Sunday, July 31, 2011
Arrived at nearly midnight on Friday. Bobby picked me up from the airport and since it just happens to be so close to the dog track, Bobby thought that I should go get my poker fix. Honestly, really, honestly, I think on this one rare occassion when I had been traveling all day, I would have preferred just to be driven the short drive to Carlene's and crashed. But with no verbal objection from myself, Bobby and I went to the dog track and played poker until 3:15 am only to end up dead even. Or just maybe, plain dead. And I'm somewhat still on village time so of course, I woke up with the roosters crowing silently in my head the next morning.
After two days here, I'm trying to keep it simple... no car, no phone, hey, and no home YET! Carlene has graciously welcomed me into her home (as did so many of you) so I'm enjoying the AC, Mike's buttermilk biscuits from scratch, and that very special sisterhood and friendship that I've enjoyed with my buddy, Carlene for the last 23 years. Aubrey asked for help with the move of her wonderful boyfriend, Rob so I will rent a car and head to Gainesville in a couple days. I will be travelling to see my dear friends in Delaware (Sue Brown and Marianne) in nine days. I figure I can start resembling an American once I get back from that. Look for a job, get my old car back from Ashley that I gave to her in 2001 (that was already five years old and now has over 250k miles but still runs almost like a top), move back into my townhome on the 1st of September, and start buying everything I will need right down to silverware and dishes. But only what I need, not want. The 'wants' will have to wait.
I miss Belize and the people that I came to love. I miss my family in San Miguel that named their newest addition to the family, Aubriana, and call her Aubrey. I even miss the long, hot bus rides to get from one place to another...time to think, rest, pray. And, Roger, oh, how I miss him.
I had always wanted to serve in the Peace Corps and now I can check that off my 'bucket list'. Now I'm ready to move on, turn the page to the next chapter of my life. I vow to keep things much simpler, not get on the treadmill again, try not to use a credit card...embrace relationships, and take time for friends to do nothing much at all but be together. Don't know if these goals are attainable but I'm sure gonna try.
This will be my last blog. Thank you for sharing this experience with me, supporting my efforts from afar, and supporting my projects. I appreciate this more than you can imagine and am touched deeply within my heart.
God bless us all...love, tracy
Happy Birthday to Carol Pahl-- TODAY!!!!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
As I am approaching the end of my Peace Corps service, I find myself shifting gears and thinking of coming home. My home is Florida—where abundance abounds, the sun shines most every day, and most people have most everything they want. The sun shines plenty here in Belize, so much so that I look for every opportunity of shade. But abundance and plenty is not part of the life of the typical Belizean. There will be some reverse culture shock, I'm sure.
As most of you know, it has been a challenging but very rewarding experience. But if asked what were the most significant experiences, I think of three.
In January, 2010 when we had the meeting to first discuss the possibility of a playground, we had everyone in favor of the project but only one volunteered to do the manual labor from the entire village. Thirteen months later, there were over 28 villagers helping with the playground project with no mention of compensation. This sense of 'volunteerism' and 'community was not evident the year before.
Recently, I was talking to the former Village Chairman about my future plans to work at the clinic in Succotz and then on to home. He thanked me for my service here. But he also said that I had made the village a 'friendlier place'. WOW! That might not sound like much but I'm sure you have picked up on the nature of the Maya in previous blogs. And all of the PCVs in the health sector had agreed that my village was 'especially' Mayan. Every village has its own personality. Some are livelier than others. The village of Silver Creek just down the road sells beer and there are occassional parties. You won't find a beer in my village. San Miguel has to be one of the most stoic, serious, borderline-grumpy group of people. The village knows that and seems to be ok with that label. But I have noticed more greetings on the road, more smiles, and laughter at the playground. Subtle changes, but I think, quite nice.
The third is YOU!
First there was the flood of seeds pouring into the Peace Corps office when I wrote of the widowed mother of eight who was hopeful that she could now sell her produce to take care of her family. Then, you raised enough money to pay for the first year of high school for Marcelino (my first host family's mom's youngest brother). It was the first time that anyone in their family had gone past the sixth grade.
Then there were all the 'care' packages sent from home, mysterious deposits made in my personal bank account, many cards, books, letters of encouragement, and comments posted on this blog. Random acts that supported me and had me forge ahead when things looked pretty bleak.
Then you raised enough money for me to purchase the bottle of medicine to innoculate 25 dogs in the village. You may remember that three dogs came to my house the very first week I was there, only to die. Nearly all the dogs in the village were afflicted with mange and intestinal parasites. I did not hear of the demise of ANY dogs once we started the medication. The dogs looked better, I'm sure they felt much better, and villagers started taking some interest in the care for their dogs.
Two dentists back home sent over 200 toothbrushes EACH for my dental project in the village. And lets' not forget the clothes that many of you donated for Shadae's family so her mom could better support her family. And while I was home visiting, many of you donated games, a scuba mask for my host dad since he dives for fish in the river, and other gifts for me to bring back to my family and village friends here.
Then, the playground. Once the PCPP proposal was posted on the Peace Corps website describing our project, it took less than 6 weeks to raise the money. The average length of time for fundraising for these grants is upwards of three months. And this particular project was one of the more costly projects posted at the time. There were over 33 donors—family and friends—kind, generous, and caring. Aubrey's friends at the VA hospital in Gainesville decided to take on a separate swingset project up at the school. Now the children have a park AND a special play area at recess and before and after school.
And there were the three visits from my children and Katrin. All major shots in the arm.
With your help while I was here in Belize, WE were able to make a difference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
God bless us all...tracy
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I had met a dentist from El Salvador that was volunteering for several months at a health clinic in the village of Succotz (close to Benque). He was extremely excited at the prospect of a hygienist helping him out—to do prophylaxis and train the assistant there that did not speak any Spanish and he didn't speak any English. With my marginal Spanish, I would be able to help in many ways.
People that want to be seen by the dentist arrive at 8 and wait outside under a tree. Then one of the three of us goes out and gathers names and puts them on a list. The patients tell us what they are here for...either an extraction, a filling, or a cleaning. Then they patiently wait their turn which could be into the late afternoon.
Each patient is a major 'project' but there is no schedule. I can take all the time I need which is good as none of these people could be done within an hour. I have spent more than two hours on some and asked one to return another day to finish up.
God bless us all...love, tracy
Friday, April 29, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
I have been reflecting on my blessings this beautiful Easter morning. Years pass ... the sad farewells to friends, grandparents, my mom and dad and step-dad, and Bob. But because of that mild, soft spoken, golden hearted man that died on that cross this day for us, WE will have everlasting life. We will be reunited with those we love.
I am home in Florida for a visit before heading back to Belize. I have spent some time in Gainesville with Aubrey and her friends from work. I visited for four days in Jupiter and had the gift of meeting with several friends for lunches and dinners...even had a chance to play some tennis and golf. I massaged a few friends on one of the days. Now I am in Vero Beach visiting Ashley.
I am sure it's not terribly interesting hearing all about what I have been up to since I have been here so I will spare you the details. I would just like to share with you a comment that Aubrey made as I was giving her my itinerary before I left her place. "Mom, you have GOT to have the nicest friends in the world. You are so lucky."
I truly am. And so are we ALL!!
Thank you God, for blessing us all...love, tracy