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Chronicles of Belmopan and.....Beyond....
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in cherreeplum's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, September 20th, 2005
11:46 pm
new address.....
Hi All!
Heck, I don't even know if anyone still reads my live journal. I know..I've been MIA for a couple of months since I came back from Belize. It's taken me a bit of time to transition and get into the pace of things here in the states. Sorry to my 5 readers. :)
In anycase, I guess since I am starting a new life here in California...might as well, start a new blog to match it!
I think it'll be an improvement actually....I know how to upload pictures now! woo woo!

Not to keep you in anymore suspense, here is my new blog....

check it out. I'm here in California now! woo hoo! :)
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005
12:43 pm
I'm slowly becoming a california girl again.
HI all!! I"m in California now! Made it safely.......

I miss Belize, though. i'm slowly getting back into things. I am enjoying the warm showers and sleeping in my room, etc...but i feel a little guilty driving a car. I feel like it's a privelege to drive one, you know. (I"ve been biking for 2 years..and when I do get a chance to drive a car in Belize...I feel sooo blessed!) but it's weird. I'm mean just having a car is a blessing...well, i went to my cousin's house for a party..and everyone had their OWN car. I thought that that was so exravagant (because one car in Belize was shared by a couple people). But then again life is different here in California....time is money and we are all busy here.

Oh another shocker!!! GAP....has a Belize shirt!? "What?: FI TRUE! i couldn't belize it. I had to buy it just because it hadthe word "belize" on it. it says " Belize Reef" with a scarlet macaw on it, and they tried to make it look like it was a vintage shirt because it looked faded. A trendy little yellow t-shirt...in GAP. little o belize here in california. I was trippen out. Because of my excitement and my discovery, I ask the cashier when they got the shipment for the shirt. She doesn't know. I tell her that seeing a shirt with Belize on it was VERY surprising...becuase i just came from there and no one else seems to know where it was. She said that she didn't either (understandable). I guess it was my desire to educate others of Belize (Peace Corps 3rd goal)....so I say it's a small country by the caribbean, south of Mexico. The girl says, "Oh, my parents are from mexico....I don't even know Mexico." (I'm thinking...Mexico is the HUUUUUUGE country right under the United States of America! wow.) Anyway, i told my brother the lesson for today is.....please know where Mexico is. :)

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, June 8th, 2005
5:13 pm
i'm almost home!!
hi guys,
just writing some thoughts down.... i'm almost home. Can you belize it? (belize seems to come out whenever i try to write b-e-l-i-e-v-e.) it must be a subconsious thing. i actually think it's cool :) so i'll keep it.
Guys,....i'm a jumble of feelings right now. I wish my mom was here. :) I'm trying to pack everything, meet with people in the community and other peace corp volunteers before i leave.

We got the yearbook TODAY (that I've been working on for the past month), BUT there a couple big mistakes in it. I couldn't deal with it when i first found out. I'm very emotional these last couple of days because i'm closing my service. I only have a week....nothing is supposed to go wrong. There's no time for mistakes! (okay...in my mind). But as it goes....things will happen as they will. So i must keep my cool...and just do what i have to do. So a teacher and I go to the printers to correct the problem. It'll be okay.

I also finished the categorizing of the books in our library. It looks pretty full...which makes me very happy! I still need to decorate it and put the rules up, maps, student art work.....but the main chunk is finished. I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy to hear that Ms Emily Martinez (Infant 1 teacher....who loves to tease me about my tight pants and how "fat" I am), said that the yearbook project was a great initiative.....AND that she wants to continue it every year for now on!! (Praise God!) Then she also said that she wants me to put in a word to our principal (Mrs. Rita Enriquez) that she wants to be IN CHARGE of the library!!! (double Praise God!!). I don't know how this all ended up like this...I guess it's must be God's plan..because I (as other peace corps or teachers or service people might feel) don't know how my time and work here has helped others or if it will be continued ("sustainability" is a key word in Peace Corp) or if it even matters.

So, today, I find out that the projects that I've been working on without a counterpart (supposedly needed for sustainability) WILL GO ON!! Yaye!!!!!!!!!!!! yaye!!!!!!!! yaye!!!!!!
you guys probably don't understand...but finishing my projects and having the teachers back it...and even want to continue it....is EVERYTHING to my being here! PRAISE GOD!!

I think the school will be doing a going away presentation for me tomorrow. Well, they said that they are doing something for Mrs. Enriquez...but I already know that her going away assembly will be the day that I fly out. I hear the song "2-step" blasting in one of the class room.....and I saw a couple of the boys doing a dance routine. I hope i'm not too ego-centric to hope that they are going to do a dance routine tomorrow. oh...how i wish i had a video camera for tomorrow!!!! i'm really gonna miss the students and the teachers and just the way things work (even if it frustrates me most of the time).

I know i have to adjust when i get back to California....but man, it's gonna be a shock. \
By the way, another wonderful thing....I SOLD all my major things in my house already. I just need to collect and they have to pick up the stuff. Another praise God! So you see that's why I've been keeping my cool for the most part....everything is falling into place.....through God.

