Good Bye Belize

This brings me to the end of the amazing time spent in Belize for the past 2 months. Our adventure home included a tiny jumper plane that took us across the country to the main airport in Belize City. I was able to sit directly behind the pilot which was awesome to see everything. From there I took a flight from Belize City to Houston and then from Houston to Newark.

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Our little jumper plane

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Just sitting behind the pilot

I honestly could not have asked for a better experience. All of the staff and crew were amazing. The clinical experience provided me with so much more than I could have expected and the traveling on the weekends was so cool to experience. Thanks to all my friends and family for supporting during this trip. I am so lucky to have been able to experience an adventure as great as this one!

Here are a few photos from the campus of Hillside:

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The outside of my home for the past 2 months

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The Physical Therapy Clinic

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Our work space

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our “private” treatment room

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The giant table in our treatment room

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The medical clinic and pharmacy

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The medical clinic

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The living room

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The kitchen table

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Our family kitchen

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Ignore the mess but this was my room

Until next time Belize! You will definitely be missed!!

Weekend #7: Placencia Round 2

For my final weekend in Belize I wanted to do something fun, beachy, and with the group of students who have been here for the past month. This was the first weekend I was able to travel with them. We decided to go to Placencia (again for me). Going back there the second time was even better than the first. The first night was relatively similar to when I first went. We took the water taxi over to the land and then bought some alcohol at the store and had some drinks before going to dinner. We then continued to drink for the rest of the night at various bars that I went to last time I was here. The next morning we woke up and the one student here from London had heard about a place that had a pool overlooking the beach that anyone was allowed to hang out at. At first I thought this was too good to be true. We decided to try it out and see what it exactly was. Let me tell you, I was AMAZED. Basically it was a restaurant with a pool that overlooked the ocean and anyone was allowed to be there. We ended up hanging out there for hours! It was so relaxing and beautiful. At around 5 we decided to head back and get ready for dinner. We went to a different restaurant called the pickled parrot. The atmosphere was really fun. There was live music and a lot of people there. To be honest the food was average but it was still fun. After that we went to another bar and played some games. We ended up staying out late dancing and having a blast. The next morning we woke up and went back to the amazing pool. Turns out on Sundays they have “pool parties”. When we got there the DJ was setting up on the pool deck. The bartender explained that everyone had to spend $10 BZE on Sundays. We all laughed because anywhere else that would be the cover charge to get into the pool let alone if we wanted food or anything. All I had to do was order a sandwich and a drink to hang out at this pool. AND it was hand delivered to be at the pool side. I was not complaining. The music made it way more fun than Saturday and drew in more of a crowd. Sadly we had to leave and go back to hillside that afternoon. Honestly I wish I knew about this place the last time I came! Either way it was an amazing last weekend in Belize. I had so much fun and it is going to make it that much harder to leave this place in a week!

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Weekend # 6: Belcampo Restaurant, Belize Zoo, and Blue Hole National Park

This weekend was another weekend where I ventured off on my own because the other students went on a trip that I had already gone on. I decided to stay in PG again on Friday night and I went out to a fancy restaurant at a resort called Belcampo. On the first Friday of every month they have half priced drinks and free appetizers. So naturally I took them up on this option. After the happy hour was over we decided to go over to another local bar and sing karaoke. This was a blast. I think karaoke is more fun in Belize than anywhere else but I could honestly not explain to you why this is.

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The view from the bottom of the stairs at Belcampo Lounge

The next morning I woke up early and took a bus to Belmopan where I met up with another student and we went to the Belize zoo. This was a smaller zoo but VERY cool. There is something about walking around and seeing animals that actually are on the jungles around you compared to the states where you see elephants and giraffes. Obviously I would never run into a giraffe on the streets of Pennsylvania. I got to see Tapirs, toucans, jaguars, spider monkeys, and so much more. Once we were done at the zoo we both got back on the bus and went our separate ways. She went back to the group of students to go on the same trip that they were going on for Sunday.

