Friday, August 29, 2008

One down, thousands to go

Getting ready for bed I became a bit anxious last night. Having a dog for the first time in nearly half of my life and never living in my house was strange.

All was well as Ethel and I had dinner last night. Around dinner, Blue, my neighbor's dog decided he would like to intimidate Carlos. Carlos had causally watched him on our side of the screen door on and off for an hour or so. After I went out for laundry Blue got "brave" and came on the porch to check things out. Before he had stood on a pile of boards, barking at a safe distance. Ethel pointed out that he was already aware that Carlos could take him. While Carlos is not in top form, scrawny and actually very much a lover boy, I feel like he would put up a good fight. With Blue and Carlos nearly ramming into the screen I decided it would be best to close the main door. As I got dinner ready Carlos decided to prop his paws on the counter and check it out. BIG NO NO. So, he got a pop on the snout. He recoiled immediately, dropped his head as he did, unfortunately right on the edge of my open oven door. I felt horrible, but if I want to be able to fix food in my kitchen without puppy assistance this tough love was necessary. Had he stuck his nose on a hot pan the outcome could have been far worse. After a little while I let Ethel pet him, then I pet him and talked to him.

Knowing that things would get a bit wild if I tried to take Carlos out on a walk without controlling Blue, Ethel helped. The whole thing went well and night #1 was a success.

This morning I woke by my alarm for my meds at 7. At about 7:25 I was awoken by a different alarm. Fabric ripping was enough to make me bolt up in bed, yell NO, and pop Carlos on the nose. The lovely, still in good condition, but older beach towel was now no longer in good condition. I had folded it in thirds, laid it on my rug, and had a nice little sleeping pad for Carlos. Whatever the reason, empty food bowl, boredom, need to pee, he was enjoying himself. Immediately he cowered. I got up, got dressed as fast as possible for me, then we headed out for a walk. We played in the sea a little and returned to find Blue still out. We walked a little more, shocked that we had made it through without any argument earlier, then went home when the coast was clear.

Today was great. I made a leash for him though I haven't used it yet. Took him for a variety of walks. Left him in the house, several hours at a time and NO surprises! Good Dog Carlos! Tonight after a trip to visit the ice cream shop and our final walk. My friend Enes, her two daughters, and I returned with Carlos on the golf cart. Arriving at the house, he jumped off of hers and onto the Bradley's. He was ready for another ride. A brief visit, another walk, and some relaxing followed. Just a little while ago I listened out for Blue. No sign. So Carlos got put on the leash and was led down the stairs. It wasn't until about a minute later did I notice that Blue was under the utility golf cart staring at Carlos. There wasn't a sound uttered except by me. Carlos didn't pee, but I wasn't going to stick around to see if anything else was going to happen.

There has been a little more chewing on the towel. Some serious gas issues. He is fairly good with doing what I want if he is made to understand. Sit, easy, Carlos- these are words he is starting to get. At some point I was trying to get him back into the house from a walk and he refused. I needed to head out I think and he just wasn't having it. He walked down the stairs, sniffed around as I called him. He squatted a little as he barely lifted his leg and peed. Good Boy Carlos! Just proves that I shouldn't be too upset if he doesn't listen exactly. But now is bed time and he will have no problem with this.

Good Night.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Carlos is the new neutered man in my life. At around 3 years old and living in my house for two weeks, lots of things will be new. Haven't had a dog since I was in high school so this is all new for me again. I really really really hope he doesn't have to go to the bathroom before Blue goes up in the morning. He keeps staring at the door so I hope that isn't what it means right now either. He seems pretty smart and loving so I also hope that means he loves me enough not to pee on my floors. I will let you know tomorrow.

New things in my life...

Sorry, it has been quite some time since I have done an update.

I left for Belmopan on the 19th to get my new home ready, help Chanda clean up (the destruction workers left a mess!) and to meet the new Trainees on the 20th.

I got confirmation that I will be leaving sometime on September 20th. I should be returning on October 27th. Details should be cleared up in the next week for the return.

43 Trainees arrived on a steamy, though not rainy, Wednesday afternoon. Since that time my life has revolved around cleaning and running around helping whomever in the office needs a hand at that moment. With about 15 extra staff for training and a variety of computers not functioning, it made for interesting times. Musical chairs, computers, and rooms seemed to keep us on our toes and amazingly productive despite the challenges.

