The title of this entry comes not (thankfully) from a creepy man on the street; it’s actually the name of a delicious bakery that I visited during my time in Cayo! I’d been told it was good, but I was not prepared to be as impressed as I was! I had an absolutely divine slice of coconut cake on Monday evening…and may or may not have had a slice of pineapple cake two nights later…
On Sunday afternoon, Nicole drove Blaze, Perlina, and me to the city of San Ignacio, where the first ProWorld Belize site is located. I didn’t mind the drive, in part because I wasn’t the driver :-), but also because in this heat, it feels good to have the wind rushing against my face through the windows, and a beautiful view of green on all sides. With the exception of a few minor turnoff points, the drive from PG up to central/northern Belize is pretty much a straight shoot on one road. This is convenient for those of us who have no sense of direction, as getting lost is pretty tough, but it’s frustrating because you often have to drive out of your way to get to your destination.
When we pulled into the Cayo bunkhouse on Sunday evening, we were greeted by several members of the San Ignacio PW staff–Zach, Shereen, and Clayton–as well as Akiesha, who had gone up to Cayo a few days earlier to visit Caye Caulker (one of the small islands off the coast of Belize, accessible by water taxi and nice for vacationing). First off, let me just say that the Cayo bunkhouse is GORGEOUS. I’ve actually described the place as “rustic” during pre-departure conversations with Belize-goers, but I’m going to have to rethink my description because WOW. This place was like the Belizean Alhambra. Beautiful tilework, gorgeous balconies, a pool area, a sizable kitchen with a long table…I thought maybe I had arrived in heaven. 🙂 I quickly settled into one of the bunk rooms with Akiesha. Once we’d unpacked, Clayton kindly offered to take us to a local restaurant for dinner, after which we got some delicious ice cream at a place called Cayo Twist.
On Monday, the Cayo staff had a training session with Nicole, so Perlina, Akiesha, and I were free to do as we wished. Akiesha had a take-home exam to complete, so while she worked, Perlina and I strolled down to the main street (and literally, we strolled “down,” as the PW office is located smack in the middle of a long, steep hill!). I bought a beautiful pair of earrings in a Belizean craft store, and then we browsed through some clothing at a pretty random store that I believe was called Discount Warehouse or something. It sort of reminded me of a Salvation Army store–some things used, some new, and a pretty random assortment that was mainly organized by color. We were primarily looking for a workout outfit for Perlina, but I ended up buying some things myself too–oops! There were a LOT of brand new, Danskin-brand fitness gear, and for prices way lower than what anyone (except for Paul Whitman, bargain hunter extraordinaire) can find in the states. I bought two tank tops, a shirt, and two sundresses. One dress I bought for about $6 USD, after receiving a discount on account of the broken zipper. My mom always tells me that fixing zippers is hard work, but I am really hoping to find a zipper fixer in PG who can make that dress look as good as new! The pattern was so charming that I couldn’t resist!
$25 USD (!) and a new wardrobe later, Perlina and I continued to explore Cayo a bit. It was interesting to compare it to PG, where the variety is so much more limited as far as merchandise, foods in the grocery store, etc. Despite it all, PG has taken a hold upon my heart, and I think that I would choose it in spite of its limitations…there may not be granola bars in the grocery stores here, but we have one thing Cayo hasn’t got…the sea!
On Tuesday, we had all-staff training, which was led by the Cayo team. We reviewed our office structure, discussed ProWorld’s Crisis Management Plan, and watched, amazed, as Shereen showed us how she had immaculately reorganized our online store of documents. If anyone needs a life organizer, let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with her! In the evening, I sat with Blaze, Nicole, Zach, Perlina, and Shereen and we shared funny stories about our love lives, which were amusingly and vastly different. Then, Blaze, Zach, Shereen, and I engaged in a few seriously competitive games of Bananagrams. Blaze had her first win ever, and was very, very happy!
Wednesday was comprised of more staff training in the morning, and then lazing around in the afternoon. I wrote and mailed some postcards, read a lot of my book about Haiti, and took a nap in the shade. Wednesday also marked the arrival of a group of students from San Jose State University! It was so exciting to welcome a group! Group programs were a big part of my work in Peru last summer, but PG has been quiet this summer, so I was excited to be present to chat with the new arrivals! Zach had coordinated a potluck dinner for the students and their homestay families, which was overall a success. The families were all so warm and sweet, and the students got along with them beautifully. I think they’re going to have a great time in Belize.
Other highlights of Cayo:
-It was cool enough in the morning hours that I could drink hot tea without feeling entirely ridiculous! It was such a nice treat!
-We had a HUGE thunderstorm on Wednesday, and we sat outside and watched it while drinking tea and eating everlasting gobstoppers.
-Eliu, the Site Director in Cayo, assisted me in officially diagnosing my computer’s ailments. It turns out that the issue is not the motherboard, but the processor. In any case, it’s not fixable here in Belize, and shipping it to the US would cost over $600 BZE. That tragic news aside, Intrax is sending me a new laptop with one of the (very accommodating) leaders from a Denver group coming to PG in a week. I am excited to become a productive member of society once again!
And the bad stuff:
-I am pretty sure that something gave me food poisoning in Cayo. I don’t know what it was that did it, or even if that’s what it was, but I do know that I don’t want to eat it ever again.
-Since Nicole ended up needing to stay in Cayo until Saturday, Perlina and I decided to take the bus back to PG yesterday. I have learned that taking the bus in Belize is pretty not fun. First of all, people are very possessive of their seats, and try to run you over Black Friday-style to get to them. Second, the buses here are essentially painted school buses. Have you ever ridden a school bus for five fours or more? I have. Finally, every time the bus stops, it immediately becomes grossly hot due to lots of bodies squished together and no airflow. On the positive side, this beautiful lady got onto the bus at one stop with a big box of freshly baked bread, which she sold to passengers until she got off about three stops later. I am curious to know if she spends her days just getting on and off the bus going in either direction, selling her bread. I’m also confused about bread here in Belize. There is some sort of a big difference between “bread” and “bun,” but I don’t know what exactly it is. I think I’ve eaten both, but I have no way to be sure. Alas.
It’s nice to be back in PG today, and I think I may go for an early evening swim if time and weather permit.
Have a happy weekend, everyone!