I decided to go stay at a place called the Yaxche Jungle Camp. This was quite the adventure. I ended up hiking three miles from my bus stop to this place. Once there I realized that I was going to be staying in a campsite with the Mayan family that lived there and no other guests since it is the low season. The owner of the camp was Marcos and he was awesome. He got me all set up and I just hung out in the jungle until it got dark. Then I went and laid in my bunk. A huge storm came in which was awesome to watch because my bunk was covered and protected but I was able to look out and watch the storm around me. In the morning I woke up and ate breakfast with the family. I ended up talking with Marcos for about 2 ½ hours about all these different things. He taught me so much about Belize. I have been in this country for 6 weeks and I don’t think I learned as much about the different culture and events as much as I did from Marcos. It gave me so much of a better understanding of the way things worked. I loved learning so much.

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The bathrooms at Yaxche Jungle Camp

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The path back to my cabin

After we finished talking I packed up my bag and headed out. I decided to walk back 2 miles to a local national park. The park was the Blue Hole National Park. This park included a cave that you were allowed to hike to and go 200 yards into it by yourself without a guide. I decided to start out with this since I have a new found love for caves. It was awesome to be in the cave by myself. After this I decided to go for another hike. The sign said it would take 3 hours but clearly that was wrong since I finished in 50 minutes. I then hiked back over to the actual blue hole which is a large pool of natural blue water. This water was FREEZING and very crowded with tourists. I hung out there for a bit then hiked back up to the entrance, changed my clothes and ate some lunch. In total I hiked about 8 miles that day which was really fun and great exercise. The group of students that went on the other trip picked me up on the way back to PG which made the trip back very nice! All in all it was a great, cheap weekend and very relaxing.

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My view from inside the cave

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The very crowded blue hole

Weekend #5: Hopkins, Mango Festival, and Mayflower Bacowina National Park

This weekend there was a new group of students at Hillside. With this being said most people like to go on the first three trips that I went on when they come here. So this weekend I had to fend for myself. I decided to stay in PG on Friday night because my new roommate was celebrating her birthday. We went out to a nice restaurant on the water front and had some drinks. This night was a lot of fun. The next morning I woke up and caught a bus up to Hopkins. This is a small Garifuna village about 3 ½ hours away from PG. There was a big mango festival going on so I figured it would be cool to check that out. Another guy who came on this rotation decided to come with me rather than go with everyone else to Lime Caye (the island I went to before). Worked out for me because I didn’t have to travel alone! We ended up getting to Hopkins REALLY early so we checked into our hostel and went down to the beach for the morning. It was beautiful. The wind was blowing so there were ZERO sand flies. I got to lay on a hammock under two palm trees and just look out over the ocean. In the afternoon we wandered down to the festival where there were mangos EVERYWHERE. I indulged myself in a delicious mango shake up drink where the man literally smashed a mango into my cup and then shook it really fast as he added other ingredients. It was delicious let me tell you. Super refreshing. I also wandered over and got myself a really good mango pulled pork sand which where they make the barbecue sauce with mangos. Also delicious. After we hung out at the festival and found ourselves the beer tent for a few hours we went back to the hostel to shower. Then we wandered upstairs to a local bar above our hostel. This was fun because a bunch of people from Canada came up there and we all chatted a bit. Then a Garifuna man came up and decided to serenade us with his guitar; granted I egged him on. He was so funny though. Definitely some natural Belizean entertainment.

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Hopkins Beach

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Walking into Mango Fest ready to eat some fresh mangos!