Well, i better get going...I'm going to send off some peace corp reports...and head home to fix my bike tire....and then have dinner with the peace corps in Belmopan! :)

Current Mood: grateful
Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
4:35 pm
June 1st = first day of hurricane season!!!
Okay, well, today is june 1st. the official first day of hurricane season. and it didn't let us down. Dark clouds have enveloped belmopan..and big, big rain drops are came down. But i don't think this is a hurricane...just a forwarning perhaps. Anyway, the kids get frightened by the lightning and the loud growling thunder..so they hurried up and ran home. Then again, some of the kids laughed as the hard rain started to fall ....fun memories.

other things...it's MANGO SEASON! and a great season at that. Last year, mango season let us down. Not one mango was produced. This year, our 2 trees in the yard are full to the BRIM!! branches are heavy with big green and red (when they turn ripe) mangos! Can't wait to eat one. i haven't yet because the ones that i can reach are still green. :) But soon....very soon. OH yeah, did you know that there are soo many varieties of mangos? yes, there are the tiny, hairy (fiberous) mangos (i don't like them personally), there are the #11 (supposedly the best kind of mango), there are the green ones that turn slightly yellow and have little to no fiber and you can eat it like you would an apple, there is the "black mango", there is the big redish-yellow-green mangos that we have in our yard. i'm sure there are more..i just don't can't tell. anyway, mango season...here. :) I don't think i expressed how many fruit trees there are here in this country...and they are EVERYWHERE..and they seem to be a free-for-all because people will hope our fence to get the fruit in our yard (a bit annoying actually). But so it goes in Belize.

other things....i'm a a jumble of feelings because i have exactly 2 weeks till i go back to California!!! woah. I'm excited, sad because i'll miss the people and how relaxed and slow life is here, i'm nervous because i still have 3 reports to write for Peace corp, anxious because i have to pack and we are only aloud 50lbs per luggage (they cut it from 70lbs...and it was hard to keep it at that weight even). So it's crAziness here. oh 2 of my Mexican friends are also going to be staying with me for a week or so before they go back to their country! :) kind of cool because I'll have roommates for the last days i have here in Belize.

Well, that's just a bit of the things going on over here in Belmopan. I was just thinking how things are different here than back home. Though everyone has cable television here...my friends and i usually just hang out and talk...even in the dark (because the lights seem very hot even....it's always hot here.)
I appreciate that...but i also found that i take watching t.v. as a privelege..and am looking forward to watch more when i go home :)

till next time.......

Current Mood: bouncy
Thursday, May 26th, 2005
9:43 am
adventures in Belize City.....
Hola Amigos!
Actually, in Belize we would greet each other by "How yu? Wa di gawan?" (how are you? what's up?)
Well, I'm actually in Belize City for the past three days doing my last medical exams. Peace Corps wants to make sure that I'm not radioactive or have lots of friends in my belly before I get back to California. So I'm here. I've been staying at the Bakadeer Inn (a small but clean hotel) by myself because there were no other 2nd years who have been scheduled for this week. In anycase, I tried to make myself productive by meeting up with all the Belize City friends I have made...for maybe the last time. It's great to find out that even if I met some of these people once during my time here ...they still remember me and are happy and welcoming me to stay at their house. I only wish I had more time to spend time with them. The first night, I ate Indian food with my Peace Corp friends, Maxine and Ira. Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend Nora, who took me on a bus ride to the South Side of Belize City. She said that most of the shootings that we hear about occur in her neighborhood. I was a little frazzled..but felt reassured because I was with my friend and because I visited during midday. Then in the evening, I met up with my Japanese volunteer friends (who I met last November and I haven't had the chance to meet up again until yesterday). It was so nice to see them again. I ended up staying at one of my friend's houses (Rika's apt) because I tried to call a taxi around 11pm...and apparently the taxi drivers shut their cell phones in the evening. Helpful...very helpful. In anycase, it was cool to spend extra time to catch up with my friends yesterday.
Today, is my last day for medicals.....I'll get a chance to meet up with 2 more friends for lunch! Mama Chen's for lunch (chinese vegetarian)! They even have boba milk tea (a treat in this crzy HOT weather).

Anyway, the following is a survey that all of the 2nd year Peace Corps are asked to fill out about our time here in Belize.......thought i might share this with you all....


