CTurner's Travel Journals

CTurner

  • 26 years old
  • From California, United States
  • Currently in California, United States

Semester in Belize

A blog of my adventures in Belize.

My first weekend

Belize Belize  |  Jan 08, 2011
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 So far, this weekend has been full of adventures. Yesterday our host family took us to their favorite place on the Mopan River. 

Janurary 8, 2010
In my new bedroom

Well, I now understand why I was warned about the roosters in San Ignacio. They are all over the place. The combination of roosters, dogs, Latino music, and 3 year old Emir, have made sleeping in nothing more than an idea. But, I don’t mind, because there is a lot to be awake for.
Thursday we had orientation for Galen for most of the day. There were about 30 students, 10 of which were international students. It was, well an orientation.. so a little slow, but I am excited for the semester to begin on Monday. The campus is not what I expected. It is a big white building with green trim surrounded by many palm trees. We ate lunch in front of the school under a little open-air hut with a thatched roof. Galen is a few miles out of town, so it will be about 30 minutes on the bus.
The other Pro World semester students and I spent some time walking around town visiting the other home stay houses. Though the other houses and families were nice, I became more thankful for the home I am in. Martha, my host mother, is very nice and an excellent cook, kindly preparing us every meal. Pablo, her husband, smiles easily and is around a lot now because he is on a sick leave, but doing better. Emir, oh Emir :D He is a bright little 3 year old that is constantly doing something and getting into trouble. He loves attention, and gets lots of it, constantly saying “Hey guys” in his most adorable accent. He also continually finds things that cause his grandmother to scold him saying, “Ayye, Eemiiirrrrr!”
The other girl staying in the house is named Laura and she is a sophomore from the east coast. We get along well and so far I have enjoyed exploring Mayan ruins and the streets of San Ignacio with her and our friend Meghan.
What I heard about the Belizeans being very kind is defiantly true. They are very kind and laid back, I have not met a single person that is in a hurry or stressed. No one is in a hurry to get anywhere, and it is acceptable to be late for appointments because everything runs on the ever-flexible “Belize time”. Thankfully, I am a natural at Belize time, so I blend right in. ☺
There are other ways that I do not blend in so well. Specifically my ever pink skin and numerous bug bites. As I slather on my sunscreen in the heat I can’t help but think that it is summertime, but as the sun is passed by 6 pm, I know it is still January. The early sunset and warm weather does not seem to blend and the rotating fan in my room has become a close companion. The combination of heat and Christmas decorations that still linger on some houses also perplexes me.
So far, this weekend has been full of adventures. Yesterday our host family took us to their favorite place on the Mopan River. It is a beautiful spot where the current is moving. I floated a few rapids, tried to catch sardines, and played with the river crab Pablo caught. When I hiked down the riverbank a little I heard a huge crash and saw an iguana fall into the water on a branch. It was across the river, and I didn’t get a good look, but still I was amazed. The tail alone looked 3 feet long, and I always thought that iguana’s were glorified lizards. But they are huge!
Pablo told me that where the Mecal and Mopan Rivers converge that there are often iguanas. We drove there and were not disappointed. As we pulled up we saw 5 young men, one holding an iguana! They had a canoe and had been hunting the iguana with a slingshot. Once knocked out of the tree they had tied the legs together. They had caught five and were taking them away to cook, but first they let us hold them. It was defiantly unique!
Today marked the first Pro World adventure. With the other volunteers I am to go on about 3 adventures a month through Pro World and I hope they are all as outstanding as the adventure today. Our guide, Edwin, took 13 of us to the Mayan ruins of Caracol. The site is about 50 miles from San Ignacio but took over 2 hours because of the poorly maintained dirt road. We received a military escort to the site because it is very close to the Guatemala border. This long border is densely forested making it hard to patrol, so in this area smuggling is a reality. I learned that Guatemalans also cross the boarder to use land for farming and to harvest Xate (Shaw-te) leaves, which are said to dye paper money in the U.S.
We walked up to the ruins and climbed to the top of Caana (Sky Palace), which is to this day the largest structure in Belize. Though I have already been to two other Mayan ruins it does not get boring. It is one thing to see an artifact in a glass box in a museum, but to actually walk on them! I went into a Mayan tomb, saw the ball court, and of course, hiked many large steps. Since they Mayan’s are relatively short people we asked our guide why the steps are so large. He explained that the stairs were built so people would have to use their hands and feet as they climbed in order to show reverence to the elites at the top.
After leaving Caracol we stopped at the Rio Pools. These are an series of pools that spread over 400 meters of the river. They were fun to swim in and the water temperature was perfect. I don’t understand why the other girls are content to just ‘lay out’ when there is so much to explore!
On the way out on the bumpy road we got a flat tire. Thankfully, we had a spare and I was able to help Edwin change it out. (Thank you Dad, for forcing me to learn how to use a jack.)
Tomorrow I may go to mass with my host family and look for a church. Please pray for me that I may be a light for Christ while I am here. Also, pray for cohesion and a positive attitude for all of the volunteers.
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