The next morning we woke up early and planned to go to Mayflower Bacowina National Park to go hiking up a big trail there. Little did we know it would be EXTREMELY difficult to get there. We ended up walking 3 miles before catching a ride to a junction. At the junction we called a cab and he charged us way more than he should have but whatever. We got there and we were excited. Of course stupid me let the battery on my go pro die before the hike (kicking myself for this because it was beautiful). As we started up the mountain it was flat(ish) land followed by step like surfaces and then came the steep part. This part was equipped with ropes to help pull you up because it was so steep. This made the hike way more fun. I was exhausted by the time we reached the top but it was well worth it. First there was this amazing look out that went over the top of the falls. It was beautiful. Then up a little farther there was a “pool”. This was something from a movie. There was a water fall that fell down into a small pool of water that you could swim in and jump off the cliff. It was like ice cold (RARE here in Belize) and it felt amazing. We ended up hanging around there for about an hour just swimming and relaxing and jumping off the cliff. Then we decided to trot back down this steep mountain. A lot easier to get down than up to be honest. Probably helped that we were able to use to ropes to basically repel ourselves down. Once we were down we called our expensive cab driver and had him take us back to the bus station to catch our bus back to PG. It was definitely a weekend I would suggest to anyone. It was cheap and super fun. Also I was ecstatic that I finally got to hike in the jungle and experience all of that. Once we got back to PG we wandered over to our friend Jamie (one of the workers at hillside’s) football game and watched him play. All in all amazing weekend!

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This is the road we walked for 3 miles before we finally got a ride. Literally nothing to be found.

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The start of our hike!!

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one of the ropes to climb the steep parts

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Antelope Falls

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The view from the top of the hike before we hit the pool

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The amazing pool at the top of the waterfall

Weekend #4: Chocolate Festival in Punta Gorda

This weekend was a weekend where the first group of people I have been living with left and the new group came in. It also happened to be a weekend called Chocolate Fest in Punta Gorda. This worked perfectly for me because I was planning on staying in PG to say goodbye to some friends and say hello to new ones. Friday night I went out to a local restaurant in PG and had some drinks and food with two of the girls that left the next day. When we got back the girls wanted to go to sleep early for their busy day of traveling the next day. I on the other hand wanted to stay up and be social so I walked down to one of the hillside worker, Jamie’s house. He was hanging out with a few of his friends in his front yard drinking in a boat. Literally just a boat on land in his front yard. So I jumped on in and hung out for a few hours before I walked back up to the clinic for sleep. The next morning I woke up early and went into town to experience the chocolate festival. I started with a breakfast at my favorite place called the snack shack. I have chocolate banana pancakes. Amazing. Then I wandered around town. This was interesting because besides for my breakfast there really wasn’t all that much chocolate at this festival. It was more just people selling things at different booths. So I hung out there for a few hours then headed back to the clinic for lunch. At around 3 some of the new people arrived and we all hung out until dinner. I took them into town to a little restaurant where you can get fried chicken, beans, and fry jacks for 6 BZE (3 US). Then we walked over and ate it on a local dock overlooking the water. Since this group traveled a lot that day we went back to the clinic after that so they could get some rest. When we got back there were even more new students here. The next morning we woke up and biked into town again so I could give them a little tour. We ended up getting two flat tires out of the 11 people we had biking. One of those was my bike. So as you normally would do in Belize, I dropped the two bikes off at a local restaurant that knows us so they wouldn’t get stolen. Then I directed everyone who had a bike to go to a nearby dock to go swimming. Me and the other person who also got a flat hitch hiked over to the docks and swam until someone could come pick us up. Worked in our favor because we ended up stopping for food on the way back while everyone else had to bike back the 6 miles. In the afternoon we took a bus over to the closing ceremonies of the chocolate festival. This was basically just a bunch of soccer games followed by fireworks. Still very fun and entertaining. It was an awesome weekend to spend in PG because it gave me a chance to meet all my new roommates and really explore the town more.