Name: Cherry Carnero
AKA: Miss Cherry, Cherry-Cher, Small Fry, Chiney-gal, Cheena, Cherry-o-cherry-o-baby
Program: Community Development
Project: To help improve reading skills and increase interest in reading by setting up a library at Garden City Primary School
Secondary Projects: help create a yearbook for the primary school, help teach newsletter club, trying to to help school children believe in themselves, getting to know people in the community, and working on my patience.
Least useful thing brought in country: lipstick
Tropical diseases and maladies: got a couple gastrointestinal friends
Did you ever get a botsfly? nope
How did you get rid of it? –
Something I’d like to forget: I must have forgotten already
The moment you actually felt a part of your community: when I found myself watching a movie on T.V. with my Belizean friend’s family.
My community will most likely remember me for: being a friendly Peace Corp Volunteer, who biked around Belmopan on my squeaky bike, who lived at the “scary house” on Cardinal Ave (because of the huge Guanacaste tree), who helped at Garden City Primary School, and was often mistaken to be a UB student because I hung out there quite a bit, and because I wore a backpack all the time.
The Belizean phrase I used most: Mek a see, please fi sun…(juice), Wa di ga wan?, Yu straite?
What I wish I had done: play in a music band in Belmopan, taken more pictures during training
Favorite Belizean food: Rice and beans
Can you cook that food?: I just have the rice part down
Best book read in PC: The Story of a Soul- autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
Worse book read in PC: The Universe is a Green Dragon
Favorite place in Belize: Tobacco Caye and Punta Gorda Town (thanks Ali and Chiara for always letting me stay at your house)
Favorite place out of Belize: Antigua and Panajachel, Guatemala; Philippines; and Southern California!!
Job before Peace Corps: worked for an environmental firm writing phase I site assessment reports.
What I will miss most in 6 mos: walking around town and stopping to chat with people on the street.
What I will NOT miss in 6 mos: The burning burning HOT SUN. (did i say burning already? :)
My post COS dream is: to travel all over the world and work in a job that I’m passionate about.
My post COS reality is/ What’s next: go home for my friends' wedding!!, visit friends in Mexico, then find a job working with children or with the government.
Something no one know about me: Before Belize, my toes were shy to see the sun, but now are well adjusted..actually, I think they are over exposed!
Most important lesson learned in PC Belize: Everything will happen in it’s own time.
Things you did to be sane: sing, listen to music, dance at home, visit PC friends and Belizean friends, travel to some part of Belize or Central America, write/check email, read, have dinner parties, laugh
Advice to new volunteers: Be open and willing to learn and understand a different point of view, without losing yourself. Challenge yourself "just do it!" (you are stronger than you think) and make the most of Belize. Oh,and get a hammock!!

Site survey:
Site: City of Belmopan
District: Cayo District
Best place to eat: Riceandbeanschickenandsalad at the green market place buildings, and a little Taiwanese vegetarian shop in the row of brown market buildings
Best place to shop: Cardinal store (for food)
Best place to check email: Pross (above Aloha café), and University of Belize (for free)
Best place to grab a Belikin: La Cabana or Bull Frog
Worst place to eat: anywhere they don’t have running water!!!
Best place to rest and relax: in a hammock at home, visit a friend’s house, anywhere there is water flowing!

Current Mood: ecstatic
Tuesday, May 10th, 2005
5:18 pm
final projects.....dat da presha, man!
Hi all,
Yes, i'm stressing about my final projects. Does anyone know anything about Microsoft Publisher? hum..i'm working on our school's 1st yearbook, and i need to get this thing done this week and to the printers for it to be done by early june. Anyway, as it happens, there are too many pictures in the yearbook and my computer doesn't have enough memory to process it. Not enough memory. I was told to break the document in to 2 or 3 pieces. But how can I divide a publisher document? It won't copy and paste a whole page. There's too much memory being used in each page. Anyway, i must finish it by thursday. That's the ultimate deadline.
If you guys have any suggestions, please...let me know :)
hope you guys are all doing well :)

Current Mood: working
Thursday, May 5th, 2005
12:25 pm
News news news!
I have some news.
I've taken over the country! woooo hooo..finally!! HA! just kidding.

No...my news is not that wonderful. :)
Actually, I just came back from our last Peace Corp workshop...our COS (Closing Of Service)conference. It was an emotionally stressful time..for it is probably the last time I'd see many of the Peace corp volunteers from my group. It's already good-bye time. We also had to seriously think and prepare for our leaving Belize. I'm leaving much earlier than most of the Peace Corp volunteers....JUNE 15. :( Only 5 more weeks. About 1/2 a month earlier than normally allowed. I'm excited to come home and be with friends..but sad because I'm leaving my life here.

Who knew that I would actually get attached to this place. I've been moping around and feeling drained since I got back yesterday from Placencia. I can only say that I have a lot of feelings floating about me. Stress about finishing my projects before I leave and seeing all the people and places I must say good-bye to. And feeling like perhaps I could have done more...yet knowing that I already did my best. Excited to be going home and enjoying the comforts of being amongst my family and friends and enjoying amenities/luxuries that the American culture can offer. Yet missing my friends here in Belize, and the way of life, where people actually walk/bike to a friend's house, to the local shop, or to work and having the chance to bump into people along way to chat. (we don't walk in California). I'll miss the relaxness (yet also am glad to move away from such relaxness) where things will happen when they happen.

The reality that I am leaving had hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't think that I would react this way. Once again, I'll be transplanted and I'll have to get used to my surroundings again (West Covina). Peace Corp has warned us that we would experience some sort of "reverse culture shock", where we will come back to a situation that is familiar, yet we have to get used to it again because we have been gone so long.

For this reason, please have patience with me when I get back to California :)

Anyway, I promised myself that I would enjoy that last weeks I have here and be grateful for all the experiences (good and bad) for they all have made me stronger and mature in some way.

Current Mood: drained
Tuesday, April 26th, 2005
6:57 pm
Buckle up ..it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
Okay, this just in from our Country Director. It's an insight to what is going on here in Belize right now. Most of the commotion/tension seems to be isolated in Belize City, so don't worry (I'm in Belmopan). Still, all of Belize must be prepared for shutdown of utilities and whatever comes up with the strikes. I must check on the radio, but maybe schools are shutdown again! (Madas man...) Anyway, perhaps this young country needs to go through these growing pains to form its own identity.

