As of today all of my plans are finalized for Belize and Guatemala. These past few months of planning have definitely paid off!! Volunteering through a program was outrageously expensive, so I contacted reputable places in Belize and Guatemala on my own and asked if I could volunteer. I'll be leaving with a backpack and flying in and out of Belize City. Here's a little preview/itinerary of my first solo trip out of the country:
- 1 week on Caye Caulker off the coast of Belize: relaxing on the beach, taking multiple day trips to snorkel with manatees and other sea creatures :)
- 2 weeks at Barton Creek Outpost: a hostel/adventure outfitter deep in the Belize jungle run by a family from Tennessee. Here I'll be working for 5-6 hours a day in exchange for free stay, free meals, and discounted adventure trips.
- 1 week at a Mayan village: I will be living with a Mayan family in the remote Aguacate village. These villages maintain original Mayan tradition. I will be treated as a regular family member, and do all activites with the family including making corn tortillas, killing chickens (?), washing clothes in the river, and sleeping in a hammock in the the hut with the family. I'm really looking forward to this experience. Here's a brief description:
The lifestyle of the Mayas is very basic. Long before the sun rises, the village comes to life. Children leave home to fetch water and wood while the mother prepares hot flour tortillas for breakfast. After a quick breakfast, the father leaves for the milpa while it is still dark. When the school bell rings at 9:00, there is a bustle of activity as groups of Maya children rush to school. Young men leave to meet their father at the milpas while young ladies help their mother around the home or create handicrafts for tourists. At home, women cook, clean, and wash the laundry in the nearby river.The thatched huts have either one or two rooms. The cooking area is sometimes separated with a wall from the sleeping area. In the evening, the women prepare hot corn tortillas with beans along with fresh steaming coffee on the adobe stove/oven. The men return from the milpa just before sunset, and bathe in the rivers after dark. The family sits together on the floor for dinner, while chickens, dogs, and cats roam in and out of the house. After dinner, family members lie in adjoining hammocks chatting until they fall asleep.
- 2 weeks at Rasta Mesa in Guatemala: a Garfunian culture preservation center. Here I will be volunteering with 3 other women from England. The center provides drumming, cooking, and jewelry making classes in efforts to preserve the native Garfunian culture of the Caribbean. The couple that runs this place is awesome. This should be a really laid back and incredible experience!