Weekend #3: Lyme Caye

This weekend we went to our own private island called Lyme Caye. We left Saturday morning around 7 am on a boat with our tour guides Kenny and Ray. They took us out on a boat for a 1.5 hour boat ride to the island. Once on the island we went off to put our stuff down in our dorm style rooms. The woman who lives on the island had breakfast ready for us. She made us eggs and bacon and fry jacks with a special jam that was to die for. After breakfast we went out on our first snorkeling trip. This was AMAZING. Ray got in the water with us and was pointing out all the fish that we didn’t know (which was pretty much all of them except when I saw a Dory fish.. I knew that one). We got to see barracuda, lionfish, eagle rays, and I even saw a nurse shark! It was incredible. After our morning snorkel we went back to the island where lunch was waiting for us. After lunch we got some time to lay around the beach and relax. It was so beautiful I can’t even put it into words. At around 2:30 we went back out for our second snorkeling trip. This time I was getting better at recognizing the different fish that I was seeing. We even saw dolphins and got to snorkel in the water near them!  After an hour of snorkeling we came back and quickly went back out to go fishing for our dinner. We did a type of fishing called trolling which is where you just leave the line in the water and drive the boat around. Apparently the bigger fish think the bait is desperately swimming away from them. At this point the water was getting really choppy and we were on a small boat in the middle of an ocean. We fished for a little while and only caught one fish. It was a pretty big grouper though which was cool. Finally our boat driver Kenny decided it was getting too rough and we would have to go back in. I was sad I didn’t get to catch us our dinner but it was still awesome to get to try. Back on the island the one grouper we caught was cooked up and we started to pour some drinks. We all just hung out and relaxed on the island all night. When it got dark the whole island became covered with hermit crabs. Literally they were everywhere. We decided to have a hermit crab race which was hilarious. At the end of the night I couldn’t get myself to go to sleep in a dorm room when I had the beautiful ocean breeze and open sky above me so I slept outside on a beach chair on the porch of our dorm hut.  Best decision ever because I got to look out at the stars while falling asleep and I got to watch the sunrise from my bed in the morning. Once everyone woke up we went down and met Ray on the beach. We went out on the boat to try to fish again in the morning. I must be bad luck because once again we didn’t catch anything. Ray explained that sometimes they come back with a boat full of fish and sometimes nothing so we just had bad luck I guess. Back at the island we ate breakfast and then learned how to spear fish. We were on a mission to spear some lion fish. We took off on our last snorkeling trip around 10 am. This time we snorkeled over a shipwreck. This was SO COOL. It is crazy how the reef just grows on the wreck since it has been there for so long. It definitely makes you wonder the story behind that particular wreck. After our last snorkel we went back to the island and hung out for a few hours in the sun. At around 3 we got all of our stuff and went back on the boat to leave the island. It was an amazing trip. I would go back in a second if I could.

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Our boat for the weekend with our driver Kenny and our snorkeling guide Ray

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This is the building that we were sleeping in on the island

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The beds/ dorm on the island

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view from my hut

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The view of our beach

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Sunset

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Just hanging out on an island in the middle of the Caribbean

Swimming at a Local Couples Pool

This week we had some time to be adventurous when we were done clinic. There is a local couple who lives here and they have an AMAZING infinity pool that overlooks the jungle. The couple loves Hillside students and they let us come over and swim in their pool if we ever call and ask to stop by. Me and two other guys on the trip decided to get on our bikes and bike down to their house about a mile away from our clinic. When we found their driveway we had to stop and admire their land. They have this long strip of a driveway that is lined with palm trees all the way down to their house. As we rode our bikes down the driveway there was field of cattle on the one side of us. They started to trot next to us as we biked up to the house. Once we got to their house the couple was standing outside cleaning off their dogs. After talking to them for a few minutes they took us around back to show us the pool. The view is amazing. It is almost as if we were staying at a fancy resort somewhere. The infinity pool overlooks the jungle and they maintain the land so well. We got in the water and swam around for a bit. It was so relaxing and refreshing after a long hot day at work. It is so nice that these men let us come and use their pool whenever we need to cool off.

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The Driveway Entrance

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The view from the front of the pool

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The view from the side of the pool

Weekend #2: Placencia

This weekend we went to a little beach town called Placencia. To get there we took a bus for about 1 ½ hours and then got a water taxi over to the coast. The water taxi was a small little boat that took us directly to Placencia to avoid taking the bus all the way up and around the country to get there.

