Monday, July 28, 2008

Pups and Updates

During my time in Belize I have had a fabulous guard dog network of sorts.

At the Reserve I have Renee to watch out for me. There really isn't much to watch out for there. While the occasional tourist or even local fisherman may pose a "threat" and she defends me, her biggest job is to keep the evil iguanas at bay.

At my home in town I have a whole crew to keep me safe. Max and Blue are the two most fearsome of the crew. Max is the old guard dog that is kind enough to people he knows he should trust. Others, well, they are ok if one of us is out and about. Blue, well Blue is another story all together different. Blue has bitten at least one person that he knows well and has certain ideals about people on the outside of the gate. If he knows you and loves you, you are ok once you are inside. If he knows you and doesn't like you or doesn't know you at all, just stay out! He is a short little guy but I have seen him nearly jump the 5 feet tall fence trying to get at someone. Sweetie and Poppy do enough barking, but really, they are small and not so fierce looking. It doesn't help that Sweetie rolls over and displays her belly while wagging her tail or runs under the porch and barks. If Poppy didn't like the intruder I feel comfortable saying that he would probably go after them as well.

With all this being said, I know more about crime on the island that many probably do, just because of my assignment. People with dogs just don't get broken into like those without. While this may not be always true, there is a correlation. Moving to Belmopan (and away from my crew) makes me want to get a dog. This does not exactly fit into my plans for the future, however, I feel that there is a strong argument for a new friend in my life.

I have been making lists of pros and cons for a while now. Talked several friends' ears off nearly trying to make a decision. I have an email out to someone who has a dog here and her thoughts on the situation. So, the decision has not been made final, but after last night's conversation with a dog owner I am leaning back to the "get one" side.

SAGA had a fundraiser yesterday and I had hoped to make it out. However at that time Dorothy and I were getting ready for Steve's farewell. Mashing avocados for guacamole and decorating chocolate (made from scratch) cupcakes kept us busy. While the decorating didn't compare with the last batch, they were still tasty.

So you can try your hand at from scratch chocolate cake try the recipe below. I promise it is just chocolaty enough and lighter than you would think possible. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake

Full Size

1 ¾ cups---------- Flour

2 cups-------------- Sugar

¾ cup--------------- Cocoa

1 ½ tsp------------- Baking Soda

1 ½ tsp------------- Baking Powder

1 cup--------------- Boiling Water

1 tsp---------------- Salt

2--------------------- Eggs

1 cup--------------- Milk

½ cup--------------- Vegetable Oil

2 tsp---------------- Vanilla

½ Size

1 cup +1 tbs------ Flour

1 cup--------------- Sugar

¼ cup + 2 tbs---- Cocoa

¾ tsp--------------- Baking Soda

¾ tsp--------------- Baking Powder

½ cup--------------- Boiling Water

½ tsp--------------- Salt

1--------------------- Egg

½ cup--------------- Milk

¼ cup--------------- Vegetable Oil

1 tsp---------------- Vanilla

1 ½ Size

2 ½ + 1/3 cups---- Flour

3 cups-------------- Sugar

1 1/8 cup----------- Cocoa

2 ¼ tsp------------- Baking Soda

2 ¼ tsp------------- Baking Powder

1 ½ cup------------ Boiling Water

1 ½ tsp------------- Salt

3--------------------- Eggs

1 ½ cup------------ Milk

¾ cup--------------- Vegetable Oil

3 tsp---------------- Vanilla

« Choose the size of cake you want

« Combine dry ingredients in a bowl

« Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla

« Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed

« Stir in boiling water slowly

« Batter will be thin

« Pour into greased and floured pan

« Bake in a preheated oven @ 350° F for 35-40 minutes or until inside is cooked

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Art of Blessing the Day

Thanks Molly for Sharing this!

before you get to it- plashing is a light splash or sound of a light splash

The Art of Blessing the Day
by Marge Piercy

This is the blessing for rain after drought:
Come down, wash the air so it shimmers,
a perfumed shawl of lavender chiffon.
Let the parched leaves suckle and swell.
Enter my skin, wash me for the little
chrysalis of sleep rocked in your plashing.
In the morning the world is peeled to shining.

This is the blessing for sun after long rain:
Now everything shakes itself free and rises.
The trees are bright as pushcart ices.
Every last lily opens its satin thighs.
The bees dance and roll in pollen
and the cardinal at the top of the pine
sings at full throttle, fountaining.

