28 March, 2008

scary movies in the rain forest

A group of us watched a movie the other night (on my computer). The movie was called "I am Legend" with Will Smith about a virus that wipes out almost all the human population. It was kind of cool until I picked up the movie case and saw that it had zombie-like mutants in it. I exclaimed “is this a scary movie?” and was informed that it wasn’t really scary, but it indeed had its moments. Since the movie is filmed completely in New York City, I figured it was safe for me to watch without getting all freaked out sleeping alone in my house in the forest.

I was in the process of warning my movie companions that I am a jumper and arm flinger when something on the movie made me do just that; flinging my arms both directions hitting Kat and Christopher and making the others jump with my loud yelp. The evening continued that way; me jumping, yelling (a scream now and then) and arms flailing. A couple nights before when we were telling scary stories from our past, Christopher sneaked behind his wife and put his face next to hers, causing her to jump and smack him in the face unintentionally with her right hand. Christopher then wanted to go to one of the dorm houses and scare a student that was staying here. He was forbidden to do so, but his evil throaty deep voice saying “Brittney, Brittney” was freaking us all out.

As the movie dragged on and the mutants finally showing face I noticed that Christopher was not beside me anymore. We were watching the movie off the outside kitchen in a small common area open to the dark night. The chicken’s area was behind the bench Kat and I were sitting on and I yelled that if Christopher was in the chicken pen, then he better come out because if he scares me, I will be on the next flight back to the states. Not wanting to loose his teacher of 3 weeks, he complied and sat somewhat quietly next to me for the rest of the movie.

Walking back to my house was fine, since I was not thinking of the mutants (who only came out at night) but the next evening it was just getting dark so I was using my flashlight on the trail as I headed up to the kitchen. I was thinking of the mutants and how dumb the movie was (especially the ending), when I saw a ghostly figure right in front of me. I jumped with both feet and then landed and went down in a crouched position with a loud scream. It was just Dawn walking to the toilet without a light. She was cracking up and I felt so stupid; especially when I arrived in the large common area and everyone wanted to know what I screamed about.

No more scary movies for me!
Amy and Brads house

School time with the girls. (and Melon my favorite dog of the 4 that they have)

Trail to my house.

View of the kitchen.

Movie Time :-)

25 March, 2008

Truck Adventure!


At the Maya Mountain Research Farm, one of their trucks is a work of art. Not only is it totally dented in on the outside, the inside is full of broken equipment as well; namely the speedometer and gas gauge. It is loud and feels like you are driving a monster truck of sorts. When I had to take it into town for the coffee run, I was not really prepared for that driving experience, but as always, up for another challenge. E led me down the short cut trail to the truck cutting off about 10 minutes of our hike. We got there and when I could not get the key to open the drivers door, I was informed that that door did not unlock from the outside; only the passenger door.

Once inside, I prayed that it would start and it did, luckily…because the other day, the battery was dead. Map in hand I started out. We made it out of the village fine and continued on the very rough dirt road until we hit a paved road and a road block…Policemen were checking ID’s and handing out a couple of “wanted posters”. I handed the officer my Kansas driver’s license and hoped for the best. He kind of looked at it for a moment and then motioned for me to pull over to the side. He walked around the truck inspecting it. I could see in his face that he wasn’t quite sure where to start. He finally leaned into the passenger window and asked me where I was going. I said to PG and he contemplated that for a moment…probably accessing whether the truck would make it or not.

He then told me that I had a right headlight hanging from the truck and that I would need to fix that. I assured him that I would and he handed me back the ID. As we drove out of the block, I was cracking up with E. as we were going over all the things we could see wrong with the truck!

As I approached the town, I pulled over in a driveway to look at the map and figure out which way to go. As I was sitting there a young boy came over to the truck holding something. I figured that he was trying to sell me something but he then held up a large headlight. He said “Miss, this is your light”. Dumbfounded, I said, “What? MY light?” which he replied, “Yes, Miss, your light was on the ground.” And he handed it to me. I started laughing and told him thank you over and over. He then trotted off. I tried to figure out where he came from, this little brown angel. It was just too perfect of timing…had the light fallen off on the road, had we not stopped at that moment, had he not come along just then, I would have arrived back at the ranch with one less light. I found which way to go with a renewed sense of a higher power leading me on.

At one stop at a store in town, I was told a couple time by passerby’s that “your tires soft” while pointing at the drivers side back tire. I was like yeah, I know, as the other day we had to fill it up also. After the next person pointed it out to me I decided to actually take a look at it. It was flat! I stopped the next car which was full of nuns and one of them told me how to get to the nearest gas station. As I got back into the truck a guy walked to the window and told me that my tire was soft. Restraining a sigh, I said that I knew it and was heading to the station to pump it up. He then said to back up into the driveway across from where I was parked because he has a shop and can air it for me. My second angel of the day.