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Here we are about to take off in the water taxi called the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi

We stayed in a hostel called Andi Da House. It was SO cute. This is the second hostel I have stayed in and I was much more impressed. It was more relaxed in general. This time we had one HUGE room with 10 beds and plenty of lockers. We had the whole place to ourselves since there were so many of us. The hostel was even right on the beach. There were hammocks all over for us to lie in and look out over the ocean. MUCH better than the one I stayed in at San Ignacio.

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Here is the view from our Hostel

Friday night we went to a bar called the Tipsy Tuna. It was right on the beach front and was all outdoors. We loved this place. They had live music, plenty of food (at a cheap price), and lots of alcohol. After dinner and a few drinks we went back to the hostel with a bottle of rum and played some drinking games as a group. This was the first time we have really all hung out in a casual setting outside of Hillside so it was very entertaining. As the night went on we decided to go to a local “club” called Street Feet. This was VERY interesting. It was all local people just dancing to Caribbean music. It was kind of like a high school dance where all the boys hang around the perimeter and awkwardly dance back and forth while the girls all dance together in the middle. The difference being that the “high school boys” were all the local men and the “high school girls” were all of us travelers dancing to music that we didn’t know how to dance to. Obviously we had a blast dancing together but I probably would not return to that club if I went back. It was more like a cement building with a DJ and a small bar.

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A street in Placencia

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My new favorite restaurant the Tipsy Tuna

Saturday we woke up and went straight to the beach. We decided to walk down away from our hostel to a nice little hotel that had chairs outside of the building for people to lie out on. I was SO surprised by how little people there were in Placencia since it was such a beautiful town on a beautiful day. I asked a local man what the reason behind this was and he explained that it is technically the “Slow Season” here right now and that during the High Season (August to November) it is almost unbearable because there are so many people that you can’t even walk around. I was shocked by this because it was honestly us students from Hillside and maybe 30 other people on the entire beach. The weather was beautiful and the water was AMAZING. As the day went on we slowly moved down to the chairs that were outside of our new favorite restaurant the Tipsy Tuna. No joke I ate there 4 times this past weekend and 3 of the 4 times I ordered the exact same meal. As we lie on the beach, another student and I decided to order a few drinks. I was in absolute peace all day long.

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The view I had while having lunch with a Miami Vice (because why not)

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Me and Annie relaxing in the sun enjoying a beer bucket

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Loving life in the Caribbean

Towards the end of the day when it started to cool off we decided to play a game of volleyball at a net nearby. Little did I know that British people have NO IDEA how to play volleyball. We had two local men join us to play and we played for a good hour or so. This was so much fun. We all got really into it and once the Brits figured out how to play they weren’t that bad.

Sunday morning we woke up and pretty much did the exact same thing all day long. We had to leave to come back to Hillside around 4. This weekend was so relaxing and actually very cheap. I might end up returning in the next few weeks to be totally honest. I mean who doesn’t love a cute beach town where you basically have the whole beach to yourself and a waiter comes out to the beach to bring you drinks?

Weekend #1: Tikal, Belmopan Fair, and ATM Caves

This weekend we had a long weekend off because of the Belize Labor Day Holiday. We went up to San Ignacio Friday night and stayed in a local hostel. This was my first time ever staying in a hostel so it was exciting for me. We ended up having 9 people in an 8 person dorm room and it was unbelievably hot. Other than that there was nothing really all that bad about the hostel. It was really fun.

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This is Old House Hostel

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Inside the living room of the Hostel

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8 beds and 9 people in this tiny room

