Professionals Without Borders

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  • March 28 & 29, 2015: Final Days in Belize by Chris

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/31/2015 10:19:38 AM

    [Day 8]

    Today was our last full day at Liberty. With the majority of projects wrapped up, Ryan and I still had our work cut out for us with the trench. Not only did we have to dig out another twenty-five or so feet of earth, but also we had to redistribute the dug up mixture of concrete-esque dirt and clay so that it would fall back into the trench during they rainy season. In order to get this task done, Luke, Tessa, Nicole, and Cat put on the gloves and picked up their shovels, and took to the mound of dirt. We all earned our keep (and our tans) today by digging, shoveling, and raking the dirt. We got it done, and hopefully the trench helps to keep the water level at bay during the rainy season. Beaten, battered, bruised, and bitten by ants and mosquitoes, we made our way home to freshen up and headed to dinner to enjoy our final night in Belize. Today was a good day.

    [Day 9]

    After enjoying our last breakfast in Belize, we made our way to Liberty to spend a couple of hours with the kids before we left for the airport. Luke, Cal, and I played a few pick up games of basketball with some of the older kids. Even though Team Liberty beat us all three games, we had a phenomenal time playing with the kids. After a couple of hours, we unfortunately had to say our goodbyes and make our way to the airport. The smiles on the kids’ faces will forever be engrained in our memories.

    2015 Belize Group Photo

    Our trip to Belize has come to a close, and it’s crazy to think about how quickly the time has passed. A week ago today, we had all truly met for the first time at the airport, unsure of what exactly was in store for all of us in Belize. We were all asked at the beginning of the trip to think about the question, “What is the point?” Why spend the money to travel over 2,800 miles and increase our carbon footprint when the money can be used to pay locals to do the same work we did? I came up with an answer that I feel helps to justify the trip and answer the question we were asked nine days ago:

    Expand our perspective – We can read about what’s going on in other places around the world, but what sort of insight does that truly give us? How can we begin to understand the world for what truly is without having experienced the world for ourselves? Words, after all, are only one person’s perspective, which inherently implies bias towards an experience. Participating in humanitarian trips, such as our trip to Belize, helps to expand our limited perspective. Trips like this help to broaden our outlook on the world by allowing us to venture outside of our safety bubbles and experience a small glimpse of what is truly going on in the world. These trips provide us with a different lens in which to view the world, to see the world through a different perspective, even though it’s only for a moment out of the scheme of our entire lives. All it takes is a moment—the right moment—to change our perspective. 

    Italian poet Cesare Pavese eloquently said, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” Although our time in Belize was brief and only but a moment in the entirety of our existence, each of our relative perspectives was altered. With an altered—and improved—perspective, one can begin to open the door to understanding their position in the world. And, with a better understanding of one’s position in the world, they can begin to inflict change on the world, one moment at a time. That is the point.

    ~Chris

     

     

    March 27, 2015: Day 7 in Belize by Luke

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/31/2015 08:37:12 AM

    In search for more ancient Mayan ruins, the PWOB team set off today to the Mesoamerican archeological site called Lamanai. We woke a few hours later than the previous morning at around 7am and enjoyed breakfast made by Ms. Virginia. Speaking mostly for myself, I think everyone was exhausted from the adventurous day we had yesterday on Starfish Island but, we managed to get ourselves into the van and onto our next adventure. Our destination included a one hour boat ride by an experienced tour guide. When we decided to go on the trips to Starfish Island and Lamanai, I was overly excited that we would be able to spend time on a boat and get ourselves on the water.

    We stopped at Liberty to switch vans and met our guide, Calissa, who took us to the boats along the New River in Orange Walk Town. Once we arrived, we met our second tour guide, Carlos, who was also our captain for the boat ride. We gathered our stuff and grabbed the prepared coolers of food and drinks for lunch and climbed aboard the vessel. Carlos first headed north to show us the Spider Monkey that lived near by. By using monkey calls and 20 years of guide experience, he led us to the monkey hidden in the trees. Some of us were given bananas to feed him as he climbed down the trees and swung over the boat holding on just by his tail. After we fed the monkey and explored a little bit of the surrounding area we headed south down the river to Lamanai.

    2015 Belize Day 7 monkey

    When we arrived at the site, we hiked along the trails to six different archeological ruins. Carlos explained how Lamanai is one of the largest sites archeologists have uncovered in northern Belize. It was really a treat to explore more than one site of ancient Mayan ruins in Belize, including "Altun Ha". As the Howler monkeys howled to one another, we were guided to each of the temples and climbed to the peaks to grab stunning photos. On top of the "High Temple" overlooked what seemed to be the whole country of Belize. A full 360 degree view above the trees. It makes sense to build a temple with the country being so flat! The sights were spectacular and well worth the hike to the top. After touring the temples, we had buffet style lunch of rice, chicken, coleslaw, salad, fried plantains, and watermelon. This was the time we also had to check out the small museum on the site and shop in the various gift shops.

    2015 Belize Day 7 ruins

    After lunch, we headed back north on the New River, spotting baby crocodiles and turtles along the way. The boat ride couldn't have gone any smoother and the breeze cooled us off after the heat of the hikes up and down the temples. Once we returned to our original departure location we headed back to the guest house to relax for the day.

    When we returned to the house, everyone settled down and we had a tasty dinner made yet again by Ms. Virginia. For the rest of the evening we hung out, played games, and prepared for another full day at Liberty. I'm pleased to say the trips we have taken allows us to catch our breath from the volunteer work, and explore what Belize has in store for us. You betta Belize it!

    ~Luke

     

    March 26, 2015: Day 6 In Belize by Nicole

    Posted by Lauren Rochholz on 3/30/2015 08:41:13 AM

    This morning I awoke to my cell phone alarm. Within 15 seconds I heard two more alarms. It was 4:00 AM. We left the house at 4:45 and headed for Amir’s boat. Today, we were in for quite a trip.  The boat left Amir’s house shortly after 5AM.  Watching the sun come up is a rare occasion, but today it felt good to be there for it. Amir had recently bought a small island, and after picking up his staff, he allowed me to drive the boat about half way there. This 60 ft. boat was certainly the largest I’ve ever steered! We spent an hour on the island before we had to leave to pick up 120 people on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Amir invested a lot in his new piece of land, but bringing people to it was how he made his money back. Next, all (about) 160 of us were brought to the Belizean Barrier Reef for an hour of snorkeling. We saw a school of squid, starfish, conch, stingray, and numerous species of coral and fish! Hopefully the underwater pictures we took will reflect what we really saw, but those are yet to be uploaded… The rest of the day was spent eating delicious food, snorkeling, and exploring Amir’s island.  We were also able to collect some beautiful shells, which the crew said we shouldn’t feel bad about collecting, as they washed up plentifully each day.  We had the privilege to interact with Amir’s crew of 30 Belizean men and women, and learned about their jobs and lives.  Throughout the day I saw so many amazing species plants and animals, especially when we kayaked into the mangroves around the island. On our way back to Ladyville, the sun was far across the sky from where we saw it come up, and I think every single one of us began to feel a bit of a sunburn in some places.

    Belize 2015 Day 6 Nicole 2

    We did not spend the day digging ditches, or sorting clothes and books, but we did immerse ourselves among the Belizean people and were able to experience some amazing biodiversity. Today we first handedly learned about this beautiful country we have chosen to come to, and we feel gratitude for that.

    ~Nicole

    Belize 2015 Day 6 Nicole 1