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Prior Lake - Savage High School Belize Trip

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  • EcoTeam Belize Adventures Student Blog March 2011

    Saturday March 19th

    It was an early morning, waking up at three for our trip to Belize. We were

    all exhausted at the airport, but it didnt show because of the excitement

    building inside of each of us. We would be leaving our thirty degree weather

    for the tropics, everything would be perfect. We met in front of ticketing and

    started our journey towards Belize. We made it through checking and

    security without any issues and anxiously awaited our departure for Miami,

    our connection to Belize City. Our group of eighteen boarded the plane with

    smiles and cheers as we said farewell to Minneapolis. Our flight was smooth,

    no problems, and we were even provided a movie, Unstoppable. We landed in

    Miami and worked our way to the next plane, the one taking us to Belize City.

  • Once on the plane, the anxiety grew even more. It was a clear and sunny day

    in Belize. As we flew over the coast, we looked down and gazed upon the

    turquoise waters and bright green scenery. It was almost a different world,

    seeing most of the landscape untouched by human hands. Once in Belize, we

    stepped off the plane onto the asphalt runway, where we were engulfed by

    heat. We went through customs and awaited the arrival of the bus that would

    take us to the Tropical Education Center, our first Belizean destination. We

    were greeted by an old, brightly colored school bus. Minor, the driver, threw

    our bags into the back and quickly got us on our way. Driving through Belize,

    we experienced an entirely different culture. We arrived at the secluded

    Tropical Education Center by a bumpy gravel road. Tropical trees and

    wildlife surrounded our rustic housing. We began our vacation with an

    adventurous hike through the rainforest. Along our trail we encountered

    species such as the Gumbolimbo, Devils Gut Cactus, St. Johns Wart, and

    Basket Tie-Tie. The landscape was reminiscent of scenes from the movie

    Jurassic Park. After our hike on the Long Trail, we cleaned up for our first

    Belizean dinner. The cooks presented us with chicken, rice and beans, potato

    salad, honey rolls, and freshly squeezed pineapple juice. The home cooked meal

    left us all satisfied and ready for our next adventure. John, the manager of the

    Tropical Education Center, provided us with a private night tour of the Belize

    City Zoo. We geared up in our long pants, bandanas, and headlamps. As we

    strolled into the zoo, we were welcomed by what we thought was a vicious boa

    constrictor. We soon found that the snake, Toni, was as gentle as any

    household pet. We then took turns holding Toni on our shoulders. We

    continued our tour, observing native Belizean animals, and even got to see

    our guide feeding the nocturnal cats, such as the jaguar and puma. The

    jaguar was raised in captivity and was gentle enough for us to pet. We

    completed our zoo trip by feeding a tapir and listening to the shrieks of the

    black howler monkeys. After our long day of travel and adventure, we called

    it a night and retired to our bunk beds.

    Written by: Kelsey Johnson and Madeline Ernst

  • Sunday, March 20th

    Our first full day of our Belizean educational adventure began with sound of

    rain on the tin roofs of our cabins in the early hours of the morning. Our

  • bucolic lodgings were reminded us of summer camps weve experienced in

    Minnesota but uniquely Belizean with the serenades of tropical birds and

    palm fronds. We enjoyed our breakfast of eggs and rice with touches of the

    local hot sauce, Marie Sharps. Shortly thereafter we loaded a colorful bus and

    departed for the town of Dangriga. Upon our arrival in Dangrigra we were

    greeted by two boats which sped us forty five minutes out to Southwater Caye.

    This amazing tropical island is located on the second largest coral reef in the

    world. After lunch we took advantage of our wonderful location and went

    snorkeling. Our first snorkeling experience was amongst a rubble zone where

    we saw tang, grunts, spotted-eagle rays, needle fish, channel crab, clinging

    crab, an octopus, sea cucumbers, lion fish, and many other organisms we have

    yet to identify. Later that evening we met together in the classroom and

    discussed the Belizean culture. Our experiences thus far have revealed to us

    numerous differences between our ways of life and those we have witnessed

    here. We discussed the topics of social structure, values, and economic

    situations. Our discussion progressed as darkness engulfed the island and soon

    the light of the full moon drew us out of the classroom. We ventured down to

    dock with our flashlights and headlamps and scavenged for marine life. We

    spotted a southern stingray and a yellow-spotted sting ray gliding through the

    moonlit water. The beauty of the night enticed us to the other side of the island

    where we rested in the sand and enjoyed the moonlight. As our day drew to

    an end we departed to our cabins and fell asleep to the sound of the surf on the

    reef.