Saturday morning we went to Tikal, the Mayan Ruins. They were absolutely amazing. The day was perfect. We were picked up at 7am and brought across the border into Guatemala. They took us to this fancy breakfast place. I am becoming a little addicted to plantains. I need to learn how to cook them myself so I can continue my addiction when I’m back in the States. After breakfast we went on a tour around the ruins. We had a tour guide named Luis who was absolutely hilarious. He knew so much about the Mayan history and he gave us so much more than a typical tour of a historical site. He would pull grass off trees and explain what different things were made out of. It was really interesting to hear. He also took us on “short cuts” which ended up meant hiking through the jungle off the beaten path. This was awesome because we got to see spider monkeys and hear all the different animals of the Jungle. He also found out I was studying physical therapy and he tried to explain to me that I can create energy between my hands and the Ruins ground and that it’s a way to treat my patients and that I should keep my eyes peeled for the research about it. He made me wave my hands back and forth with his and then I had to pass the energy to the Ruin floor and then back to him. It was quite entertaining to say the least. Tikal was AMAZING. He took us up to the center of the temples and let us walk around and explore. I had my GoPro on so hopefully I got some good footage but I haven’t looked at it yet. We were even allowed to climb to the top of multiple of the temples. It is amazing how all of that was made by hand and they had no modern day machinery to help them.

Here are SOME of the pictures I took of the ruins. (I have a million pictures).

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Our hike path through the jungle to get to Tikal

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This is Luis the tour guide for Tikal

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Yes I am the nerdy tourist. Ignore all of my sweat its like a million degrees here.

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This was the highest climb with what I called the best view of all the ruins in the main square.

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See how there are Mayan designs all over it. These were all over the ruins

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This is the view from the top of the highest temple. It over look the entire jungle. The other ruins that I have pictures of are off in the distance.

Luis also explained to us that we happened to come to the site on the exact day that at 12 noon our shadow would be directly below us. Apparently this only happens once in a random while so we were all excited about this. I tried to take a picture but it didn’t turn out as well as planned.

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After the tour of Tikal, we were taken to a fancy restaurant for lunch. The restaurant had a pool next to it that looked out over a beautiful lake. Luckily we all brought swim suits and we swam around in the pool for an hour. It was much needed after a day full of hiking and climbing in all the heat.

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This is the restaurant we ate lunch at.

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This is the pool we swam in after lunch. It overlooks the lake.

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This is the view from the pool deck of the lake.

Sunday morning we woke up and went out to breakfast at this local breakfast place in San Ignacio called Pops. It was really good food and the owner seemed to know everyone which made it an awesome environment. Later that day we went to Belmopan for the Agricultural Festival that happens in Belize once a year. This is the biggest fair in the country of Belize so we wanted to check it out. To be honest it reminded me a lot of just a local state fair. Nothing too crazy. All of the people I traveled with are from London so they were VERY excited to watch a live rodeo. I on the other hand just walked directly to the beer tent and hung out there for a large portion of the afternoon. Normally in the US festivals and fairs jack up their prices of everything because they know they can get away with it. I was expecting the same here in Belize but I was so wrong. My beers all day only cost $1.50US. I tried the famous chocolate Belikin stout. It was AMAZING. Honestly I have never tasted a beer that actually tasted like good chocolate before. Other than that the fair was fun. We walked around and checked out the games and stands. All of the rides were going WAY too fast for a normal carnival ride. I was cracking up because the Farris Wheel was going so fast that people were screaming while riding it. I was under the impression that Farris wheels are supposed to be slow and sort of romantic. I guess not in Belize.

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The Belmopan Agricultural Fair. People brought their own horses to ride around so they didn’t have to walk.

On Monday we woke up and had another tour of a Mayan Ruin site. This time it was a huge cave called Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM). This was by far the best part of the weekend for me. We went for a hike into the jungle to get to the cave. Once there we put on our helmets and head lamps and we swam into the cave. The water was crystal clear and so refreshing. Our tour guide was named Carlos. He was hilarious. He kept making us turn our lights off in the pitch dark and see if we could walk around without seeing and just feeling. Honestly it was an AMAZING experience. I would go a million times again. Deep in the cave there are pots and pans and different artifacts that were left by the Mayans. This is one of the only places in the world where you can take a tour and explore the artifacts directly where the Mayans left them. Usually they are picked up and taken to museums. We got to see different skeletal remains that were left in the cave. Apparently in ancient times, the Mayans would try to flatten their foreheads with wood to make themselves more beautiful. They would also sacrifice infants and children to the gods within the cave. This tour was not only super fascinating to hear about all the Mayan stories and to really understand their beliefs but it was also an adventure like no other. We were climbing all over the rocks. We had to squeeze through rocks and slide down flows of water to get around the cave. Sometimes Carlos would just tell me to take the lead and when I would ask which way he would just say “follow your heart”. He made the experience so much more fun. The only thing that stunk about the ATM cave was that no cameras were allowed so we didn’t take any pictures. In the end I was okay with that thought because it allowed for me to really just take in the tour rather than focus on getting the best pictures.

