Greetings from the Jungle! I'm in Belize for 10 days for my Leadership course. Interestingly enough, we don't have cell service here - BTL has a monopoly on signals - but we have wifi. In. The. Middle. Of. The. Rainforest. Really. We're required to keep and submit a journal at the end so I thought I'd post some of my entries for you all. (I can't seem to upload photos, the wifi signal can't support it for some reason.) Some are more academic than others, so I'll try to only post the fun ones. Try.November 29, 2009
Tomorrow morning I leave for Belize on my travel course. I’m filled with both excitement and anxiety. Excitement for the travel and learning opportunity. Anxious for the big unknown. I’ve forgotten how much work it takes to get ready to travel and it’s double that when you’re traveling for 10 days to another country. It seemed so much easier when I was an exchange student in high school. (Then again, everything was easier in high school.) Now, at 35, I’ve got dogs to take to the sitter, bills to pre-pay, mail to put on hold, a house to clean, work to tie up and, then, get ready to travel. I’ve been checking the weather, reading the required readings and catching up on Belizean history. Like most countries, it’s history is much more complex once you start reading about it. Belize has always been on my “dream” countries list and now I’m finally traveling there. It’s even better that I’m traveling not as a tourist but as a scholar.November 30, 2009
The flight from Houston to Belize City isn’t full so there is a little more room than my first flight this morning, where were packed into the seats like sardines. There is an excitement on the plane as everyone is in good spirits waiting to land. I sat next to a man on my first flight who had been to Belize before. He had mostly positive things to say about the experience, mostly about boating up and down the islands. His only negative comment was the conditions in Belize City. I can’t help but wonder about the property laws in Belize. The history reading didn’t quite answer the question of what the laws are now. In my Essence of Enterprise class we read De Soto’s Five Mysteries of Capital. He described why Western property laws don’t always work in developing nations due to culture, history, bias, religion, lack of education, etc. But he also stated, and I believe, that the way out of poverty is tied to access to capital, to land, to saving money. I also believe that the way out of poverty is education. I understand that in the history of Belize public education was lacking or prohibited. I wonder what the policy is now? The article about science in Belize suggests that there aren’t enough role models or access to science in higher education. These seem like basic questions, and they nag at me.
I got to meet a few of the students at the airport. They seem like nice kids. I say ‘kids’ without being condescending. I’m 17 years older than them. But we still got along just fine. We’re all in this together. Even if we have nothing else in common, we have that.
We arrived in Belize City about 1/2 hour late due to plane maintenance in Houston. Once on the ground in BZE, it took forever to get through customs – they had one officer checking everyone out – and I had to show my passport three times. Then we had to drive for 2 hours to our eco-friendly resort/conference center in the middle of the rainforest. They served us a yummy dinner of rice and beans, chicken in some sort of yum-o sauce, fried plantains and some weird potato/egg/pea salad (it was good tho).
I'm already sticky from the humidity. We can't use hairdryers here so I'm going to be au natural for 6 days, maybe all 10. They are 100% solar powered and hairdryers use too much energy. There is only one plug in our whole cabin. Yay frizzy hair!
Tomorrow we drive to Galen University meet with some college students. Hopefully we’ll also stop at a store because I found something to take back for stocking stuffers already – Marie Sharp's Comatose Level Hot Sauce.
Oh, Belikin Beer is the name of the Belizean beer. It's like Coors if Coors had no competitors in the US. Kind of like going to Golden. Paul says it tastes better than Red Stripe. Not sure if that's a compliment or not. ;)
I'm going to try to get some sleep tonight to the sounds of the jungle.December 1, 2009
It rained last night pretty hard and we've got tin roofs in the cabins. Needless, it was really loud! It's also really loud in the jungle from all the sounds of bugs and monkeys and what ever else is out there. Three exciting things happened today:
1) This morning at breakfast they served eggs, beans, papaya, Johnny cakes and the biggest avocados I've ever seen! I wanted to take a picture but thought I'd look like a dork. Now I regret not. So tomorrow if they have them again I'll take a picture. I have to wonder how big the tree is on which they grew.
2) We visited Galen University outside of San Ignacio. It’s a small, newer university focusing on sustainability issues. They provide dual degrees with the University of Indianapolis. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. It was funny being seen as the "international" students after being around all the ones we have at DU. We had two presentations from professors and one from a representative from PACT. I found it both surprising and sad that in a country as beautiful as this that there are no environmental laws and/or the preservation laws they have are not properly enforced. It reminded me of the scene in Pale Rider when Clint Eastwood’s character visits the strip mining camp and has a disgusted look on his face as they blast the hillside with water to mine it. When we get to BNE on Thursday I will ask them about mitigation and reclamation on the oil wells, as well as capping natural gas wells – they currently let them burn off, emitting harmful chemicals by the ton, no doubt.
3) On the way back from the university one of our vans was rear-ended, which resulted in us waiting around forever for the Belmopan PD to show up and a drive to the police station to give an official statement. Luckily, the van I was in wasn't hit so we were allowed to go back to our "home base," the conference center and get dinner. While we were waiting, the mayor of Belmopan pulled up to see what we were up to. So we got to meet the mayor, the PD and the locals, all in one traffic accident.December 2, 2009
I'm working on my entry for today... let's just say we were sweating our asses off and then we went to the sea.
Labels: back-to-school, Belize