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.

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