I am most happy to say that I not only felt, but was useful in making sure a few things ran ok for the first week of training. I hung out with the new PCTs (Peace Corps Trainees), *taught them how to turn on the lights in their rooms at the Gar Den City Hotel, hosted a little dinner party, and really got to know a few of them fairly well for the time available. I have to say that this training class is far more like the group I came in with versus the one from last year. This is going to be an interesting group.

Other interesting news is that I will be able to adopt Carl. For anyone who doesn't know, he is a rottweiler that I found almost 3 weeks ago as I was trying to track down a friend. I had just been by the doggy compound for Saga, dreaming about having a dog, should it happen, what would I name it, all these good things when I came upon him. Carl was walking in the middle of the street near the police station, looking terrified. I called him out of the street a bit, he avoided some cars, then ran back to the middle. As another car got close I called him again and he came over to me. The closer he got the more I noticed the infection in each eye. Poor baby! He became my project. With the help of others I found the vet. Attempted to feed him dog food, going as far as putting it in his mouth as he spit it back out. Moved on to feeding him the pizza that had dropped the previous night. And sending him home with the vet. I am sure that the fact Heather (the vet) is a RPCV (returned pcv) helped me a lot. Anyway I have been hoping for the best outcome, whatever that might mean. I got an email from her last Saturday saying that his owners had not come for him and I could adopt.

This best outcome I was hoping for is hopefully what is happening. I know Carl loves me already, despite his now neutered status. But I worry about becoming a nearly full grown puppy's mommy. The timing is really crappy and he has his own history. Living with him in the house for the next two weeks is going to be interesting. Taking him out for walks and the bathroom will be even more interesting since there are four dogs in the yard that are not going to take to him very well. (we already tried. not pretty.) Moving him to the mainland and setting him up with a puppy sitter (Chanda) for two months is heartbreaking a bit as well. On top of this, I had great plans for travel this year. Dogs are not cats by any stretch of the imagination and having him will make this far harder.

Logistically I need a dog about as much as another hole in my head, but crime is on the rise here. I have heard a saying that I believe- Belizeans are more scared of a dog than a gun. I love the security of a living guard system. I love the idea that I will be able to walk with him and avoid considerable amounts of harassment. I really love the idea that few people will ever think about getting close to the fence with him in it, much less come in.

I hope that he will stop flinching and pulling away as you try to pet him on the head. I hope that he learns to eat dog food pretty soon. I think he has lost a little weight since I found him, he didn't even eat the dog food covered in pizza toppings when he was with me. Chanda doesn't cook for herself, I can't imagine having to buy takeout for him so he doesn't starve while I am gone. I guess he will eat it if he gets hungry enough. I have to find a leash, containers to put the food in (bug prevention), food bowl, all that lovely stuff! I will also see how I can improvise.

Anyway, this is the big news. Kind of drawn out and without any pictures. My camera is broken so those will have to come when I return from the States.

*Note: the Gar Den is owned by folks who I believe are from Taiwan. Clearly marked are the buttons on the tv and a/c remote. Unfortunately, it is in a Chinese or Taiwanese language. The "light switches" are actually button/switches located either on the nightstand or on the wall behind it. It is rather interesting and quite confusing the first time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Good Dog Carl

If you have ever read the children's book by the same title I bet you can guess what this is all about...

Saturday I was on my way to check on a friend that I hadn't seen in about a month when I met Carl. I had just been by her shop, then took a stroll by the dog lot at Saga. Thinking about the dog of my future and knowing that it would still be a few months away. Despite this knowledge I walked down the street daydreaming. I saw Diggity. I imagine that the Cookie Lady named him that thinking Hot Diggity Dog and it stuck. Walking a little further, thinking about the perfect name for a dog, I knew that I couldn't pick the name before the dog, but I continued with the game in my head. Thinking about Renee at the Reserve and Bell and Barney from childhood, I saw Carl. He is a beautiful rottweiler, with a great disposition, but bad "owners". Carl was wondering the street in front of the police station when I found him. He was running frantically back and forth across the street to avoid the traffic. I called him over, he came immediately out of the middle of the street. As I looked closer I noticed that his eyes seemed a little off. I called him out of the traffic again and saw that puss was surrounding his eyes. The poor baby had bad eye infections and it appeared that it had been that way for quite some time. I noticed when I would go to pet him he would shy away. Slowly I reached out to him and petted him on the head, walked with him a little while, then called Saga. Of course no one was there since it was Saturday. Literally seconds later Angie stopped to see what was going on. I showed her Carl's face, she offered us a ride to Island Perk where Heather our vet was , but I declined on the fear that Carl would jump off the golf cart. She went ahead to make sure Heather didn't leave and Carl followed me closely. After a quick inspection it was obvious that he needed treatment but wasn't in too bad of shape.

