Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Last Full Week in Belize......For Now

Last Friday, Lauren and I were judges in a spelling bee at St. Andrews. We were judges for Infant 1 and 2 (grades 1 and 2). It was incredible some of the words that the kids had to spell for that age group, such as antique, though, knee etc. It was impressive what they could spell though. During one of the spelling bees, a funeral procession passed by the school in order for the Anglican students to pay respects to the Anglican church member, a 16 year old boy who passed away from having a car roll over him. It turns out that the boy was a cousin to one of my students and good friends with a few others. When the spelling bee was finished I went back to my classroom in order to find out the hard news of the student's relationship with the boy. It broke my heart to see my students crying, so I missed half of my lunch in order to be with them and talk to them; lets just say that I teared up by seeing the pain they were going through. After we ate lunch, Lauren and I went with Diane and her two daughters to the water park. We had a fun after noon in the water and talking. The girls would swim with Lauren and I and we played games. After a day at the pool, we headed back to get ready for the night. Diane was supposed to go with us that night and her driver was supposed to drive, but something came up with her babysitter.

Instead of having a driver, Lauren and I took a trip, a 2 hour trip starting at 6 p.m. on a bus to Belize City in order to watch Raul play a basketball game. During the beginning of the bus ride, we were having a fun time enjoying the ride with the locals and going on an adventure by ourselves; but after the first hour we were ready to get off of the cold, hard seated bus.

During the bus ride, we seriously stopped every 50 feet on the road in order to drop off or pick up new people. Lauren was smart and decided to take a nap while I stayed awake and was texting one of our good friends in Belize. Some of the messages were so funny that I was probably that annoying passenger that laughed so hard. For example, "Just because you hang out with white people do not mean you are one". I guess you would have to be there and know the whole story to find it hilarious.

We finally made it to Belize City after stopping in Belmopan and every other spot possible. At this point it was 8 p.m. Lauren and I were tired and hungry. Once we got of the $8.00 bus ride, pretty cheap in my opinion, we found a taxi and headed to the basketball court which was located on the ocean and luckily a restaurant was next to it. Raul met us outside and we went in the court to sit with his team before they played. Raul took us to the restaurant next door and Lauren and I were able to eat. Finally we headed back to the court in order to watch the game. The game was amazing. All the players were good and I would say are better then the NBA team. They had several tricks up their sleeves with the ball and passings; it was an intense game. Luckily Raul's team won by 20 points. The game ended at 11 p.m. and Lauren, Raul and I hoped in a taxi back to San Ignacio in order to go to bed. The taxi costed $250, which honestly was not to bad and we enjoyed the ride with the taxi driver and his wife. We stopped a couple times along the way in order to get snacks and drinks. We finally made it back at 2: 30 a.m.

After a long traveling day before, Lauren and I slept in. When we finally woke up we headed to Pops in order to eat a great breakfast. After breakfast, we came back to our dungeon to pack and get ready to go to Placencia for the night with Diane and her family.

They arrived at 1 p.m. to pick us up. Some how seven of us fit comfortably in her husbands big truck. On the ride there, we were playing with Chelsea in the back seat. In Belize people do not wear seat belts or have baby seats for two years and up. She was doing summer saults, tickle fights and making funny faces; it was a very entertaining ride. About 20 minutes outside of Placencia Lauren and I took a nap. Diane woke us up when we reached the destination in order for us to see all of it during the day. When we reached the cabanas, Lauren and I were pleasantly surprised. We had a cabana to ourselves and one for the five of them. The cabanas were right on the ocean and had hammocks hanging on the front porch.     There was a king sized bed and a full sized bed, along with a large bathroom and full sized, supplied kitchen. The family was in the cabana next to us and within 20 minutes the girls were over to play and swim. What really ended up happening with Lauren and I was that we took a two hour nap on the hammocks until 7 p.m. It was really nice to relax. Once we woke up and played a ready, set, go game with the girls we got ready for the fun night ahead with Diane. After all of us took our showers, she snuck over to our place so the girls would not know and we headed out in order to find dinner. We ate at Robert's Grove which was a hotel and outside restaurant right on the sea. It was a buffet style with delicious food and a live band playing. There we ordered drinks and talked. I ordered a Bloody Mary and when I took a sip of it my mouth was on fire. I swear they put the whole bottle of hot sauce in my drink. The buffet consisted of different kinds of salads, sea food, meats, pastas, fruits and desserts. After a stuffing dinner we came to find out that our meal coasted $250.00 which was graciously paid for by Diane. Once we left we explored Placencia.