It was funny as 3 burley fix-it guys watched the smaller guy air it up with a small compressor. After 5 minutes of filling it up, I stood next to one of the guys and with my arms crossed I nodded with my head towards the tire and said “think it will make it back to Columbia?” He told me that there was air available at the dump which I would pass on my way back to the village. I took that as a no. With a full tire, we headed to the vegetarian restaurant in town and ran into (by chance?) the karate teacher. He was on my list of people to talk to regarding lessons for the girls. As we talked I told him about the tire and he suggested going to Pedro’s to get it fixed. As he was giving me directions E. piped up and said she knew where it was because they got their dog Belaya from Pedro’s.

Tofu tortillas in hand, we headed down the road to Pedro’s. We got there and while Pedro gave his grandsons a lesson in tire repair we munched on the 25 cent choco-bananas; a completely delicious chocolate covered frozen banana. After paying Pedro a whopping 5$ for the tire repair we were back on our way. I parked along the beach so we could kill time in a coffee shop. I shut the driver door and then remembered that I didn’t have my bag. I grabbed the handle and pulled….pulling the handle completely off the truck. As I regained my balance (barely escaping falling down a small hill into the water below) I stood there and became lost in a hysterical sort of laugh. As my 7 year old passenger joined in my laughter she said between breaths, “Mom is not going to let you drive here truck anymore.” I wiped away my tears of laughter and we proceeded into the shop because I really needed a cup of coffee at that point!

After our truck adventure we arrived safely back with no more mishaps and after much laughter, I was informed that my driving privileges will not be revoked.

21 March, 2008

Trip into TOWN

Yesterday was an adventure for me. There is now 2 groups here. In addition to the PermaCulture group of 8, 10 highschool art students from New Jersey arrived with their teacher a couple days ago. Yesterday morning I was informed (in a whispered voice as not to alarm anyone) that we were out of coffee. E and I would need to go into Punta Gorda to get more. Under “normal” situations this would be a relatively simple task…go to the town and buy some coffee, but then I am not living under “normal” circumstances. I am in a place where the toilet (if I choose not to use the nearest tree) is around 150 steps from my “house” and the kitchen is a whopping 250, all thorough a forest of trees and plants.

The Village (San Pedro Columbia - SPC) is a 45 minute walk from the Ranch and is where the truck is kept. The town, (Punta Gorda - PG) is a 30 minute (roughly) drive from SPC. After explaining how to get the coffee (plan A), Dawn handed me her keys, a map and a paper explaining plan B and a couple other supplies needed. Plan A goes as follows:

Drive the truck to PG
Find the phone place and buy a calling card
Call the company and order 10 lbs. of coffee – this is where it gets tricky…
The Company is in Belize City will have to put the coffee on the next plane and send it to PG – I in turn was to put a check on the next plane out of PG headed to Belize City for them to pick up.
All seemed well, it was noon and we headed to Tropic Air to see when the next plane would arrive. When informed that it would arrive at 1:30 I was feeling pretty good. We walked around the town, picked up the misc. products needed (repaired the tire on the truck – not on the list) and headed back to the airport. The coffee did not come in on that flight, so with the next one due to arrive at 3:30, we headed back to town to try to kill 2 hours. We ended up at the shore and went to a coffee shop to hang out and then back to the airport at 3:30.

When the flight finally came in at 4:15, we were informed that the coffee was not on that flight either and after a phone call to Tropic Air in Belize City found out that it would not be sent until the next day…the “why” was a mystery yet unsolved. Plan B was put into action. Back into the town to search for a coffee bag with a gold foil package. Not the green foil one, nor the gold with the tropical flowers, but just plain gold. At 20$ a bag, I realized why they get their coffee flown in from Belize City! Coffee in hand we finally set out for home.

Drove back to SPC, parked the truck and trudged on hungry and thirsty (I had to use the last of the water we brought to clean the windshield) down the winding hilly trail back to the farm. We arrived at the river and after artfully crossing it without getting the supplies wet we dove in to cool off. Refreshed and dripping wet, we hiked up to the hill to the house, handed over the goods a short trek to my house and I fell into my hammock and crashed until dinner. One adventure after another.

16 March, 2008

Trip to the Village

Today, Amy & Brad (henseforth to be called A&B or B&A), Brittney and I went into the closest small village, San Pedro Columbia. A&B are awesome! They crack me up nonstop and remind me so much of my Brother and Sis-in-Law which is even more awesome. It's like living right next to family...smokin' drinkin' meat eaters…all the things which we do not have on the farm.

