How I spent my summer
05.06.2009 - 07.08.2009 100 °F
Well, I am a little behind on keeping my travels updated. So here we go with what I was up to this summer
I took an internship as an NGO intern with ProBelize. It is a small group located in San Ignacio, Cayo District, Belize, Central America. It was truly an amazing experience. I would love to write each and every little thing that I did but I would imagine that that is virtually impossible. However, I will try my hardest to get all the good stuff in.
Every week we would work with a different group of people who received grant money from various organization. Our first week, we worked with Don Cocom, a Mayan herbalist. We helped him build a pilapa for his medicinal trail. He has so much knowledge about each and every plant and ways that they can help with anything from cramps, to dengae fever to heart problems. It was so exciting to get to work with him. Our next week we went into Elijio Panti, a National forest and helped Antonio build some steps for the trail as well as maintain and clear the trails. It was a great experience to camp out in the jungle for a few days and it was a real bonding experience, not only with the jungle and all its little creatures (I got real close to a scorpion, yeah that hurt!) but also the other interns. Our next week, we worked with The DuPlooys at the Belize Botanic Garden. It is a beautiful area but I think the best part was getting to canoe home after work.
The next week was a little different because we started to work on our individual projects. I was working on setting up a recycling center. It is a huge issue in Belize, the lack of knowledge about what burning plastics could do, is so harmful. I really became passionate about it, and still to this day I am working on research about the topic.
That was only for a few days before we got back into the hard labor. We then went to 7 mile or El Progresso, where Julio has land in which he has built an education center and an amazingly beautiful trail. The area is so gorgeous, you could just tell why the Mayans though it to be so sacred and special. While helping maintain the trails we got to explore a little and find some pottery and scout out some previously unexplored trails.
The next two weeks it rained a whole lot (it was the start of the rainy season) so we mainly worked on our individual projects. However, on Thursday we got to have an experience in which was truly and utterly special. The caves we scouted out, we actually got to do a first decsent! It was amazing! We even found some extremely beautiful pottery that now is placed in the archeological reserve!
The next week, Frances and I got to work with the Santa Familia Grains, Vegetable and Legumes Cooperative. We learned what they were doing and their plans for the future and then wrote them a grant, that was actually granted a few weeks ago! That was very exciting. The following week, while we weren't finishing up the grant, we went to El Pilar, a Mayan site which is truly unique because they have only uncovered the mounds, they have not yet started to excavate, so that was a great experience.
I was there for a total of 10 weeks! But what I have mentioned only shows the "work" I did. The weekends were always chock full of amazing times with friends, (host)family, and amazing experiences.
In my first week there, I took in the local Cahal Pech Mayan site as well as cliff jumping at big rock water falls. The next week, all the interns went to Caye Caulker (formally known as Caye Corker, but the locals couldn't pronounce the "ork" part). That was an beautiful spot, so different from area in which I was living. The following weekend, we spent some time down Humingbird Highway at Michael's (the environmental coordinator) organic farm. He has the most amazing swimming holes along his property. The Next weekend we all decided to go to ATM (short for Actun Tunichil Muknal) which is a cave you have to swim into. It was so unbelievable. And the next day we went into Guatemala to see Tikal, the Mayan ruins. The next weekend we got to go to Xunantanich, which is a Mayan site that is about 20 min away from San Ignacio. The following weekend, we went back to Caye Caulker but this time I got to get some diving in. It was amazing. Steph, Frances and I dove at Turneffe Caye, at 3 different sites and it was a great experience. Diving with great friends, a great dive master and some people who just love life, is...well just awesome! The final weekend involved a little tradition we started. We call it La Rita Maya. Instead of La Ruta Maya, a 4 day canoe race down the Belize river, we tweaked it for our own personal taste. La Rita Maya involved a canoe and a stop at every resort for a Margarita all the way back to San Ignacio.
Each and every experience I had while on this trip was something I won't ever forget. I had the most loving and kind host family, who truly took care of me and whom I miss each and every day. I met some amazing people, both from the states and from Belize. People who truly want to help the world and the people in it. I got to observe and participate in the local culture, and though not everything was an extremely pleasant experience, all in all was wonderful.
I really can not wait to get back there!