We tried to go to a club named Eclipse but for some reason it was not open when we got there at 9 p.m. We then headed to the beach to walk the beach walk and ended up running into some of Diane's old friends since she grew up very close to Placencia. They said they were headed to Eclipse. While walking back to our car there was a bus that had the clubs name on it and people were getting in so we tried it again. They were still closed and when the people in the bus were dropped off they were not able to get in. T.Vs etc. were on in the club but I guess they did not open exactly until midnight which is crazy; at this time is was 11:20 p.m. We decided to head back to the cabanas and get a good nights rest.

The next morning we were woken up by the girls tapping on our door and saying our names  at 6:30 a.m. We opened the door for them and went back to sleep. We were then waken up at 7 by the girls again and fell back asleep. Diane came to our hut at 8:30 to see if we were up. She then arrived at 9 with plates of breakfast and juice in her hands for us; we were served in bed. She made toast, eggs and ham; it was delicious besides the ham. After a good breakfast Lauren and I fell back asleep and left the door open. We were woken up at 10 by a Mayan woman selling hand made baskets and jewelry. The items were very pretty and I ended up buying a basket. After that we gave up on sleep and headed to the ocean to play with the girls.

After an hour in the ocean, it was time to shower and pack so we could be out by noon. Diane, the baby and her husband went to visit her mother and we were left to explore Placencia with Chelsea and Chantel. The funny part about that is that while we were helping Chelsea with her homework, Diane forgot to give us Chelsea's shoes so she was shoeless. Grant it she is only five but she weighs and talks like a 10 year old. Between the three of us, we carried Chelsea everywhere because the pavement and sand was very hot. Our first stop was to get ice cream. It was the best ice cream I have ever had. I got mint chocolate chip. The texture and way it was given to us was very different. After relaxing at the ice cream shop we headed to lunch; Diane gave us money for the day. We walked around looked at some shops and ended up at a play ground while waiting for Diane to get back. After three hours they picked us up, at 3:10 p.m. We all got in the air conditioned truck and made several stops along the way back to San Ignacio.

Our first stop was at a futbol headquarter place. Her husband is on the national futbol committee for Belize so he was checking on that. Next after Diane got lunch we made several stops at different gas stations to find butane gas because that is what his truck takes. We ended back up in Dangriga because we came back on a Sunday and most places are closed. After that we drove for about an hour. On the way there we were on a huge mountain and he pulled to the side and put the truck in neutral. The neat thing about it was that we were still moving up the mountain instead of backwards because of some gravitational force they said. After that, the next stop was a restaurant break where we were introduced to some spicy trips. During this whole ride we were playing with the wild Chelsea and baby Eva in the backseat. They are very good sisters and take care of each other. Finally, we made it back to our place where we unpacked, took a shower and headed to the town to get some dinner and hang out with friends. After an exhausting weekend we finally went to bed to get ready for school the next day.

The next day was hot. We trudged to school dreading the day to come, even though we love it at the same time. I ended up teaching a language arts lesson that morning. That night Raul came on the bus and the three of us hung out and got dinner at Andrew's cousins restaurant. I got a delicious pasta plate which I ended up eating all of. It was the slowest place to get our food though. It seriously took an hour. After dinner we all rode back with Andrew to Ontario to drop Raul off.

