Everyday I fall more and more in love with Belize. It doesnt ever feel like work because what we are doing here is rewarding. I wanted to write a blog because I want to document my trip, but writing takes a really long time and alot of effort. I feel like I havent even had time to breath. I will still try and write but not as detailed as I have been. This weekend we were in San Ignacio. It was much more beautiful than I was expecting. I had the best view from my balcony and there was a fancy pool. This weekend I went zip lining in the jungle, cave tubing, went to my first casino, lost some money, climbed mayan ruins in the rain, watched the sunrise, swam, and created so many lifelong memories. This week I have a lot of work to do with the microloans and I am thrilled! God is good.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Monday, May 25, 2015
Today we had a rare and incredible opportunity. It was a holiday and all the schools and most businesses were closed so we didn't go in to any schools this morning. This left our morning and afternoon pretty open. All the other teams had work today but we got the fun stuff. Belize has a nationwide cadet program for kids in grade school to attend after school. It is similar to a boys and girls club but these students are hand selected and are unique in their own ways. Most of the cadets are chosen because their teachers noticed they were struggling intellectually or socially within the class. Many of them come from difficult home lives and through this program they are given an escape. They are all ages ranging from 8-18. Corporal Ferguson is their director here in Dangriga and he provides many kids with some structure and leadership. Today we met up with the kids and officers at the precinct, packed up in some vans, and headed out of town. We got to hike in the jungle to a waterfall and swim in the crystal clear, cold water with 25 of the cadets. The hike and the waterfall were unreal but the fact that we were doing it with a bunch of children who we could really build relationships with made it all that more special. I am learning that I enjoy little kids more than I thought and I don't find it hard to talk to them like many of my teammates do. I stuck with one little girl in particular. Her name is Jayda and she is 8 years old. She was extremely shy and unsocial. She stood with her hand in her mouth, wouldn't talk to anyone, and didn't want to play any of the ice breaker games. I noticed that people were trying to bombard her and force her to do things so when I got the chance I went up to her by myself and ask if she just wanted to go sit down with me. I finally got her to open up to me a little and we ended up doing the entire hike together. The hike was SO HARD. I cannot believe children were doing it. It was vertical for like 2 hours but it was also very cool. Some people never made it all the way to the top and had to turn around and walk back down. I had to stop with one of the cadets because she was blacking in and out. I thought I had done a legit hike before but I was so wrong. It seemed like we were climbing forever, but when we finally arrived at the top it was absolutely worth it. There was a beautiful waterfall, once again I was in awe of this place. We swam and explored together for a couple hours before heading back down the deadly path. It was cool to see what the cadets did for fun. Whenever they got a chance, the older group gathered together and sang songs. I loved watching them and thinking about me and my friends doing that lol. Never would that happen at home. Once we got back to town a lot of the kids were not ready to leave us, even though we had been together for 5 hours. We walked across the dirt road into a field and played soccer with them for a while. I am actually not that bad. We were playing soccer with little kids right in front of the ocean before dusk just having a great time with each other. Being in Belize I have realized how close you can grow with people when thrown into challenging situations. We ended the day with a group reflection with all the teams and had a lot of work to do after dinner. I am sitting on the roof taking it all in, so thankful for this experience.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Feel like I have sooooo much to write about because I haven't been having the time at night. We have been so busy I couldn't even tell you what I did on Thursday, but this weekend was one of the most memorable of my life. We left for Caye Caulker on Friday morning. We all love Dangriga, but everyone was so excited to just get some time for ourselves. We took another old beaten up school bus to Belize City, which is about three hours away. Belize City is definitely an interesting place. It is dirty and there are tons and tons of people and its loud and not very pretty, so I'm glad we didn't spend time there. Once we got to Belize City we took an hour long boat ride to Caye Caulker. This island is literally a hidden gem. I almost want to say that it is the prettiest place I have ever been, but you all know nothing beats Mountain Home. We were split between a couple different hotels but luckily all of the business team was close. The view from my balcony was unreal. The minute we stepped off the boat we all threw on our swimsuits and were at the pool and bar within 15 minutes, trying to make the most of our limited time on the island. After dinner, we ended the night dancing at a Reggae bar with everyone. I love being in Dangriga and I don't ever want to lose sight of my true purpose in being here, but after a full week of hard work the island was exactly the type of getaway I think we all needed. We woke up early early Saturday morning, had amazing breakfast on the beach, and headed to snorkel. