It is day 2 and you will be happy to hear that we are all still alive and well, with just a few hundred bug bites per leg. We woke up today to the sound of a slight torrential downpour on the tin roofs of our lodge. After a delicious breakfast of leftover lunchmeat and PB&J, we packed up our things and headed to the Maya Center Mayan Museum for a pretty unforgettable cultural immersion with Julio. Julio's passion for developing a relationship between the Mayan people and what he calls the "internationals" was clearly seen through the demonstrations we witnessed and participated in today, including learning about the history of the Mayan people in Belize, crushing sugar cane, dancing a traditional Mayan dance and each taking a turn grinding coffee beans and corn and making tortillas over a fire.
We then travelled south towards the Toledo Region and stopped at Coleman's Café, where they had a buffet lunch (consisting of authentic Belizian food, like curried rice and beans, beef, fried plantains.) After talking to some exotic birds (surprised?) and finishing up the last bits of banana cake, we boarded the van once again to make our way to Blue Creek Cave for some cave swimming. We ventured into the rainforest towards the cave opening, stopping only to look at the most poisonous of plants (didn't touch them though, no worries). I loved talking to Silvano during the hike and learning about how he and his father first discovered the cave, and his passions for combining nature and the environment with the people. Such a man of wisdom and always willing to adventure and discover something new.
The cave itself was beyond awesome. Lots of teamwork was involved, including clinging onto each other's legs so as not to get caught in the current, while Silvano and his daughter Melissa casually swam past us.
After our good byes with Silvano and Melissa, we made it to San Antonio for the homestay at the Bol's Hilltop "hotel" through the TEA program (or the Toledo Ecological Association). We broke into groups of four and were graciously invited into the homes of three different families who cooked dinner for us. We sat and talked with them and learned about their day to day lifestyles. Some of us were even invited to attend a service at the local Nazarene church, where we participated in their prayerful song, and even attempted to teach them "This Little Light of Mine" - Sometimes the Spirit doesn't quite work out the way we want it to…
After debriefing and reflecting on our day, we're all excited to get a decent night's sleep for the next big adventures in store for us.
(Shout out to Mom, Dad, Lauren, and Matt, and all other family and friends who actually took the time to read that novel I just wrote. Love you all, and don't be too upset if I fall in love with this country and decide to stay (just kidding…) Thinking about and praying for you all! Peace out. )
Meghan Sprankle '14