The next day, Tuesday, was like a Friday because we had Wednesday off. The day went by pretty fast and I ended up teaching a PE lesson to the Standard 1 girls. I had no clue what to do so we played kickball, which they have never heard of before, and quiet as a mouse. Once school was over, we came back and I got ready to go to dinner with Raul in Ontario. We ate authentic mexican food. We had garnaches, panaches or something like that and fried chicken. After we watched t.v. and met up with his cousins to chill with for part of the night, then I headed home.

The next day Lauren and I got dressed to go swimming in the Ontario River where we met up with Raul and his brother.It was funny because the bus we were on was over crowded so we switched buses. When Raul saw our first bus go by he was freaking out on the phone because it did not stop and he kept saying to get off when we were really 1 minute behind on the other bus. We ate lunch at his mom's restaurant and then spent 3 hours in the river since it was 105 degrees outside. Being in the water for that long actually gave me the cold chills which was nice. The river had a natural rapid in which you could swim down so we went down it. The current was kind of strong but it was a lot of fun. While swimming we also saw some Howler Monkeys in the forest right next to the river. After swimming, we headed back, watched some t.v. and got the same food as the night before. Finally we headed home to get ready for another hot school day.

Today was not hot but extremley hot and we did not have the river to cool off in. The kids were acting up because of the heat, which is understandable. Some bullying occured in the class this morning which the teacher stopped. I have never seen so much bullying in my entire then while I am here; it is ridiculous. At lunch, we had a potlock which was catered for all of the teachers. We were celebrating April birthdays and our visit to Belize. The teachers were singing and playing insturments and one made homemade ice cream which was delicious.

After a long lunch, I taught a science class on non-flowering plants. After that there was a parade of students and the school band was playing. The parade was because the Standard 6 students are campaigning to be Principal for a Day and tomorrow is elections. It was fun to watch. I was talking with my teacher and some students. They were teaching me creole, such as Le go da school which means lets go to school. They also are going to teach me how to dance and do the Punta tomorrow during class while playing music. Lets just say I am excited. Tonight so far we went shopping, bought some of those delicious trips and are now tutoring Chelsea. Later we are going to head to dinner and hang out with some friends.

I can not believe that our trip is almost over......for now.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Two Most Interesting Days by Far

So last night, about 45 minutes after I posted the previous blog, the lights (or current) went out all over Belize. All the houses, restaurants and stores were out besides one grocery store. The power was out nation wide for four hours; it was crazy. Lauren, Raul and I decided to walk around the square, where everyone was locating. People had candles out to see and some of the restaurants were serving certain types of food by candle light; we were walking by the bright light of the moon. Finally the lights, Internet etc. came on around 8:30 p.m. We then headed down town after hanging in the park, which reminds me of my high school days, to Hannah's, a local restaurant. There we met up with another Galen University student we met on the trip and hung out for the rest of the night. Lauren and Raul were cracking me up. Between the two of them, I have never laughed so hard in my entire life, calling each other Timon and Pumba etc. After hours of fun and adventure in the dark, the night finally ended.

This morning, Lauren and I got up a little earlier in order to eat breakfast at The New French Bakery. There we get our morning coffee and chocolate croissants. We had a long conversation how if we lived in the states, we would never be able to enjoy a breakfast before work; it was nice and relaxing. Today at school was the same old same old-nothing really exciting happened. After school, Raul came and picked Lauren and I up by meeting us at the bus stop to head to his hometown. His hometown is a 25 minute bus ride to Ontario. On the way there the bus passes through one security check mark. Usually the buses are never stopped but ours was. The soldiers came on the bus with their guns, knives and machetes and asked everyone to get off and form a single line. They searched the entire bus and found a bag on it that no one brought out with them. They were asking people if it was their bag, looking at IDs and going through everyones bags. It was strange because they never came up to us though. I was nervous because I was thinking they would ask for my passport which thankfully they did not because I did not bring it with me. They finally found the couple who the bag belonged to. Inside the bag was drugs. They arrested the couple; the bag belonged to the guy. The girl climbed up in the back of the pick up trunk but the soldiers picked the guy up and threw him in. I was surprised by some of the actions they took. Finally we made it to Ontario, there we walked around the village, looked at the stars, talked, and ate dinner at Raul's mom's restaurant. It was very very good. After that we headed back to San Ignacio by ourselves. It was a nice trip back with few people on the bus. Hopefully tomorrow will be just as interesting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Another Beginning to a Hot Week

