Sunday, March 20, 2016

Update & Friday's Student Post

We are in Houston airport.  It is clear and sunny here.  At this point our flight is on time.  We will let folks know if anything changes.  In the meantime below is the student blog about Friday's adventures, as we were unable to get our laptop on the internet at Tobacco Caye as we were limited to phone access only.  All the students are happy and eager to see their families.


Friday March 18, 2016

          Today we woke up as normal, beginning our last day at Maya Center. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast that satisfied everyone’s growling, morning stomachs. Following breakfast, we traveled to the St. Jude’s School to say our final goodbyes to the students we have all grown to adore. After drying our tears, we visited the Women’s Co-Op and browsed the colorful shelves for gifts to bring back home. Many students including Charlotte, Philip, Lena, Veronica, and Elizabeth bought pocket knives to use them as they wish… (however, they are currently in the very capable hands of the chaperones).
          We then boarded the bus saying goodbye to the Maya Center and the Nu’uk Chiel Lodge and began driving to the coastal town of Dangriga. Upon arriving in Dangriga, we loaded our numerous and heavy belongings onto a compact, sturdy boat. As we pulled away from the dock, some of us began to feel anxiety about our boat being sea-worthy and whether or not some of us could handle the ride. These included Rowan, Grace, and Nicholas. Once the boat picked up speed, the waves began to encircle us in a cape of water. The bow of the boat lifted up, only to bounce about as our boat ,“glided calmly”, across the ocean.  After about thirty-minutes of riding across the turquoise water we gazed upon the sandy white shores of paradise.
          The boat slowed down and we looked below the sides to find a hidden world. There were so many colorful fish and the water was crystal clear. We stepped off the boat, unloaded our gear, and unpacked in our rooms. Veronica’s bag once again exploded onto Elizabeth’s bed. We had a half-hour or so to relax, and we decided to strike up a game of volleyball. Sidney, Chloe, and Emma were strong team-players, displaying their knowledge of the game. Following the exciting match, we enjoyed a familiar lunch of spaghetti and meatballs. We stuffed our faces and then took a walking tour of the island. We met up with Matil, our island guide and she showed us around the, “pile of sand.” Then we prepared for our first snorkeling adventure.
          Matil showed us a slideshow that was meant to educate us on the dangers we may encounter while on the reef. Promptly after Matil nearly scared us half to death, we strapped on our life vests, slipped on our flippers, and jumped into the water. From the edge of the dock none of us could see the expansive and intricate network of coral reefs and marine ecosystems beneath the surface. But once we were covered in the refreshing, salty water, everything revealed itself to us. We ran through several drills to prepare us for any accidents that may occur before starting.
          Everyone valiantly succeeded in passing the assessments and we started swimming. The current seemed to be working with us as the sea grass below swayed gently. There were so many colorful and spirited fish swimming all around the large structures of coral. Emma exclaimed, “I have seen Dory twice already!” Our dive seemed to be magical, yet we were tired and ready for dinner after. We completed a reflection about our trip and then the anxiously awaited dinner bell echoed through the palm trees and we all rushed to enjoy a scrumptious meal.
          After dinner, the teachers came up with the idea to put on a singing talent show for all us students to take part in. There were three teams, The Fluffer Nutty butter cups, The Yaw-yeeh and The Dreams Machine. The teams fought long and hard to see who were the true champions by picking song names out of a hat and performing them on a makeshift stage in from of the other teams and the three instructors. Some highlights were: The Hanging Tree, Hey Mickey, and Love is an open door. The finale was an amazing sing off with Uptown Funk and Low. We sang our hearts and then proceeded with ANCHOR to finish off our long day. We look forward to tomorrow!

         - Grace and Veronica (Leaders of the Day)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Pictures

Recent pictures from Belize!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Thursday Song Rehearsal

