Friday, July 24, 2009

Week Nine in Belize

Sunday I spent the day packing up some of the things I will not need the last week I’m here. It was kind of sad packing up my things. It’s hard to believe that my internship and time down here in Belize is coming to a close. I have learned so much and made great friendships. This week will be full of tying up loose ends and such.

Monday was a blur; the office was filled with lots of people who are going to be out in the Chiquibul monitoring Macaws this week. I began to work on my July report and collecting photos I would need for the rest of my PowerPoint. I also met with Pedro to discuss his trip to Guadalajara. He learned a lot about running and environmental education program.

Tuesday morning I worked on my July report. In the afternoon we had a staff meeting where I presented my PowerPoint to them. They all really liked it. We also discussed the different proposals Rafael has been working on and Pedro’s trip. Other topics covered were the sign-in sheet and issues with communication. After work Rafael, Derric, and I drove up to the Vaca Forest Reserve. They will be monitoring the wildlife up there since the area will be changing with the addition of the new dam.

Wednesday I finished my July report. The office was in upheaval all day since the printer stopped working. In the afternoon, I was surprised when all my co-workers threw me a going away party.

Thursday was a pretty slow day. I was just finishing up odds and ends before I head home. Friday was much the same with the exception of me assisting Ms. Olivia with her summer program.

This weekend I will be getting ready to go home and spending time with my host family. I hope that everyone has had a splendid summer and knows that I have greatly appreciated all the love and support you have given me. I have learned so much during my internship in Belize and will never forget the many adventures I have had. I will be seeing you soon, until then be safe and be happy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Week Eight in Belize

This week was full of paperwork but included an exciting trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge and then to Punta Gorda on the Southern part of the country.

Around noon, on Saturday the 11th, Rafael and I headed up to the Mountain Pine Ridge to meet with some people from Hidden Valley and to deliver the community development notebooks. We met with the people at the Hidden Valley Resort and were able to go see the Orange Breasted Falcons that they are releasing on their property. The falcons are a native species whose population has been thinning for a while now. They are trying to bring up the numbers around Hidden Valley. The chicks will be flying within the next couple weeks, as of right now they are getting acclimated to their new environment. On our way back down from the coop we saw a coffee field. I had never seen a coffee plant before in real life, so naturally I had to investigate. We then traveled to Blancaneux Lodge where we met with one of their guides and the manager. They are very interested in booking trips for their guests with FCD to the Chiquibul. We started back down the mountain and stopped briefly to deliver a notebook to the Womens Club in San Antonio. It was a very successful and interesting day.

Like usual on Sunday, I over slept and was lazy for the remainder of the day. I spent the day reading and spending time with Kathia. Tomorrow is her Birthday and she will be turning twenty-two. She was pretty sad because she will be spending her birthday all alone. The rest of the day was filled with noise. Next week is the festival in Benque Viejo and the bands have been practicing non-stop.

Monday was a slow day, I was supposed to meet with Edlan, but she was a no-show. We were supposed to work on the flyer for the youth group’s next meeting. Since she didn’t come, I worked on it by myself. I think it turned out pretty nice, I would just need to run it by her once she came to the office

Tuesday morning, I wrote instructions for how to play the Human Chair Game for Pedro. I included diagrams as a part of the directions as well. Rafael and I were supposed to meet with Mr. Amin, of the Lumber Company, in San Ignacio, but he was very busy and wasn’t able to meet with us. Edlan stopped by the office, so I showed her what I had done.

Wednesday, I printed out the flyers for the youth group. They are in full color and should go over well with the invitees. I continued to work on my professional paper. I was finally able to track down their financial records for 2007 and 2008 so I will be able to complete that section of my paper in the next few days.

On Thursday, I finally finished the meat of my professional paper. All I have left to do is some proofing and small edits. I was also excited to see the Land Rover after it was returned from the mechanics.

On Friday, I traveled with Rafael to Punta Gorda, which is on the southernmost tip of the country. We left at four in the morning and drove for almost four hours. We passed through the various villages along the Hummingbird and Southern Highway. We passed by several different wildlife preserves and parks. It was a beautiful drive where I was able to see some of the mountain ranges and also citrus and banana farming. We stopped in a couple villages along the way to deliver the community development notebooks to some of the individuals who attended the workshop in May. We took a detour through the Mayan Village at Silver Creek, so that I could see what a Mayan village really looks like. I was amazed to see thatch roof houses alongside the usual concrete homes. We stopped at a couple homes where I could listen to the families speaking Mayan. It was a very awesome experience. We finally made it to Punta Gorda around lunchtime. We stopped at a small restaurant where we got a close look at the Garifuna life style. After lunch we drove down to the seaside to see a new park that has just been put in. We then made it to our two o’clock meeting with a group from the Julian Cho Society. Julian Cho was a great Mayan Leader who fought for his peoples rights. The society was founded after his untimely death to keep striving for the justice he sought. After our meeting we then filled up the truck with fuel and headed back towards Belmopan. Along the way we stopped at Dangriga, a Garifuna town along the sea. You could hear the Punta Rock and the boisterous people hassling one another. We then continued the long drive home. Rafael explained to me a lot of the stories and bits about the Mayan culture in Belize. We finally arrived in Succotz close to ten o’clock to find the town winding down for the evening.

