Sunday, November 27, 2011

Red Dress Run

One of my favorite things about living in Belize is our very active group of Hashers.  For anyone who doesn't know what the Hash is, the full name is the Hash House Harriers.  We bill ourselves as a "drinking club with a running problem."  The group started as a bunch of British soldiers in Malaysia who would go running after long weekends spent drinking.  Rather than any set trail, each event has a new trail set by the hare.  Those who find the end are rewarded with beer.

The Belize Hash has been fairly active for around 3 years or so.  Most of my friends are hashers and it provides us with a regular excuse to get together on the weekend and participate in a bit of exercise and day drinking.  Many of the traditions of Hash are quite silly, including Hash names, songs, charges, and ridiculous rules (such as if you wear new shoes to a hash, you must drink a beer out of the shoe).  But the more people get into the ridiculous traditions, the more fun everyone has..

One of the more ridiculous traditions is the red dress run.  Hash lore states that a hasher invited a girl to a hash in San Diego (or San Francisco) without explaining what the hash was.  She arrived in a red dress and high heels.  Despite the ridicule received from the hashers, she went on the run anyway.  The following week, several hashers showed up in red dresses and a tradition was born.  Each year, most hashes will host a Red Dress Run for charity.  Last year's Red Dress Run was one of my favorite events of the year, with over 80 people in attendance and at least 50 wearing red dresses.

Due to a variety of reasons, this year's event wasn't nearly as well attended and there were a lot fewer dresses.  (I blame this on the fact that the flyer this year said that dresses were not required).  It's too bad that more people didn't show up, because the event was done much better this year.  We had a DJ, tons of food for the cookout and the location was great (although tables and chairs would have been nice).

Tilapia Taco and Visa Molestor (yes, I have an awful hash name)

The Pasquale's chef with her two best customers, Vespam and Visa Molestor.

All the dresses for the Red Dress Run

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Great Pretzel Shortage of 2011

With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided I would make chocolate covered pretzels to take with me to the two dinners I am going to tomorrow.  I get the chocolate chips, I get the sprinkles and can't find pretzels at my normal store.  Then, I can't find pretzels at stores number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7.  I even called my friend Margarita for suggestions and she was gonna have her friend check in Spanish Lookout, but there weren't any there either. For some reason, there just aren't any pretzels in Belize right now.  It is reminiscent of my struggle to find mini-marshmallows last year at Thanksgiving.

The (almost) perfect week

Being the Embassy Duty Officer is not fun.  Forced to carry a cell phone around with you wherever you go, your day can be ruined with quickest of rings.  Every time the phone rings, you worry that someone died (the worst calls), someone was arrested (also bad), someone is crazy (happens way too often), someone is sick or lost their passport, or just wants to say hi (seriously, that one has happened to me).  Every time the phone rings, your heart jumps in your chest.

That is why a week with no phone calls is the dream.  A perfect week.  And just like with baseball's perfect game, there are rules that apply to the perfect week. 

Rule number 1 - you cannot get excited about the possibility of a perfect week until the weekend is over (past the 6th inning).  Sure, it is nice to not get any calls on Wednesday or Thursday, but until you make it through the weekend, don't get excited.

Rule number 2 - you cannot talk about the perfect week.  Ever see the late innings of a perfect game in baseball.  No one sits anywhere near the pitcher.  No one will talk to him for fear of jinxing him.  This rule actually tripped me up the last time I got close.  I made it to Tuesday with no calls and then got slammed Tuesday night with four calls.  I not only blew the perfect game, but also the no hitter and even lost the game that week.

Rule number 3 - the opponent doesn't matter.  Achieving a perfect game (week) is hard no matter the opponent.  A major league pitcher playing against a high school team would not regularly achieve a perfect game.  So, it doesn't matter that this is about as slow as tourism season gets in Belize.  Achieving a perfect week would still be an amazing accomplishment.