Monday had to come, which meant that another hot work week began. Lauren and I love the school we are at as well as our students and teachers, but since Belize is still new to us, there are so many things we want to do in the little time that is left.

Yesterday during school went well though. I was able to teach my small group of students and help them with their math skills; which I always enjoy doing. For the first time, two minor fights broke out in my class and I was in the class by myself for both of them; go figure. It was easily stopped and resolved though. Those were the exciting parts of yesterday during school. Last night, I hung out with one of the new friends I made on the Dangriga trip. We had a great time talking and just walking around the town. After he went back to his village, Lauren and I hit the restaurants in order to find some food. We ran into two of our friends in the main area and all sat down to eat; one actually made our food at the place we ate at, it was very good. After a long day, we headed home to Skype and get ready for today.

Today was not that interesting either. We went to school and did the usual. During our lunch break though, my teacher bought me a juice from one of the guys who sells it out of his trunk every day at break time. The juice came from the sour...... fruit, I can not remember the name. At first I was apprehensive to try it because it is the milk of the fruit, so it looked thick and creamy. I thought it was going to be sour, but it was the complete opposite. It was very good! After that I headed home to eat lunch to find out that Lauren and I locked ourselves out of the house. Luckily we were able to get a hold of Dr. Harrison who thankfully left a spare key with her mom; she new us two snowflakes would lose things. After lunch we headed back to school. The afternoons always get so hot here and its hard to concentrate when your belly is full. When school let out, Diane, a really good friend we have made and she is a mom to one of Lauren's students, took us to the Ministry in order to obtain the checklist of materials we need to apply for a job here in Belize. After that we headed home and there was a package that was waiting for us from Lauren's mom. We opened the package to find the American food we miss here in Belize: oreos, cheez-its, milk, cookies, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, nutrigrain bars etc. We felt like we had just won the lottery. Now we are finalizing our trip to Placencia this weekend. We are going with Diane, her girls and her husband. We have rented two cabanas and cannot wait for the weekend to get here. Tonight we will hit the town with our recently made friend and start our souvenir shopping.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Days in Dangriga

The past two days have definitely been more eventful than the ones we have experienced this week. Friday Lauren and I woke up and headed to school. The difference between that school day and the previous days is that we were only at school for one hour in order to inform the principal and teachers about the time change and information we just received about the Dangriga trip. After an hour at school we ran some quick errands, ate lunch with Alice and then left for the educational event that showed us the true cultures and rituals of Belize.

The trip was planned by Galen University. A total of  fifteen students, local and other study abroad students went with us. That morning we all met at Galen and then left to pick others up in Belmopan etc. The long, bumpy bus ride lasted about 2 hours. Lauren and I talked to some students for a while, but at that point we did not know anyone on the trip. We finally reached the hotel that was located on the beach, Pals Guest House. Lauren and my first reaction was that it was going to be an awful place to sleep. Dangriga is a kind of run down town and the buildings looked out of date and worn. To our surprise when we entered our room, it was clean, nice and had a TV and AIR CONDITIONING; it was very small though. Once placing our baggage into the room, everyone headed to the beach to walk on the sand and in the water; I can officially say I was in the Caribbean Sea. There we had a small gathering where we all talked with one another and Lauren and I became pretty good friends with the other four study abroad students: Kristina and Amber from Canada, Trevor from Nebraska and Sean from Michigan. Once the gathering was finished, 45 minutes past time, we all hopped on the bus and headed to the sight where the cultural event would take place and the restaurant we would eat at in order to pre order our food. We then headed back and had about 40 minutes to wait until we headed to dinner. Dinner was about half an hour late (you will notice these events occurring throughout) and the majority of us sat down in order to eat. After waiting for our food and cracking jokes, it was finally time to go to the event.

