know what time I was supposed to arrive, but I can not imagine that it was supposed to be before 10. The driver was a lot quicker than the one Maggie and I had on the way to Hopkins. I met with Anna for career advice and was excited with what she had to say. Anna believes that I am very organized and am an excellent planner, despite what many of you believe. She suggested a few things: corporate trainer- similar to what I was thinking before; program evaluator- paperwork and designing paperwork for other people, ok, not really, but that is what I thought of; corporate giving- I would get to designate which groups receive money, do fundraisers, and stuff like that; and Peace Corps Country Desk person- I would help people getting ready to go in- country, their families, and lots of organizing and planning. My favorite probably would be the corporate giving but I would probably do better starting with something like the Country Desk position to get more experience planning for large groups. I also spoke to her about how these employers might view traveling after PC. She said that they would probably see it as an asset, but definitely not detrimental. YEA!!!! I love options that allow me to travel.

Yesterday I felt bad most of the day, same as the day before. I went to a meeting about de-reserving 2,700 acres of Bacalar Chico- my park- and literally millions of acres in other parts of the country. A lot of people showed up and there was a demonstration today. The government claims that they will not be de-reserving it, but agencies around Belize, residents, local government and associations are strongly recommending that they put it in writing.

I worked until about 4 am this morning to finish revising and typing a booklet for the Apprenticeship Program. It was so nice to have peace and quiet to focus.

Despite needing to focus on my project I baked absurd numbers of mini and normal chocolate cupcakes. I also made dinner, including my own tortillas. I haven't mastered these yet and I had to place a call to my friend Enes for help. They ended up being the best I have made yet so that is a good sign.

Ok, now I am going to buckle down for a few hours before heading to bed. Goodnight.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to leave a comment...

If you have tried to leave a comment but can't, make sure that you click on the "comment" versus the pencil. The pencil is what I use if I need to make corrections to my entry. Enjoy!

Great Neighbors

I don't know if I have mentioned how fabulous my neighbors are, but they are! Well most of them.

The Bradley's herd... I will start with Blue since I can hear him right now. He is a little mixed breed pup (part pit bull) that is ferociously defending the yard right now from... hold on I will go check. Ah, the wind. It is 12:30 am in the low season. I can't wait until next month when there are actual people to defend the yard from. My favorite is Max. He is the oldest dog and the best guard. If he is awake and moving about or lying on my porch, he always greets me by wagging his tail and whines a little as I approach. He is 15 years old and loves me. I know this is true because he greets his people the same way. Then you have Poppy Chulo. He is a little black dog that has grown on me greatly. His mom, Sweety is not a favorite. But that could be linked to the youngest daughter Stacey squealing the dog's name, loudly, at my bedroom window at 6:30 in the morning on several occasions. You have the cats, Baby and Nuggy also known as Meow by me. Nuggie is my favorite since we can have long conversations and will actually purr for me. I think there are a few more cats, but I am not their type. Amy has Trapper, aka Fat Boy. If Trapper could actually talk he would say, "Hoooowwllll, I'm a hound dog." (In a southern accent. He is a Wilmington dog.) Trapper always makes me feel like I am a great chef. Whenever I cook anything, (or even open a can of food,) I can find him drooling at my screen door.

Then we have the people... The Bradley's are my landlords. Mrs. Bradley is Maritza and Mr. Bradley is Alberto. I usually call her Maritza and him Mr. Bradley as I usually want to call him Alfonzo. Don't ask me why, but I do. They have three kids. Christina is the oldest at 16. She has changed a lot over the last year. At first she was helpful, then obnoxious, and now pleasant again. Shadonny is 14 and has grown up a lot since I have been here. Right after I moved in I caught him and several friends throwing rocks at a guy that the dogs don't like. He is now actually polite to me and others. The youngest is Stacey. I think she is 13. I would love to say that she is a great kid, but the fact that she yells and squeals ALL of the time prevents me from noticing some of her other qualities. One of the nicest things the Bradleys do for me is bring me fish. It doesn't happen often, but it did on Monday. I was in the middle of working when I got up to do something. Mr. Bradley was at my door with a huge tuna fillet and 2 wahoo steaks. I had the tuna the other night and I am saving the wahoo for when I get back from my trip on Monday. The best thing however is the fabulous discount they give me on the rent.