Saturday I purchased the rest of my souvenirs for my family and friends. I also spent the day with my host family since this is really my last regular weekend that I will have with them. Kathia came into town about midmorning and we got to catch up on everything she will be doing the rest of the month. I was excited to hear that she is getting a raise at the forest department and they will be providing her with further training and she might get to take some classes at Galand University. The Benque Fiesta is taking place this weekend, but due to the heat we decided to stay in Succotz.

I am finding things are beginning to slow and in realization of this I am a little sad. It has been a wonderful experience working with FCD and getting to know my host family. I have one more week left here in Belize and it will be filled with evaluations and preparations for my departure. I hope everyone back home is still doing well and I have greatly appreciated your love and support.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week Seven in Belize

Well things are beginning to wind down a little bit. I have been trying to complete some of my personal projects before I have to head home at the end of the month. I have been having issues with my camera this week. I am able to take pictures just not access the card they are saved on. Luckily I do have an extra memory card so I will for sure have pictures next week. This week was still a blur like all the others.

Monday, I met with Rafael in the morning and discussed with him the meeting we will be having tomorrow with the youth from Succotz and hopefully Benque. He also said that it looks like the Guatemalan trip might get moved to the weekend that I’m heading home. I assured him that it was alright if I wasn’t able to go, I will teach Pedro my part. The rest of the day I worked on By-Laws for the youth groups. In the afternoon Pedro and I traveled to Benque to meet with the youth group there. They were very interested in coming on Tuesday for the informational session that we would be doing. They also expressed an interest in going on the Guatemala trip.

On Tuesday morning Pedro and I bought snacks for our meeting with the youth and set up for Rafael’s presentation. I then made a packet for the Benque Group leader that contained the By-Laws, Meeting Guide, Roll Sheet, and Minutes sheet. The groups arrived on time and were very interested in what Rafael had to say. After the presentation I went over the club stuff I had given them and answered any questions that they had. We also discussed maybe doing a trip to the Chiquibul later in the month.

Wednesday, I worked on my PowerPoint presentation and on my professional report. In the afternoon Pedro and I went to Benque and gave a presentation at The House of Culture. I led the group in the ’blanket game” so that we could learn their names and get them to participate. I also received a tour of their museum. It is housed, in what used to be the old jail cells for the police station. The Director told me a little bit about the history of Benque and some of the folklore. They have stories of creatures much like Sasquatch, La llorona, and elves. It was very interesting to hear these stories and to see the sketches they had. They also had antiques that had been brought to Benque when the first settlers landed. After our tour we headed back to Succotz. It rained hard in the late afternoon really cooling everything off, which was nice.

On Thursday, I was originally supposed to go with Rafael to complete community visits. We had to move it to this Saturday since he was going to have to go visit on that day for another activity. So, instead of doing community visits I continued to work on updating my journal and finishing up my PowerPoint. I am having trouble with my memory card for my camera and I am not able to access the pictures I took this week. Luckily I have an extra memory card so will be able to take pictures in the weeks to follow.

Friday, was much the same as Thursday, mostly computer work. The exciting thing on Friday was that FCD finally got their Land Rover. It will be a lot better to use up in the Chiquibul. The roads are too rugged for a normal vehicle.

This weekend I will be traveling to Seven Mile with Rafael to deliver community development notebooks for the community leaders.They are the same notebooks we reviewed at the very first workshop I attended down here. So it will be nice to deliver the finished project. I will write again next week. I hope everyone is doing well and knows they are still in my prayers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Week Six in Belize

Hello All! This week was full of paperwork and productivity. Sorry there are no pictures. Next week should be better though. Monday, I began work on my monthly report for June. I also talked to Rafael about the youth group. He asked that I meet with the president of the club and talk to her about running a meeting and how to run a club etc. So I worked on making an informational packet for her on the ins and outs of a basic club.

On Tuesday, I met with the president of the youth group, Edlan, and LeeRoy about the responsibilities of running a club, the officers they needed, and what paperwork they should be keeping for their records. I got them to agree to setting up a meeting this weekend so that they could elect their other officers. I also decided that it was important that they decide what they want for their club to accomplish and then we will need to decide how to accomplish that. In the afternoon I finished most of my report all I need is pictures for some of it.

Wednesday, I worked on my blog and finalized my June Report. I also added new information to my professional report. I began to plan a little for the youth group’s trip to Guatemala.

On Thursday, I met with Rafael to go over my lessons learned for the month. We covered also some different levels of lessons learned. We then traveled to San Ignacio to meet with Nancy Juan-Marin to discuss some of the questions she might be asked when she meets with the media next week about the Chiquibul. That took a good part of the day. Once we got back to the office I continued work on my professional paper. A majority of the staff will be taking some members of the government on a trip to the Chiquibul so that they can see the threats first hand.

