Please look at every photo for at least 15 LONG seconds to justify how abominably long it took to upload them!

Hey there, pals!

I write to you in the midst of a thunderstorm, which came out of nowhere after a rather sunny and hot day.  The rainy season has officially commenced!  I’m pleased to report that I offer photos today, but before I get to those, a few other items…

1. I ate another weird thing today!  The eating of weird things has been far more common an activity than I anticipated here in Belize.  Today, I ate something called a “cohune” which may or may not bear relevance to the expression “The Big Kahuna.”  I am choosing to believe that the latter was derived directly from the former, but I am very likely wrong.  Anyway, the cohune is a tree nut that comes from a tree very similar to your standard coconut tree.  The outside of the nut actually resembles a miniature coconut, but once you crack it open (which takes some muscle!), you uncover a hard, white nut that is similar to a macadamia nut in texture, but with a taste sort of similar to coconut.  I wouldn’t say it was the most delicious thing I ever ate, but definitely not the worst thing either.  I’d for sure eat it to survive on a deserted island.  🙂

2. Where did I find/eat this cohune?  Why in the BUSH of course.  This morning, we ProWorld PG warriors decided to forgo our day off (it’s Commonwealth Day, a national holiday here in Belize) to go to the Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) research center.  SHI is one of our greatest community partners here in PG, and they do great work in promoting sustainable methods of agricultural planning and production.  They also participate in sustainable construction efforts and solar power initiatives, which basically means that they are awesome.  This morning, two of our SHI buddies, Nana and Candido, took us on a little adventure.  We ladies piled into Nicole’s jeep and followed Nana (on his motorbike) down some very bumpy roads.  For those of you who have been to Disney World somewhat recently and ridden the Jurassic Park ride, it was just about like that, except no dinosaurs and it was REAL.  I kept giggling to myself at this comparison every time the jeep went over a particularly massive puddle of mud or bump in the road, but no one else understood, as I was the only Disney World veteran in the vehicle.

After a good 20-30 minutes of bumptastic-ness, we made it to our destination, which appeared to be a clearing of ground with an overturned, old boat and a raised structure with openings carved in the shapes of crosses.  I was sort of excited–had we arrived at a Jesus-based environmental research center?!–but then realized that we still had further to go to reach our destination!  We headed to the edge of the river (Boom Creek is its name) and hopped onto a big rowboat, which the seven of us rowed across the creek to a little thatch-roofed hut.  We debarked and walked a short distance to the future site of SHI’s research center, which is going to be awesome!  Apparently, the research center has been funded almost entirely through grants and local donations of supplies, and the SHI staff go to the site each Friday to dedicate some time to its construction.  Over the past year and a half, they’ve managed to build a two-story, eight-room structure that will eventually house dormitory rooms for 16 upstairs and office and research space below.  This is super exciting for ProWorld because it means that we might be able to give some of our groups a more authentic environment in which to pursue research on sustainable agriculture in a place where the benefits could be huge!

In addition to the building space, Nana showed us the solar panels from which the center will derive most of its power, and also the kitchen area-to-be and the place where they test different types of soil.  He told us about efficient micro-organisms, which play a big role in the quality of plant growth that happens in different parts of Belize.  Apparently, SHI has worked out ways to increase the presence and effect of these micro-organisms by accumulating them in a big vat and mixing them with brown rice (“rice brown” as they say–love it!) and molasses and other important ingredients.  All of this went way above my head (obviously), but it’s clear that SHI is doing good and important work.  If a group of agriculture or nutrition students were to come here, I think they could do a ton of good.  It wouldn’t hurt to have some construction groups too, to finish up the awesome bunkhouse they’ve got planned!

And now, without further ado, los fotos!

Ashley, Akiesha, and me at Wine & Chocolate Night, drinking Belikin Chocolate Stout

A funny picture we took in the office one day–guess which hand is mine and you win a shilling! (Must come to Belize to receive award.)

An advertisement for the Cacao Fest.

A group of Mayan music performers playing on Front Street during the Cacao Fest.

Emmett, rocking it out like a champ.

I found a lizard when I went swimming. I was so proud of myself for taking this picture without making him move.

Some beautiful wildlife.

Dancers at Lubantuun, a Mayan ruin. As part of the Cacao Fest, there were artistic performances all afternoon, and this one was super cool.

The beautiful hot cacao that Jill prepared for Noemi this morning.

Thanks for reading, beautiful people!

Your love and prayers mean the world!

Sarah

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