Thursday, September 27, 2012

Belize: Part 2

We were told that we would be pulling out at 8am the next morning to go sight seeing...
So after a wonderful night's sleep, we got up bright and early again...
 ...Though this time it was not on purpose :)
We forgot to set our phones and watches to Belize time, so when I woke up first and looked at my watch and it said 6:45, I thought that I'd get a head start on getting ready!
I was ready by 7:30 or so, and was kind of worried that only Beth and I were awake and ready, and the other girls were still sleeping.
Well, it took a few minutes to realize our mistake... It was not 7:30am, but actually 6:30am.

I went back to bed. :)

When 8 o'clock  finally rolled around, we all piled into the church van and headed out!

Phones out, ready for anything!
There are too many photo-worthy moments to not have your camera constantly out.
It was so nice to be in a different foreign country where everything was new and fresh, and where we could act like tourists ;P

A cute little fair set up that we passed by...

Beth and her amazing cherry drink!

On our way to the as-of-yet-unknown destination, we made a quick pepto-bismol stop at the pharmacy!

Hey, check it out! They can get you that one poison that you've been looking for!
I really like their motto...
"Your health is our priority"
and then...
"Licensed to sell drugs and poisons"
...Huh yeah, my health is your priority? I'm so sure :)))

And here we are at our semi-final destination!

Yay. Bathrooms.

Then, a quick little walk through some trees and plants...

And we all hopped onto a boat, and armed with a tour guide, we went on to brave the "New River" of Belize...
Yes, I said armed. Armed with a tour guide.
Just take a look at those fingernails! ...impressive, no? :))

Okay everyone, say hi to Macy! Hi, Macy!
Macy is staying with the Joiners for a few months, and helping them out.
With this being only our second day in the country of Belize, we were still very oblivious and uninformed about many things...
I will forever be indebted to this girl, for very quickly bringing us crashing down into reality.
And what could she say to bring us so quickly out of the clouds?
"A few nights ago, a couple of the boys staying in the dorms ate dinner and then went to bed with out washing their hands, and during the night while they slept, rats came in and ate their fingertips and the skin on their toes."
Oh you may think, "It was the boys dorms, not the girls dorms where you all were staying."
Yeah, you're right.... Nothing to worry about... It's not like rats can crawl a hundred or so feet to the girl's dorm to eat their dinner off of their fingertips...

All hail Macy, bringer of good tidings!
^^She brought much entertainment into our lives over the next few days. She had us rolling with laughter many a time.^^

*We checked with trusted sources, and the rat story was very true. But no worries, we were moved to a different room later on. :D*

Following after another boat...

Our tour guide had eyes like a hawk! We'd be like 200 feet from a clump of trees and he'd be like, "Okay everyone! In a little bit we'll be coming up to a yellow "insertnameofbirdhere" on the right!
And suuure enough, when we got to the spot he was talking about, we would strain our eyes too see through the dense leaves and trees and finally see the speck of a bird that he was talking about!

Example numero 2: We see some lillypads by the banks of the river. Our tour guide tries to point out a little creature that he said was "gathering food for it's young".
We pull up next to the little green circles and look...
Okay, try to find the animal on the lillypads... I'll give you a sec.

Here I'll help you :D

With some of the smells that we encountered on the river, our immediate reaction was to check some shoes and ask, "What in the world did you step in?!?"... The tour guide informed us quickly that no, no one stepped in anything, and that what we were smelling was just the river.

Beautiful clouds and so much green...

Here's something interesting:
The guy who invented the antivirus program McAfee lives right on the river in Belize.

A bit more down the river, our guide slowed the boat next to a bunch of trees, pointed out a little monkey, and handed out some fruit to feed it!

Ahh!! Here was my chance to get my dream pet! A cute, lovable little monkey!

Munching on a piece of watermelon. So precious :)
The fun and cuteness ended very quickly though. And a few other things happened very quickly when one of the men on the boat tried to touch the lovable little monkey! Like some fangs appeared, the monkey swung wildly towards the group of people in the boat, some screaming began (the monkey and me thankyouverymuch), and we pulled out of there like lightning.

