PKBatth's Travel Journals

PKBatth PK Batth

What was your most challenging travel experience?

Growing up in an Indian family and not speaking my native language of Punjabi very well as a child, I always had this anxiety about not being understood. When I traveled to Belize the first time, I was put in charge of checking people into our clinic/tent amidst a market in Belmopan. I didn't speak a lick of Spanish and nearly everyone that was coming up to the clinic preferred speaking Spanish over English. That anxiety I felt growing up when elders would try to converse with me as a kid came rushing back. I had to literally take a step back and take a very deep breath. Luckily, many of my fellow volunteers spoke Spanish fairly well.

  • From Windsor, Canada
  • Currently in San Ignacio, Belize

Belize 2011 - Mission Accepted

Reuniting with Belize, my long lost love! This trip is more than a getaway, as I have some serious goals I hope to achieve during my time in beautiful Belize.

Ancient Caves and Spider-Man Cake

Belize San Ignacio, Belize  |  Aug 07, 2011
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 It was one of the most amazing adventures of my life! I felt so blessed to have been given the opportunity to see such a rare site. 

Dear Journal,             

What a weekend! After a long and hot Friday, I was excited to hit my bed and sleep in, however, I had to get up at 7:30 am. Saturday, a few other volunteers and myself went to a place called ATM, which stands for Actun Tunichil Muknal meaning "Cave of the Stone Sepulcher." We first traveled 45 minutes from San Ignacio across a very bumpy dirt road. Along the ride I met a volunteer named Helen working at a local private hospital called Loma Luz. Helen is from the UK and her accent was awesome. Yeah, awesome. There was something special about talking to someone from across the globe being in Belize gaining medical experience too.     

After the ride, we arrived at the beginnings of a tropical forest. (I wouldn't call it a jungle, but it did not look like a typical woods neither. The trees were an interesting balance of both.) Soon we were trekking 45 minutes through the natural greenery along one of the clearest rivers I have ever seen. We crossed the river back and fourth along our path three times. Luckily I wore my hardy hiking boots, although they are a tad smelly after being in the water as much as they were! Butterflies of all colours crossed my path, and each one of them looked so divine to me. After hiking for sometime, almost suddenly, I saw the opening of the cave. The river flowed right into its opening. It was a beautiful site.      

We soon jumped into the river and started swimming into the large opening. I was still wearing my boots so, needless to say, I felt like Lara Croft. We walked, climbed and swam half a mile into the cave, although it felt like much longer. It was really really fun. Our path would get really tight in some spots and then other spot we would find ourselves in waters that became really deep very quickly. The guide was very energetic and his attitude of excitement was very contagious. At one point he had us all stand quietly and asked us all to turn off our headlamps. Then, with his flashlight, he illuminated two Mayan artifacts near the top of the cave that were carved out of slate and explained their meanings. Every artifact in there was over a thousand years old.      

Throughout our adventure we saw so many amazing pieces of history. I saw one of four "spider monkey" pots in Central America that bared a little monkey on it to pay homage to the second generation of Mayans. The highlight of the trip, by far, was seeing the full-crystallized skeleton of a young woman that was sacrificed over a thousand years ago. She was strangled, which was a sign that the Mayans were in desperate times (concerning their food supply.) It was one of the most amazing adventures of my life! I felt so blessed to have been given the opportunity to see such a rare site.      

Sunday was Emir's Birthday! He is a huge Spiderman fan, so the entire house was decked out with red and blue. From his cake to his piñata, Spiderman had take over the Teul household! I met many people that night and was happy to meet more of Pablo and Martha's family. The children grabbed me the second I came out of my room and took me outside to play. They all were calling my name and asking me to play with all of them. There must have been over 20 kids there. Yesani, Martha's granddaughter, took me outside to dance too at the end of the night. I loved every second of it. My home-stay family is so loving and welcoming. I really do feel like I am related to each and every one of them. I am well aware of how rare these kinds of connections can be, so I am extremely grateful for it. The night did make me miss my baby cousins and own family a bit, but I was still all smiles.

Caves and cake, a Belizean recipe for a stellar weekend I will never forget.



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