"In case you have not had access to the news, yesterday Monday, April 26, the National Trade Union Congress called for a shutdown of schools, government offices and possibly some utilities in protest against what is allegedly government mismanagement of public resources and increase in taxes, among other things. There has been an ongoing dispute between the two and it recently erupted into a riot with looting of some Albert Street stores. This also resulted in the loss of telephone, Email and Internet Service for more than a week (all these have since been restored) as well as electricity for a few hours. Ultimately the Unions have sent a written request for the resignation of the Prime minister and his administration and call new elections.

Volunteers are asked to remain neutral and vigilant especially if their communities participate in these protests."

P.S. Please send a prayer for Belize and it's government. :)
Wednesday, April 20th, 2005
6:32 pm
the strike continues.........
oKay, phone is still temporarily gone (internet too..but i'm writing from an internet cafe with satellite)..but the other unions are threatening to shut off water and electricity too. The unions are really trying to send a message to the government that they want something to change. They want the governement of belize to allow the Belizeans to be able to buy shares from the BTL company. I say that would be great because most of the utilities are actually owned by foreigners and not Belizeans.

But at the same time, i'm getting a little annoyed with all of the strikes. I hope they come to a compromise soon. Soon, no one can do any work..and the whole country will stop. We've done this a couple of times already this year. We'll see what happens.

On a different note, I was told yesterday that we have a new Pope! Wow! I was sooo happy to hear that. The cardinals have to go through a number of processes to discern who the pope will be. And so we have one! hurray!! :) Pope Benedict XVI. I hope the WYD will be a go still. That would be a great way to welcome the new Pope. :)

Current Mood: curious
Monday, April 18th, 2005
11:48 am
thanks for your support guys!
Hi all!
THANK YOU for your support regarding the police-bike situation. Hum..i think i'm ready to come home now. It's interesting...I wanted to join peace corp to help others, to know another culture and country...and inevitably grow more as a person..and man, all i can say is..."be careful what you ask for." I'm sure you guys would have reacted in the same way because it was sooooooo obviously wrong. Anyway, I'm kind of still thankful for these experiences (as long as they end well)....because I can say that they made me stronger.

Oh new things going on in Belize. BTL (Belize Telecommunications Limited) is on strike...and so we don't have any phone service in the country. Since the new year, there have been sooooo many strikes. There were water, electric, and school strikes against new taxes and teachers wages in January. This time..we don't have phone..sometimes electricity or water. I don't use my phone often..but it also affects our internet connection. Luckily, this interent cafe uses satellite, but that's on and off too. Anyway, from what I understand..there is an American man by the name of Prosser, who owns a lot of the shares at BTL. Recently there was a court case in Miami regarding BTL and Prosser..and now the Belizean governtment has to pay Prosser $50,000 daily (not sure for what). I think the BTL workers are going on strike because they want to buy shares of the telephone company so that the company would be owned by more belizeans instead of foreigners. It's true...much of Belize's utilities and land are owned by foreigners :( Not such a good situtation.

So far, the phone has been shut off since friday...and some people speculate that the phones will be off for 4-5 more days. :(
Just to let you know, it's still safe and quiet here in Belmopan..so no worries about that during the strike.
okay...that's all for strikes country. i hope everyone is doing well. please let me know how you guys are doing.

p.s. can't wait to see you all soon too!!

Current Mood: busy
Thursday, April 14th, 2005
5:47 pm
Correcting the 5-0
Can I TELL you about injustice? HUM.....
I'm still mad. Let me tell you a story about police, bikes, money, and senseless rules.

As you all know, I bike in Belize. EVERYONE bikes in Belize. Belmopan is small enough to get around by bike..and you don't have to pay for gas. PERFECT. Anyway, there is a law where if you are biking at night, you need to have a light and a bell. (fine.) Anyhow, yesterday I didn't expect to be out after dark..but so life goes...I wanted to visit a friend. I leave my friend, Shelley's house about 8pm and I bump in to Kirwin, who tells me that "the police is going around taking bikes tonight. So maybe you should walk your bike home if you don't have a light." (man, that's kind my house is kind of far walking..but i guess i'll have to do it because i dont' want my bike taken.) So I walk...walk....walk...walk... and i get to the corner of Libertad and the Ring Road. BAM! a pair of hands are laid on my bike handles..and it's a cop. He wants to take my bike because i don't have a light. "But I was WALKING my bike! YOu can't take my bike away becuase i dont' have a light!" He knows he is wrong..but he has to save face because he's already tried to get my bike. He says, "well, this will teach you a lesson to bring a light next time". I say, "But i WASNT' EVEN riding my bike. I don't need a light. I was following the LAW!" He proceed to try to take my bike...and my grip on my bike got tighter..i wasn't letting go of my bike because it didnt' make sense why he was taking my bike. The "facey" police officer pretends that he's getting impatient and has the gall to say "this is taking too long" and yanks the bike away from me. i still didnt' let go. I finally had to give in because he was stronger than me. I asked to get back my lock at least.

HUm...you think that's the end of the story...EHHH.