This is the blessing for a ripe peach:
This is luck made round. Frost can nip
the blossom, kill the bee. It can drop,
a hard green useless nut. Brown fungus,
the burrowing worm that coils in rot can
blemish it and wind crush it on the ground.
Yet this peach fills my mouth with juicy sun.

This is the blessing for the first garden tomato:
Those green boxes of tasteless acid the store
sells in January, those red things with the savor
of wet chalk, they mock your fragrant name.
How fat and sweet you are weighing down my palm,
warm as the flank of a cow in the sun.
You are the savor of summer in a thin red skin.

This is the blessing for a political victory:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain.

The blessing for the return of a favorite cat,
the blessing for love returned, for friends'
return, for money received unexpected,
the blessing for the rising of the bread,
the sun, the oppressed. I am not sentimental
about old men mumbling the Hebrew by rote
with no more feeling than one says gesundheit.

But the discipline of blessings is to taste
each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet
and the salty, and be glad for what does not
hurt. The art is in compressing attention
to each little and big blossom of the tree
of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit,
its savor, its aroma and its use.

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.

My 2 year anniversary in Belize

For my 2nd year anniversary in Belize I reinterviewed for the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader Position. I also found out while on my way back to Belize City that I had been accepted for the position. Greedily I accepted. All that is left for final conformation of the job is a medical exam. If I am not healthy enough then I am sent back to the States.

I still plan on coming back for a month soon. I need to do some more visiting and shopping.

That night was great. I had a wonderful dinner at Samanti Indian Restaurant in Belize City with Dorothy, Kirsty, Maggie, Kim, Molly, and Jeff. I really feel like I am missing one person and it is completely possible at the hour I am writing this. However. It was a lovely dinner and I got to share the wonderful news with some of my good friends.

If the blog isn't written, it's me...

For those of you that might miss the twisted reference, there is a Jimmy Buffett song that seems somewhat apropos.

While Mom stretches her legs in Europe I will be doing a tour of sorts around the northern and middle sections of Belize.

I will be heading north to Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve first. Just found out a few hours ago that I will be heading up on Wednesday to do conch surveys. Conch season ended last month and it is time to see how the population is holding up. While my despise (ie. lack of skill) for lobster surveys is quite great, conch surveys are much better. See below for a comparison.

  1. Conch don't hang out on the reef so much so I avoid the very shallow and sharp areas- Lobsters love those dangerous and hard to reach/see spots
  2. Conch move at an amazingly fast pace for their dynamics but still easy to catch- Lobsters, now you see them, now you don't!
  3. Conch blend with their environment so you have to concentrate- Lobsters dart out of site so it doesn't really matter
  4. Never been harassed by a suckerfish during a conch survey- Frequently harassed by suckerfish during lobster surveys
Please note: the reasons to enjoy conch surveys more than lobster aren't nearly as clear until you get to #4.

I should be back Monday and heading out to Belmopan or Belize City on the next boat. I have my annual check up starting Tuesday. This time if I don't pass I don't get to stay to do the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader position. So here is hoping that I don't have some kind of bizarre tropical disorder that must be cured in the States.

I finish on Thursday and hopefully will get to stay and try to figure out some of the details of what will be going on with the staff in the office for my new job.

Depending where I finish on Thursday I may be staying in Belmopan or Belize. Friday I will most likely be heading to Corozal for the weekend and possibly a quick trip to Mexico. There is a soccer game this weekend and I haven't been to one yet this year. I am looking forward to the quick trip.

Sunday I will catch the boat back to San Pedro or Caye Caulker depending on the situation with the surveys (see below).

Sunday evening or Monday morning I will head to Caye Caulker for fish surveys. These will be fun since I haven't dove in the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve yet. Back to SP for a meeting that night (unless I hear otherwise). Then back to Caye Caulker the next morning. Will probably be out there until Friday.

Once I return I don't expect to want to leave the island for quite some time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Trip to PG

A quick update on my trip to PG...

I left on the 8am boat to Belize City Tuesday morning. I got on the bus and made it to Punta Gorda around 3:30. I met up with several friends, walked around the town, then visited some more. Wednesday morning we were supposed to go to court but the investigator was in Dangriga. Maggie called me about an hour before we were supposed to be there to let me know that court wasn't going to happen. So I slept a few more hours then enjoyed hanging out for the day with all of the PCVs in PG Town. Thursday we were on the 6am bus back to Belize. I made it to San Pedro around 4:00. It was a great trip and I got my iPod back so the trip was a success!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Down with BTL!!!

