First morning in Belize and we were woken up at 7 to head to breakfast. For breakfast we had buffet style eggs, beans, and other sides. Shortly after, we headed to the bus and made it down the road no more than 5 minutes when we popped a tire. Apparently, the bus last night had already popped a tire and the spare was already in use. Mr. Mulhern, Peter (our tour guide) and our driver moved one of the 4 back wheels to the front. We then departed for the auto repair shop. We drove for two minutes before realizing we had left our tour guide and Mr. Mulhern on the side of the road. We looked back and saw them sprinting down the side of the road in the dust we had kicked up.
We continued to the auto repair shop and there was, conveniently, a convenience store right next door, where we stocked up on necessary goods: gross central American candy, melted skittles, a robot doll (which Ms. Biscardi was overly joyed about,) Dorito sprinkles, bandanas, plantain chips, and bug spray for our long journey to Xunantunich.
Once equipped with the necessities, the tour guide mentioned that the mountains in the distance were ancient coral reefs made of limestone. The land we were driving on had been under the ocean millions of years ago!
Finally, after our extended drive, we arrived at our destination, the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantinich, or “stone lady,” named after a ghost who once roamed there. As we climbed the tallest sacrificial ruin, our guide told us to picture the thousands of Maya who lived there from 300 BCE to 1100 CE, performing their ceremonial rituals and sacrifices honoring the gods. The stairs of the main ruin were very intimidating, steep, and narrow. For the people who made it to the top, they got to take panoramic photos of the “screensaver worthy” view ofthe Guatemala-Belize border.
After, as we were walking to the Maya ball, Pok-to-Pok court, which was smaller than we all imagined, we saw two border patrol guards at the picnic tables carrying large guns. Our guide then pointed out a baby rubber tree which the Maya would have used, when full grown, to create a 9-pound rubber ball. On the way out of the ruins we saw the shattered remains of Mayan pottery.
On the way to our lunch place, Mr. Mulhern needed us to count off from 1-19 in numeric order from the attendance numbers we had received earlier. We were all confused so we counted off 1, 16, 4, 8 etc. until Mr. Mulhern yelled at us for not doing something his “kindergarten classes could have instinctively handled.” Ms. Biscardi then gave us a lesson on how to count. We then went and had another amazing lunch, played basketball with a little local kid named Isaac, and listened to a guy play a recorder; Ms. Isbister gave us a lesson telling us it’s not a flute and definitely not a piccolo. We then saw a rooster with a harem of chickens and ducks, and were wondering why there were no roosters in the harem; Ms. Strong gave us a lesson on that. We then headed back to the bus, picked up a bunch of little apple-banana fruits, and finally got back to the cabins where we had some down time before dinner. For dinner we had another buffet style meal consisting of chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, and other foods. On our way to play Mafia, Marco stepped on a trail of Leaf-Cutter Ants, which we followed down to their gigantic ant colony which was about 4 feet tall and 7 feet long (we actually didn’t exaggerate there.) As we conclude our entry, we hope not to step on any of the Brown Recluses on our path back to our dorms.
By Gideon Yektai and India Attias