The cultural event, drum show, took place on the ocean in a thatch hut. The locals sang their songs and danced, while playing drums to create the beat of the music. The Galen students usually did not want to dance, like myself, but we were all pulled in one at a time. The dancing event was great. Galen students broke a wooden table, we were learning about the cultures' music and rhythms and other locals gathered around in order to celebrate and share this special event; definitely a once in a life time opportunity. After having a fun time there, we then all headed back to the hotel in order to get ready for the gathering we would have in town that night.

After our gathering occurred we all headed back to the hotel in order to wade in the ocean before sleep. Not only did we have the study abroad students as friends but also the majority of the local students who went as well.

The next morning came fast. Everyone showered and met at the bus at 9 am, which was really supposed to be 8:30; lets just say the time is lost here in Belize, and no one is ever rushed. Once we were all finally ready, we headed back to the same spot as the previous night and spent 6 hours there learning to make drums. It is a long and tedious process, but very neat. The people cut mahogany trees and then made 4 to 6 drums (of different sizes) out of ONE chunk of tree trunk. They then sand the trunk down after pealing off the bark and then create the different drums from that chunk of trunk. After howling out the different layers they then place holes in the cylinder shaped trunk for the string and nails to go through. The people then skin the deer, goat, sheep or cow hide and stretch it across the top of the cylinder trunk and nail it in. Next comes the vine border that is placed around the edges of the drum that is held in place by string that "decorates" the drum. The whole process of making a drum takes a lot of patience, but in the end is has a great sound and is beautiful.

At 2 o'clock, The students and us from Galen University finished making one. Then we all headed to the bus and made the long journey back home. The way back home was just as bumpy as the on the way there. Lauren developed the habit with each huge bump we hit, she would say "ahhh" automatically; I shortly developed that habit later and everyone was cracking up. When we reached the different villages on our way back to San Ignacio, Mr. Owen (the bus driver) dropped each student off at his/her house; which was nice and really different then in the US, I love how no one is rushed and everyone is patient. Finally we reached our place. I took a 10 minute nap and we headed to town to eat pizza at Greedy's. After eating the closest pizza we have found to the American pizza, besides the fact that it was not greasy, we headed to a cookout with some friends and hung out for the rest of the night. They showed us a tree that only grows in Africa. The soil it is on here in San Ignacio is the only spot that the tree is fully grown in Belize. The tree is believed to help treat cancer, hopefully scientists can find a cure soon.

(The Second Day of Creating this Blog)

This Sunday morning was a perfect end to this week. Lauren and I finally got to sleep in until 11:30, which has not happened since the beginning of our trip here. Once we finally got out of bed, we headed to town and ate Pops. One of Lauren's student's parents owns Pops so she treated us with a free meal. Lauren and I both ordered breakfast burritos, fried jacks and a bowl of fruit. There was! It was very delicious though. To add a bonus to our visit to Pops is that it was air conditioned. Throughout my trip here, I have learned that Americans take a lot for granted; I have grown much stronger as a person and now really appreciate the life I live back in America. During breakfast, Lauren and I had a conversation about food. If we were in America and ate two huge meals a day consisting of the food we usually eat, we probably would have gained about 15 pounds so far. Luckily we have not because everything is so healthy here. Instead of fried with grease and butter, food is steamed and grilled here. There is barely any butter and no grease on the food; they just add spices to taste. It is very flavorful and we do not feel gross after a huge meal. Now we are waiting for some friends to get back and head to dinner.

