Saturday, June 22, 2013

Last Day in Paradise

June 22, 2013

What an amazing day we had! First, the students were quizzed about climate change, coral reefs, the species of fish, coral, sponges and other marine life found at the reef, etc. They knew it all! I was so impressed and proud of them and so were the instructors at the marine station. Next, we headed out to tour the Smithsonian Institute Marine Field Station on nearby Carrie Bow Caye. Finally, it was time to snorkel on the reef. The diversity of life is truly amazing. Throughout our stay at Tobacco Caye, we have seen, among many other things, three adult spotted-eagle rays, one yellow stingray pup (baby), two sea horses, and hundreds and hundreds of fish. In addition to the reef, we also did a bit of snorkeling in the mangroves here. There are several hundred different species of sponges and other invertebrates (like fringe worms) that live on the roots of the mangrove trees. After one more last look back out on the reef, we said goodbye to all the sea life. What a great experience this has been with your children. They have been fantastic to work with and have made all of us very proud. 

Just a reminder, we will be coming into Nashville tomorrow night on UNITED AIRLINES flight #4210 at 9:14 p.m. See you then!

Miss Little
Snorkeling on the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world!

Touring the Smithsonian Institute Marine Field Station

Ready for the reef!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tobacco Caye

June 21, 2013

Today we experienced a crazy change in venues, moving from Monkey Bay to Tobacco Caye. After breakfast, we loaded the bus and set out through the Maya Mountains to the coastal town of Dangriga. The bus ride was a beautiful trip through the highest mountains in Belize at about 7500 ft. The multiple one-lane bridges over rivers and ravines made it even more exciting. Unfortunately, we lost a tire just as we entered the town of Dangriga. Luckily, Tobacco Caye was able to send a bus and we were back on our way after only a short delay. We loaded two powerboats with Ensworth Tigers and gear and took the one-hour ride out the edge of the second largest barrier reef in the world.

We arrived at Tobacco Caye at a port aptly named “paradise.” The Caye is a remote and tiny island covered with brightly colored huts and surrounded by crystal blue waters. We wolfed down our lunch hungrily and set off for orientation and fitting for snorkeling. By 4:00, we were in the water practicing newly learned snorkeling techniques. We moved from the north end to the south end of the island and worked our way out into about 30 foot deep waters. We were rewarded with a view of a spotted-eagle ray gliding majestically over the coral reef. The coral and fish life here is truly amazing: tarpon, parrot-fish, trigger fish, amberjacks, and so so much more.

Our accommodations are quaint, if not rustic. We had fresh shrimp for dinner followed by classroom work on the barrier reef systems. We will be off to bed soon with a full day on and in the water tomorrow.

Mr. Wallace

(We tried and tried to upload a few pictures from this beautiful place but didn't have much luck tonight. Please check back tomorrow for those!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Last Day at St. Matthew's School

June 20, 2013

            This morning we woke up to a tinkle of rain that lasted maybe a minute. Our breakfast consisted of cinnamon rolls, johnnycakes (wheat of course) and for those who wanted it, peppermint tea. At nine, we boarded the bus to pick up the St. Matthew’s graduating 8th graders to go to the Belize Weather Bureau in Belize City. We learned about all the different instruments they use to predict the weather. It was fascinating! We had a picnic after the tour of the bureau, outside the bureau. In the middle of our lunch we spotted a mean cloud…we knew what was coming. Five minutes later we encountered wet hot dogs from the downpour. While eating, we saw a slithering snake under a house nearby; though only a few people saw it, it scared everyone. After lunch we got on the bus, sat next to our St. Matthew’s buddies again and began our hour-long trip back to St. Matthew’s for closing ceremonies. Once we got back, we worked with the St. Matthew’s kids and we all discussed ways to solve unsettled local issues. After that we said our goodbyes to our St. Matthew’s friends that we might never see again. Our friendships started with shy hellos and ended with hugs. After our goodbyes, we headed back to Monkey Bay only to discover we had two hours to relax on the hammocks before dinner. Now it’s time to pack up our bags and head out to Tobacco Caye leaving Monkey Bay and St. Matthew’s behind.

L.C. Johnston and Frances Garrard

St. Matthew's and Ensworth students touring the Belize Weather Bureau

Working together to discuss and solve problems

Principle Ernestine Yacab and 8th Grade teacher Sandra Lewis in newly constructed principle's office

All students discussing ideas in a classroom at St. Matthew's School

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

St. Matthew's Day 2

June 19, 2013

            Today we worked at St. Matthew’s school on an assortment of projects to beautify the school. We planted flowers, we painted the principal’s newly- constructed office, and we worked on different science projects with the St. Matthew’s students. Everyone worked really hard and the end result was awesome. We met a lady named Aretha who works and cooks at Monkey Bay, the place where we are staying. After working at the school today, we went to her farm and saw all of the veggies and fruits she is growing. She is really good at what she does and taught us a lot about farming in Belize.

Trenity Scott

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Rain rain go away...we've got work to do!

June 18, 2013

Whoa, what a night! We have had lots of rain but it was out of the way by about 8:00 this morning. So we got up and prepared for a dirty day of work. But first, we drove to an art store called the Art Box. We bought many things, from soft drinks to slingshots and rubber band guns. After that, we worked for 2 hours sanding and painting a new room at St. Matthew’s that will be used as the principle’s office. We then came back for lunch and had fried chicken and mashed potatoes. After lunch, half of us headed back to St. Matthews and sanded some more, and the other half worked on St. Matthew’s graduation platforms here at Monkey Bay. We just ate a burrito dinner and now we are headed to the zoo to see nocturnal animals. Oh what fun!

- Luke Mukundan and Johnston Crowe

Monday, June 17, 2013

First Day at St. Matthew's

June 17, 2013

  This morning all of us woke up to pouring down rain, which continued throughout the day. After a good breakfast we went straight to St. Matthew’s where we learned all of the rising eight graders’ names while playing a ton of fun name games! We then left around noon and returned to Monkey Bay for lunch. After a good meal, yet again, we headed back to Saint Matthew’s for some service work and fun science experiments with the kids. The “hazardous weather presentations” that the St. Mathew’s students did for all of us were great – they know so much about science and weather. For service work we picked up trash around the campus, cleaned windows, cleaned tires so plants could be planted in them, and also sanded down a podium for their graduation. We then switched gears to the classroom to experience different weather types through fun experiments. We then said our goodbyes to the whole school and made our final return to Monkey Bay. We took showers, played games, and talked about the communities’ problems. Tonight we are eating dinner and listening to some locals share about how they changed Belize in a way that impacted all! Through all the pouring down rain and bug bites we are having a blast!

 Hayden McGuffin & Lanier Mason

Making New Friends
Name Games!

See Ya Tomorrow!
Working hard but still smiling!