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.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Beginning in San Ignacio

The morning we left Belize City, Lauren and I met the Galen University students/staff workers down in the lobby of the lobby of the hotel. It was nice to finally meet them. They checked us out of the hotel and we all hopped into the university van that was air conditioned and began our travel to San Ignacio. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a little restaurant named Cheers. That is where Lauren and I had our first taste of the popular local dish, rice and beans; don't confuse this now, we did not have rice and beans but beans and rice. We were also introduced to the Mayan Temple by our university friend Joshua. After lunch we finished driving to our destination. Some observations that Lauren and I made were that the San Ignacio houses were spaced out more and looked nicer compared to the home in Belize City. The first stop we made in San Ignacio was Galen University.

The university in Belize is much different from the ones back at home. The university are only a couple of old classrooms, very little air conditioning and all the classes fit in one small building. Joshua gave Lauren and I a tour and then we finally met Dr. Harrison, the lady we are staying with. We were also lucky enough to see the university's basketball team and meet its president. After filling out some papers, it was time to head to the house we were staying in. Dr. Harrison left work early and came to her house with us. We rode the university bus, driven by the talented Mr. Owen, and found more surprises awaiting us. The house we are staying in is divided into an upstairs and a downstairs. We are staying downstairs, which consists of two rooms, a small kitchen and a bathroom. There is no air conditioning and no sink in the kitchen; even though there is a faucet and bowls we use. After setting our things down, Dr. Harrison took us to the school we would finish our student teaching at, St. Andrews Anglican School.

There we met the principal and she gave us a tour. The school is smaller, has no air condition, but ceiling fans and windows and no technology within the classroom. There is one room that does have computers though for typing lessons. The bathrooms were just recently updated and there is a parent volunteer who sits outside the bathrooms to monitor them. The small library is also run by a parent volunteer, but it was not open the day we toured the school. The school has vendors outside for the children to buy snacks and a snack stand in order for them to by lunch. Each classroom has a jug of water in which the students can drink and very old weathered desks. St. Andrews is the third highest ranking school in the country of Belize though. Ms. Niel the principal gave Lauren and I each a year old year book. The significance of that year book is that it was the first one the school has ever published. She gave us a brief history of the school and explained the grading system in her office. The school starts at infant 1 which is first grade and ends at Standard 6, or 8th grade. I am placed in Standard 4, which is 6th grade and met my teacher and class briefly. After our introductions were finished, we walked to the town.

Heading downtown, we were pleasantly surprised what San Ignacio had to offer. Local shops, vendors and lots of different places and ethnic foods to eat. She explained how San Ignacio was just paved and a lot nicer compared to 8 months earlier. She explained how the main street, which is blocked off in places for just pedestrians to walk was located on top of a Mayan burial ground. While giving us the history, we stopped for a drink at a restaurants, after relaxing we then headed to her brothers pizza shop to order a slice of pizza. The pizza was good, the strange thing about it though was that you could order a slice of pizza how you wanted it and they would cook that one slice for you. After enjoying the night we went to buy groceries and headed back to our new home. We got used to the different shower and headed to bed, for the next morning, our student teaching began.

Lauren and I woke up at 6 a.m. by the sound of dogs in the backyard and the sunlight. We ate our breakfast and headed to school, which starts at  8 am on Tuesdays for teachers because we had morning prayer. At the prayer session, we met all the teachers and they hugged and welcomed us at the end. Then the long day of school began. I met my 33 students and were introduced to them. I told them a little bit about me and where I came from. The students are very nice and responsible, but the schools are a lot different here than in Kentucky. The students are able to call out in class, they call the teachers miss, they sweep and mop the room at the end of the day and talk during class. The day started out with scripture and then they went to a computer class. The students get a break at 10:30 and then head home or stay at school for an hour lunch at 11:45. Everyday for lunch Lauren and I take the two minute walk back home and go to the upper level of the house, where Dr. Harrison's mom cooks us a delicious meal. The first day we had fresh burritos. The burritos were fresh and different from the American ones. The tortilla was recently handmade and the beans and peppers were different. After filling ourselves up we had to head back to class in the hot sun. Classes start back at 12:45 pm, then another break at 1: 30 and then home for Standard 4 at 3:10. The different grade levels get out at different times depending on their age. After 3:10 and meeting and talking with my extremely nice teacher we headed back to the house with Dr. Harrison's nephew Andre. We played with Andre. Outside we ran into Dr. Harrison and she noticed the sunburn on my back; she recommended to use honey and the next day she bought me some, even though I did not try it. We then got ready to head to the town and do some exploring on our own. That night when we came back to the house, I sat on my bed. As soon as I sat down, a board fell out from under my bed, then another later during that night then another the next morning. I did not sleep well and could feel my lower back sinking.