Ethel just sent me this information and I am not really surprised about how much they make. I spent over $100 in the two and a half weeks I was here in June! I don't run a business, just assist with an organization, and I was barely on the phone to connect with friends.

COLA Calls for 48 Hour
Cell Phone Boycott

Can you go a full 48 hour weekend without using your cell phone? That's what COLA - – the Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action are asking Belizeans to do as part of a boycott against Lord Ashcroft and Telemedia. According to COLA, BTL made over $7 million from strictly cell phones in June – and by their reasoning just a weekend boycott could truly hurt the Ashcroft controlled company. COLA is also asking Belizeans to refrain from buying phone cards for the forty eight hours. It starts on Friday evening at 6 and runs to 6 on Sunday evening. According to COLA's newly elected President Bernard Adolphus, this is the beginning of along fight for justice.
Bernard Adolphus, COLA President
"People believe they cannot do without their cell phones. For the last three days I have not used my cell phone and we have to learn to make sacrifice. Belizeans young and old, particularly the young, have to learn to make sacrifice and after all is said and done, they will be saving some money too and it is important that we shut off, no communication. You might have other means but we're requesting and asking that cell phones are locked off for the weekend, the 11th, 12th, and 13th.
Do you know that over $7.4 million in revenue was collected just for the month of June for cell phone calls? I repeat myself, $7.4 million on only cell phone calls."
And as COLA gets ready for the second protest action, the organization is also starting on a membership drive to Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Read More

Monday, July 7, 2008

To the Mainland

Heading to the mainland Tuesday morning so I can help prosecute the lovely little darlings that stole my iPod and money.

I have been trying to catch up for a while now so hopefully when I return to the island I will get back to blogging on a regular basis.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Back in the swing of things...

Hi Everybody,

Been a bit absent lately. I am still trying to recover from my absolutely FABULOUS trip home. Got to visit friends and family, but still not as much as what I would have liked to have done.

Work has been crazy since I returned. I left at 9:30am yesterday and didn't return until midnight. Had a great day and ended up being able to spend time with friends while I was out.

Last weekend I had a whirlwind trip to Belize, Belmopan, and Corozal. Thursday I reinterviewed for the PCVL- Volunteer Leader position, got the phone call on the way back into Belize that I got the job. Accepted on the spot. Got off the bus and walked across town to my favorite Indian restaurant- Samanti- yummmm! Met Jeff, Dorothy, Kirsty, Maggie, Kim, and Molly for dinner. After dinner all but Kirsty went back to Maggie's house for a bit of old times for the last time. It was wonderful sitting there 2 years to the day after we arrived, saying "see you later" in some cases for the last time. Friday morning I headed up to Corozal to hang out with Chanda for the weekend. I stopped by town to pick up some food for the weekend and cake to bake for a belated birthday. Strawberry with cream cheese icing- a bit embarrassing, but we finished it before we left Monday. Saturday was fun. Chanda's 4-H sponsored a sports day in Patchakan, her village. Jenny G's 4-H soccer team came over from Progresso.

Just noticed an odd sound for this close... Sounds like a plane just beside my house! I peaked outside, hum, there is one, and it is just by my house at the gas station. No, we don't often have planes at the gas station, this one just happens to be a sea plane! Well, you don't see these everyday. I grabbed the only camera in the house... THANKS DAD!!! the cell phone that won't get much use over the next year got some use today. The battery was about dead since I didn't think I would be using it for several months. I snapped a horrible picture of the tail of the plane after deleting all of the alarms I missed since I returned from the States. I will have to wait to share it when I return next time. I am sure there will be pictures in the newspapers this coming week of the event. I will try to remember to post the link so you can check it out.

Anyway, back to the weekend. Progresso won the game. Chanda and I relaxed and ate until Monday about 5:30 am when we got picked up by her host family to meet some of her other 4-H kids in Concepcion to go to the 4-H camp this week in Caye Caulker.

This week has been full of meetings and getting ready for meetings so today I will enjoy! No work, all play! Slept in late after going out dancing with friends. Molly comes tomorrow and I am so excited to see her again.

On a health note I just found a like to some interesting articles. Make sure to check out the one about sunscreen from this page. That is about it for now.

Have a fabulous 4th of July!!!