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest and most recognized reef in the world. I had snorkeled some before but not like this. First we went to the shallow part of the reef where there were sand patches and we could stand up if we needed to. The water was turquoise blue and everything was beautiful. Luckily that was the only site that I dropped my phone. The next spot we went to was much deeper and longer and we had to follow our guide. There were eighteen people on my boat and everyone wore life jackets except for me and two of my friends. I felt like a pro snorkeler. Anyways the deeper site was fun because we dove down deeper and saw an eel and such amazing marine life. Finally, we stopped at our last stop; Shark and Stingray Alley. It was AWESOMEEEE. Every time our boat anchored at each new location I was the first to get in the water and the last to get out, including shark alley. When I first jumped in the water there were probably about twenty sharks and fifteen stingrays within a small vicinity. I got to pet a shark and a stingray, it was seriously so cool. So we are at this last sight and it starts looking like it is going to storm and most people start freaking out and I'm just so excited. It started pouring rain on our way in and while everyone was running to the back of the boat, I went and sat at the very front. Little did we know, there was even more to our excursion. We went to the back of the island and got to feed tarpons and look at a little seahorse. This part of the island was so calm and smooth and it was thundering, lightening, and raining and I was loving every single second. Finally some of the girls got too freaked out and made them take us back to the dock. Definitely one of the coolest things I've ever done though. The combination of nature in that moment is what I live for. I was so in my element. My happy place. Right after snorkeling we headed to The Split, which is a big hangout area with a swim up bar, hammocks, food, really the place to go to relax and hangout. We got there around 3:30 and didn't leave till about midnight, we shut the place down. We had the best time together. We were all in our swimsuit with saltwater in our hair doing the cha cha slide in some sand at a bar. We were two stepping, cartwheeling, swimming, and most importantly enjoying each other. Altogether, the day was unforgettable. We woke up early this morning and got back on our water taxi to make our way back home to Dangriga. On our bus ride home we stopped at the Belize Zoo. All the animals in the zoo are Belizean and most of them are rescues. My favorite was this little jaguar looking thing. He was being very social and climbing the fence swatting at people in a playful way. I, of course, am so excited to see the kitty so I stuck the string of my camera into the cage and swung it around. He started to purr, knowing I already loved him, and then he ran over to get the string. He jumped up on the cage and was swatting and biting at the swing and it actually got stuck on the cage. I was able to pet his paws and stuff, it was adorable but he really wanted my camera. Well he swatted again and I dropped my camera on the ground and I was kind of relieved because I didn't think he could get it from the ground outside his cage, but I was wrong. He immediately starts digging and pawing for the string and starts dragging it into his cage!! I didn't know what to do! Luckily my friend was brave and picked up the camera, basically tearing it from the cats mouth. I could've played with him all day. Overall this weekend was an amazing time. I thank God everyday for sending me here with this group of people. I feel like I have already grown as a person and have made lasting relationships with some inspiring people. It is kind of crazy how well and quickly you get to know people when you spend so much time out of your comfort zone, together. I feel like a big sister to some of them. We are already planning a one year reunion on Caye Caulker.
More to come tomorrow!
Sorry I didn't write yesterday. I wasn't feeling well so I got cranky and I don't think anyone wants to read about cranky Sarah. I think the excitement of first getting here started to fade and the exhaustion hit me. I took a nap, drank a lot of water, and was all better. We did eat wonderful food last night though. We had our first business class at 7 so we had to eat dinner separate from everyone else.I ordered the fish, which I thought was red snapper, but it ended up being barracuda. How cool is that?!? It still had eyeballs and everything but I promised myself I would try everything possible. It was SOO good, wow. I went to sleep early last night so I could be ready and happy for a new day. Today was awesome. I need to find a new word to describe my days because it is becoming redundant, but that is all I can think of! I am genuinely in awe being here. Dangriga is the cultural capital of Belize with the dominant culture being Garifuna. This morning I went to two different schools. The first one was somewhat like what you'd expect at home. It was standard 6, equivalent of about 8th grade. They were rowdy and uninterested in what we had to say. After teaching q lesson at that school, I was able to go into a school somewhat out of town that is entirely of Garifuna decent. It was like day and night. We had the same exact lesson plans yet the students at Gulisi,5)3 Garifuna were so much more attentive and respectful of us. They addressed us as Miss and Mr every time they spoke and they wanted to learn about what we had to say. We split them into groups and each group had to creat a product, evaluate the cost, and sell it to the class. It was so cool to see how creative they were. It was also kind of interesting to see kids running around the school grounds swinging machetes. I am so glad I got the opprotunity to teach in one of the most cultural based schools in Belize. After leaving Gulisi, we had a little bit of free time so a few of us took naps on the rooftop. Favorite thing ever. Before dinner we hung out by the soccer field/beach playing with the kids and getting to know some of them outside of school. They have no adult supervision and are just free to roam the city! So different. One little girl gave Emily and I a little gift and my heart melted. Those are the times when we feel like we are appreciated here and what we are doing is worth it. We had dinner at why not island right next to the water and then headed to teach a business class. Two little boys showed up the the business class which we thought of as only for adults. I volunteered to work with them because I wanted to know what they were there for. One of them, Michael, wants to be a scientist and the other, Frankie, wants to be an engineer. They were 15 years old and they came to a business meeting. I asked them why they came and they said they just wanted to talk. Two hours later, I did not want to say bye to them. Once again we ended our night on the rooftop, all 16 of us. Each night gets sillier and sillier. I love everything about this experience, even if I have to bare the heat.