So i see that other ladies are around frowning..and 2 ladies were actually making a rukus that the police officers will hear from them. I decide to ask some questions too...which ended up to be a crusade to save my bike. (in my mind, I didn't to anything wrong. In fact, I thought ahead and walked my bike so that my bike wouldn't get taken). I get into some words with the 2 police officers. One of them say, "are you taking me for a fool". (haha! I was about to say...maybe he was a fool for asking..but) I actually said that i don't take him as a fool..but i was actually trying to respect the police and the law. Soon, a police truck full of bicycles and other police men came...I asked, "who do i talk to regarding my bike? I don't think it should have been taken!". (at this point i wasn't afraid of the police men..because the proved themselves to men who dont' really know why they are doing what they are doing.) I explain that I was WALKING my bike passing a couple of streets and still my bike gets taken away? The police officer who in the truck was Sargent Arzu, and he tried to calm me down. I told him "it's hard to not be upset in this stituation becuase i was actually following the law." The sargent said to come to the police station tomorrow morning and he will make arrangments for me to get my bike back. ( i think he said this so i would stop making so much noise..smart man.) So I agree. My bike was already in the truck on it's way the the police station. I was very angry still. I ask for the sargent's name (Sgt. Arzu). I introduce myself as Cherry Carnero, a Peace Corp Volunteer who was following the law because i was WALKING MY BIKE, not riding it without a light! A rude police officer interjects,"sleep well!" And I respond (i was mad!) " YOU sleep well, you just took my only mode of transportion for no reason."
I get back to the original officer who yanked my bike from my hands..and asked for his name. I reach out my hand and said, hi what is your name? "Flores"
I ask, "Flores what?" He says, "Ceasar Flores". (Great! got his name...see what i'll do next oh mighty senseless officer!) So I thank him. Thank him for everything (cynically)...and walk off with Mrs. Kelly (a lady from church who so happend on the event). She actually tried to defend me by saying, "why are you guys taking the girl's bike?" (I'm a woman, Mrs. Kelly.. a woman. haha!) Anyway, so the ordeal was over..i walked away repeating OUT LOUD "Ceasar Flores, Sgt Arzu, Ceasar Flores, Sgt Arzu". That cop should have let me go when he had the chance.

So i walk the rest of the way home..and i end up talking ot my friends about the situation. They said to go to the police station early...not to bring money because you shouldn't pay them anything (the usual fine is $25 Bz)..and insist that they give your bike back. And if they say don't...tell them you'll take them to court.

So i go to the police station this morning. Confident that the law was on my side..but still praying that the police men would be understanding. I get there and everyone coming into the police station was there to get their bikes back. Obviously, they just went around Belmopan collecting all the bikes they could see. I wanted to see Sargent Arzu directly..so I asked about him. HE wasn't there yet. I wasnt' sure if the police men were telling me truth so i wait a little. I finally asked if he was around and i blurted my story. A police officer says in kriol "the girl is full of lies". He probably didnt' think that i understood kriol. But i do for the most part..and i caught what he said. I looked at him to acknowledge that i heard what he said..and said hi. I think he felt a little embarrassed and said "hi, how are you doing".

This same cop comes up to me later and says why dont' you just pay the fine? I told him that i'm not going to pay the fine because i didn't do anything wrong. He said, "okay..then you can take it to court!" I said," OKAY...let's go to court!". AFter that, I think he knew that I was not a liar..so he suggested that i talk to Mr. Alvarez, the head of the Belmopan police department. Mr. Alvarez was a calm understanding guy who ended up writing a note to the officer in charge of the bicycles ..."to please give back Miss Cherry Carnero's bike back, and to give her a break." Thank you Mr. Alvarez. I had to tell him that his officers seemed to target women and children in their bike patrol..and that that was not right...especially, if their role is to look for criminals.

I finally go to get my bike ..and I see a couple of my Mexican friends. :( they too had their bikes taken last night. But they paid..$25 each :( I was kind of proud that i was able to get my bike without paying the fine, but then again..my bike shouldn't have been taken anyway. As I walk my bike home, though.....i realize that the controls for my rear breaks was hanging ....BROKEN. :( bummer. perhaps, that's where my $25 will have to go towards.

IN the end, perhaps this was a good experience..in regards to speaking my mind (with justice on my side). :) I think my belizean friends see me differently now too. I'm sure in a good way. Actually this was a moment where I knew that I am a Peace Corp. I think it's because I had to state who I was..and in turn, I had to define who I was..."a Peace corp volunteer...following the law." :)

Current Mood: accomplished
Friday, April 1st, 2005
1:02 pm
Buenos Dias!!
Buenos dias, and all that good stuff!!
I'm finally in the mood to write something about Belize. And put in some fancy-smansy graphics. Hahah..but i still dont' know how to do that. Copy and paste doesn't work on this program. (grrrrrr!) Anyway, yes, it's a good day so far..so i'll write about the happenings here in Belize.

Today would mark the end of the 2 week vacation that primary school get for Easter. And in those 2 weeks, I was able to see a lot of cool places in Belize.