So, I followed all of the rules this week.  I even thought I was going to lose the perfect week last night when the phone rang.  It was a wrong number (similar to a fielder making a great catch to take away a hit).  Then, this morning, at 745 - a mere 15 minutes before my time as duty officer is over, I got a call from a woman who needed information about doctors in Belize.  I felt like that Detroit pitcher who got the 27th batter to hit a ground ball, saw the throw to first beat the runner, and watched in disbelief as the umpire called him safe.  I knew I had my perfect week and had it snatched away from me at the last possible moment.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Learning to be a man

There are things that every man should know - 
  • how to change a tire
  • how to tie a tie
  • what the infield fly rule is
  • how to grill a steak
  • Cast a fishing rod
  • drive a stick shift (I still struggle with this one)
  • how to play poker
  • how to build a fire
  • who Walter Payton is
Tonight, I got to cross one more off the list.  I cranked up Journey on my iPad and changed the battery in my car.  It only took me an hour and the assistance of one friend.  Turns out once we had a flash light and the proper tool (socket wrench), it was pretty easy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rough week

I had kind of a rough week this past.  Nothing super bad and, as my sister was in town, I had fun this week too, but a lot of little things went badly. 

On Monday, I left the back door open to the porch.  I wanted the dogs to be able to get a little fresh air while I was at work.  Luna decided that getting onto the porch was not enough so she chewed through the screen and hobbled out the back.  I got a call from the Ambassador's wife that she was out and spent half my lunch unsuccessfully looking for her around the housing compound.  It wasn't until I was driving back to work after lunch that I spotted her hiding under a bush at the RSO's house.

Then starting Monday, Luna decided that she needs to whine loudly in the middle of the night for no reason.  Plus my stomach was upset and I ended up taking a sick day on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, I made it back to work and left Luna and Bailey at home.  Luna, unable to get to the screen door, decided to try to chew through the front door.  Yep, CHEW through the DOOR.  Moreover, the check engine light came on in my car when Shelley was driving back from SCUBA diving.

In order to prevent Luna from chewing holes in my house when I am at work, I decided to kennel train her.  She had responded to this by pooping in her kennel almost everytime she goes in there.  Since the kennel is a wire kennel, this has required me to clean poop off the floor several times this week.  

Finally, when I took the car in to get fixed on Friday, they told me I needed a new battery.  They didn't have any in stock though and I was going to have to buy a US$180 battery.  Since I had not had any battery issues, I thought it would be fine to wait a few days to find a better deal.  No such luck.  Car wouldn't start on Friday night and then Saturday was a national holiday, so there is no where open to buy a new battery until Monday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Her name is Luna

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions.  I decided to name her Luna.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet ????

Here is a picture of the puppy I rescued.  I am looking for name ideas - please put them in the comments.

Forgot to mention - the puppy is a girl.  On the ride back to Belmopan, when I was more worried about whether she would survive than whether she was a girl or a boy, I had a great boy name picked out.  One of the children injured in the accident was named Gibson.  I thought it was a great dog name - no offense to Gibson the human - and would be a good tribute to how I got her, but I already have one dog with a pseudo cross-gender name (Bailey is a male dog) that I've decided I can't go with Gibson.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Welcome Home

I had a great trip to DC this last week.  I got to see good friends, the weather was great (crisp but not cold), the food was amazing and (surprisingly) the training was really useful.  But with all of that, the most interesting thing of the week happened on the way home from the airport.

Right after we passed Hattieville, we came across a van overturned on the side of the road.  There were several a half dozen children and several adults standing around.  They all looked American and it looked like people might be hurt, so I had the driver stop and I got out to help.  The driver had been coming down the road and swerved to miss a dog.  When he got onto the shoulder, he flipped the van onto his right side.

I made sure that the ambulance had been called.  Two of the kids had cuts that may have required stitches, but nothing serious.  Lots of scared parents and kids.  They had spent the past week on a family mission trip near Dangriga.  They were on their way to the airport to go home when the dog ran out in front of them.  As the police and ambulance arrived, I made sure they had contact information for the Embassy and the airlines (they were likely to miss their flight).

As I made my way back to the car, I saw something on the shoulder about 100 yards up the road.  When I got there, I saw the dog that had presumably run out in front.  She was hurt pretty badly.  He back legs were injured and she was trying to drag herself down the road.  When I got near she just laid down on her side.  I didn't know what to do - Belize doesn't have animal control.  The police officer laughed at me when I asked if they could do anything.  The dog wasn't dead, but she would die if I left her there.

I decided to load her into the back of the Embassy SUV (there was some cardboard in the back).  We brought her back to Belmopan and then I took her to a local vet.  He is going to keep her overnight for observation.  He said if she lasts the night, she will likely survive.  If she survives, I will either adopt her or find her a home.  I wasn't planning on getting another dog, but I couldn't just leave on the road.