Trowels, not just for Archaeology Anymore- Day 7

We continued working on Frank’s house today. It has really come together, we have all 4 walls up and painted, the tin roof attached, the windows installed, and the septic tank built. I spent almost all my time working on the septic tank. It is made of a concrete floor with cinder blocks running 5 registers high. A student and I worked on it most of the day and we both got pretty well versed at how to lay the mortar with a trowel and trim the bricks. And yes, you read that correctly archaeology friends, I had to use a trowel to lay the mortar and it is a lot more violent action than when I use it in Italy. We are pretty far along with the house considering we didn’t start till 11:30 today and we have a short pause for a downpour.

I also learned more about how Belizeans keep time. While talking with James and Alfonso, James asked what time it was. Alfonso answered 3:30; I said that it was actually 3:18. Alfonso turned to me and said, “yeah, 3:30.” For a Belizean the time is lumped together by the quarter hours which also explains a lot about their ability (or lack there of) to keep time.

This morning we had the chance to visit the Hand in Hand Outreach Center. It started as an HIV/AIDS clinic but because of the stigma connected with the disease they changed their focus to helping poor families by giving them a place to send their children for pre-school (with a focus on getting them tested for HIV and also vaccinated for other illnesses and also educating them about the diseases). The clinic is in a small but tall building and has a good size staff (they had only 2 in the early 2000’s). We got to hear a variety of songs sung by the kids and then we saw their lesson on the color purple. After that (since they are kids after all) it was play time. One of the girls was celebrating her birthday and after singing happy birthday to her, 4 kids got to give her 4 hugs (a nice way to show love without money). A few of the kids snagged my sunglasses (a common thing among Belize kids) and started wearing them around. It was really fun to play with them and we were all sad that we had to leave but glad we were going to help Frank.

One thing that was brought up in the students’ discussion tonight and that I have noticed over the last few days here in Belize is that the people have a very simple but strong faith in God. It is nice to be around people who are not questioning everything or distracted by so much technology (I know hypocritical to say as I update my online blog). But I mean it, Frank has so little and he is so happy. The kids in PG and in the Outreach Center are so improvised and yet have more fun with playing games and meeting new people. It is really nice.

Well that is all for now. We should be done with the house sometime tomorrow (finger’s crossed and Chaac, the Mayan sky/lighting/rain god being appeased).


About handyatmurlo

I am a Latin teacher at Regis Jesuit High School. I earned my MA at CU Boulder and my BA at UMass Amherst. I have spent my summers working in Italy as an archaeologist at three different sites. One I have worked at for 10 years at Poggio Civitate at Vescovado di Murlo. I have worked at the Villa of Maxentius in Rome for 2 years, before the project ended. I also spent 2 summers at the FSU excavations in Cosa.
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