My friend, Yuri (she's a Japanese volunteer who taught PE at Garden City Primary school- same school i help at), left on Good Friday. So before her departure, she wanted to take one last trip to the southern tip of Belize...Punta Gorda. Actually she wanted to see Barranco, a village of 150 people and is the last Garifuna Coastal village in southern Belize. It was an experience. I have a Peace Corp volunteer friend who lives there, Chiara. But, Chiara won't be in the village when we would be going because she was busy training some junior high girls for the Basketball Nationals in a couple of weeks. So Yuri and I had to brave the village on our own. I guess with a population of 150....Chiara figured that she could at least introduce us to some of the people from the village who were also going back on the same bus as we were going on (there is only one bus that goes in to Barranco..and that bus goes in Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat at noontime). I guess the people in the back part of the bus were people from Barranco..and Chiara entered the bus saying "hello everyone, these are my friends, Cherry and Yuri. They will be going to Barranco and staying at my house. They are my friends,so don't think that they are theives. Please take care of them since I won't be going to village right now." :) It was cool. We met Harvey, who had a plastic cup full of alcohol (this is midday, mind you)...and he introduced himself to us as the Prime Minister of Barranco! Ha. Anyway, that's how our trip pretty much went in the village of Barranco..funny events and interesting people. Kevin, a teacher in Barranco, offered to show us where Chiara lived and then helped us figure out where we can eat while we were there (If we wanted to cook, we would have had to bring vegetables from town. We didnt' do that.) Anyway, I learned how small Belize was because the lady (Ms. Marty) who ended up making all of our delicious meals, was the mom of one of my friends (Nora) and the mom of another girl who I know (Pricilla married to Albert Palacio). And I met each of them on different occasions. Small world. While we were in Barranco, we got a tour of the village. This is funny. During that tour, Kevin was showing us the different trees and wildlife. I would interject with "They call that a John-crow,right?" (referring to a vulture). And he would say, "yes. wow, you know everything. YOu're a genius!" haha. Then he showed us a tree called the bucut, and i mentioned "is that what they call a 'stinky-toe'". He would reply," geez, this girl knows everything.". hahaha. I said" no, i just remember all this stuff from Peace Corp training." He said that a couple of times..and i joked, "kevin, let me show YOU around YOUR village! ha" just kidding of course.

To abbreviate our 2 day adventure in the little village of Barranco, we saw how Garinagu (people in the village) make kasava bread in these modern days, Some of the guys in the village played the Garifuna drums and hikiti shells (turtle shells) the first night by the sea shore and a bonfire, we bathed ourselves from a pipe in Chiara's front yard, ate hudut (traditional Garifuna food), hung out with the villagers and got into some serious confersations about the roles of men and women (it's a bit different from what i've learned in the states....in Belize in general it's a macho society, and it's not strange to hear that a man has a wife and a "sweetheart" or a couple of families). We had some interesting conversations at midday on tuesday and continued it later that evening. It was cool. Then we had to catch the only bus going back to PG town at 5:45am the next day.

I think we made some cool friends in Barranco. They said that we have to come back again, which is always a good feeling:)

next episode....the Mayan village of Aguacate! :)

Current Mood: cheerful
Thursday, March 10th, 2005
5:44 pm
about 3 months more...
I have about 3 more months here in Belize, until I close my service. It's kind of unreal to me...because for a big chunk of the time...i've been wondering how do i get through each challenge. But time has been passing fast. It's interesting because I stop myself and notice that i am actually enjoying my time here now (as opposed to in the beginning, where i felt like a fish out of water...and wished to go home BADLY!) Some of the Peace Corp Volunteers are actually looking for jobs in Belize so that they can extend their stay here. I put it out there for myself too....thinking.. I like the relaxed atmosphere about everything....I have time to cook, time to visit, time to be late. But what would I do? and I think i like a more open community that the small one here. There are only 7,000 people in Belmopan. A little clostrophobic.
So where does this leave me? I need to make the most of my time, especially now. I dont' even know what to do with myself because...i've been spending a lot of time in my site, here in Belmopan...and with my short time left...it would be wise of me to visit friends, places in Belize...maybe for the last time (until i come back to visit, of course). So, last weekend, i started my list of goals to tackle. I visited my friend, Chiara, in PG Town. It was most relaxing because the town is right by the sea. OH it was sooo beautiful. I can't belize that they live there. It would be like living at a vacation spot.

My friend Ali will be visiting me this coming weekend...and the next weekends will be Easter break. I still have to see where i will be at for those days...but i'll keep you all updated.

Anyway, my thoughts are kind of far right now. I'll write more soon. I hope you guys are all doing well. please let me know how you guys are doing.

Current Mood: contemplative
Thursday, February 10th, 2005
6:31 pm
hi ...from free Belize
Well, just wanted to let you know that the 2 week National Teacher's Strike here in Belize is over. (Yahoo!) Well, actually it was a nice break..but it is also nice to be back in school. :)

oh yeah, some fun news.....a local television show (Shamax Productions) wanted to interview the Peace Corp volunteers in Belmopan. :) So they came to each of our work sites today. I thought they were going to come tomorrow! Anyway, I guess I handled myself okay. I didn't even get to look at myself before I went on camera, because there are no mirrors at the school, and I was a little nervous, but I guess we'll see everything on the film footage. My supervisor (the principal) was also interviewed on camera...and she was so kind to say the nice things about me:) (not that she wouldn't..but still..she said that I was a "blessing in disguise").

It was another good day. :) I've been having a string of really good days. :)

(summary) I've been hanging out with some friends who are from Mexico almost everyday!! It's cool..they say my spanish is getting better:) Last week(it was "strike week" = no school), we studied spanish/english, visited Belize City and saw "The Mythical Rainforest" play, made enchiladas and a WHOLE LOTTA beans, celebrated my friend Alma's birthday, rode a horse for 3 hours to a maya ruin (Xunantunich) and my Mexican friends came over a couple of times to help me finish the beans that we made 3days ago! Yaye! not one bean was wasted! haha! That was a LOT of beans.

