Monday, August 31, 2015

Arely's Birthday Party in Belize

When Bill and I first moved to Belize in 2012, we met 3 children on the boat to Caye Caulker one day.  Caye Caulker is the sister island to Ambergris Caye where we live.  It is about 5 miles from Ambergris Caye or a 20 minute boat ride.  We have stayed involved with the family ever since and have celebrated several birthday with the children each year.  August 22nd was Arely's birthday.  She is the oldest of her siblings and she turned 14 years old Saturday.  Her mother Martha had asked me to make a birthday cake and wanted me to go with her to Belize City to celebrate Arely's birthday and I said I would.

Arely in 2012 on the boat to Caye Caulker.  10 years old.

Martha wanted to catch the 6am water taxi to Belize City.  So that meant it was going to be an early morning and a long day in Belize City.  I had made all the cupcakes the day before, so we picked up Martha and two of her younger children Michelle and Jasmine at 5:30am and headed to the water taxi.

It was early and the sun was just coming up while we were waiting for the water taxi.

Michelle was still half asleep but smiling for the camera.

Jasmine was sleepy too, but dressed for the party.

We left Ambergris Caye at 6:00am right on time.  We made a quick stop to pick up a few more people in Caye Caulker and then it was on to Belize City.

It looks like a few more people were sleeping on the 6am water taxi as well.

Leaving Ambergris Caye on the 6am water taxi.

Jasmine went back to sleep as soon as the water taxi took off.  (Wake me when it's time for the party.)

We arrived in Belize City about 6:30am.  A friend of Martha's named Salvador Parra was there with his truck to pick us up and take us to the Government Youth Hostel where Arely has been living the last few months.  But first we needed some breakfast, so we make a quick stop at a local taco stand and then we could be on our way.

Arriving in Belize City.

I really love Belize City and all the beautiful wooden boats.

That was close, the bridge is just a little low for most boats to pass under.

It appears we were not the only ones still sleepy when we arrived in Belize City.

Not too many early birds at the water taxi terminal in Belize City.

Salvador our driver is taking our order.

Two flour tacos and an orange juice for $2.00 Belize ($1.00US).  That's a cheap breakfast.

Jasmine is awake now and ready to party.
We finally arrive at the youth hostel about 9:30am.  It is located about 21 miles down the Western Highway. It was wash day when we arrived, the girls were sorting laundry, washing clothes and hanging them out to dry.

Yes they still wash clothes the old fashion way sometimes in Belize, but this young lady seemed to be having fun washing clothes.


Cleveland Rock n Roll t-shirts hanging on the clothes line.

Someone had donated a bunch of Cleveland Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon t-shirts to the hostel.  I thought that was pretty cool since I have run many of the Rock n Roll races.  

Now it was time to eat cupcakes.

Michelle is adding the candles.

Arely gave me the thumbs up for the cupcakes.  She loved them.

Salvador enjoying a cupcake.

We took the bus back to Belize City.

A quick trip around the market once we got back to Belize City.

A truck ride back to the water taxi terminal to catch the 5pm water taxi back to Ambergris Caye.

1 1/2 hour boat ride from Belize City and we are back on the island.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Week at Kids 4 Clean Water Belize Camp

Welcome back kids for camp 2015.

August 5th a virtual Facebook only friend Heather Zwicker contacted me.  Heather is from Canada, but has been coming to Belize since 2009 and visiting the neighborhood of San Mateo concerning clean water for kids. Heather began Kids 4 Clean Water in San Mateo in 2012.  It is partnerships with complementary organizations that create opportunities for kids for hands-on learning and water conservation.