When I woke up that Wednesday morning, I informed Dr. Harrison on what happened. Her dad was nice enough to look at my bed during the day and readjust the boards; I sleep a lot better now. Right before school started, we gave Dr. Harrison our laundry because her mom kindly said she would do it for us since we did not have time. During school, I stood as close to the fan as I could get. My teacher, Mrs. Caco included me in the class and gave me more information on the lessons of Belize that were taught. It was finally lunch time. Lauren and I headed back home to find out our laundry was hanging in the front and porch of the the house, undergarments and all, we could not stop laughing but no one noticed because that is just part of their culture. Lunch consisted of fish, rice and beans, fresh tropical punch (made out of real fruit) and fruit. Like always, we overstuffed ourselves. We then sleepily headed back to school where it was very hot. Luckily  I was able to interact with the students though and read them a book before the real classes began. At 4 o'clock Lauren and I were ready to go home. We played with Andre in the park and like usual, headed to the town for the night. We visited different shops, tourist places and got ice cream. When we were heading back home, we ran into a backpacker, Jason, who was making his way up to Mexico City for Cinco de Mayo. He asked if we would want to get a bite to eat with him so we did. He told us a lot of interesting stories and attracted the 'creepy' people of Belize. He then rented a room at a hostel and we headed to get a drink at a different place. There we met an rich American boy who just moved to Belize from Arkansas. He was telling us stories about Belize; then him and Jason continued with the story of the water heads shock you when taking a shower; we all died laughing. After a few drinks we headed back home and got ready for school the next morning.

Lauren and I again woke up at an early time, ate breakfast and headed to the square to buy some fruit before class started. That Thursday was the hottest day we have so far experienced in Belize. It was a long dreadful day at school. Even though the sun was out, we were able to experience a church service during the morning school hours. The teacher and students walked three blocks to church and there we sang and listened to the preacher. I was able to talk to the preacher before his sermon started, he asked where I was from and it turned out he was from Jefferson County. We talked a little about basketball and then headed into the church. During the sermon, he called me out and asked for my name again in front of everyone. He some how incorporated me and WKU's Sweet 16 basketball game into the sermon; it was very interesting. After the sermon we headed back to school for a normal day. Thursdays, students get out at 2:10 because that was the day for teachers to plan with the same standard teacher. After almost two hours of the teachers planning and not agreeing with each other we were able to leave. Before we left though, my teacher invited Lauren and I to her son's First Communcion meal with her family on April 28th. She wants me to try all the local and cultural food; I am looking forward to that day. We were happy to come home to our fans, but we could still feel the heat. To make matters even better the toilet would not flush and we did not know what to do since Dr.  Harrison was still at work. When she came home, we informed here of the situation and solved the low pressure problem by having a bowl by the toilet in which we pour water in to add pressure to it; it actually works. The night was not much cooler but we headed back downtown again to try a different restaurant and buy a few things. We met a couple people who were selling jewelry and items on the sidewalk and explained to them how we were temporarily living here. After that we headed home.

Today we woke up to the sound of the dogs barking. We got ready and headed to school. This morning was the same old same old. For lunch we had spaghetti, two different kinds of bread and ate a cultural corn dish that was cooked in the actual corn leaves; it was delicious! We also ate and drank a lot of pineapple. When we headed back to school it was time to give out report cards. Here the parents come in and the teachers conference with them. The students are in charge of themselves. Since I was there, I was in charge of the students. We read a couple books, played Charades that reviewed previously taught information and then watched a movie, which the teacher had already planned. The students made their own popcorn and lemonade and set up a different room in order to watch it. Some students went to the computer lab, others played ball and they were in charge of themselves. When the day was over, the students took the initiative to clean and mop the room they had used.

Besides school, those were the main points of our day so far. We are exited to see what tonight and the rest of our stay has to bring.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Belize City

Lauren and I flew into Belize Airport on April 4th. Belize was everything we thought it would be besides the unwelcoming heat and humidity, which we were not prepared for. That day was one of the hottest days.

Traveling to a foreign land can definitley have its challenges. Besides waiting an hour in the hot long line for customs, we found out that the hotel van was not at the airport. We asked one of the ladies who worked there and apparently we had to reserve the van and pay a fee. Luckiliy we had a plan b, the taxis. We were placed in the taxi with a nice young couple who was heading to the same destination. Just a couple minutes into the 15 minute ride we found out that there are not as many safty rules in Belize as in the states. Cars were allowed to pass each other on a two lane road and the mirrors of the cars almost touched the pedestrians and bike riders. There were no stop signs or stop lights besides 2 which were located on the outskirts. We also found out that honking here means hi or thanks; a complete opposite from the American meaning. We finally made it to the hotel. When we reached our room, we had some other cultural suprises that were waiting for us.

