Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We made it!! We are in the zoo center and ready to come home in a few. Two days ago we celebrated Sanjana's birthday Guatemalan style by waking her up at 5:30 in the morning with firecrackers and then later we threw a surprise party and had awesome cake. The party lunch was great our home stay mom did a lot to make her birthday special and everyone had a great time!!!!

The hardest day was yesterday when we had to say bye to all the village. It was amazing to see everyone come together and show so much love to a group of crazy Americans they only knew for a few days but felt like forever family. I ever hugged some people I didn't think i knew till yesterday but its ok they are all family.We all cried and going to miss them but we can keep in touch through mail and what not.

After we came to the zoo center (which nobody wanted to do)  but it was surprisingly pretty cool. We stood next to some crazy animals and it was pretty cool. We finally made it to the end and now we are off to the airport. See you guys soon. :) - Andy

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Back in Belize

Hello Everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that we are now back in Belize.  We successfully crossed the Guatemala/Belize border and arrived back in Belize.  We are currently at the tropical education center right down the road from the Belize zoo.  We have one last leadership activity and then a night tour of the Belize zoo.  Tomorrow it is off to the airport.  Students will be updating the blog most likely after the night tour of the zoo.  Stay tuned....   :)

Last full day!

Hello family and friends of the WHS program in Guatemala! Although the internet has been spotty and the students aren't able to update the blog as often as we hoped - the program is going FANTASTIC! We spoke with Juan, our Country Coordinator and he couldn't be happier with the students interest in learning about the community/country and the community response to the program. We are so happy to hear all of this! They are heading back to Belize today and staying at Tropical Education Center this evening. I am sure they will have lots of stories to share once they arrive home tomorrow.  We will monitor the flight and update the blog with any delays or changes tomorrow. Please feel free to call with any questions 303-679-3412. Thank you for your trust and support!

Erin Hawk
Director of Operations

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hey everyone it's Sanj and Melissa. Yesterday we took a 4 a.m. tour of Tikal beginning from the Jungle Lodge Hotel.We walked through the jungle and climbed the tallest Mayan temple to watch the sunrise. We visited several temples, learned the history behind the construction as well as Mayan culture. We encountered various animals such as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, coati, fox, and several insects. Today we took a day off from work and focused on connecting and spending time with our host families for the entire day. We spent the day playing with our host families' children in hope to continue learning more about them as the day goes on. Adios, hope to see you all very soon! :)

Jordan (B) and Kelly's

Kelly and I were supposed to do this a while ago but we never had the chance to. Luckily for you, you can read this now! :) Kelly and I woke up at 4 in the morning today! It was so exhausting. We went on a half-hour hike from the jungle-lodge to the Tikal cite. Once we got there we saw a bunch of pyramids. The most memorable perhaps was Temple IV. We got to see the sunrise from the top of a Mayan pyramid whilst listening to the various sounds of the jungle. A couple of other incredible Mayan structures later we chilled at another place where the jaguar pyramid was. I'd just also  like to casually like to mention THAT I TOUCHED A FREAKING TARANTULA OUT OF MY OWN FREE WILL!!!!!! anyways after visiting one of the most amazing cities in existence we hiked back to the  jungle-lodge for a bit. Then went back to Las Vinas! Home sweet home! well almost lol. I cant believe that I touched a spider ( let alone a TARANTULA), that I climbed a 3000 year-old pyramid, and that I get to share this amazing experience with an amazing group of people.

This is Kelly.  Hi Mom, Dad, and other parents.(Thanks Jordan for writing about everything (-_-) This trip has been very educational and fun.  Today we woke up super early and got to see one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.  We hiked for a while to get there but the view was spectacular.  Tikal has so many treasures that people have been appreciating form the beginning of time.  It so awsome to be one of them.  I would also like to state that just today I touched a snake and a tarantula and did not cry.  We also headed to this market and picked up some cool souvenirs. My host family has also been so sweet and accomidating. Enma, Carlos, Carlita, and Maglene have been so sweet, and have made some bomb food.  Overall this trip has been a phenominal experience for me and others.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hi everyone,

Today was day 8 of our adventure. We started off today by having a delicious breakfast consisting of sandwiches and plantains(a personal favorite).We played some awesome games with the local kids. We also worked at the school(such a shock, we know). We finished painting the stairs, with some amazing lettering done by Jordan and Kelly. We also made a walkway in the back of the school, which is coming along really well. We worked for probably 10 hours straight, in the sweltering heat, in full work clothes!!! Just kidding =) We had a short break, with some delish cookies and watermelon. We continued working and managed to finish all of the painting! We also finished a lot of the walkway. Since the painting was finished early, we played some games which were really fun. We then went back to the houses for lunch, where we had some delicious tortillas, chicken, and rice. After lunch we played some soccer and basketball with the high schoolers and had a blast beating them=) We headed to the school to do some leadership activities, including disarming a bomb! Granted it was fake, but we think it still counts. As we were finishing our sixth round of bomb disarming, it started pouring rain. We stayed outside and got soaked. We went inside the classroom and described what we thought of each other as leaders. It was a great moment of team bonding. Now we are going back for a delicious dinner. Tomorrow it is off to Tikal!

