More than a trip During the winter of 2014, I had a surreal experience in belize and left with more than just a fun time

Caption for picture above: View from the Maya Center Village, IJ Ferrette

I came out of the Belize Service Learning trip, in the winter of 2014, with a different experience than I expected. Going in, I was looking forward to a trip full of fun and interesting adventures. But I left with multiple valuable lessons.

There were aspects of the trip that we all saw as annoyances at first but they ended up benefiting us in the end. Since I was able to learn from this trip and simultaneously have an outstanding time, this was the best trip I have ever taken.

Jaguar Crossing Sign, Katie Kirkland

Our trip was eleven days long and every three or four days we would go to different regions of the country. During the first part of the trip we spent our time staying in a nature reserve. The first night we spent in Belize was an eye opening experience. It was a humid 85 degrees, in our room, and the only thing to keep us cool was one fan. Going to bed sweating was not the most comfortable thing I’ve done in my life. I love sleeping; being able to relax and doze off into a dream world is something I look forward in my day. That night I got a terrible sleep and was upset I missed out on my favorite part of the day. We could only drink and brush our teeth with the faucet water we had to get from the middle of the reserve. The next day was followed by a large amount of complaints by the others on the trip about our housing. We were saying things like, “This trip is going to be awful!” “Why couldn’t we stay somewhere nicer?”.

View from the top of the Mayan Ruins, Katie Kirkland

These complaints soon vanished, as our first day was one of the best days of the whole trip. We went exploring inside a Cave that was full of old artifacts and very beautiful stalagmite formations. We were walking in different levels of water having to traverse through different areas of the cave. After exploring the cave, we jumped into a refreshing body of water nearby. This day was one I will never forget as it marked a solid start to the trip.

A kid from the Maya Center Village hitting my hand, Katie Kirkland 

Another annoyance we were faced with, on the trip, was that the chaperones took away our phones. Some of us were going to use our phone as cameras and that made people mad. Even though we all complained at first, but this ended up forcing us to bond with the other people on the trip and I got to know some great people I still talk to till this day.

Creating cement for the fence, Katie Kirkland

The next day of the trip we ventured through the Xanatunich Mayan Ruins and climbed up a big temple with an astonishing view at the top. The following day, we worked on the community project in the Maya Center Village of building a protective fence for their local school. During this we bonded with the kids of the villages. We played a big soccer game against the best players of the village and got destroyed. We finished the trip with a few days at Tobacco Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize. At tobacco Caye, there was electricity only during the night hours. At this point in the trip since we had spent the past week in below average housing this didn't annoy us. We went snorkeling and explored reefs around the island.

Our group in front of the Mayan Ruins, Katie Kirkland

I didn't learn my valuable lesson till I got home from this amazing experience. The feeling of being able to sleep in an air conditioned house in an extremely comfortable bed was indescribable. Being in my bed made me think how we were complaining about the housing even though we were living in better conditions than those who lived in the villages of Belize. This made me very thankful to have a nice house with nice clothes and be able to get what I want. I went to Belize to have fun but I came out with more than that.

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