Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hopkins Weekend

Welcome to Hopkins!
In the wee morning hours of Friday we headed to Belmopan (the capital of Belize), with a few other volunteers to get our Visas extended. All went smoothly and we headed back to the bus station in hopes of getting closer to Hopkins or Placencia.
As we sat in the bus station waiting for a bus to come, a man approached us and asked us where we were headed. We said Dagringa, so, his bus went to Dagringa. We were a little sketched out by this at first, but it ended up all well and good! From Dagringa we went to Hopkins, which is a small town of about 1000 on the ocean.
After walking through the entire town and out the other side we were feeling tired and sick of trying to find a place to stay. On our last straw, we walked down the driveway of Jeanie's Jungle by the Sea Resort. A truck pulled over and the people (Jeanie and John) offered us their only room left - a fancy one - at half the normal cost, since we were obviously budget travellers. Since we now know that North American accommodations cater best to our needs, we took it.
The first night our cabin was set back a little from the water, but still had a view, had two double beds and hot water! Big treat! It also had a big, great balcony. Which we promptly relaxed on with a book. (That's right - Lee has started to read!)

The second night there (since we were too lazy to continue on to Placencia) we stayed in this cute little cabin, still within Jeanie's Jungle Resort. It was way cheaper ($20US), pretty small, but still had hot water. It also had a way better ocean view. Saturday we took out a kayak and played around. We saw jellyfish-like things - they were rounder -, a school of blue & yellow fish jumped up all around the kayak and we saw some huge, hungry birds. Oh also, we saw a couple pretty big, orange starfish.
Apparently, you can also find manatees and dolphins in the area. We'll have to go back for that. Actually, our plan is to go back and do a day trip in the kayak. You can go down to Sittee River and there's crocs there - yikes!
Here's a shot of Nancy reading by the ocean shortly before sunset. We were the only people on the beach - very peaceful!

This is a shot of the view from the reading chairs.
We also went to a drumming thing. About 5 or 6 guys played various drums and sang Garifuna music. The boy standing is playing tortoise shells - they had a great sound! Lee practiced the beat for hours after this and wants to get some shells for himself.

We also noticed how much garbage was by the shore. There was the usual, washed in by the ocean stuff - tons of shoes and bottles - but then there's the oh-so pretty dump. This is behind one person's shop.. it just didn't seem like something you would find easily back home. The shore was not taken care of, except for private beaches like in front of hotels.
And small side note - this is Gabby, our gecko. She hangs out at our place all the time... pretty noisy little thing. :-)
Hope all is well with everyone,

Monday, January 22, 2007

Our First Full Belizian Weekend!!

Well Friends - we had an excellent weekend. Saturday we went to the market where we got all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies for like $2.50. Sweet! (Although.. we have yet to eat them - tonight for sure!) Then we just chilled out with the other volunteers and had a low-key day. But on Sunday....

We went to some ruins! Weee! Here's a shot of the most impressive structure on site:

On the side of it you can see some incredible frieze, or as we refer to it, stuffy-stuff. Stuffy-stuff is neat. :-)

This is Lee on the way up to the top. He's all smiles now... but wait.....

This is Nancy chillin' over the edge looking out - incredible view. Where's Lee you might ask?! Well, turns out Lee is a little (by little I mean a fair amount) afraid of heights. He wasn't so keen on checking out the view or having a seat. He also, was not too keen on having Nancy sit that close to the edge.

So Lee decided to go back down. On his way, about a half way down he came underneath us and took a photo. That's Nancy, Nurse Kate, Sarah and Kirsty. All smiles!

Now this picture is a little unclear.. but we were so pumped that we decided to share it anyways! It's a ... MONKEY! Actually it's two adults and two babies! The one baby crawled on the branch and it was super cute and amazing! What do you have in Canada? Seagulls? Haha! We have monkeys!

q: So tell me, why did the iguana cross the road?
a: Who cares!? It was freakin' awesome!

This is actually one of the small to medium ones we saw. We saw about 6 or 7, the biggest being umm.. ginormous.

Anyways, hope you like our pictures and incredibly eloquent posting here... talk to you all soon! And comment on our postings - it's more fun that way!


Mum (MaryB) - Email me more, I'm feeling abandoned!
Uncle Scott - Yes. We have internet access at work - slow, but functional.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cahal Pech

So, did you know that there are more Mayan ruins in Belize than modern buildings? Craziness!

So yesterday Stephanie (from Miami), Sarah (from UK), Kirsty (Maritimer) (other volunteers) along with us, went up to Cahal Pech. It was about a 15 minute walk up this super muddy slippery hill (what is said to be the oldest road in the Cayo District). There is a small information booth with some pottery pieces, and a dead body and the like... We ended up with a very enthusiastic tour guide who is "addicted to anthropology like others are addicted to drugs or alcohol". On top of all the theories that exist in regards to Cahal Pech, he also taught us a lot about local, natural medicine. He showed us about three trees that they use to cleanse themselves, or be super strong (the cedar tree).
He offered various theories and hypotheses about the site. Cahal Pech in one language (don't ask us which!) means Place of Ticks because it was surrounded by tick infested cattle. However, in another language is refers to something about this place of royalty. He showed us various things that supported each theory.

Anyways, it was really interesting. We're now thinking of all the other things we should do and see! We've got a few other volunteers that will probably be touring around with us - yay!

The oldest Mayan building in Latin America (or something like that). It was built in 1200 BC. You'll also notice a close up on some shapes - this is the representation of the jaguar - the sacred animal of the Mayans. This is the top two floors of the structure, they did not excavate the bottom seven floors.

A scenic shot at the highest point of the ruins. (Our guides theory tells us that this is where the leader would come to address his people)

Here are some more pictures of the ruins:

Talk to you later!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Safe Arrival in Belize

Hello Everyone!

So - we made it to Belize - yay! Our "shuttle" - ie. 1800 era jetta - did not make it to San Ignacio. In fact it made it about 30 minutes, then we chilled out on the side of the road. (see pics). A truck of random guys showed up and they pulled us down the highway with a rope, then went behind us and pushed us. All of this got the car to drive on its own for another half hour. Then his brother showed up and dragged us with a chain.. gave up on that. So, we got in the not-so-sketchy car of the brother who brought us to San Ignacio.

Day 1: Shuttle to San Ignacio
Our 1800s Jetta - on the side of the highway. (The smell in the car was the best part)

On The Side of the road (Still)
Our shuttle driver and his wife with Lee

Nancy in the Shuttle
Lovin' the broken down car

Lee in the Shuttle

Our humble abode - 19th century tiki hut - is definitely not 5star quality. First thing we did - mosquito net and get a door (by door i mean curtain) to separate the bathroom from the kitchen. Wee! (Lee leaves the curtain open and whistles when he goes to the bathroom.. hehe). It's one of 10 guest huts on the property. You go down a super bumpy and full of puddles road to get there... and it's surrounded by trees so at about 5am we had the loudest wake-up call ever from all the birds.

It was a little bit of a sketchy first day in Belize, but everyone seems nice and safe.
Anyways, check out our pictures and talk to you soon!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pre-Departure Posting

Well Friends and Family - hopefully this is our blog and how you will see what we are doing while we're in Belize!
We are in the process of packing, which really means, making a big fat mess in Lee's room. Yay!

This message is just to test how this goes up and if we can post pictures easily.

Please send us comments on our blog throughout the trip - also, always feel free to email us!

Nancy & Lee