Hi there, friends!
Thought I’d fill you in on some of the latest adventures I’ve had down here in the land of excessive heat!
First off–I took an African drumming class on Tuesday with Emmett, husband of Jill (the ProWorld chef here in PG, originally from Ohio). Emmett is from a part of Belize called Gale’s Point, known for being the birthplace of African drumming in the country. On Tuesday, I convinced Akiesha to join me for a lesson, which was also attended by a guy from Spain and a woman who I think is also from the US. I shall refer to them as “Fast Talking Virtuoso” and “Skinny Girl with Bandanna” as necessary. And, just to clarify, Fast Talking Virtuoso is NOT a virtuoso. He just seems to think he is. And he also seems to think that, since I studied in Spain for four months, I can talk at the pace at which a cheetah runs. Incorecto, Fast Talking Virtuoso. Anyway. We began our lesson at 4 PM on Tuesday, and Emmett provided us all with drums (which he made himself with local woods and GOATSKINS–pretty awesome) and chairs in a circle outside in the grass. He taught us the three main ways to hit the drum–a slap in the center with the full hand, a gentle tap on the side with the fingers closed, and then a slappy thing that I found super tough. I’m not a slapper by nature, and I’m pretty sure I never executed that one to Emmett’s satisfaction. Luckily, there’s still time! 🙂 Fast Talking Virtuoso tried to act like he’d been playing the drums for years and teach me how to properly “slap” the drum, but I’m pretty sure that by the end of the lesson I was just as rhythmically able as he was…so there.
Once we’d all become reasonably familiar with the hand motions, Emmett taught us a few different rhythms, and then started combining them as we became more confident. What stuck in my mind most was what he said at the very beginning of the lesson. “To play the drums, you need two important things. Concentration and relaxation.” Being rather a stressball for most of my life, I have natural difficulty putting those two qualities together, but in the moments when I succeeded, it was obviously evident to Emmett, and to me. Sometimes, when we’d succeeded in maintaining several different rhythms for a while, Emmett would play his own, much more complicated, rhythms. I’m pretty sure he was improvising, and it was awesome to watch and listen to him. It’s no wonder that he’s been called one of the best drummers in the country. Just to make the experience all the more authentic, I should tell y’all that Emmett has dreadlocks, always dresses in very traditional African garb, and greets me hello and goodbye with “Peace.” I kind of love it.
So that was drumming. I expect to do some more of that. Second adventure = mail! All by myself, I found the post office, bought some international postcard stamps and postcards, and sent them! I suppose this isn’t all that impressive considering the size of Punta Gorda, but I find that when I first arrive in a new place, I impress myself by completing even basic errands. I’m still proud of myself for having made copies during my first week in Cusco! I would also like to say that sending mail in Belize is CHEAP. A postcard stamp here costs 30 cents Belize (15 cents US!) and letter stamps aren’t much more. Considering my absolute love for correspondence of the snail mail persuasion, I could do a lot of damage while I’m here! All I have to do now is find some awesome paper!
My third adventure relates to eating! Yesterday, I had lunch down at Jill’s restaurant, and ate a green that I’ve never eaten before, namely amaranth. It was similar to collard greens, but a bit more bitter. Probably not something I’d excitedly choose from a menu, but definitely worth trying. I can’t imagine that amaranth isn’t super healthy either–added benefit! Also in the food vein, guess what I found in the supermarket here in PG??? British digestive biscuits!!! For those of you who know me well, you probably know that I looove me some McVitie’s digestive cookies. To find them here in Belize? Too crazily good to be true. And yet, there they were. The only downside is that it’s too hot to make the tea that I would normally use for dipping. You win some, you lose some.
Adventure number four. I met myself a jolly Spanish gentleman named Francisco (“Fraaanciscooo…that’s fun to say!”), who is here in Belize for the week seeking partners for his organization based in Oaxaca, Mexico. Francisco only speaks Spanish, and my status as the office Spanish speaker became slightly useful when he walked in. Apparently, his organization supplies industrial building materials for community development causes, and they want to expand to Belize and Guatemala. Here’s the amusing part. He walked in, we talked for a bit, and then the other PG ProWorld staff girls were like, “Who was THAT?” And so while I was standing in the doorway to the main office doing funny dance moves (shimmying, etc.) and informing Nicole and Noemi that I’d just met my “Spanish husband,” Olivia whispered, “Sarah. He’s back.” I turned around and THERE HE WAS. He had witnessed my entire dancing/husband-talk episode from about 15 feet away. Luckily, I’m pretty sure his English = zero, but I’m sure that the dancing would have amused a speaker of any language. Argh.
Finally, adventure numero cinco. This morning I decided to attend the daily morning mass at St. Peter Claver church. The mass is held at 6:30 every morning, and I was a little nervous about going because I thought I might pass out in the heat without having eaten breakfast. Luckily, this did not happen, but I would like to say that y’all wouldn’t BELIEVE how hot it was even at 6:30 AM! I expected there to be a morning breeze or something, but absolutely no such luck! The church service itself was wonderful. There were about thirty people there, and the priest was a Jesuit, I imagine affiliated with the local Jesuit Volunteer Corps. There were several nuns at mass, and I’ve decided to somehow find a way of befriending them before I leave because nuns are so stinking cool. There was no cantor, but everyone sang with great heart, and they were also big proponents of the sign of peace, where EVERYBODY shakes everybody’s hand, or at the very least gives a friendly nod. I’m excited to return. I don’t want to say that I’ll go every day, but I’d definitely like to go more than once a week because I cannot think of a better way to focus for the day ahead.
The rest of this evening is somewhat open for discussion right now, but I am hoping to enjoy some pleasant reading out on the porch while the rain falls outside. I’m currently reading books at the pace of one every two days, which means I’m going to be suffering from a book shortage about three weeks from now. I hope the PG library will be able to solve all of my problems!
A final note. As I’ve been working at my desk today, I’ve been listening to Pandora (which works in Belize–woot woot!!!), to a station based on the song “Always,” Grammy’s wedding song. I’ve been listening to what I’d affectionately call “Gram music” all day, and thinking about how much I loved, and love, that beautiful woman, even at her nuttiest. What a blessing to have known her.
Thank you, beautiful friends, for your prayers and love! I’m pretty sure they’re what’s kept me from fainting so far! 🙂