Lets bring the new week on........

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Adventures Continue on the Eleventh, Twelth and Thirteenth Days

The weekdays are definitely  not as fun as the weekends; I think that goes for any country and person though.

Monday was just a long, hot day...looking forward to tonight is what kept Lauren and I going. I taught my lower group of students in the back of the classroom. I am teaching the same subject but we are going at a slower pace and it is more teacher guided. I definitely have to be on my toes working with the students. We finally made it home at the end of the day. The night was unfortunately warm as well. Lauren and I walked the town like we always do and talked with our friends and we headed home; it was an uneventful night besides finding out the real meaning of some words/phrases we thought we knew. Quite hilarious.

The next day was a little more interesting. On Tuesday mornings the teachers have a staff church session. There we prayed and sang hymnal songs; it is definitely interesting. It was also a student's birthday in which we celebrated. He brought cake and soda and we took a good chunk of the morning honoring him. The thing about the educational system in the US is that you cannot waste any educational time, and here it is a lot different: constant interruptions, teachers always walking in and out, celebrating birthdays or religion etc. Later that day I was working with my group and getting to know my students more. During a break, the teacher was talking to me about her past experiences in the other schools in Belize as a teacher. She said that there was one student who would pull knives on teachers he did not like. She explained to me how she ended up with the student, who was bipolar. She said that he threatened to pull a knife on her and hit her several times. The way she dealt with the situation is that she would stand up and give back to him the same attitude and similar threats; the kid backed down. She told me how they battled all the time and that all it took was a taste of his own medicine. She said she was terrified inside but if she did not stand up to him he would win. The amazing part of this story is that the kid visits her every once in a while now and says yes mam, no mam and respects her. A friend of hers has the kid in a correctional facility and says that he writes about her all the time.  She has definitely made a positive impact on his life; those are the stories that inspire me. After another day at the school, Lauren and I headed home. We have developed a habit of taking an hour nap after school and then getting ready for the night. After getting ready, we met one of Lauren's student's moms downtown. She picked us up and we headed to dinner. The mom is 29 and a mother of two. She and her husband are very well off and own a lot of businesses and hold high ranking positions here. She was very easy to get along with and we probably spent about 4 hours talking about everything under the sun and driving around town after dinner and drinks; we were lucky she treated us to a girls night out, a very fun, hilarious and amazing night. She took us around to see a couple of her businesses and her house and she gave us a whole past history of her life. To say the least, the three of us are good friends now and talk all the time. After returning at 11:30 on a school night with a thousand inside jokes between us, we really needed to head to bed.

This morning was a little rough waking up, but we made it. Luckily the weather has cooled a bit, so we were not as miserable today in class. The most eventful part of the day was when my teacher and students called Lauren and I into the classroom. They introduced us to a new fruit that they wanted us to try. I do not remember the name of the fruit but they all stood around as we were staring at it. The fruit was slimy because it was in a sugar syrup. We bit into the fruit and it was very hard and leathery but tasted good. The fruit got stuck in our teeth and we barely could eat any at all. The teacher and students were laughing and staring along with us; two white girls or gringos as they say trying to eat an exotic fruit. The fruit at one point slipped through both Lauren and my fingers and we were trying to catch it several times. Lets just say that we all got a work out from laughing so hard. After we all got under control we finished our lessons. I stayed after to tutor my Standard 4 students who were having trouble in multiplying decimals. Lauren eventually joined me and we helped all those who needed it while the teachers were planning. After we finally left school we headed home to tutor Andre, Dr. Harrison's nephew who we play with sometimes after school. Now Lauren is napping and I am writing this blog. Once I am finished I will take a nap as well and then get ready for tonight. Tonight is American themed by eating pizza and ice cream with friends and then going to a karaoke bar. Should be interesting!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Adventures Continue on the Tenth and Eleventh Day

Thank goodness for the weekend; who does not like Saturdays and Sundays. Sundays here are celebrated differently in Belize. This is the one day where people stop cooking and working and celebrate the whole day with their families; the day to relax.

