Thursday, May 19, 2011

Belize!!!!!!

As anyone who actually reads this here blog knows, I, Chelsea Wright, am in the beautiful and amazing country of Belize. I am obsessed with this country. Absolutely obsessed. We arrived here on Saturday afternoon after a departure out of ATL at 10:00am, putting us in customs around 11 or 11:30 am. Customs was not bad at all, except for the fact that the airport had no AC. I repeat, no AC. Lack of AC has been the case in most of the buildings we are in but thankfully not our sleeping quarters!!! This girl loves a fan, but if it’s circulating warm air I find them to be rather pointless. Luckily we have both a fan and cool air during the times that we actually are at the cabin. It is HOT y’all. The humidity doesn’t make it any easier either. Humidity in ATL was around 30% before we left and here it is 75%ish percent. My only other complaint would be the early alarms, but at the end of the day I am well aware that they are worth it.

Sorry in advance for the lack of pictures post. It is bugging my OCD self that i'm not posting with any so hopefully I will add some later.

We are currently in a town called San Ignacio which is in the Cayo district. Belize is made up of districts and Cayo is on the western side of the country in the hills and forests/jungles. It is sooo beautiful. Unfortunately there are many fires throughout the area in the fields/hills/trees/etc. The smoke from the fires makes it incredibly smoky and hazy but luckily it is nothing unbearable. Today we drove out to the Progressive Mennonite community to explore and absorb some of their culture and on the way back we passed a palm tree that was up in flames. So sad.

So we got here Saturday and checked into our cabins and got settled in before dinner. Dinner was absolutely delicious. The place we are staying is called Log Cab Inns (clever, right?) and there are a bunch of small cabins scattered throughout the property. Everyone staying here eats on the patio next to the pool, kind of like a dining hall but prettier and outside. We had chicken fajitas, rice & beans. We have learned to love beans and rice (if we didn’t already) as they are a very common dish in Belize. All of our other meals have been incredibly good too.

Sunday we explored “downtown” San Ignacio which included stopping in a few touristy type shops (although they are very different from such a store in the US), watching a local get arrested, seeing a parrot and its owner on the street, eating lunch at a small restaurant and buying fresh produce at the open air market!! I bought a starfruit, limes, and a mango. I have only cut open one of the limes because two of the people with us had some uh, stomach issues after eating the mangoes they bought (without washing it. Duh.) I already have enough issues as it is so I am going to wait ‘til I have a decent knife to slice and wash the sucker up. We also went to see a local Mayan ruin, Xanatunich, but ended up deciding against it once it started monsooning. That is rescheduled for this weekend sometime, when we will also go so Cahal Pech, another Mayan ruin. When that didn’t work out and after the rain had stopped, we took a little detour to Clarissa Falls which is a “waterfall”, if that, and we hiked on the rocks and ended up jumping off the rocks into the river. It was such an awesome day despite not being able to see the Mayan ruins. When else do you have the chance to jump off a rock into a Belizean river? That night, after coming back and changing into some dry clothes, we went to dinner at Rolson, a Mexican restaurant down the road from our cabins. It was quite delicious and a fun experience to eat “real” Mexican food. The view was also amazing as it was situated at the top of a hill that looked out over San Ignacio and we also ate outside on the covered balcony. What trip would be complete without its unfortunate events though? Ours occurred before dinner when one of the vans got stuck in the mud. I have video of it, but wish that I had been in the van while my professor was repeatedly cussing as she slid sideways down a small hill. Quite a story to tell.
Monday was our first day at Bishop Martin. The students and teachers of Bishop Martin seemed a bit hesitant towards us at first as this is the first time they have had a group from the US here. Our host teacher immediately told us that she was at a loss for ideas for teaching material, which we quickly learned was definitely the case. The kids start in “Infant 1” (Kindergarten in the US) and immediately most of the teachers lecture for their lessons. One of the girls who is placed in an Infant 1 class here pulled out a book to read to her class for one of her lessons, and the kids were in shock. The teachers here are great teachers, they are just at such a loss for ideas and resources.

Tuesday was a bit of a shock for us. By us I mean myself & my "co-teacher" I am paired with a girl  who is in the Early Childhood program who is also on the trip. We are in the same classroom together, plan lessons & implement them together. I LOVE it!! It has been such a great experience for teacher collaboration which makes me excited to actually have a job and hopefully be in an inclusion classroom. The REASON it was such a shock was because we literally taught all day long. And since then, we have taught all. day. long. Dont get me wrong, we are loving it but at the end of the day it is absolutely exhausting. But also so satisfying. It makes me so excited and it is so encouraging after the rough semester I had this past spring. So far Meg and I have taught division and multiplication of decimals (mostly Megan because I embarrassed the heck out of myself by completely forgetting how to do all that. Awful) Luckily Megan has headed the Math lessons and we have team taught Language Arts and I have pretty much done Science lessons. Today we made instruments out of recyclable materials that the kids brought it and they LOVED it. It is so encouraging to see the kids loving what we and what they are doing. The principal of the school told us today that attendance has been up since we have been here this week. They have already done all of their Belize mandated testing, after which attendance for the last month-ish goes way down, so it was awesome to hear that attendance is up a noticeable amount since we have been here.

As much as I want to keep writing, I am plum tuckered out. I am trying sooo hard to remember as many details as I can, but it is hard because there is so much to absorb!! I now realize why any friends that have gone abroad and blogged havent been able to keep up with them because no one wants to waste time online. SO. With that said, I will try and post again soon, hopefully this weekend since we will finally have some down time after visiting the Mayan Ruins and going Caving and maybe to the Belize Zoo!

Mom & Dad, can you believe that I am functioning with about 7 hours of sleep a night with no naps? Me either.

Adios from San Ignacio, Belize!
Peace & Love,
Chels

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