Thursday, April 24, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Friday, March 21, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Another thing Tom did during our blog hiatus was speak at the El Progresso/7 Miles Primary School graduation in June 2013. We have been involved with the school for a number of years, helping however we can, but Tom was nonetheless hugely honored when Mr. Cano, the principal, contacted him in the beginning of June and asked if he would be the graduation speaker. Tom of course said yes, and immediately started thinking about his speech, which was on the graduating class theme of “Education is the tool that empowers us to be successful in life.” Since we truly believe this, it wasn’t a difficult topic to address, but Tom gave himself the added challenge of speaking in both English and Spanish.
Although English is Belize’s official language, 7 Miles is a town made up of mainly Central American immigrants, and even though school is supposed to be taught in English, many of the parents of the students speak only Spanish. Since the graduation is for the families as well as the students, Tom felt that it would be respectful to speak so the families could understand the message. And, Tom’s Spanish is good enough that he felt like he could do it.
The effort was appreciated by everyone, and one of our mainly Spanish speaking friends who had a daughter in the graduating class said that if Tom had been in Spanish class, he would have earned a solid “B.” It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly understandable, and even the representative from the Ministry of Education remarked it was quite well done. Of course for the next few days Tom would randomly blurt out, “I should have said … this way instead of that,” but overall even Tom was happy with the delivery, and especially with the reception of his effort.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
|Front view of old library before internet center started|
|Old library collection of books before internet center started|
|Inside old library, back wall before cleanup|
|Inside view of side door of old library before cleanup|
|Inside view of front door of old library before cleanup|
The next step was to make sure everything worked together, and open the center. Although this doesn't sound tremendously complicated, consider that this internet center was being opened in a village that doesn't even have electricity, so very few people have any computer experience, or experience in running this type of business, which, although it is a service for the village, still needs to be run like a business to make enough money each month to pay Hughesnet and do maintenance. And, because of how long it had taken to get all the pieces put together, the opening wasn't happening until summer when the kids were out of school, and students were supposed to be the major customers. Tom went to lots of meetings to figure out how to manage and staff the center, mostly because he has the experience to help get this sort of effort up and running, but also because the Hughesnet monthly bill has to be paid with a US credit card...which we have, unlike the Belizean citizens of the village, so it behooved us to make sure the center at least made enough money to pay the monthly bill.
|Inside El Progresso Internet Center|
While I would like to say that the internet center opened and the villagers flocked in to use it, that hasn't been the case. The people who are using it love it, and it is giving villagers who didn't have access to computers an opportunity to use and learn about computers and the internet. When school started again in September, students found it useful. However, it has been difficult to find enough qualified people willing to staff it, so opening hours have been limited, and many villagers gave up trying to figure out when it was open and when it was closed, and didn't even try to go. Then something happened with the electrical system and blew out the inverter, and it took time to get that fixed, and whatever momentum it had thudded to a stop. We're now in the middle of the Christmas holiday break for students, so they don't need it for their schoolwork, so it is getting very little use. The monthly bill is still being paid from village funds, but neither the village nor we have unlimited funds to continue to pay for something that isn't being used, so at this point it's possible that it will just be shut down if business doesn't pick up when the students are back in school.
|Front view of El Progresso Internet Center|
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Perhaps the most special was the reception for the wedding of our friends Angel and Lorena. Angel is the caretaker for our neighbors, Aspen, Tatiana, and Todd. He is also a good friend of Julio, and has become our good friend too. He and Lorena decided to get married near the beginning of the year, but weren't sure when they could afford to hold the wedding, and they wanted to have a nice wedding and reception for their families and friends. Here, it is usually up to the bridal couple to host the reception, and they don't depend on their parents to do it for them. Tom, Julio, and I put our heads together and brainstormed on ways we could help Angel and Lorena.
|Tom, Alex, and Ramon, Angel's father, string up the broilers.|
|Everybody worked together and we butchered and dressed 60 chickens.|
It was also no problem to get all the help we needed. Both Angel and Lorena have big families and lots of friends, and everybody helped. We raised 60 broilers for the wedding feast, and a couple of days before the wedding, a whole truckload of people pulled in to butcher the chickens.
We plugged a small chest freezer into Todd and Tatiana's solar wired house, and chilled the chickens for a couple of days before the wedding.
The day before the wedding, half the town of 7 Miles showed up to decorate, and plenty of people came back the morning of the wedding for the final touches, including setting up the cake and gift tables.
|Ramon decorates the palapa, with Janeth's supervision.|
|Tom and Angel take a break so Tom can explain how the wedding toast should be done.|
|Assistant chefs in the kitchen making tubs of coleslaw.|
|Edwin, the chef, cooking on the fogon.|
Angel's brother, a chef at the Coppola resorts, put together a cooking team, and they moved into the Moonracer kitchen to prepare the wedding feast while Tom and I, who were honored to be Angel and Lorena's padrinos, went to the wedding in the village. Some other friends put together the sound system, and a group formed to man the bar, serving soft drinks from coolers in the yard.
|Angel and his father, taking a break before heading to the wedding.|
|Finishing touches on the cake, with Angel and Julio in the background.|
|Benches set up so everybody can find a place to sit and eat.|
|Aspen and Tatiana delivering Lorena to the church.|
|Angel waiting in the church for Lorena's arrival.|
|Tom holding the mic for Angel to say his vows.|
|Listening attentively to the pastor after Lorena and Angel have "tied the knot."|
|We all had to sign the license. Tom and I were padrinos, or godparents, who witnessed the marriage.|
|The wedding party outside the church after the wedding.|
|Lorena and Angel entering the reception under the arch. Tom and Ramon helped release the confetti.|
|Tom, Lorena, Angel, Marge|
Angel and Lorena now both live next door to Moonracer Farm, and sometimes join Julio and Janeth and our guests for dinner. If you meet them while at Moonracer, make sure to tell them you saw some of their wedding pictures!