Belize: the beginning 

Day one in Belize and I already have played with monkeys and have eaten some termites. I am so happy I had this opportunity to spend a little time out of the country. I applied for a service trip to Kentucky my sophomore year through Dickinson, and I think everything happens for a reason because I was rejected but it’s ok because this trip to Belize is so much cooler. Traveling here was pretty fun, because I haven’t really traveled in a large group since going to Costa Rica. I’m pretty used to traveling alone and I kinda like making my own decisions and doing my own thing. But at the same time it was also nice to let others figure out where the terminal is and all those logistics. We departed Dickinson at 3 am on Saturday morning, and drove together to Philly. Next, we flew to a layover in Texas so I’m pretty sure that was a first time in that state! We had a semi-delayed flight but we filled our time playing cards. We got to Belize around 5 pm, met the Peaceworks Volunteer Organization who drove us to the grocery store than to our “home” in Bermudian Landing, at a small hotel called the Jungle Resort. We had a delicious belizian dinner of the classic beans and rice, chicken, and plantains. Yum! With homemade carrot cake for dinner. In the evening we reflected about our day and then I fell asleep at like 9 pm. The next morning I woke up pretty early to workout, and then we had a quick breakfast. We had a pretty big chunk of time free today so We walked next store to the monkey sanctuary and had an educational guided hike. Our tour guide, Geraldine, was super knowledgable about all the local plants and taught us all about the medicinal values and nutrition (reminded me of my time I’m Tanzania studying Maasai wild food plants). She taught us all about the monkey sanctuary and how the community has come together to protect the land from deforestation and vow to not clear cut the trees used by monkeys. We walked on a path in the jungle where we saw wild growing pineapple, cashew trees, fig frees, mahogany trees, and a ton of other cool plants. Geraldine also mimicked the call of a male howler monkey to try to find one of families in the forest, of course with success. We saw five howler monkeys that came literally an arms distance away. It was low key terrifying because I didn’t want one to like jump on me, but it was all good. There was even a tiny 10 day old baby! It was so cute. Another huge highlight of this hike was trying termites. Our guide described them as a crunch of a carrot but with a minty taste and she was 100 percent correct. They were actually pretty good which sounds so weird, but I’m totally glad I tried them!
In the afternoon we had some downtime so I read on a hammock but ended up falling asleep until lunch time. After lunch we headed to Double Head Cabbage Primary School to chat with the principles about what kind of work she wants us to do. We got a tour of the school and walked around the garden. This school had a beautiful greenhouse but unfortunately it was damaged by a brush fire. We brainstormed ways we could help restore the garden as well as academic/art/physical activities we could play with the students. In the evening we hung out around the jungle resort and played a few games and rested. I am so happy to have free time, I feel like it’s my first time to really sit and relax since this summer. This academic year has just been super busy and finally getting some downtown is doing we well for sure. For dinner Stephanie, the cook at our site, made some delish rice and beans, and for dessert some fresh coconut pie straight from the tree, it was amazing!!
Today (Monday) was our first full day at double head cabbage with all the students! The morning was filled with physical labor, including weeding and fixing up the garden. It was a lot harder than it sounds. Add in some blaring sun, High humidity, and hot temps and I was sweating up a storm, not to mention the sunburn I acquired today. I was a low key idiot and didn’t think I’d get burnt so I wore a tank top. My back has a worse burn than my peeling chest from Tanzania. You’d think I’d learn from my mistakes! Oh well, tomorrow is a t-shirt day! After working in the garden from 9-11:30, we changed into nicer close and got ready for lunch. An interesting difference between American and belizian schools is that here they had hired cooks to actually make lunch every day, from fresh local ingredients. In American schools lunches are trucked in from producers and microwaved, resulting in an unhealthy, unappetizing, processed lunch. I wonder how much extra it would cost the US if they made lunches from scratch!
After lunch, we split into two teams which was physical education and arts. I was in the gym class that got to spend time outside playing capture the flag. It was really hot out so it was kind of hard to keep energy levels high, but it was still pretty fun! The other volunteers worked on a mat construction process to be used at the school’s business entrepreneurship contest. We taught them the importance of reusing and recycling and sustainability. It was a very fun day and it was awesome to get to know the kids. We played a ton of games and honestly they reminded me of your typical American school kids. Everyone speaks English which makes working with them so much easier than my time in Tanzanian shelters having no clue what each other are trying to say.


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