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This is Carlos. Our crazy caveman tour guide.holding a Machete.

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Here we all are right before we took off to go into the cave.

We had a very busy traveling weekend but it was honestly SO much fun. I already knew that I loved to hike and explore but now I think I have a new passion for caving!!

The Trip Here

The trip started off with a pretty normal flight. We (me and Joe) left from Newark Airport and landed in Belize city. Took about 5 hours. For some reason I thought the time difference from PA to Belize was only 1 hour. But I was wrong, its 2 hours.

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This is the plane we got off of in Belize City. I was only in Belize for 5 minutes and I got yelled at for taking a picture of the plane like the classy tourist I am. Whoops.

When we landed in Belize City we made the courageous decision to take a bus to Punta Gorda rather than the jumper flight. This decision was partially based off of the idea of taking it all in on our journey as well as the fact the bus cost 21 BZE which is equal to 11 US dollars whereas the jumper flight cost 235 dollars US. In order to get to the bus terminal we had to take a taxi. We were just waiting in line and a man grabbed us and told us to get in his taxi with three other travelers around our age. Turns out they were going to San Pedro for a vacation for a week. The taxi ride provided a great start to the culture difference here. The taxi driver jammed 5 of us into his little car and then took off while we all listened to his music which was a mix of modern day Justin Bieber with a little reggae and a little Caribbean feel. He kept skipping through the CD to find a song he liked and they all sounded the exact same to me which was very entertaining. I also realized that there are ZERO traffic laws in Belize. Or at least no one follows them. All the cars just drive without any care in the world. But surprisingly there was no beeping except for the friendly honks from one local to another. Obviously this was a huge difference compared to Philly where if you hit your brakes you basically get a nice long honk as if you personally insulted the other driver. Everything is much more calm here. Once we got to the bus terminal we said bye to our taxi friends and went to pay the taxi driver. He told us it was “25”. So to us that is $25 but we completely forgot the exchange is 2:1 so basically we WAY over paid him. But whatever. Learning experience I guess.

The bus terminal was interesting. There is no schedule posted and there are a ton of buses coming through. Eventually (an hour later) we got a bus that claimed it was express to PG (Punta Gorda). Express is a strong word since it stopped every time someone waved it down or asked to get off but whatever. Oh and when I say bus I’m talking school bus. Like the big yellow buses with no air conditioning. But it was actually not as bad as it initially seemed when we got on. The passengers were all locals who were SO friendly. We stuck out like soar thumbs with all of our luggage and our blatantly pasty skin color. But everyone was so nice and helpful. The bus ride was 6 hours long with no actual stops for bathroom breaks. Luckily I planned accordingly and didn’t drink water at all that day since I knew that would be an issue for me. I was really proud of myself when I made it through the 6 hours without having to go to the bathroom at all. But I was also SUPER thirsty and REALLY hungry.

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This is the lovely bus ride that I was on for 6 hours. It got WAY more crowded than this based on different stops.

When we arrived to Hillside we were ran into another student (Maggie) who has been here for 4 months now. She walked us down to the building and showed us around. The building that we stay in is really cute and very roomy. We each are sleeping in a dorm room and have a large living room and kitchen right in the middle. I have a roommate from North Western University for the first 4 weeks I am here. All the other students didn’t arrive until Sunday so we just hung out around the house for the night after our LONG day of traveling. All in all our travels were both cheap and quit the adventure. I definitely started this experience off with a raw cultural experience!