Belize Pyramid Excavation and Service Learning Project – Day 1

Blog entry created by: Teresa

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We touched down in Belize yesterday afternoon.  Stepping off the plane, we were greeted by the summer heat…which for me was actually a welcome change from our summer in San Francisco, which can actually be quite cold.

at the Belize City Airport

at the Belize City Airport

On the way from the airport, we stop at a grocery store to buy snacks for the service learning workshops we are doing for the next month.  The store reminded me of those we saw in Kenya, Tanzania, and many other countries.  It isn’t a perfectly designed mega store with ultra shiny aisles, huge carts, florescent lighting, and produce shipped in half ripe from all over the world as we often see in the US.

It looks more like a dusty warehouse constructed from cinderblocks.  Most of the products are covered in a layer of dust, and the more Western the product, the more dust.

The hot sauce section – no dust at all!!

Hot sauce gathers no dust in Belize

Hot sauce gathers no dust in Belize

“Which chips would kids here prefer”, I ask a clerk.

“These definitely”, he says, selecting what I think are the cheap no-name brand and shunning the Doritos I hold in my other hand.  “They like the green, red and yellow ones”, he continued, ignoring the purple colored package.  I wonder what flavor purple is.  It’s lucky they don’t care much for Doritos because they cost about 10 times as much.

Exploring the store beyond the snack aisle, we pass tons of beans, rice, cooking oil, powered coconut milk and hot sauce, along with some school supplies and household goods.  In the back of the store a few bikes await the happy children who will become their new owners.  Tools for fixing your car?  Just around the next corner.

This is a relatively big grocery store where the prices are better than the rural areas, so I pile snacks into two little carts until they are overflowing and head to the check out.  Some people stare a bit, but the cashier seems to take the huge amount of junky snacks we are buying in stride…perhaps another American family stocking up for a week-long vacation.

After piling the boxes of snacks on top of our luggage, we drive toward San Ignacio, admiring the broad range of houses that dot the countryside. There are tiny shacks on stilts that look as though they may not make it through the impending rainstorm, but also houses that, in comparison, are mini mansions with huge arched windows, made from cinder block.  Many of them are under construction.

Belizean countryside

Belizean countryside

The ease of starting a local business is apparent from the number of kiosks everywhere.  You would never guess it from the look of the tiny structures, but the signs show that they are hair salons, mom and pop grocery stores, produce stands, even restaurants.  It reminds me of India where even the smallest garden shed opens up as if by magic to reveal a barber shop or a butcher stand.

The skies are very grey…the storm is getting closer.  By the time we arrive at our hotel, the skies have opened up.  We hurry our luggage inside.  Doug and I have it easy, because we are in the main building, but the kids are sharing their own cabana, and they head down the hill, getting soaked in the process.  I think about the warm Belizean rain on their faces…perhaps they are the lucky ones after all!

Then comes what I have been waiting for…rice and beans…not just any rice and beans…the Belizean kind.  Cooked in coconut milk and simply delicious!  Which is a good thing, because that’s what’s for lunch and dinner (even breakfast!) most every day.

They also have melt-in-your-mouth stewed chicken, and potato salad like you’ve never tasted.  Such simple dishes, and so delightful to come “home” to.  The “resort” where we stay is a bit like a second home to us, we’ve worked and played here three times in the last 13 months.

It’s up to our room now, overlooking a great valley.  During the day an expanse of tree with covered in beautiful blossoms, houses, fields, and the mountains treat the eyes, while at night the sounds of the jungle take over, partnered with the feel of the cool breeze after a blazing hot and humid day.  We sleep with the doors to our balcony open and wake to the birds singing…ah what a place to call our second home :-)

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Posted on: June 26, 2012 | Categories: AFAR, Belize, Fun Facts - Cultures and Countries, Service Learning US & Belize teens


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at the Belize City Airport

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