Saturday, March 31, 2007


Reade, Lisa, Emily and I are walking along the beach on the Belizean island of Ambergris Caye, cooling down after an overly warm run, when a grizzled rasta shouts and changes his inertia to saunter along the beach with us. "You guys look like you're in good shape. Want to see what I've got to keep me in good shape?" We all come up with similar uncomfortable responses to the offer of marijuana we know is coming. He pulls out the better part of a jumprope from his bag, and begins touting the life-prolonging qualities of jumping rope several times a week. "Keep up the good work!" He yells after us. We don't know what to say.

The last month has been a transition. We left Honduras, which tried it's best to not let us, and arrived a little stunned in Belize where we once again processed the previous few months staring at aqualine blue water under cloudless skies. Just like last time.

Honduras tried to pull the old "You overstayed your visa, which was stamped in El Salvador but counts for Honduras as well since we agreed to confusingly blur our borders and exit and entry rules and now we're 67% confident that you owe us a lot of money and we don't care that you were here to help our nation by volunteering."

We answered with the tried-and-true "You've got to be kidding me that you are going to charge me an exit fee AND a fine for overstaying our visa for EL SALVADOR which was short since we were only spending a day in transit to your crappy consortium of disorganized central american countries and since we have a flight in 15 minutes you better figure this out or we'll never come back to volunteer at your hospital."

We ended up with a half price discount because the woman behind the counter could tell that Emily was going to fling her file cabinet across the room if she tried to charge us an exit fee that cost roughly the same as our flights.

Belize has been very soothing every since then. We spent some days with our friends Mindy and Jonathan in an amazing resort in a secluded area of San Pedro. Sailing, fishing, sunning, kayaking, snorkeling, reading and cooking have been really therapeutic, and having incredible friends to talk to was the icing and the cake.

Mindy and Jonathan moved on down the coast, and Reade and Lisa showed up on their extended trip. So we decided some more days here couldn't hurt. We'll let you know how the unwinding goes.

Que le vaya bien!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Boiling Water and Schoolbuses

I'm boiling 3 gallons of water in 1/2 gallon increments this morning. It takes a surprisingly long time. So I thought I would dazzle you with a description of my bus ride home from Nueva Suyapa.

The giant yellow tin can on wheels lurches to a stop and exhaust belches into the open windows. The University again. "Estadio! Estadio! Estadio! Estadio!" The charger jumps out, finds the exact spot where my knee rests against the hot metal and bangs it in an unmusical rhythym with his chant. Is he punishing me or attracting potential customers with the sound of flexing sheet metal? The bus hiss/squeaks forward a couple feet launching the newest passengers into their seats and each other.

Yell, bang, jerk, repeat.

Now we are blocking nearly all traffic in and out of the University. People have no choice but to ride the bus! The last few taxis squeeze by as the gap closes, leaving only white paint as evidence of their passage. The bus driver doesn't notice, so engrossed is he in a rolling/lurching conversation with the bus next to us. Together they create a complete and oblivious roadblock to all traffic - now everyone will ride the bus! The police are here, emphatically telling the driver a third time he must move. I write a mental "x2" next to the neatly stamped bus capacity sign for schoolchildren of the disco era, whose music I watch everyone sway to once more, this time involuntarily and with remarkably similar attire.

The driver snaps awake as if from a dream and jams on the gas, only to brake once more as a taxi makes a life or death attempt to skirt our accelerating behemoth. The charger hops aboard with the grace of that guy who grabs onto a helicopter landing rail as it lifts off the roof of a building, legs flying behind him and a wad of bills grasped neatly in his free hand. We're off! The University stop is unique to this route - there's none other like it. I hand over my $.15 for the show.