Carl and I went to the store for dog food. He walked past me, right in the store, lucky we weren't in the States as the employees merely laughed and shooed him out. We walked to my house, I poured a small pile of food. The ravished dog looked at me confused. I picked food up and put it in his mouth. He gave me a look like- You've GOT to be kidding me lady!- as the food rolled off of his tongue. I was inspired by the pizza in the trash. (long story short, pizza boy was terrified of Blue, dropped the pizza, it was in the trash) So, I took the pizza from the trash and fed it to Carl with dog food embedded in it. Carl proceeded to eat the pizza and toppings that fell on the ground, but ignored the dog food, even the pieces that fell off the pizza.

We walked a little more, confused what to do with him until Monday when Saga opened. The pack of dogs at my house had no desire to have a new friend introduced. Yet again Heather came through. She was just finishing a visit with my neighbor when I was trying to figure out a way to get in touch with her. So she took Carl home for the weekend, then to Saga either Monday evening or today.

I stopped by today to check on him. He is on medication for his eyes and already looks better. His real name is Cujo and he has "owners". Truly this is the least appropriate name for this dog that there possibly could be. If all goes well and the owners don't claim him in two weeks he will be mine.

It is a little crazy for me to try to get a dog while I am here. Even more crazy that I should get one while I am away for a month. However, I feel that if this works out, Carl was meant to be mine.

Friday, August 8, 2008


So, I am official! Officially a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader.

I know that I will be assisting in the office in Belmopan and helping volunteers. I will be working on a project outside of the office as well. The hope is that I will continue working with the Neighborhood Watch Board and the Apprenticeship Program.

Now the search is on for a camera that will survive Belize (and ME!) If you have suggestions I would appreciate them.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Trainees

On August 20th 44 new Trainees will arrive in country.

Expectations will be rampant. Eyes will be bugging out of heads.

Will they arrive as we did? Heat unrelenting. Standing in the line at immigration dripping with sweat as well as drops of rain. Praying that both bags and their contents found their way from the States to Belize. Will they have pictures erased from their digital camera? No, you can't take pictures of the line at immigration. Yes, they want proof that they are gone. Who will absorb every detail and who will remember a frenzied blur? What will they think as the see their welcoming committee? We didn't have one. Last year we weren't allowed to contact any of the Trainees for weeks. Even then it was because of hurricane Dean.

With a new office staff hope runs rampant!

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Own Solar System

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
~Anais Nin

Thank You My Friends!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Happy News

I just found out that a friend of mine is getting married and having a baby. I am really excited for her but am glad it's not me right now!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thankful for so much!

I returned to San Pedro this evening. It is good to be home. Really good to be home since I am not feeling all that great.

I was in another location Tuesday through Thursday doing fish surveys. Alicia (the manager of Bacalar Chico) and I went over to "assist" with the fish and coral surveys. By the way, Alicia is able to complete 5 coral surveys and I can complete my 8 fish on two tanks of air.

Alicia showed on Monday to get started. I had to wait until Tuesday morning because of meetings all day Monday. Before I left I had to stop by an office here to pick up blank forms for us to use for the surveys. This should have foreshadowed what was to come, but I was hopeful.