    Written by: Claire Clark

  • Monday March 21st

    We woke up this morning to the island breeze drifting through the slats in our

    windows. A couple of kids got up early to see the colors of the ocean change

    with the rising of the sun. Walking to our rooms, we could smell the Fry Jack

    bread through the kitchen window. After breakfast, we went to get ready for

    our morning snorkel in the rubble zone. The current was very strong, but we

    saw rays and worked on our snorkeling technique before going into the big

    reef. After lunch, we learned how to crack open coconuts. Palm trees grow all

    over the island and an abundance of coconuts grow, and fall, off the trees. We

    all took armfuls of coconuts to clean up and eat. Ms. Korby even found a

    wheelbarrow to cart away old coconuts. Although the people living on the

    island use a machete to cut the coconuts open, we used a pick-ax contraption

    to open the husk, and a pencil-sharpening like grater to scrape off the meat

    from inside the coconut. Unlike the fruits in Minnesota, coconuts of different

    ripeness mean different taste or use. Green coconuts that are fresh off the tree

    are used for their water. The brown coconuts that have fallen on the ground

    are best for their meat, and still have some water in them. After filling up on

  • coconut, we went for a kayak around the island. Low tide prevented us from

    going all the way around, but we did stop by the island forming from the

    coral. The mini island is uninhabited, but an osprey does use the island as a

    rest-stop. The other interesting birds include the pelicans. We had a pelican-

    student stare-off on the dock. We were all shocked when the pelican dove right

    under the dock to catch a fish. After our island adventures, we went for our

    first real snorkel. Since the Carrie-bow caye site already had visitors, we went

    further down the caye to the Curlew caye patch reef. We jumped into the surf

    and saw a whole different world under the sea. It was amazing how much the

    water was connected. All the corals and fish move with the tide and blend

    together. Some highlight creatures were barracudas and squid. When we got

    back, we showered in the rain-water reserve showers and went to the kitchen

    to help the ladies cook dinner. Their good spirits and joy was almost tangible

    in the air. We helped make dough for bread and fried shrimp. The girls are so

    quick and make kneading bread look so easy. We tried and tried but only

    succeeded in smushing the dough. Although the dough didnt go so well, we all

    laughed and they helped fix the dough so it was edible. After dinner we

    learned our topic of the night: Glow worms. Every month, three days after a

    full moon, the glow worms come out of the sand to mate. The rice-sized female

    worms swim to the top of the water and, after a blinking ceremony, lay their

    luminescent eggs along the water. When they go to the top, they spiral and lay

    their eggs. Similar to lightning bugs in Minnesota, the worms communicate

    with blinking. After a while, the blinking died down, and the worms will wait

    until the next full moon. Tonight, we will all sit on the dock and play cards

    and reminisce on the day.

    Written by: Megan Lundquist

  • Tuesday March 22nd

    The night passed with the gentle pattering of rain climaxing to drum rolls

    upon our roof as it shifted from drizzle to downpour. As students who

    normally enjoy late mornings, the alluring sunrise easily persuaded us to

  • leave our beds and venture outdoors at an early hour. The 5:45am breeze

    found us at the volleyball court auditioning for positions in the upcoming

    volleyball duel against other student guests of the island. After jockeying for

    positions on the court, we refueled with a delicious breakfast of toast, eggs,

    sausage (for the meat eaters), and fresh bananas. All foods I have eaten at

    home, yet never with such delicious satisfaction. The laughing of the

    wonderful cooks (overloaded with over sixty people to feed) beckoned from the

    kitchen. After breakfast we learned about coral in the classroom in

    preparation for our upcoming snorkels. The morning snorkel took place right