Friday, I began to work on my PowerPoint presentation for when I arrive home. I also met with Pedro and we planned out our workshop for the Guatemalan trip. We decided that it would be nice to have Rafael discuss some of the key species in the Chiquibul with the youth. We also want to do a sharing activity where the youth can share and discuss the different community service and conservation activities that they have been involved in. Finally we will be doing a team building event for the group to strengthen and reiterate the importance of working together to achieve common goals. We plan on running this plan by Rafael on Tuesday when he gets back.

On Saturday, I celebrated the 4th of July in a quiet manner. This 4th of July was not near as spectacular as last years in Washington DC, but it was still good. I spent time with my host family just relaxing. I also called all my family to wish them a Happy 4th. Sunday was much the same.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their summers. I appreciate all the goodies I recieved last week when Dr. Seevers was here. They have all been coming in handy. May God keep you safe and sound!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Week Five in Belize

Sorry this is a little delayed but I have been having issues with the internet connection at my office. Last week was a spectacular week of firsts for me. Dr. Seevers arrived on Monday and from there the adventures really began. I saw three different Mayan ruins, went snorkeling, and saw a tapir in the wild.

Monday was a hectic day for me. Everyone at the office was busy trying to get everything ready for the week I was trying to finalize some stuff at the office too. Around midday I had to head to Belmopan to get my passport stamped in order to avoid deportation. Luckily Tanya’s dad met us and he got his friends at the Immigration Office to give me a free extension. Dr. Seevers arrived in Succotz around 6:30pm. She, Rafael, and I had dinner and discussed this week’s upcoming events.
On Tuesday morning we headed over to one of the bigger schools in Santa Elena with Pedro and Scarlet. Pedro gave a presentation to four classes of Standard 5. One of our major sponsors, PACT, came to check out what we were doing and we quickly involved them in the activities. Pedro had the kids play games and dance with Scarlet. One of the teachers even danced with Scarlet! In the afternoon I took Dr. Seevers to see Xunantunich. We climbed as high as we could, which was about half way. Since the quake the upper part of the structure has become unstable. I also showed Dr. Seevers the Gumbolimbo, or tourist tree. It is called this because its red bark peels. I then took her to meet my host family.

Wednesday we headed to the Chiquibul with Rafael. Dr. Seevers was given the chance to talk to Rafael about FCD and all that it encompasses. Along the way we saw a tapir on the road. Once we arrived at the ranger station we had a snack while the rangers briefed us on what their average day is like. They were all very proud of what they do. We then headed to Caracol and began our hike to the top of the highest Mayan ruin in Belize. The ruins were breathtaking, literally. We headed back into Succotz in the late afternoon.

On Thursday Dr. Seevers had her meeting with Gaeland University in the morning while I attended a teambuilding workshop with the rest of the FCD staff. I opened with an icebreaker. I introduced the team to the blanket game and we had a blast since large parts of the staff are funny guys. We then went through the accomplishments that FCD has made this year. We also covered the character awards for each staff member and then awarded Rafael with a plaque for all his hard work and dedication. After everyone had reviewed their SMART objectives, I led them in the “Scissor Game”. They liked the game quite a bit. Dr. Seevers and I then went to the Butterfly Garden at the Trek Stop and then to the ruins at Cahal Pech. In the evening we met with Rafael to go over my midterm evaluation.

Friday morning Dr. Seevers and I headed for the Cayes. We did stop by the 4-H Office where we discussed the possibility of an intern in the future. The Director was very enthusiastic and wanted to start working on the paperwork to do so. After that stop we stopped at the Belize Zoo, so that Dr. Seevers could see a Scarlet Macaw and a Jaguar. Then after some skilled navigation we made it to the water taxi and were on the water by 1:30pm. We arrived on Caye Caulker around 3:00 and checked into our hotel. The sun is hot but with the coastal breezes it’s hardly noticeable. We scoped out the pool and the little dock behind our hotel. We got our first taste of Lobster Fest at dinner where we enjoyed fresh lobster tails! We then browsed the little tourist shops where I caught up on buying souvenirs for my friends. We hit the hay early since we would be snorkeling all day Saturday.

Saturday was an amazing day! We arrived at Carlos Tours where we met Carlos our guide. He fitted us with our gear and then we headed to the boat. Our first stop was along the reef. Since it was my first time snorkeling they had me where the little floaty thing. I caught on pretty quickly and as soon following the rest of the group. We saw some amazing fish and a turtle. When Carlos found a green moray eel, I decided to keep my distance. We had lunch on San Pedro Caye and then headed back out to the water. Our next stop had about 15 nurse sharks and some humongous fish. Everyone was very hesitant to get into the water. But everyone did get in and got to pet the sharks. It was really awesome and something I never thought I would do. On our final stop we got to swim with three manatees. They were so peaceful. We were then allowed to look around on our own at the coral reef. It was really like being inside “Finding Nemo”. The fish were brilliantly colored and a lot of fun to watch. After wards we enjoyed some fresh fruit and then headed back to Caye Caulker. We spent the evening relaxing and enjoying a meal at the Sandbox Restaurant.

We headed back to San Ignacio on Sunday and rested up before the week begins again. It was an awesome way to celebrate the halfway mark of my internship.