Heather sent me a message on Facebook that said "hi Debra, I know we have never met face to face, but in the past you had shown an interest in the Kids 4 Clean Water Program in San Mateo.  We are coming next week to run the program from August 13th-20th.  This may be an odd question since we have never met, but do you have any contacts that might be interested in donating lunches for about 25 kids".  I wrote Heather back and said "let me check around and see what I can do".  I thought about it for a few days and then I decided why not post something on my Facebook page.  That would be the quickest and easiest way to ask for help from my friends both in Belize and in the states.  I love Facebook, I immediately received many replies from friends on Facebook.  I was so excited that so many of my friends wanted to help.  Some were old friends from high school that I probably haven't seen since high school, some were friends I use to work with in the states, there were friends of my husbands, and friends in San Pedro, Belize, they all wanted to help me feed these sweet kids at camp this week.  I contacted Heather and told her don't worry, I have the lunches covered.  I told Heather with the help of friends we would be feeding all the kids at camp.  Most of the kids may only eat one meal a day that mostly consist of rice and beans, so foods like pizza, chicken burrito's, cupcakes, and spaghetti was going to be a special treat for all of the camp kids.

Heather arrived and we met face to face and discussed the lunches and food for the kids.  My friend Lynda Perdue in Belize with Belizean Breezes Soap Company and who has some of the best all natural smelling soaps in Belize contacted me and said she would make spaghetti, green beans, garlic French bread and some awesome cupcakes for the first day of camp.  By the way, Linda is always looking for Smelly People to try out her soaps. 

Leroy is ready to dig in to some spaghetti.

You gotta love a kid eating spaghetti.

Linda's awesome cupcakes.

Got Cupcake!

I checked around San Pedro Town at several eatery places that I frequently visit.  I gave them my budget that I had to spend based off of the the donations that I had collected and Neri's tacos, The Baker and Sandbar Hostel and Restaurant came to our rescue.  We ate ham and cheese sandwiches from The Bakery, chicken burrito's from Neri's and Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza from Sandbar.  I even dropped by Casa Pan Dulce one morning on my daily walk and they gave me two large bags of cookies. 

Cool fruit Snacks.

Eating sandwiches from The Baker.

Yummy chicken burrito's from Neri's.

My pizza delivery from Sandbar.

I have never seen kids so happy to see these pizza boxes.

I had only really planned to just help out and coordinate the food for the week, but on Monday after lunch I decided to hang around to see what all the kids would be learning about.  The next thing I knew I went back Tuesday and kept going back every day.  I felt like I was at camp, we had so much fun.  The kids learned about making filters to clean dirty water.  They took water samples and counted colonies.  They got to hear Chris from ACES-American Crocodile Education Sanctuary talk about Crocodiles in Belize.  Department of Enviornment came and talked about how they would clean up an oil spill in Belize if it ever happened. Consolidated Water talked to the kids about the water samples they collected in San Mateo and the water filters they made.  MarAlliance-Allied for Marine Wildlife taught them about marine life and the different kinds of sharks in Belize.  We kayaked in the lagoon by the Mangroves, went bird watching and snorkeling with Ecologic Divers at Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Department of Environment

MarAlliance-Allied for Marine Wildlife.
Consolidated Water

Water Samples 

Who wants to go bird watching in San Mateo?

Bird Watching in San Mateo.

Getting ready to kayak.

Getting ready to go snorkeling.  It was the first time for some of the kids.

Hol Chan 

The church in San Mateo where the kids met every morning for camp.

Boca Del Rio Park where the kids had lunch every day.

These amazing people and volunteers made it possible for Kids 4 Clean Water Camp Program in Belize.



Heather Zwicker





Getting ready to take some of the kids home after camp.

It was an amazing week and so wonderful meeting all of the people and volunteers with Kids 4 Clean Water.   The kids from San Mateo that participated in the camp this week were so eager to learn and I just love them all.  It was truly a week I will never forget and I am forever grateful Heather sent me that message and asked for my help this week at camp.  These kids cannot wait until Heather and her group come back and have camp again next year.

See you next year.
A special thank you to everyone that donated money, food, their time and effort.  You put some really BIG smiles on the kids from San Mateo that participated in Kids 4 Clean Water Camp 2015.