CTurner's Travel Journals

CTurner

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

Belize!

A blog of my adventures while studying in San Ignacio, Belize.

170 - waan sevintee

Belize San Ignacio, Belize  |  Feb 27, 2011
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 We are in La Ruta Maya!! 

2/25/11 

Perseverance was the theme of the week.  Every day I rose early, reached home late, and squeezed a lot in between.  It seemed like I was constantly picking my battles, and fighting hard for things, but today I really started feeling the victory after hard work. 

            The first break through was earlier in the week, when I made my biggest online purchase to date.  It was a wheelchair that is to be given to Darnell a few days after his 20th birthday.  I couldn’t have been more excited to hit the ‘submit order’ button and was practically bouncing of the couch in the ProWorld office.  The wheelchair will be shipped to my sister, Elicia, who is will fly down with it at the end of the month.  (Oh, what?! another huge reason for celebration J My sister is coming to visit on her spring break! Thank you Grandma Jan, what a great graduation gift!) 

            I couldn’t be more excited to give this wheelchair to the family.  Right now Darnell is in a hospital bed and in the afternoon his father moves him out to the living room to sit on the couch or in the hammock.  His health is improving though, and hopefully when this wheelchair gets here he will have increased mobility.  I think getting him to the park, or at least outside will really make him feel better.

            Today, I was fighting a different battle.  One that I couldn’t give up on, despite everyone else’s advice.  La Ruta Maya is a 170-mile canoe race from San Ignacio to Belize City that takes place over a four-day period (more info at http://www.larutamayabelize.com/main/ ) .  Originally I was hoping to compete in one of the boats sent by Galen (the university I attend here).  After a mess of disorganization and unreliability Galen decided to cancel there teams last week.  I was too thick skulled to give up on this dream though, and I found 2 other students (Victor and Julie) who were equally motivated to compete in the river challenge.  We would have to find our own sponsor, boat, transportation, food, and camping equipment without the help of Galen.  At first it seemed impossible, but somehow, by the grace of God, it all fell into place today (which is just in time since it was the last day to register).  This morning I got each team members signature and then took a letter around to local businesses in search of a sponsor to pay the registration fee.  After several rejections I stopped by the ProWorld office.  I though it was a long shot, but I decided to tell Muriel what a good advertising it would be for ProWorld to sponsor a boat.  She didn’t take much convincing, and was thrilled that I was doing the race.  I was surprised at first, but I guess she just really loves us semester students :) 

So, we will borrow Galen’s boat, use a local resorts life-vests, and sport ProWorld t-shirts and ball caps.  I am smiling while I type this.  There are still a lot of logistics to work out, but they all seem minor now.  We are in La Ruta Maya!!  Sunday we will attempt the first leg of the race.  It will be our first time in a boat together, but hey, were young right?  I am thankful that Victor has done the race before and Julie has helped with support.  Tara came up with our team name: Pro Believe.  It might be a bit cheesy, but I like it, because it is a combination of our sponsor, and the determination that is has taken just to get into this race.

In all seriousness when I was walking down the street to drop of the registration form today I was singing Dora the Explorer.  “We did it, we did it, weee did, HORRAY!..” perfectly captured my delight.  Thank you God for rewarding our hard work and Emir’s Spanish American cartoon friends.

2/27/11

            Well, first (and probably) day of canoe practice with Julie and Victor is complete.  I have lobster legs, a knick on my check, and a bumped knee to show for it.  But, my excitement hasn’t suffered any.  Thankfully, we paddled with one of Julie’s friends today and they helped us navigate 15 miles on the Belize River.  Originally we had planned to paddle from San Ignacio to Banana Bank, which is the first leg of the race, but by the time we had all reached the water we shortened the distance to Iguana Creek (about 20 miles).  It wasn’t until we were a few miles from the put in that we decided Sandy Bank (about 15 miles) would be a better goal. 

            Considering it was our first day together I think we did pretty well.  I recognize that as most teams are in their taper, we are starting our training, but we will do what we can. It took a little switching around to determine which spots we were best suited to.  We settled on Victor in the front, setting the pace and helping with steering, Julie paddling hard in the middle, and me in the back, calling the switches and functioning as a rudder when needed.  If the entire river were a right turn, we would have to be the champions.  Sadly, this is not true and we became intimate with some overhanging tree branches this morning. 

All in all, it was a pretty successful day of practice I think.  We capsized twice, but it could have been worse.  When we got out of the water there was a classic Belize moment.  Julie’s friend realized the driver was to meet us at the Iguana Creek Bridge and he didn’t have his phone number.  So we sat there on the pebbly beach considering how to solve this problem. Eventually one of his other teammates pointed out that the drivers phone was dead anyways, so calling him was out.  I sat there skipping rocks trying to think how we could get back to the Western Highway.  Though the beach we stopped at was distant there was a few guys with motorcycles taking an afternoon dip, thankfully.  Julie’s friend paid one of them to give him a lift to the bridge, and within an hour the truck arrived.  So, just another funny story that developed from the relaxed Belizean way.

Thursday evening will be the prerace meeting, and Friday morning the race begins.  I can’t fathom how sore our bodies will be after 4 days of paddling, but time will tell.  I did learn a valuable lesson about the uniqueness of canoeing tan-lines today.  See I am accustom to slathering sunscreen on the four inches above the knee from rafting, but canoeing adds a new twist. In the canoe you sit with your legs bent and somewhat open to steady the craft.  Unfortunately, this lead to a killer sunburn on the inside of my shins.   A painful lesson that will not be easy to forget.  

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