Eco Health with the Mayans, July 19-26!

Open Enrollment Program

Follow our 7e adventures in Belize this year with our Program Director Ben O’Hanlon and our Partners and students that come to experience the Mayan culture learn about sustainable development!

July 20, 2019

Eco-Health and the differences in health in high versus low-income nations

Today we woke up to the sound of booming thunder and the smell of fried jacks. We got an early start and went to the Mennonite village and got some free entertainment watching Ben cross the river to the village while holding his pants up. The Mennonites were very welcoming and although they didn’t have much to offer we did get some papaya that will be ready in a few days, some fresh cheese, and 140 pounds of watermelon for the week.

Later in the day, we went to visit a bush doctor who was very excited to share his knowledge with us. He showed us the herbs used to cure everything from headaches and fevers to snake bites and other spiritual uses.

When we returned we enjoyed a dip in the river and got quite the workout fighting the current. We also got some free time after the river and before dinner which we used to play games, nap, or hang out in hammocks. We also discovered a bug that none of us, not even the locals, recognized and Ben swore he would figure out what it is.

Tonight we got a lesson on Eco-Health and the differences in health in high versus low-income nations and learned about the most popular diseases facing low-income nations. As we wrote this blog Ben serenaded us with his trusty guitar. We’re looking forward to the workday tomorrow and are looking forward to what the rest of the trip has to offer.

July 21, 2019

Open-air cafeteria construction for the school in Medina Bank

It was our first workday and once again we were woken up by loud thunder that shook the lodge but luckily the rain stopped before we went to work. Our project which we began today is to construct an open-air cafeteria for the school in Medina Bank so in order to start it we needed to build the frames for the posts, dig the holes for the posts, cut and tie rebar to go in the posts, and went back to our 7e roots to mix lots of cement.

Unfortunately, as soon as we stared the hard labor of mixing the cement and filling the frames for the posts, we lost all cloud cover and the sun began to beat down on all of us leaving us covered in sunburns. But, on the bright side, amongst the ants that were eating us alive, we found a little friend Travis the Tarantula. Sadly, Travis was dead but he’s with us in spirit.

When we came back we went for another dip in the river and tried a fruit that is more commonly seen in South America called brie brie (we’re not actually sure how to spell it). The river was much needed after the long day of work and got most of the cement off but not all. Overall spirits are still high if a little tired and we are looking forward to continuing on the project tomorrow.

Also, in case anyone was wondering, Ben couldn’t go to bed until he figured out what kind of bug we saw yesterday so he discovered that it is called a Peanut Bug.

July 22, 2019

Second workday and everyone got straight to work

Today was our second workday and everyone got straight to work without letting the sore muscles from the day before stop them. We dug trenches, mixed cement, tied some more rebar, built three more posts, and did our best to avoid the fire ants that surrounded the worksite. The sun was beating down on us all day and we all returned with some interesting tan lines.

Once again, we made some friends with some local animals when one of the girls began to feed a local dog scraps from lunch and named him Noodle (which we later found out was not his name, but he will always be Noodle to us). After lunch, we worked for another hour and then began a game of volleyball with some of the local workers. Some students got creative by trying to bring soccer moves into volleyball and others were just happy to get it over the net. The local kids found the whole ordeal very entertaining.

When the day came to an end and after we tried to make tortillas with Rose, the mother of the lodge owner, we had a campfire where we gathered to relax, talk about the day, and listen to Ben play some music for us. Despite the ants and hot sun, we all had a good day. We are looking forward to the much needed break of the activity day that we have planned for tomorrow.

July 23, 2019

Visiting Nim Li Punit, the Mayan ruins

Today was our first activity day since we visited the Mennonites and the Bush Doctor. We started the day by visiting Nim Li Punit, the Mayan ruins named after the artifact that showed the emperor with the big hat. We got to see ball courts, the royal residence, some ancient Mayan tombs, and a space where the Mayans calculated where the sun would always set on the solstice.

Later, we went to the Rio Blanco National Park where we got to swim in the waterfalls. We jumped off of a cliff into the depth of the falls and ventured underneath the waterfall to hear the deafening sounds. We also got to hike through the jungle and Saul, one of the lodge owners, found a spikey fruit that we got to try and it sort of tasted like coconuts.

After the waterfalls, we went back to Indian Creek with a Peace Corps volunteer to look at the greenhouse project he had been working on as well as visit an old 7e work site. We are ready to get back to work tomorrow.

July 24, 2019

Meeting with some of the leaders and discussing future 7e projects

Today was our last workday and the sun was very hot and a few of us who got burned earlier in the week took every precaution to avoid getting burned any worse. We finished a post, dug trenches, and laid bricks to even out the floor that a future group will do. We had gotten a lot done during the week and so today was a rather easy workday compared to some of the others.

We had gotten done early and got to sit in on a community meeting with some of the leaders and discuss future 7e projects in Medina Bank. We got to share some of our experiences with some previous trips and talk about what a bottle structure is. The community members were very excited about potential future projects and thanked us for what we had done so far.

Once again, the moment we got back to the lodge we went to the river and soaked in some of the shallower water. It felt nice to feel cold for the first time in a while.

Tonight we heard a presentation from a Peace Corps volunteer, Rain, who shared with us his experiences and projects from the Peace Corps. He told us all about adjusting to life in another country, the process by which Peace Corps volunteers plan and implement projects, and more about the life of a Peace Corps volunteer. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day before we leave but we are all looking forward to a day of snorkeling.

July 25, 2019

Last day in Belize

Today was our last day in Belize and so we ventured over to Hopkins to have a snorkeling adventure. We rode a boat out to a reef where the cool ocean water let us forget about our bug bites, at least for a short period of time. It was breathtaking to witness underwater life in action. We saw a barracuda, two sharks, squid, two turtles, and countless other animals swimming amongst the coral and sponges.

We had lunch on an island that was like something out of a movie complete with a very friendly dog. When we were finished a few of us went out on the boat to go snorkeling again and the others stayed back to swim around the island. Those of us who stayed back on the island saw several stingrays and dove for conch shells and sand dollars.

When we got back together, we took the boat back to Hopkins where we got to venture around the beach and town and got to see life in Hopkins and shop around.

We’re sad to leave Belize and we will keep the memories we’ve made for the rest of our lives.