Well, that's it for now.
I have to get really serious about my projects now. Time is ticking. A fellow Peace Corp volunteer keeps reminding me..."It's only 150 more days". (I say)..."Geez, okay already...you're stressing me out! I still have a bunch of projects to do!" In reality, I have like 4 months left! how time flies!

Till next time....I maybe on the next Oprah winfrey show! hahha. just kidding!

Current Mood: awake
Wednesday, January 19th, 2005
5:56 pm
PEOPLE POWER! and a happy new year!
Hi Everyone!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I'm back in Belize....and trying to get back into the swing of things.
I just wanted to say MUCHOS GRACIAS to everyone who was able to see or talk to when I was back home. (And sorry if I didnt' get to meet with you (too) because it was sooo fast and hectic.) In anycase, it was a great trip..and my
cold actually got better :( I had it during my WHOLE trip. :)

Anyhow...Belize is actually chilly. I have to sleep with a couple of blankets and a sleeping bag to keep warm. Oh and the springs in my matress are already popping through. Hum..quality workmanship. Anyway, I am hoping that it will last till the summer (I'll be coming back home to California).

Besides my sleeping difficulties....
Something's a brewing here in Belize actually. A
nationwide strike is occuring tomorrow..and the next
couple of days. The feeling in the air is a bit anxious and a little
tense. I guess the country is in a lot of
debt...maybe because of corrupt dealings (i.e. the ministry of finance was accused of stealing money from the social security fund) but now the taxes will be raised up to 100% in the next year. I guess the people
are not gonna take it anymore. So the unions are going to make their voices known. I hope they come to a
conclusion fast... because as part of the
strike...schools, water and electricity and phone
utilities will be shut, big stores and other
unions...will also stop working for a couple
of days. The country will bascally shut down...at least till Saturday. All this is to show that the people of
Belize DO have a say in how this country is run..and
they are going to show their people power. :) I say
here here! :)

anyway, i'm not supposed to be biased...so I'm not. :)

Well, I'll keep you guys up to date with the events. however we'll have to wait till we get electricity and the internet back working. :) Peace..and I hope you guys are doing well!


Current Mood: curious
Friday, December 17th, 2004
4:06 pm
Christmas break!
So today is the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL for the 1st term. YAHOOOOOO! I survived it. I am presently a little sick with a cough and a drippy nose...to people here..they call that the flu. (but it's not). Anyway, today's the last day....and it can only bring happy things. tra..la..la..la...la. :)

Because it is the last day before christmas break, this day is designated the "party and clean up day" for the school. Basically, the kids (from infant 1- standard 6 = kindergarden to eight grade) play and just do nothing or anything from 8:30am- 11:30. Then each class has lunch in their class (usually the kids go home from 11:30 to 1pm for lunch, then they come back to school). So today, I ate a a couple of the classes! I ate the staple food (rice and beans with stewed chicken and potato salad)in one class. In another, I ate baked beans, fried chicken, coleslaw, and bread roll with a bottle of coke. It's not an exaggeration that people here eat these meals EVERYDAY.

Of course the students have to have music to dance and make ExTrA noise with (my hearing and my voice is gone by midday)...so each class had their boombox blasting. But one class room (Ms. Lewis-Std 4)actually had a dj with his "boxes" (speakers)in her classroom (only in Belize). It was LOUD!, but it made it a better environment to learn how to dance the "punta". :) Punta is originally a traditional dance in the Garifuna culture..but it has recently been transformed to be the in trendy thing to dance. It has been tweeked to be less conservative, of course. So i learn how to shake my (non-existent)butt with the kids. They get a kick out of seeing "miss cherry" try to dance the punta. :) I had lots of students to teach me how to dance. It was fun with all of us laughing at each other. I dont' know yet if i got punta down..but they say i'm catching on :)

Well, school is done..and all the teachers are relieved to say...that "we are freeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" Till the next year. So till then...i'll be in California!! woo hooo!! i'm soo looking forward to coming home. :)

okay...talk to you all soon....hopefully in California!
love, peace, and hair grease!
Cherry in Belize

Current Mood: quixotic
Friday, December 10th, 2004
4:26 pm
1 more week to go...
Hey all....
I'm at the RLC (Regional Language Center) computer lab at the University of Belize...and this guy is singing OFF-key while listening to his spanish music through some headphones. HA! :) I look at the person next to me..and she makes a weird face. :) It's funny..but a little annoying... Can't concentrate on my entry.

Anyway...I must continue.

