Today we were originally scheduled to see the Mayan ruins at Caracol; however, plans were changed because too many buses kept getting stuck in the mud trying to get there. It’s been an unusually “wet” dry season here, making the area very muddy.
Instead, we took a trip over the border into Guatemala to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park. After a two-hour drive through the beautiful, green, rolling countryside of Guatemala, we ended up at the park where we spent the day learning about Mayan history and culture and exploring the many temples throughout the park.
The area was also filled with incredible wildlife. Upon arriving, we spotted Keel-billed toucans and as we hiked further, we heard the loud roar of the howler monkeys. Our tour guides told us to keep our eyes peeled and soon enough, we also saw spider monkeys swinging from the tree branches above us. We also saw many white-nosed coati (similar to raccoons) frolicking among the tourists (especially the ones who had food).
It was a full day, and one that I’m sure the Queens students won’t forget any time soon. An added bonus – everyone got an unexpected extra stamp on their passport!
The third day in Belize started off with a walk to town (San Ignacio) where we explored the market and enjoyed some lunch at the local restaurants. The shrimp quesadillas and plantains were delicious!
We then headed back into the nature surrounding us with a canoe trip down the Macal River. While on the river, we learned more about the diverse plant and wildlife in this part of the world, catching a glimpse of some bats and spotting iguanas in the trees (they’re bigger than expected!).
Before getting on the river, we also got more of an inside peek into Belizean life. We saw people washing their clothes and bathing in the river. It was eye opening to learn that it’s common place for families to not have running water here, once again demonstrating just how different life is here.
After canoeing, everyone relaxed at a local restaurant known for their barbecued chicken, rice and beans.
December 28 was day two in Belize. After a long day of traveling the day before, we woke up at the Midas Resort and took in our surroundings, which are hilly and lush. The air is humid, definitely a bit different from the weather we left in Charlotte.
On our first full day here, we really had the opportunity to take in Belizean culture and the way of life. We traveled from the town of San Ignacio to the town of San Antonio where we hiked through the rain forest.
The hike was truly an adventure. Belize has had a lot of rain this season which made for a muddy, rainy hike. The students were troupers, taking in the experience while learning about local plants and vegetation.
Despite some muddy shoes and soaked clothes, everyone had a great time while getting a glimpse of life in the local towns.
Once back at the hotel, we learned about how local chocolate is made and had the chance to sample some at the end of the presentation. YUM!
The town of San Ignacio