Yesterday (on a Sunday) Lauren and I planned to go to the Mayan ruin Xunantunich. The x in Xunantunich is pronounced as a letter s. Through our stay in Belize, Lauren and I have made some friends. They met us outside of our house at "9 o'clock sharp and were not late". They were willing to go with us to the ruin and luckily they did. It was the first time that we had ever ridden a bus and it was confusing how it worked. The bus was worth the confusion and wait though because it only coasted $1.25. While waiting for the bus we met two tourists. They coincidentally happened to be from Kentucky and just moved to Bowling Green and work at WKU as recruiters! After talking for a while they joined our group and we finally all reached the ruins. Lauren and I have received a two year teaching license in Belize; on Sundays, Belizians get in for free so we showed the guard our certificates seeing if it would work.....and it did; free ruins!!!! On the subject of free things, it just so happened that Mason, one of the friends we made was also a tour guide, so we had a free mini tour of the ruins as well. Xunantunich was not as big as Caracol, but it was amazing and felt as if the ruins were taller and narrower. The climb to the top was a little scary but it was worth the effort and sore legs from the day before. We were able to take some really cool pictures because Mason went back down the ruin to the grassy area. After walking around for a while, we parted with the Kentucky girls we met and Mason, Alex, Lauren and I headed to lunch.

We got our lunches to go and then took a small hike to the Macal River. There we ate our lunch, I applied sunscreen and we swam in the river. The river water was clear and cool. For some reason, I was the only one who the fish kept swarming around and bumping into. After swimming for a while, they showed us a cliff where people jump off of. There are three different levels to the cliff; the lowest one being 30 feet from the water. In order to get to the cliff we had to walk a "trail" that barely existed besides the river and grab onto trees etc. to move about. Lauren and I felt like native Mayans. We were all barefoot walking the non-existent cliff trail and we were all in our bathing suits. We finally reached the cliff, Mason was the first to jump then Lauren. Sadly, I did not jump this time because of the climb to the different levels of the cliff. Next time when we all go, I will work up the nerve to experience this once in a life time activity. After swimming for a couple hours, we headed back to town. Lauren and I (the Americans of course) were talking about how we were hungry again. Mason made a hilarious comment to Lauren about her devouring here chicken burger really fast, " You ate that chicken like WHOA". After calming down from laughing so hard, the boys told us that they play community basketball most nights where they meet their friends and acquaintances at a park. They invited us to go along and we joined them later for the game.

The basketball games here are intense. The teams consist of all ages and sizes. All the players have really neat and tricky moves and can jump really high. I would say they are probably better players than our NBA teams; it was VERY impressive to watch. After the game we headed to a park and made plans for this coming week. Then it was time for bed because of school today.

School went well and quickly for once. Even though it was hot, everyone was well rested from the weekend. I graded papers and helped students with the lessons being taught. When it was lunch time, we headed home in the heat and ate egg plant and vegetable rice along with a salad and carrot cake. After our break we headed back to finish the day. When the bell finally rang, Andre (Dr. Harrison's nephew), Lauren and I headed home. We had to go in town to get groceries and we invited Andre along. The grocery trip also turned into an ice cream trip. While in town we saw a couple of our friends and then headed back home. Now Lauren and I are just waiting for the cool weather to come along and go out again.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our Ninth Day in Belize

Today Lauren and I had an incredible, amazing, fun, hot, adventurous, stupendous, exciting day; to say the least, it was great. This morning Lauren and I got up at 6 a.m. in order to meet our tour guide who took us to the Rio Frio Cave (located in the rain forest), Caracol (a Mayan ruin) and a local river.