-Raise your hand if you overreact and scream in tense situations. *Nicole raises her hand.*
-Raise your hand if you can't help reacting this way. *Nicole raises her hand*
-Raise your hand if this reaction bugs you to point of ridiculing your sister's uncontrollable screaming every time the story of the wild monkey is told. *Bethany raises her hand*

Actually, the part where we pulled out like lighting is not true. What really happened was that those vicious fangs were shown and our little friend started screaming his head of and lunging towards the boat while our awesome guide left the boat idling next to the banks, and touching the very branches that the wild monkey was jumping on, and told us all "Don't worry, he won't do anything."
Don't worry, he won't do anything?!?
Yes, that's what he said, while the beast was lunging towards our little boat and biting the air with those horrible fangs... Well thankfully we pulled away soon after, and nothing really did happen... :))
You know what? I bet the guy was not worried one bit, because he knew... He knew he could take on that monkey with just his fingernails. Shoooo. He had it covered!

Our tour guide pointing something out...

Here's 2 fishers that we passed by.
One in the boat holding the fish,

...and another in the water with his spear killing the little fishes!

More fishers!

And finally we got to where we were going!

And got off the boat...

And stepped into the beautiful jungles of Belize!

Bro. Weeks, Bro. Smith, Bro. Ward, and Bro. Hosch.
The four speakers for camp this year.

Our guy took us through the jungle explaining all of the plants and trees... All of them.
All. LOL.
He really was a good guide. Very knowledgeable and entertaining...
Sometime in the middle of our wandering, I felt a sharp sting on my ankle, and slapped something off of my leg... The tour guide saw all of this and we had the following conversation:
Mr. Eyes of a Hawk: "That was a yellow jacket. They like ankles."
*In my head: If you had time to classify what bug it was, then wouldn't you also have time to tell me it was on my leg before it stung me??... Am I going to die???*
Me: "So... what happens now...?"
Mr. Eyes of a Hawk: "Oh, the sting will just itch and swell up."
*In my head: Well atleast it didn't sting my neck... I'll live!*

During our trek, we looked up and found this family of monkeys laying in the trees. So neat!

We then got to the first pyramid in the tour. It was prehistoric. It was cool.
Of course almost everyone climbed it!
...It was the first... It was such a new experience and just had to be done! We climbed it with excitement...
^^This little guy's face is not real stone we were told, but actually fiberglass (or something like that). The reason being, that the tourist's favorite thing to do is pose with it and put their finger in it's nose... And they had to eventually cover up the old statue with a replica because the old one had no nose left :)) LOL. Interesting little fact.^^

After a little bit more trekking through the hot, hot, humid jungle, we came across the second Mayan temple. The idea of climbing up another taller prehistoric Mayan pyramid did not gleam so brightly in the minds of these 2 semi-Mexican girls :))
"Oh, but the view is so BEAUTIFUL up here!"...

Take a picture and show us. We're not budging from this bench.
One of the coolest things about this jungle was that you could hear the monkeys screaming and yelling so loudly from miles away... it sounded like a pile of monkeys were going to come crashing through the trees at any moment and attack us :D
We asked the tour guide what was wrong with the monkeys,
and he told us "Oh, they're just having territorial disputes... or it might be because of the change in the weather."
Well, at that point, I could totally relate with the monkeys...
But then again, weather change?? Last time I was in Belize during the winter I vaaaguely recall it feelin' the same way... Poor monkeys, they're probably screaming like that all year round :))

THIRD and last pyramid!
A beautiful sight, lush green trees surrounding the pyramid, with the blue blue sky
 up above....
And did we stop in our trek to admire this amazing scenery?...

HAHA! What a silly question! You bet your ice cold popsicle we didn't!
Now, to be honest, our tour guide tried to pause at this amazing feat of work... But, we were all about to pass out from the heat and I could feel my body dehydrating by the second, shriveling up from the inside as each drop of sweat poured down my face. It was intense, people. :))
(Come to think of it, I'm pretty glad that I took a picture of it while I was running staggering past it, otherwise I wouldn't even have known what it looked like. :D )
The funniest thing said on this trip came from one of the men in our group, and was said during one of our guide's eloquent and practiced speeches about the prehistoric pyramids.
I think it sums up quite nicely how we were all feeling:
"Tell this guy his tip will be bigger if he'll just shut up and get me some lunch."

