I always like doing a summary post, I have been doing them for a while with Italy and it was always my intent to do it here with Belize. The more I teach (at all levels) the more I find it important to reflect on what you learned and how you have changed. I had written a draft of what I wanted to post here a week or so ago, but then forgot I hadn’t posted it. It took using my Marie Sharp’s hot sauce this morning to remember “oh yeah the reflection post”. So here we go.
People have asked since I returned how my service trip went. Most are just making friendly conversation and just want a one word answer. The best I can come up with is amazing, and then they keep moving on and I keep moving on. But that one word doesn’t even begin to describe the depth and breadth of emotions that I have felt since landing in Belize City. What follows is a paltry attempt to verbalize the way I truly feel about Belize. It is multifaceted and rambles and may not have a nice conclusion but neither does ones life (that is until the big conclusion). It all you want to know is that it was amazing, then feel satisfied and move on, the rest it too long so don’t read (tl;dr)
Let us begin with a series of adjectives. Belize was sad and joyful, lush and green but dry and swampy. It was guilt ridden at first for all I have and the thoughts of missing it, but full of gratefulness for what I had given up and what I had done. It was disheartening to see so much pollution and garbage and uplifting to hear the life stories of some amazing people. It was exhausting to be working so with tasks I have not done it years and rejuvenating to have something to show at the end of the day and to see the boys grow. It has reminded me how much I loved helping in community service and how much I really love the outdoors, both which have suffered with my move down to Aurora and luckily are beginning to be revived with my move into Denver.
It was so sad to see people on Caye Cauker put up a facade for the tourist, only to have many of the workers living 3 streets over in shakes and having to break up items for scrap metal (and not have a single tourist around me as I discovered this). Belize was disturbing and uncomfortable, reminding me how much citizens in the United States consume (and even how much I use though I thought I was doing well). It made me grateful for clean tap water, constant water pressure, and electricity that always works. Belize was friendly and familiar with people remembering Antonio years after meeting them, and others treating me with such kindness so soon after meeting them.
I witness and experienced many amazing moments. Seeing Frank U at the key ceremony, meeting the 2 Mayan girls in PG, snorkeling with rays and sharks (years after I devoted so much time to studying them), building a septic tank with a trowel, cleaning brushes with gas (weird but for me very simple and also MacGayver-ish). I never wanted to leave, there was so much more to see and do. And already I want to go back. Things were simpler down there, although it might take you all morning to run your errands. The multilingual and multiculturalism of the area was fantastic. I would love to learn all the languages of Belize and find that we are such a poorer country for pushing so many to just learn English.
I felt so exposed and yet welcomed. In the end I wish I had longer. Belize is all of these things together and at once for me. It is not a simple, one dimensional aspect of my life, a trip just to check of the list, and experience to just have had and forget about. I hope no one lives with such one dimensionalism. And I hope anyone who does strive after that (hopefully in ignorance) will soon learn that the universe is so much bigger and wonderful than just a series of unrelated events and experiences. Life would be so boring to them. So pack your bags, book the ticket, and get moving my friends. Until next time, Travel On.