Our adventures began when we left Santa Elena, the twin town of San Ignacio. We took an hour drive on the back rodes of Belize. The local people say that when you drive those rodes you get a free message and they were not kidding. The roads were extremely bumpy and unpaved. We were bouncing all of the car while still trying to wake up. Randy our tour guide was explaining how the people who are running for office will pave a road in order to help their votes go up; a "favor" to the people. After an hour of being car sick, we finally reached Rio Frio.

Our first sight at Rio Frio were three Belizian soldiers who carried machetes with them. Our first thought was that jaguars were common in the area, but we were informed that the US  Embassy pays for the soldiers to patrol the areas. The reason for this assignment is because the area we were in had a history of Guatemalans mugging and attacking the people who visited the area. Randy introduced us to some of the native plants and showed us the cave/tunnel. It was a gorgeous tunnel made of limestone that had a river flowing through it. On the other side of the tunnel was a nature seen that you see in National Geographic magazines. There was a still river and gorgeous trees and plants that live in the rain forest with the sunlight hitting them in the right places. Since the theme of our tour was the Mayan culture, he said that some Mayans stayed in the cave one in a while to sleep while they were hunting, traveling or at war the only use the Mayans had with the tunnel. The Mayans believed that tunnels and caves represented the 9 layers of the under world and ignored them as much as they could. That story led us on our next adventure.

So our second adventure took place at Caracol. Starting off, we we walked in the rain forest and headed to platforms where the middle class Mayans lived. Back in A.D. Belize flooded alot, therefore they Mayans had all their houses and buildings placed on a 2-3 foot stone platform. We heard Howler Monkeys talking and found out that the Mayans buried their family numbers under their homes and piled them on top of one another. It did not smell though because of the calcium in the limestone. The Mayan homes consist of four houses in a small court yard. One house faced north, one faced east, one faced south and one faced west. We then headed to the upper class homes that were located up the hill. The houses once had wooden roofs and thick stone walls that acted as an air conditioner. After seeing the homes, we headed to the center of town where the huge main ruins were  located. Before looking at the ruins, Randy showed us the Howler Monkeys that were in the trees!!!! We finally got to see monkeys!!!!!!!!! There was a family of five and one was a little baby monkey; it was really neat. We then focused our attention on the main ruin. This ruin in Caracol is a Mayan structure, not a temple. This is because the main ruin was the elites homes, a tomb and consisted of temples on top of the structure. After hearing the history Lauren and I climbed the hundreds of stairs to the top of the ruin and lets just say it was a great workout. The stairs were tall and and narrow, in order to go down the stairs we had to go down sideways. We then toured five other structures that have been excavated at Caracol so far and climbed all of the ruins to the very top. Caracol was a powerful city, they won the battle against Tikal in Guatemala, had human sacrifices and slavery. Walking around the city, we found out that the majority of buildings have not yet been excavated from the earth and that the Mayans built rooms and buildings beneath the ground as well. We saw these cool birds who had gorgeous yellow tails and made the coolest sound. The male birds built the nests that hang from trees and look like ornaments, the female bird then judges the nest and if she likes it they mate, if she does not he has to start over again. After spending hours in the hot sun and exploring the ruins, we headed back to eat  lunch at the gate where we parked. Lunch was good. It consisted of a burrito, salad, banana chips and water and coke, the owners wife made our lunches. After eating and cooling down we were ready to head to the next site.

The next site was a river in which Lauren and I swam in. I must say I was pretty proud of myself because I do not like getting in water. We climbed and jumped the rocks in order to find a quiet place to relax in the cool water. The problem with the rocks though were that they were very slippery. The rocks were granite and had algae all over them. After a short relaxing time, we finally got back in the card to head home.

We were "lucky" enough to continue with the free massage and stopped at a Mayan village on the way back to look in a gift store. On the way home Randy was telling us about certain dishes and teaching us some creole. He dropped us off at the market where people sell fruits and crafts. After looking around, we headed back home.

We now have more adventures planned for tomorrow.