Friday, fun day

Well we are officially one week down with the camp. It has been a crazy week full of learning and adapting. Flexibility has been key! Each day has been completely different but I think it’s safe to say that we have all learned a lot and are ready for the weekend to relax! I have really enjoyed getting to know some of the kids and to be honest today was a little sad knowing that we won’t be seeing them again next week since we will be working with a whole new group. Aside from camp, our sleeping arrangements have been spectacular! We are staying clear out of town at a place called “Belize and Beyond”. The people out there are amazing and have taken the time to teach us some pretty amazing things about the area each night. I even got to see some monkeys close up this morning! To put it simply, it’s a little like being in a jungle paradise…. But that’s all I have for now. I am ready to get back to my jungle paradise and relax after a long, exhausting day in the sun. 

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Day 2 “Culture Shock”

Wow! Today was our first experience to engage the students. We had the pleasure of teaching 34 students and experience many different personalities.  Our curriculum for the day consisted of an introduction to our educational agenda and really just learning as much as possible about the children and their culture so that we can better meet their needs.

Breanna began the day with an “ice-braker” activity that allowed us to get to know our students better.  We followed that up with hours of activities that included fitness testing (i.e. discussing body composition, performing curl-ups & push-ups), sport skills and fun games.  We are looking forward to the following days and building on what we started today.

As for our living arrangements, we are attempting to experience the lifestyle that the Belizian people experience.  We have been exposed to different types of food which has been wonderful!

More to follow as I am about to head home and put on at least 10 layers of aloe!

By the way, check out the attached session video to give you a glimpse of what we are experiencing.

A Day Late – But the better for it!

Family and friends,

So we arrived after an unveventful flight! The students are excited (but in their eyes I can see a bit of anxiety). But I am sure they will do great.

We arrived to a humid 84 degrees! …and the wonderful Kriol music playing in the airport. After a brief mishap at Customs :-)….we were in the van enroute to the Belize National Sports Council of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports!

After a wonderful lunch of stew chicken, beans & rice, plantain, and LIME juice – you could stick a pin in me I’m done!

We arrived at Belize Ecological Reserve – our residence for the week! 1200 acres of howler monkeys, parrots, and some late-night guest that was bigger than a labrador retreiver, smaller than a horse, and growled!

In front of the Trail...that the Gigantor Ants chased us back down!

In front of the Trail…that the Gigantor Ants chased us back down!

The owners are so hospitable! This place is exceptionally peaceful and has given us time to reflect on the addictions to technology. What do you do when you have no access to internet, twitter, texting…you stop, listen to yourself and to the Creator more closely!

As I watch the students engage the participants in life lessons and fitness,

...as graduate student Emily engages a group of the participants...

…as graduate student Emily engages a group of the participants…

…while I thought the students would be learning a great deal – I, too, will be learning a great deal from them and about myself!

Follow us along our journey!

Dr. Davis-Maye

Altun Ha Ha Ha

Woke up at the Bull Frog Inn at 7am today (May 16, 2012) with the rain pouring down. The group gathered as usual just off of the lobby area, looking forward to coffee, eggs and plates of fresh fruit. It was cool sitting on the patio with the rain coming down, but all of us hoped that the weather would clear up for our two hour drive to Altun Ha (meaning “rockstone water”). Altun Ha is an archaeological site most known for the jade head, which is the largest carved jade object ever found. It weighs 9.75 pounds. This jade head is considered the crown jewel of Belize.

The rain finally quit, so we loaded the van and headed to Altun Ha.

Last one in’s a rotten egg

Traffic was backed up due to a wreck on the road leading out of town, which delayed our trip by about a half an hour. Dr. Winemiller was surprised to see a familiar face getting out of the car in front of us, and as it turns out, the man was Jaime Awe, the Director of Archaeology for the country of Belize. After talking with Dr. Awe for a few minutes and setting a time to meet with him the next day, traffic finally starting moving again and we continued the drive to the site.

Dr. Awe and Dr. Winemiller

One of the passengers (and I won’t name names) persuaded Dr. Winemiller to stop at a small market store/residence and to use their bathroom. It is always exciting to talk to the local people of Belize, so any opportunity to stop is well received by the group. The Belize people are very friendly and were happy to let us in.  Anne West was kind enough to buy fifteen frozen Snickers bars from the shop owner and shared them with the group (and I ate two) as we again, with Dr. Winemiller, set out for Altun Ha.

Bathroom for the books!

When we finally rolled out of the back of the van refreshed and ready to go, we were met by a grey-haired, local named Pice (not to be confused with “Spice”, he said) who cracked open a coconut with a machete and handed us a straw. We took turns sipping out of the coconut and ate the coconut meat, which was delicious. It didn’t taste at all like the coconut we have back in the US.

New friends

Altun Ha was full of vendors selling all sorts of goods, everything from sodas and waters to handmade wooden crafts and beads. Several young men were handling crocodiles, and some of us took turns holding the crocs for pictures.  It was amazing to hold these incredible animals.

Two crocs at a time…fun!

Jesse and her croc

Me and bud, Rachel!!

This site was by far the most touristy place we have been on this trip, but the ruins were truly beautiful. We snapped many pictures and shared several laughs as usual. Even with the sun and the heat, the mood was consistently light with the group. Gillian accidentally sprayed deet in Rachel’s eye and stepped on Veronica’s foot, but other than that, we had a great trip. We ate snacks and chicken sandwiches before hitting the road back to The Bull Frog Inn.

A photo of the artist, Jeff, who made my daughter’s gifts

Great group!

On our way back to Belmapon, we discussed stopping at the prison gift shop to buy some gifts for our friends and families.  The van was full of excitement at the possibility of seeing a real prison gift shop. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the gates, the gift shop was closed.

Chris at the prison, hopefully for the last time!

Although pretty disappointed, we managed to get back The Bull Frog Inn in a great mood after a day full of cool experiences.

Sissy and Gillian acting ridiculous…..again.

We shared dinner at the Inn, and were very excited to sit with Dr. Heather McKillop and hear about her adventures and work in Belize.  Dr. McKillop is the lead archaeologist in Belize, currently researching the excavation of Mayan salt mines. Dr. McKillop has successfully excavates many sites (http://www.archaeological.org/projects/paynescreekbelize) in Belize, and shared stories with us of her true passion and diligence in her endeavors and faithful research. Spending time with the lead archaeologist at LSU ended a great day for us all.

The group at dinner with Dr. McKillop

Another day for the books!

Sissy Speirs
Belmopan, Belize

Last Day In Belize

Punta Gorda: Walked to Snack Shack at 8 am. Ate pancakes and sausage. Walked back to Sea Front Hotel. Packed, loaded, and left for Belmopan. Arrived at The Bull Frog Hotel at 3 pm. Showered, dressed, an walked to Ketchups for a final farewell dinner. Back to hotel for a few games of pool and then off to pack for home.
ANNE West

Another Day On The Road

Another day of team integrity on the road. First stop Nim Li Punit. Awesome site, more rustic than previous sites. It had a large collection of stones with carvings. Site was somewhat different than others visited. Saw ruins that had not been excavated. Got caught in heavy rain, found shelter under trees. Passed by a local wedding en-route to Lubaantun Archaeological Reserve. Had a Maya reenactment at Lubaantun performed by Mexican actors as part of Cacao Festival (trinket nirvana). Fearless leader took us on a sphincter tightening trip across a wet mud covered wooden bridge with no sides during a massive rainstorm with fogged-up van [Mystery Machine] windows. This is all after almost getting the van stuck in the muddy ditch while leaving Labaautun.
-ss