Hello again from Beautiful Belize! Here are some updates from our travels:
On Sunday, we ventured out of Belize City to see the Lamanai Ruins on the New River Lagoon. We had a 1-hour boat ride to get to the site, and on the way we saw a spider monkey and a few species of birds. When we reached Lamanai, we went on a walking tour and got to climb the ruins. Belize is the only country that still allows tourists to climb the Mayan ruins, and we took advantage of the opportunity! After seeing the main buildings, we were on our way to visit a sugar mill on the property when we heard very loud, growling noises coming from the forest – Howler Monkeys! Students, chaperones, and guides trekked through the park to find the monkeys, and watched as two howled at each other over territory. Definitely not something you see in every day! After the territorial battle, we finished our tour and headed back to Belize City. In the evening, we attended mass at a local church before we went o dinner, and enjoyed some pool time before bed.
Monday took us away from Belize City and out to the jungle to learn survival skills. Local guides showed us various ways Mayans trapped and hunted food, and how they used vegetation for food and medicinal purposes. We also learned how to start a fire – using only bamboo! After our hike, we had lunch and then went cave tubing down the Belize River. There are 9 caves along the river, and the entire area is now part of a national reserve. We were able to float through one of the caves, and learn about local history along the way. The water was clear blue, and extremely refreshing in the 90-something degree heat. From there, we traveled to our next (and current) residence in Cristo Rey, a small village in western Belize. The hotel here is family run, and the rooms are cabana style with thatched huts. The family does everything for the upkeep of the hotel – including making delicious home-cooked meals. Parents, we may have found our new home away from home! If we are not back on Saturday night, check here first 😉
Today was another great day. We began at the local market, where students were able to purchase fresh fruits and some souvenirs. Then we traveled very close to the Guatemalan border to visit Xunantnich (pronounced shoe-nan-tune-itch…you will get it eventually, promise!). Xunantnich is the third tallest ruin in Belize, and of course we climbed up to the top to see the breathtaking view of the countryside. You could also very easily see parts of Guatemala, which was about 5 miles away from us. After Xunantnich we visited Chaa Creek Butterfly Farm and learned about he Blue Morpho Butterfly, then visited a local elementary school where Monarchs were able to learn about the school and play soccer with some local children. With everything going on, the day didn’t end there – we were also able to go horseback riding to a local waterfall/swimming area when we got back to the hotel. Yet another great day, and it seems to jest keep getting better!
Tomorrow we are up bright and early with the sunrise to make it back to the eastern part of the country. We will travel by bus to the national zoo and a baboon sanctuary, then take a ferry from Belize City to our final destination – Ambergris Caye. Stay tuned for updates!
Spider monkey on the New River
High Tower at the Lamanai ruins
Jaguar Tower at the Lamanai ruins (with Monarchs at the top)
Monarchs learning about the elite Mayans at the Lamanai ruins
Monarchs applying bug spray before the survival hike
Rising senior Kaitlyn Minnis tries some fresh coconut water on the survival hike
Rising sophomore Owen Engelman watches as our guide uses only bamboo to start a fire
Monarchs at the Xunantunich ruins
Local guide holding a Blue Morpho Butterfly
Monarchs learning about the local elementary school