Practicing our song for host families

Thursday, March 17, 2016


            Today was our last full day at Maya Center! In the morning, we spent time with our host families doing various daily activities. These activities include raking leaves, washing clothes in the river, putting up fences, and helped with cooking food.  Washing clothes in the creek helped the some of us clean our dirty clothes, and learn how to wash the old fashion way.
              It was a really hot day in Maya enter, which caused some of our peers to need some “cool down time”.  There was also a scavenger hunt in the afternoon that involved visiting various sights in Maya Center. Some of the sights were, a hurricane shelter at the school, a church in the village, a stop sign, a butterfly farm, and a phone booth. It was a timed race with three groups. The groups started the scavenger hunt at different times so we couldn’t follow each other. But during the middle of the game, two groups decided to join together to find the clues. So now the joint group, and the separate group started having an intense competition. When we found a clue, we wouldn’t tell each other what the clue was. Or we would lie about what the clue was and hide from each other to try to throw each other off. Even after we did all that, we still got to the last clue at the exact same time. Once the last clue was read, it was a race to get back to the lodge because that’s where the last clue was. It was a very rigorous race, but all three teams got back to the end at the same time. That’s when we realized that the group that started the scavenger hunt last won, because there was less time between start and finish. It was all fun and games and no one lost an eye.
              We had some rest after we came back and started to think of some ideas for a performance for a community celebration at dinnertime. The Cup Song from Pitch Perfect was altered to become a goodbye song. We practiced various ways to sing it and decided which version was better. After we perfected our performance, our groups decided have a sing-off. The teachers gave a word, and we had to find songs to sing that included the word in the lyrics. After a fun time singing, we started to get ready for our homestay families coming for an exciting night of celebrations.
            Our homestay families brought dinner for us to eat. There were tortillas, chicken, broth, rice and delicious fried plantains. After our fantastic dinner and some quality time with our host families, our group performed The Cup Song. Aurora also shared some traditional Yucatan Mayan songs. After Aurora’s amazing performance, our group decided to have another sing-off in front of our host families. Categories included Oldies, and Disney songs.
          During ANCHOR, Ms. Schultheis showed us a way to spot spiders at night by using our flashlights. We found a tarantula in the grass and all of the kids took turns making a bridge of hands for the spider to pass. And we were all extremely proud of some students overcoming their fear of spiders to join the fun.
           It was an exhausting and great day at the village, and all of us are looking forward to great times in Tobacco Caye tomorrow. Hope the weather is nice in Boston!  ;-) Looking forward to more fun times!

-Philip and Charlotte (Leaders of the Day)

Helping build one of our host families build a fence

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


 Today was another great day in Maya Center! It was our last day working at the school. We started the day with an amazing breakfast, which consisted of tortillas, beans, cheese, fresh watermelon and papaya, and eggs. We worked on the library, painted the fence, and continued the wall, finishing our service project! During the recess we played with the kids. We also went tubing to look for birds, but instead we relaxed.
                Elizabeth was the day’s block-buster, breaking all the blocks like a champ with Grace to fill the holes in the cinder blocks to finish the fence. Sidney, Nicholas, Philip, and Veronica gave the fence a final coat of paint. Henry, Lena, and Chloe were super organizers of the library.
                During break, everyone had their final recess playing with the children. Chloe was running a huge game of Simon says, Rowan, and Emma were spinning kids around, Sidney, Grace, Charlotte, Henry, and Lena, were giving some piggyback rides, but directed many children to Philip who was later tackled by about twenty small children (sorry but not sorry).  Veronica smartly stayed in the shade, where only the chill kids hung out with her.
               For lunch we had soup, more tortillas, fruit, rice, and cinnamon sugar rings. After we were finished, the kids from the Mayan Center joined us for an activity that was focused on global problems. We separated into groups to discuss four of the UN’s major problems. The groups were poverty and hunger, gender equality, education, child mortality. Everyone chose which of the four they identified with or were the most passionate about. We shared our thoughts with the group. We went into partners and went outside onto the concrete patio. We had to blindfolds a partner and direct them across a “minefield” where the mines were backpacks and water bottles. There was a second round where each team had to come up with code words that stood for all the directions. We realized that this was more difficult than originally perceived.
               We left for the tubing trip where some of us played a game of karate in the bus. Philip, Charlotte, Grace, Rowan, and Emma sang Taylor Swift songs while the rest of us were playing Sherlock Holmes for a mystery back at the lodge. We arrived at the destination and hiked a ways into the forest. We found a jaguar footprint! After collapsing into the river, Juan showed us a few different bird species, which not many of us noticed because we were already so tired or to far behind to hear (*cough* Charlotte). After a relaxing forty minutes, we reached the end of our tour and rode the bus home.
              We arrived at the lodge and prepared for the final host family dinner. Everyone had a lot of fun and, as always, the food was AMAZING. Lena, Sidney, Veronica, Emma, and Carlos taught and played many rounds of the card game spoons with the children of their host family. Josephina, Grace, Rowan, Elizabeth and Henry played go fish and bologna sandwich. Before hand we helped Juana make delicious corn tortillas. After returning to the hotel, we wrapped up the night with ANCHOR and were all extremely happy to go to our rooms and sleep.

- Emma and Elizabeth (Leaders of the Day)

Our Block-busters

Filling in the fence holes

Playing with the kids


Tuesday Photos

Leadership Activities with Local Students

Tour of the cacao farm

Fermenting cacao beans

Making the chocolate