Signing off,
Sarah and Simu

P.S. Quick shoutout to Mama, Papa, and Zach Hoffman, I really miss you guys!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hola! It's Cecily, Mia, and Jordan Rose reporting live from Las Vinas. It is currently day seven and we are all still alive. Today we went to the school where first we taught the kids some Jersey Club dance moves. We also, yet again, PUT IN WORK mixing cement and painting stairs. We played soccer with the kiddies and as of right now, Jordan R is carrying a parakeet on his shoulder.  But, back to the point.  After we played with the kiddies, we went to our homestays and ate some YUMMY lunch.  After this, Cecily spent her afternoon washing her clothes vigorously. By hand. Without a washing machine. It was very impressive. Then Jordan Rose and the rest (Jordan's words) played against the local high schoolers in a game of soccer and basketball. Jordan of course finished with the usual in basketball, 15 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds; an easy triple double and Mia caught another L (loss) against the very skilled high schoolers in soccer. Then we went to a farm where we drank coconut water, ate sugarcane, held machetes, and watched a local friend climb a tree to get the coconuts and it was lit. Then, on the more sentimental side, we went to the local park and planted little baby trees. Some of the names of our babies were Cole, Baby Cecile, and Lebron James. We played some hopscotch and just got back to our homestays where we will be eating GOOD FOOD. Tomorrow we're going to go back to the work site and PUT IN WORK. ADIOSSSSSSSSSS!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hey everyone, this is Melissa, Sanjana, and Simu. So far we spent 2 nights at the host families, and 2 days working on the community project. Our project consists of working on the 2 entrances of the primary school of Las Vinas. On the first day, we helped clear the area of trash and then we played with the children of the community. After eating lunch at our home stay, we visited a local home to learn about the art of making empanadas and tostados. We then spent the evening learning about our personalities and leadership styles. On the second day, we scrubbed the staircases to prepare them for painting and made the foundation to build a gate at the rear entrance of the school. After returning from lunch, we discussed the main global issues  we chose and developed questions related to the community to further expand our perspective of the community. We split into groups by gender, each with its own group of leaders, to ask questions based off of the lifestyle of the community. We hope to continue learning about the community and we'll see you all in a week or so! Adios! :)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Tanda and Ryan here checking in.  Just as an update, we have safely crossed the border into Guatemala.  We are currently with our home-stay families and settling in.  We got a nice tour of Las Vinas, and tomorrow we will be meeting at the school in town to learn more about our project and get started on it.  Jordan Rose got really excited after he saw the basketball court in town.  Mia's eyes glowed when she saw the soccer field.  Cecily almost had an accident after our warm firework welcome, which sounded like gun shots.   Although it scared all of us, it was very cool.  The introduction between the kids and the families was very exciting.  It was great to see the joy on everyone's face as they all got acquainted and headed off to their individual homes.

More pictures and news on tomorrow's blog...Adios

Saturday, July 4, 2015

We have finally figured out how to get some pictures on here so here you go:
 This one here is from the first day where we trekked from the bus to our camp
 This is us getting the low-down at our camp
 This is us after dinner listening to homeboy Randall
 This is day two where we had some team building activities
 This is us somewhere
 This is Austin making a new friend
This is a few of us in the river #NoRiverMonsters
Hello friends/family/those who actually have internet connection,

This is Cecily and Jordan Rose giving you a summary of day three in the jungle. We made it through night two after a few encounters with scorpions, snakes, spiders, and the many other insects of the wild. Just to fill you in on where they left off yesterday, we learned all about the wonderful uses of plants/trees on the medicinal trail tour. Then we went back in the river where Andy decided to capsize the canoe a few of us were sitting in so that was nice; but despite Jordan's persistent concern we still have not encountered any river monsters (shoutout Animal Planet). After this we returned to our camp where Jordan Rose found a wonderful scorpion in his bed "just waiting to snuggle" (words of Ryan). So after this traumatizing moment we ate dinner which was a spaghetti and meatballs with a Spanish twist (which we all went up for seconds for ((even me mom -Cecily))). Then we mentally prepared ourselves for the night hike. Keep in mind it was completely dark with the exception of our headlamps. Due to our incredible stealthiness we encountered a cute little frog and a not as cute red coffee snake (google it for a wonderful pic) and many of us held/touched this very live snake so that was an experience. We also had a minute of lights off in the middle of the jungle which was half terrorizing half exhilarating.Then we went to sleep (but not until we killed many bugs including massive spiders and scorpions in our cabin) and woke up bright and early this morning for a 6:30 am breakfast. Keep in mind the howler monkeys still made their presence loud and clear at 3:00 am, along with some birds for alarms throughout the night.