Whoooo! After our 2-3 hour little tour, we got to our little hut-resting place where we were to eat the provided lunch!

Extreme weather calls for extreme measures!
Wonderful, ice cold water <3>

A funny thing happened though... Another tour group, of the same company that we were with, had come through with their group of 8 people, eaten our lunch for 12, and left their 8 people lunch for us! It was kinda funny to watch the tour guide run towards the dock trying to catch the "thief" who had stolen our lunch! Hahaha.
 ...Thankfully our drink cooler had not been touched!
(The food really was plenty. And delicious.)

Melissa and Sheryl our roomies :)

Well, with this meal, we ended our time in the jungle. We all got back into the boat and made our way through the river to where we would be picked up and taken back to the church.
Full speed ahead! :)

The breeze on the way back was wonderful.

I was definitely obsessed with the beautiful views on this boat ride... The way the water reflected the sky so beautifully... It was amazing.

And look! Last but not least, I found a heart in the sky! :))
Oh my! This is not the end of our day, but we'll continue in another post about the first conference service in the next post! Hope you all are enjoying beautiful Belize!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Trip to Belize Part 1

 This past weekend, Nicole and I flew down to Belize for the Joiner's International Youth Camp.We woke up eeeearly Thursday morning...1:30am. We had to catch a bus to Mexico City and from there, we flew into Chetumal, Mexico! It was a loooooong day, but somehow we managed to survive off of an hour of sleep, without much incident.

When we got to our gate, we stopped at Starbucks. I got a Chai Frappe and when I went to the counter to pick it up, I watched a lady with a very confused look on her face come and take my drink.

 She left her own drink sitting there on the counter. It was pretty funny.
In black pants, there she is sitting at her table with MY drink! :D
I told the barista what had happened and they gladly made me a new one.

Walking to the airplane early in the morning...

I always feel kind of important when they have us walk out onto the tarmac and climb the stairs into the plane.
If only there weren't about 100 other people!

Flying into the green and lush Chetumal, Mexico

Cotton-ball clouds

6 am...Do we look tired? :)

Sis. Haley and Bro. Jose were there to pick us up at the airport and take us to the church in Belize, which is about an hour and a half from the border.

Nicole filling out immigration papers so we could cross into Belize

We got to the church, got in the Joiner's church van and headed over to the airport in Belize to pick up the preachers and young people that were coming for the camp.
Bro. Joiner driving like a maniac down the dirt roads of Belize!
Haley, Lupey and lil Josey

Happy to be in Belize!

Sweet Lupey!
We picked up the Americans, loaded up their luggage, and got back on the road.

Smiling through one of the longest days of our lives!

It was about an hour back to the church so Bro. Joiner stopped at a gas station, warning us that this was the last bathroom we'd see before arriving at our final destination. 
This is what we found:

The ride back to the church alternated from very beautiful to just plain ugly!

Belize is very poor, even poorer than Mexico.

Many of the houses are built up on stilts because of flooding.

They say the coke in Belize is aaaaaaamazing and so much better than in the U.S. and Mexico. I tried it and it was good, but I don't drink Coke that much, so I couldn't taste a difference.

When we got to the church, everyone filed out of the van and into Bro. Joiner's air-conditioned office. What relief! As we sat down, Bro. Joiner asked if we'd like anything to drink. Water, diet coke? We said no thank you, but then he said, "Well how about a root beer?" What?! Since when does Belize get A&W root beer? They are even more primitive than Mexico, and we cannot get root beer here! 
Yummmm! Poured into a frozen glass mug...

We went to the grocery store, and found a lot more things there that we can't buy here in the pumpkin stuff used to make pies...

...and Fruity Pebbles, and Honey Combs!

Later on that night, we all went over to the Joiner's house and sat around visiting and drinking smoothies in the cool, air-conditioned air.

For dinner, we went out for Ceviche.

Bro. Joiner's Great Dane, Duke

Haley makes the BEST pina colada smoothies...YUM!

I caught Duke drinking out of the water funny! Thirsty little guy.

We were there for five days, and this is just the first day! Stay tuned to read about the rest of our adventures in Belize...

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