So primary school is almost done! Yahoo, too that too. I don't usually teach because I get "fraid" that I make a quiet classroom, a caotic(?) classroom. Anyway, I was asked to watch over Mrs. Lewis's classroom (Std 4 = grade 6). The teach assured me that they would be fine because they had lots of work to do. Weeeeelll....I get in the class, and immediately they say that they don't know how to do the work. I had 2 options....answer their plea for help, or just tell them "Too bad, work quietly til the bell rings". Hum..,you know i'm a softy..so i try to help them. Hum...not such a good move..becuase really they just wanted an opening for them to talk and make fun of eachother. I tried to explain to them how to work out the math problem..but to no avail, they were too loud for my little lungs. A parent finally came to relieve me. To make a long story short, the parent quieted the students enough for me to explain the formula. Surprisingly, some of the kids actually GOT IT!!! Wow, so that's how a teacher feels to be rewarded. So even though I got the usual classroom craziness, to have one or 2 kids actually understand why I explained the proportions as I did....was worth it.:) yaye, for me! :)

Besides that, I'm just now starting on setting up our 1st school library. I'm getting a lot of on the job training here in Peace Corp! MOre good news....we recently opened our computer lab for our school (consisting of 6 refurbished computers)....And just 4 days ago, the Ministry of Education donated to our school 9 monitors, 4 CPUs, 4 scanners, 5 surge protectors, and 4 printers. This is HUGE for us :) A parent started off this project..and our computer lab is becoming a reality. See...it's true...if you build it...they will come. :)

So I have one more week before coming home for Christmas!! yahhoooooooooo! I'm getting excited now. I'm gonna start packing TONIGHT. Well, i have a bunch of things that I would like to take home that I don't really need for the rest of my time here (i.e. a hammock, journals, cds, pictures, books, etc.) That's just to make my move back to Cali in the summer a little more lighter :)

I have to say my time here has turned around a bit since I moved to Belize. :) I have made 2 really good Belizean friends. One of them even has family in Pomona, California. Anyway, my friend, Emma, was saying that I should come back to Belize for New Years Eve!..they're gonna a big "Bash" (party) at her house. :) That's soo cool. But my plane ticket is set..and i'm gonna be coming back to Belize Jan 4. No worries.....I told them to save me some lobster and cow foot soup for when I get back! HA!

Well, I better go.
I'll write more soon...otherwise I'll see you guys in Cali!! :) I have lots of pictures to share with you too. :)

take care.....Cherry

Current Mood: ecstatic
Monday, November 29th, 2004
6:17 pm
I'm coming back to CALI!
Hola Everyone!!
Happy Belated Thanksgiving day!
I've been lagging on updating my journal and in uploading pictures...but before that miracle happens..I just wanted to let you all know that I'm coming home for CHRISTMAS!! YahOooo! I'll be in country Dec 20. Anyhooo, I'd like to see each one of you (my friends friends friends). (Man, you can see how much I miss you guys!)
Anyway, I'll be home till Jan 4. :) So please let me know if you guys have time to hang.
p.s. I've gotten very skinny here in Belize and would be soo happy if I could be fattened up before I have to cook back in Belize! haha! :) okay, we don't have to eat..we but we have to catch up! Tell me how the states has changed! :)

anyway, I'll talk to you all soon. and I'll update this thing....um... soon!

Current Mood: excited
Friday, October 15th, 2004
4:58 pm
Hi All!
just wanted to say,"hi". glad it's friday.
nothing much happened this week. Well, the other day my friend helped saw a circular piece of wood by hand so we can make it into a cover for our garbage can. The last one blew off in big WINDY, rainy storm! sucks really. Because no one...NO ONE....sells just the cover of a trash can! :( so my neigbor and i decided to make our own out of some pressed wood and we'll use a cabinet door handle for lifting! :) peace corp at it's best. ha!

anyway, besides that....2 former site mates came through town from traveling south america. It was great seeing them..but sad again that they have to leave so soon. Then it came to me....man, i have to let my friends know that i appreciate them..because time will not always be there. So here i am being mushy...but "I'm sooo thankful for you guys!!!!!" *mush mush mush* :)

So there.... it is friday....and time for myself. well, actually, i have to go to school tomorrow (saturday) because we have a weekly computer lab workshop (to set up our school's very own computer lab of 6-8 old computers)!! woo hoo!!! hey, that's a feat here in Belize. A computer lab in a primary school? cho...that's high tech! :)

well, till next time. please let me know how you all are doing. i miss you all very much. Sometimes, I really wish that I could come home to California for a weekend or so...to refresh and see you guys. Oh guess what i'm coming to California for christmas!! so I hope that i will see you guys in person then :)

Cherry in Belize

Current Mood: chipper
Saturday, October 9th, 2004
12:49 pm
man, i'm tired...
It's Pan-American Day (Columbus Day)holiday this weekend!
BUT...I will be staying in Belmopan all weekend. It's a good thing.....I could have traveled with a friend to the Mexican border..instead, i've chosen to stay and get some paper work done for peace corp...and just get some good rest.
Just this week, I had to travel to Belize City to help the CARE-Belize organization in finishing up their report to the British High Commission, then come back the same day. I'm supposed to get a poster in exchange for helping with the project!! :) Then on thursday, we we had our 1st PTA meeting (note: we had a full day of work at school..and had to make sandwiches and lime juice for the evening meeting after work). And the rest of the week was spent in class with the kiddies (that's a long day as it is).
Maybe it sounds like a bad thing..but I'm liking all the activities. The same time last year, I was dying for things to do. (oh did i mention that i'm taking a salsa class on tuesday nights. It's fun, but there is a shortage of partners.:) I guess I just need to pace myself, because instead of traveling this weekend...I have picked sleeping in and just relaxing. :)

Current Mood: tired
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