Second Day – Things I’ve Learned So Far
- Working through the pain & it going away is a real thing
- A fried egg can taste like pure heaven
- Walking kids to the bus-stop feels both new & completely timeless
- Folding sheets by yourself & not letting them touch the ground is hard
- Anyone who complains about doing the dishes for a family (especially with a dishwasher!) should have to do it for 40+ people… and no dishwasher
- A simple pair of flip-flops can be a beautiful thing
- It may change during my stay, but I’m not one of those people who relishes the idea of being totally unplugged for great lengths of time – I’m going through tech-withdrawal!
- You can come all the way to Belize & still not escape Katy Perry (sigh)
You know how in ‘The Cutting Edge’ Moira Kelly’s character talks about how magnets work & one little ‘flip’ & all of a sudden things are different? Well, apparently that happens on Day 2 in Belize.
I’m still tired – heat exhausts me & I’m not sleeping well… also, my feet are still killing me (I have blisters & the bad scrape & have been on them too much); they’re *really* swollen. But the rest of me doesn’t hurt, and I’m actually becoming pretty comfortable.
The day was still long, and I still miss home quite a bit – but it’s odd, because I’m starting to feel a separation from “there” and a connection to “here”. That’s what’s supposed to happen, I know. I just didn’t realize that it actually would.
It’s hard work, especially in the heat, and I do occasionally have to go to my room & just sit to get my air back (asthma & Central America are not friends). But it’s fulfilling, and I can see what a difference our presence as volunteers actually makes. I love seeing the kids’ faces light up when I walk into a room – they have the power to make everyone around them happy.
The older kids went to school and we walked with them to wait for the bus. All the school-age kids from the neighborhood were there & they were all so adorable in their uniforms. It struck me just how similar they are to kids in the States. The little girls like sparkly shoes & plastic bracelets, and everybody likes cool backpacks. There’s far less technology, however, and for the kids I really think that’s a good thing. They talk to each other, play with each other, enjoy life… they aren’t spending all their time face-down to a screen, texting & playing Angry Birds. It’s really refreshing.
A new volunteer arrived just before dinner & she’s a trip. She’s basically everything I’m not – loud, outgoing, tall, tan, skinny… so of course I think she’s interesting. She’s going to be here a month – that just blows my mind.
After the kids all headed off to their dorms, a few of us went out with Dasia, the principle of the on-site preschool. She was telling us how she’s working on fundraising for students at the preschool; the younger Liberty kids attend, but also the children of local families who really need help. She told us how it’s only $15US a month to give a scholarship to a little one to attend. There are families in the area with only a single working parent (often not at a good job) who can’t afford the tuition – and she’s even trying to cover some of it out of her own pocket… not that she has that much to begin with. Hearing her tell the story, it made me want to do even more than I already was.
We walked down to the supermarket and back, but she showed us all the local spots along the way. The ‘supermarket’ is nothing like what we have… more like a large, rural convenience store. However, on the way you pass several fruit & vegetable stands, a Caribbean chicken ‘shack’, an amazing bakery, a guy who sells pineapple empanada-type pastries, and a little roadside spot where you can get fried chicken & Chinese food (believe it!). She also introduced us to two guys who sell tamales & conch fritters out of the back of their truck every night. I’ll be going back for those, for sure. At the supermarket I got my first bottle of aloe water – yep… ALOE. Pineapple flavored, as it happens. On the way back, we all talked about how we could make it ourselves from the masses of aloe plants under one of the buildings on the compound.
We topped off the ‘walkabout’ by discovering that the tiny shop just up the road refills the big plastic gallons of water… for 75¢ Belize. SCORE!
I may feel differently at noon tomorrow with the sun beating down (seriously, I hate the heat), but right now I’m feeling pretty dang content. If at any time in the past 2.5 days someone had handed me a plane ticket home, I would have taken it. And honestly… that would have been the wrong call.
I’m glad I’m here.