We began our voyage to the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, where we took a hike through a rivers to the cave and literally dove right into the action. In this cave we climbed, swam, slipped, and shimmied through the water, rocks, stalagmites, and stalactites of the massive cave. Although we thought this may be the end as we reached some Mayan sacrificial sites filled with skeletons and pots, we made our way back through the whole thing with full bladders and damp socks. We had to "do as the Mayans do" and sacrifice one of our own due to persistent complaints of bathroom necessities so I'm sorry to say you won't see Jordan Rose on the 15th #RIP. So after this we had lunch and quickly made our way to a local market where we grabbed some goodies (bananas and some gooey, sour, fruit-like things) and headed over to some Mayan ruins which we don't know the name of as this was added to our agenda last-minute. There were lots of stairs so we got in an additional workout for the day so that was nice. After that we headed back to our camp where we are now keeping you updated and mentally preparing for our final night here.

So yeah here you go were are all alive and well, living the life in the jungle #tarzan. Although this blog post describes many traumatizing experiences I promise you we are having a great time and if you heard our singing on the bus (as we lack music which is a real struggle) you would sense our enjoyment as Ryan appreciated all day. Peace and blessings, xoxo, we out.

PS - you have the power to comment/reply to these posts so feel free to pretend you love us and send some affection/acknowledgement..
PPS - love you mom/dad/logan/nicholas, I promise I'm eating. - Cecily
PPPS - Jordan Rose said "no comment" to the personal message (we didn't actually sacrifice him).

Friday, July 3, 2015

HELLO HUMANS IN NEW JERSEY!!!!! We are Sia (Sarah & Mia), reporting live from La Mariposa at Chaa Creek Lodge in Belize.  We are ABSOLUTELY delighted to be sharing our first two days in this lovely, bug infested, sticky, environment with all of you.  To start off, we would like to apologize for the lack of pictures as none of our cameras and memory cards seem to be cooperating :(.  But, no fear, we plan to post the most descriptive things everrrrrr!!!! Now let's get started!!!!!!!

Now who's ready for an adventure?

Day 1:

To begin, we would like to say that the plane was very, very,very COLDDD!! We were all freezing our behinds off! However, the flight from Atlanta was a very nice temperature.  When we landed and went through customs (which was surprisingly question-less) we had finally made it to Belize! We met up with Juan and Randall to begin our incredible adventure! We drove through the one of the four main highways throughout the country (which is approx. the same size of Massachusetts- thanks Sia!).  We had the chance to see the sleeping giant (limestone hills that resemble what looks like a person's profile)  and the lovely countryside/ horses/ dogs/ lambs/ cows.  We made our way to lunch at a restaurant called, Cheers, where we had some traditional Belizian dishes and most of us got to try watermelon juice!!!! It was yummy, yummy in our tummies!  Despues de almuerzo, nosotros fuimos a Chaa Creek Lodge.  There, we went to our cabins for the first time where we witnessed bugs, trees, dirt paths, a tarantula, and more trees.  Some of us went to the river while others stayed behind to rest from the long journey.  The river was very nice.  It was muddy, and Mia had fun even though she lost her nose plug AND ear plugs.  There were no river monsters despite Jordan Rose's many freak-outs.  After this we returned to have dinner which consisted of delicious salad, potatoes, and chicken-- oh, and chocolate cake :D.  After a little session of team-building, we headed to bed (it was only 8:30, but woah were we tired!).  However, our story is just getting started.  We had the pleasure of coming face-to-face with a centipede, moths, spiders, nbd.  AND, at 3 AM, the howler monkeys decided to wake up and UNLEASH.


Day 2:

We arose and ate breakfast (beans, eggs, tortilla, bacon, and fruit).  After we ate, we did more team building games.  We hiked to a butterfly farm and natural history museum where we saw different mammal skulls, learned about the Mayans and saw some of their artifacts.  In the butterfly farm we learned about the life cycle of a Blue Morpho butterfly and Austin, Simu, and Ryan made new friends (meaning butterflies landed on them).  Then, we ate lunch and had the best food EVERRR!!! And now, here we are, about to go on a medicinal trail to learn about how the Mayans used the jungle!

Everyone is having fun, full of food, and safe!

"When stuff goes wrong, the adventure begins."


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Students have arrived!

Hello family and friends of the WHS program in Guatemala! The students have safety arrived in Belize and are heading to lunch. They will start updating the blog tomorrow. Please call with any questions - 303-679-3412. Thank you for your trust and support!

Erin Hawk