The first thing that Lauren and I noticed were that the floors consisted of tile. There was not a clock within sight, which is very common in Belize, you easily lose track of time, the air conditioner stuck out of the wall and the majority of the tvs stations were very staticy. We were bummed to find out that the hotel was not located on a beach, but literally right next to the ocean with rocks and a cement wall between us; the advertisors for the hotel did a great job covering that fact up. Once we were situated with the room, Lauren and I found one of the hotel taxi workers to take us to a local store in order to buy bottles of water. The water in Belize is not as purified as the states and no one drinks the tap water here.  We ended up buying 28 bottles of water and the crate it came in for 28 Belizian dollars or 14 US dollars and discovered poweder milk. After that we headed back to the hotel in order to eat a fresh salad in the hotel's restraunt and relax for the night.

The next morning we woke up for the complementary breakfast the hotel offered. Fresh fruit and juices were served along with refried beans, olives, cheese, johnny cakes etc. We then headed to the city where we walked all around for hours. There were vendors, guards at every store we passed, people selling jewlery and dogs roaming the town. We noticed that all the buildings (including the hotel) are older and not remodel. We took 160 pictures and headed back to the hotel to relax and get away from the heat. On the way back to the hotel we met our first aquaintance a security guard who worked at a bank and lifted the bar with his hands in order for cars to pass through. Once we reached the hotel and had our first break, little did we know that our 3 to  5 o' clock break would turn into a daily occurance where we would nap and watch tv. After our two hour leisure time we headed to the bar and grill Hour Time. There we met our second aquaitance and had our first Belizian drinks.

(Afterthought that happened on the second day): The rain here though would last for 3 minutes, then stop raining then a while later rain again; it was very strange. Lauren and I took the chance and headed into town though, we ended up going into the Belize museum for 10 US dollars and spent the afternoon there learning the history and culture of Belize.

Our third day in Belize City, Lauren and I experienced the sun and its strong rays by laying out at the hotel pool. We took a break from the city and spent a few hours in the breeze and sun. The breeze was strong and cool and covered up the effects the sun can make on people. When we finally decided to go in we were happy that we were not burned. When we reached the elevator we noticed that parts of us looked more red than usual. I am not kidding when I say this, by the time we reached the room and took our cool showers my sun burn literally grew! It was so bizarre, I am still trying to get rid of the burn.

The fourth day was our last full day in Belize City. On the last day, Lauren and I decided to splurge a little go to the Belize Zoo. Early that morning we met up with David the taxi driver. We paid him 70 US dollars to take us to the zoo there and back which was a total of about 2 hours of driving. Seventy sound pricy but thanks to my bargaining skills, we saved $55 dollars from his asking price. While riding with David through Belize City and Hattiville, he gave us a tour of Belize. He pointed out his familys homes, hostiles for misbehaved kids and the different landscapes and history the cities have had. When we finally reached the zoo, David waited for the next two hours on us. The zoo costed 15 US dollars to get in but it was money well spent. The animals were either sick or given up by their owners; they were never taken out of their natural habitats and were always released back to where they came from if they could survive. The zoo was incredile though. You felt as if you were actually walking in the animals habitats. There were several different animals and all had cute sayings that asked for people to save them from construction etc. There was literally chicken wire inbetween us and all of the animals; maybe the wire was a little stronger than chicken wire. Lauren and I actually petted a Tapir, or the mountain cow. Those were our favorite animals along with the sea otter that was talking to us and showing off his swimming skills. When we walked away from the otter he would talk until we came back and then showed off again. When we met up with David he showed us a resort like place that had a man made beach and restraunt. We finally made it back and were ready for dinner. We wanted to try The Celebrity restraunt but after a hot walk found out they were closed. We then tried Thirstys and another restraunt and found out that they were closed at 6 pm on a Sunday. Walking by the restraunts though we passed a park in which tents, grills vendors were set up. Familys were all throughout the park talking with each other and eating. Asking the waitress at the hotel restraunt, which we ended up at again, the stores and restraunts open early and close around 1 so they can spend the day with their families. After eating a whole bowl of pasta and splitting a dessert (and finding out that they do not serve house salads in Belize) we headed to bed and some how became addicted the tv show Duck Dynasty.

When we woke up the next morning, our true adventures awaited us.