I don't think I have mentioned Amy and Sterling much, but they are the best. When I went to North Carolina for Christmas, I went to visit my Aunt Pat in Wilmington. When she was later asked what she did over Christmas by a co-worker, they figured out that I happened to live in the same country, then on the same island. While we knew each other were from North Carolina, Amy from Wilmington and Sterling from Brevard, and we had all graduated from UNC Wilmington, we did not know that our family members work together. Such a small world! But it gets better. Not only are they my neighbors, but they and their son William used to live in the house that I now live in! Whether this is the reason, they feel sorry for me, or what ever else, they also let me use their washer and dryer for FREE!!!! While this is something that may seem trivial, this literally saves me $150 to $200 BZ a month. To have laundry done here it is about $17 a load and I generally do two a week. I will be treating them to something special when my time here is up! When I need something I know I can go next door and borrow it. I really can't say enough good things about them. William is not yet two but he is really smart. Amy told him to say Hi to Alli. Since that point he says Hi Alli when he sees me. Too cute!

Well, I best head to bed. I should get up early so I can head to the mainland and do some work.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

life on the island with grilled cheese sandwiches

Life on the island has gotten a bit busier lately. The projects I am working on are moving along and I have just gotten signed on to a few more. Oh well.

The education project I have been working on is at the point that it is coming together thanks to the funding agency CORAL. I finally have a direction, or more accurately, multiple directions that it is headed. I am going to go to San Ignacio (out west) to meet with the printers on Thursday. I am going to try to convince the others in the group that the "book" we put together is in the form of questions and answers. Mom sent me some examples of this type of book and said she and her students like it. (YEA, teacher friendly!!!!) Then we will also have games that are laminated so they will last longer.

ACER- the Ambergris Caye Emergency Rescue group meets on Thursdays, well sometimes. It has been slow lately since two of the founding members are out of the country. We have a group, Bandage International, from Canada coming the first week of December to do training. I am supposed to be setting up some of the details, but I haven't heard from the guy from Canada.

The first weekend in December is going to be busy. The first (Saturday) is World AIDS Day. I will be assisting for activities to raise awareness and educate the public on HIV and AIDS. The second (Sunday) is the 2nd annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade. Last year we had 8 boats. This time we will probably double our numbers.

Apprenticeship Program- We had graduation 2 weekends ago for our second group of kids. We are getting ready to start the next batch. It should go smoother. This will be the third "class" and not during the hurricane season. We still have to get letters of references and performance reviews for most of the kids from the last class. So far 11 kids have graduated from the program. There is an article in the paper and a bad picture of me... I tried to do a link directly to the article but it doesn't want to load for me. Click
HERE instead, enter the site, then look for the article, if you want.

The graduation took place the weekend I had a house (nearly) full of guests. Four fellow Peace Corps Volunteers joined me in San Pedro to get certified to SCUBA dive. They spent most of Saturday in the water and were cold when they got back to my house. I made a not too bad version of hot chocolate to warm them up. They were enchanted with some of the ingredients of my refrigerator. I have chocolate syrup, cheese, and pickles and a somewhat secret stash of Easter treats still left. I have the privilege of having access to the only good pickles in Belize. I have Mt. Olive pickles. To say this is actually a bit of an understatement. I buy Mt. Olive pickles in gallon jars. Why you might ask would I spend such a large chunk of my budget on pickles? Comforts of home. I ask you why spend $16.10 Bz for a medium size jar when I can buy a gallon for $17.00? Yes, I spend the equivalent of $8.50 on a gallon of pickles and I am on my third gallon (The diving crew ate one by themselves and they did replace the gallon.) I don't want to think of the others that I bought before my discovery. PLEASE! don't tell me how much they cost in the States, my wallet will be upset. What could I possible do with that many pickles? I have invented the Best Ever Grilled Cheese in Belize for my friend Dawn. Turn your stove on low. Place your kamal (flat metal disk) or frying pan on the burner. Lay two pieces of bread on your cooking surface. You take a pickle and slice it "Sandwich Stacker" style and put it to the side. For each piece of bread, butter one side, put mayo on the other side. Lay one piece of cheese on each of the pieces of bread, on the mayo side. Lay slices of pickles on top of the cheese of one of the slices of bread. When the cheese starts to bubble up turn the stove off. Toast the bread as dark as you want it. Place the pieces of bread together and enjoy. Be careful though, the cheese will drip. (Sorry Mom!)