We ended up in a little bar which A&B had gone to the week before. The bar sells 2 beers, regular (4.6 % alcohol) and stout (6.8%). I had a couple regular ones and knew right away that I was in desperate need of food. It was about 1 o’clock and none of us had eaten since breakfast. Margarette, the owner didn’t have any food. She said that if we would have told her when we first came in that we would want food, she would have butchered one of the many chickens running around in the yard for us. I told her that I don’t eat chicken and said that if she had any rice, that would be fine. She went next door to her house, came back and said that in a couple hours her daughter would be cooking and I could buy a plate of it.

I stopped drinking at that point since another one would have made me sick with my empty belly, but that didn’t dissuade the lovable smokin' drinkin' duo, who proceeded to order one after another. One of Margarette’s twenty-something daughters came in and started playing Belizean music and with the music jammin', a plate of food was finally placed in front of me. It was soooo good that I devoured it. Rice, cabbage tomatoes, peppers and hot sauce never tasted so good all for a mere 5.00. (US $2.5)

The walk into the village took about an hour long and consisted of crossing the river and then hiking up a huge steep hill and then walking through the rain forest until we came upon a road. The road leads into the village, past the school. I could really see myself working in a school such as that one, teaching preschool or something. The cool thing is that I felt so completely comfortable in this environment. It seems like I have been here for months instead of only 7 days. The people in this area are predominantly of Mayan heritage and everyone I have met is super nice.

Once we finally left the bar, it was getting dark and the long walk home became kind of scary going through the dark "jungle". We made it to the river safely and were so hot and sweaty that we just jumped in to cool off. I am getting over my fear of swimming in dark water!

Coming back from the bar...

14 March, 2008

Everything here is amazing!!!

Everything here is amazing!!!

All the electricity on the property and houses are run by solar panels, even the wireless internet. It is so cool. No electric bill for them. Cords are hooked up to the solar panels which are then run into the house into switches for the lights or outlets. If there isn't much sun some days, then the lights aren't very bright or maybe the internet doesn't run good since the internet takes up a lot of power.

The food is INCREDIBLE! Vegetarian with lots of rice and beans. yum! Since there is a class here, there are two local (mayan) women who are cooking for everyone.

My house is one room and not only does it not have screens on the windows, it doesn't even have windows! The 4 walls are only halfway up so I have a 360 degree view of the rainforest. The roof is really high and made out of leaves. You really wouldn't believe it! Not only can Tarzan swing into my room, he can bring Jane and Cheetah's whole family too! I have a bed in the room and a small shelf, but other than that nothing else. I have tied a rope from one end to the other and flung all my clothes over that.

My creative juices are flowing though, so I will have something figured out soon to give me more organizational capacity.

The girls are really sweet and my nanny skills are more useful now than teaching skills as they both vie for everyone’s attention. They are always surrounded by adults and when there is a group, they both act silly and try to get a laugh or just attention from anyone. So far, I have had class with both of them in the mornings from 8 – 12. It seems long, but we have silly time, running time, snack time and spend the last hour reading. They call me teacher all the time, so I am working with them on calling me teacher while we are “in the classroom” and Melinda when school is over.

The classes are held on my porch which doesn’t have anything but a hammock and an old wooden bed frame leaning against the house, which Christopher said he was going to take away. I set the bed frame upright and put the chalkboard on it, added the step from my house and the one from the house across from mine and had a makeshift desk for them both.

I took photos of everything, but will not be able to post them until I have mom send me my charger…until then you will just have to try and imagine how it is.

My house is down a trail from the main house and kitchen. The toilets are self decomposing, so that means when you do #1 or #2 you then throw a handful of compost on it, (like rice hulls or other organic matter). The toilets are good for a couple of years (the refuse just goes into a large hole in the ground). After a couple of years the pee and poop will have mixed with the compost and it can be used as fertilizer. It doesn’t stink at all! Even when you shit, since it falls so far (the toilets are high off the ground) and you cover it in immediately when you dump a handful of the rice hulls into the toilet.

There is a couple living in the “house” next to mine. They are from the US and are here volunteering for a year on the farm. I am really glad that they are here since my house is kind of a long walk through the forrest and it would be kind of strange being all alone out there. Well, the internet is going out, so I will have to get online again in a couple more days...

04 March, 2008

contact information

I will have internet while I am in Belize...no phone or other way to contact me, though.

I will update the blog when I get settled in and hopefully be able to post photo's of my new surroundings.

By the way...the little girls are not named Anaconda and Piranha, no matter what anyone says!