I arrive at my destination early Tuesday morning- 8:30, groggy but ready to work. Hum. Nothing, let me repeat, NOTHING was ready to go. The person "in charge" who we will call IM* had shown up minutes before I had. No one had gone for tanks. IM was also in shock that it would take 2 tanks for each of us to complete our segments of the surveys. The gear wasn't in the boat ready to go. In fact, the surveys I had brought were the only ones that we had with nothing on them. It is a rather well known fact, even outside of the SCUBA diving community, that paper disintegrates in water. Unfortunately IM, a supposed biologist, hadn't figured it out. Well, that among other things. Unfortunately IM also had not read the updated (2006) manual for conducting the surveys and was trying to tell us how to do the surveys from the 2002 manual. IM had not been in the water to dive much less conduct any surveys for 2 years. So back to the paper... In my efforts to learn the fish on the survey- a total of 83 fish in all of their color variations- I had recreated the fish survey on Excel. Alicia had already warned me so I had already sent a copy via email. With no surveys, no hope of waterproof paper, and flat out refusal to write the results of 8 transects, per site, on a piece of white plastic board we printed the surveys on plain paper. At 3pm we set out for the first site. (Hours ago we had determined that this person was just a completely and utter Incompetent Manager*.) Anger had set in. We were ready to vote IM off the island.

Never, ever have I appreciated Alicia's completely different work ethic and ability to plan as much has I have this week.

Wednesday you would think would go better. It didn't. In fact it was almost worst because everything was set from the day before. IM's employees just needed to transcribe the data we had collected. IM felt that we needed to do this but we stood our ground. Well that is except for my disintegrated paper that I had to interpret the tares. Because of the improper equipment it was a huge push to get in all of the fish surveys on Tuesday. Today Alicia and I assigned IM 2 fish surveys and 1 coral. IM wined. LITERALLY wined! We would have happily left her on shore. Probably should have. Anyway. Again we set out late and were utterly frustrated. As we head out to the Blue we know it is too rough but IM wasn't paying attention, we wait for IM to declare this. IM directs the captain to the location of our dive spot, the one that is supposed to be in the Blue. One of the problems is we are not clear of the reef. If we had continued on the route IM had suggested then we would have really been in trouble. The closer we got to the rolling waves in the channel the more we anticipated the order to turn around. The weather is getting worse and we can't go out in the Blue. The order never comes so Alicia does tell the captain to turn around. We finally find a spot to survey, get set up, complete the surveys, and dread Thursday.

Thursday. Most people that have been paying attention would have caught on would have known we weren't going to transcribe the data just because IM's employees didn't want to do anything. Aggravated beyond sitting quietly and playing nice I tell IM that we are here doing her a favor and IM needs to pick up the slack. IM counters that if you are going to do someone a favor you should do it right. I left. I packed my bag. Talked to Alicia about it but she talked me out of it. Again it was a late start. There was no way for us to complete all of the sites. I had appointments the next day in Belize City that I couldn't miss. Also found out before leaving for this site that IM does not know fish. So, I refuse to worry about her sloppy data. Here comes the sick part. As soon as I got in the water Thursday I felt sick. I continued my dive and completed my 6 surveys despite the uneasy feeling in my stomach. We got back to shore and I felt awful. As my body rid itself of the tacos and hand full of cereal I had for breakfast all kind of ideas were floating in my head. Diving injuries, bubbles in my blood, rashes on my skin, the bends. (or bad tacos). I dove within the limits, I did my safety stops, for heaven's sake for 2 days we hadn't been in water over 20 feet deep. Still nagging, still wondering, I wanted to be sure. Maybe seasickness? I tried to eat. Bad idea. Smells from the kitchen, from guests with cigarettes, ugh! Two bites of baked potato and I was on the run. So we left, talked to IM and the Big Boss in Belize, I ran to catch the boat home. If worse came to worse there was a decompression chamber there. I went to see the doctor. Got a shot for the nausea-OUCH!, sea sickness pills, and went home. Aching all over I tossed and turned until the sun was rising.

Yea. It is Friday and I have to head to Belize for an appointment. I decide to stop on IM's island, pick up my computer, and visit with Nadine (the newest nationalized Belizean Citizen in the country!). As the boat pulls up to the dock my head is in another orbit of its own. I practically crawled off of the boat and on the dock. I had a nice visit, despite the whole not feeling well. I figured that there was no way I would last at least two times longer on a boat so I called our nurse, she scheduled a flight, and I was on my way to Belize.

I had good appointments and good visits with friends, but I am oh so very glad to be sleeping in my bed in less than 10 minutes from now. I am so very thankful for my friends who take care of me when family can't, not having a serious condition to deal with constantly, and to never have to worry about whether or not I can see a doctor. I guess that my body fighting a little food poisoning every once and a while will help me remember how fortunate I truly am.

And one last thing that I am most thankful for this week- working with someone who gets it- Alicia, you are great!