Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Life's a river kid...ya gotta go where it takes you. - Doug Rich

Kayaking on the Mopan River near the Guatemalan border was a spur of the moment idea.  I took the bus to campus with Meredith and waited in the tiki hut with a burrito in hand.  I guess MerryAnn and Ryan finished early because they were ecstatic about going kayaking for the rest of the day.

Mr Owen hooked it up and took us to meet Henry, the man who would be our tour guide.  We drove to a remote location on a dirt road and were dropped off at a river bank.  Henry pulled out a bunch of inflatable somethings and told us to get to work.  After a few minutes of pumping (and by pumping, I mean Jackson and Henry did all the work..) and warding off fire ants, we had 6 blown up raft kayaks.  One by one we jumped into the river and were off on a 9 mile ride down.

I wont lie, with clothes on Henry looks like a scruffy mut.  Without a shirt on...HELLO.  That's beside the point...he was a great guide.  He knew everything about the river, the plants surrounding it, the wildlife living along the banks and most importantly, he made it all interesting.  I had no idea that plants had so many medicinal purposes and that so much remains unused and unexplored.  There was a plant that could cause a reaction to eat your face and a tree nearby that could cure you.  There were fruits and iguanas hanging out everywhere.

The lush tropical forest and the humidity escaping it and touching my skin was something I have never felt before.  It was so new to me.  The water was calm and occasionally splashed me with a cool mist or lost drips from my paddle.  At one point, I completely lost track of Henry and got lost in mesmerization.  Every so often, we'd hit a small rapids.  I'm proud to say I made it without falling in once.  I did get stuck on a rock though at on point.

It seemed forever till we reached the end, but I didn't mind at all.  I have never felt so at one with nature.  I highly recommend you kayak wherever you are.  You'll never no how it's going to make you feel and what you'll learn about yourself.

We got a really good deal.  Another recommendation...if you're going to be anywhere for a long period of time, talk to the locals.  Some are trying to rip you off, but most just want to help.  DO NOT GO WITH A TOUR GROUP.  Huge rip off.  More on this in a later entry.

Peace and Love


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Picking Up 101

I always appreciate a good pick up line.  The art of picking up is something that I personally feel everyone needs to know and everyone gets points in my eyes for creativity. Pick up line of the month thus far goes to:

"I like your blouse, it looks comfortable."

Peace and Love,


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Belize Zoo

Junior the Jaguar
I want to start off by saying: I PET A BABY JAGUAR!!!!

We decided to go to the Belize Zoo to check out some exotic animals.  I won't lie, the only reason I wanted to go was to pet a jaguar.

From San Ignacio, the Zoo is about half way to Belize City.  It's literally in the middle of no where.  You wouldn't even know it was there unless someone told you.  The bus dropped us off right in front and then we had to walk down a dirt road for a bit.  It's like walking into the jungle.  We paid $30.00 Belizian dollars to get in and another $25.00 to get face time with Junior the Jaguar.  

First, your guide takes you into the exhibit and asks you to sit in the small cage provided for your safety.  Then Junior comes out to play.  He does summersaults and licks your face (probably tasting you for later.. but still, it's endearing).  You also get to feed him chicken (his favourite).  While you're in there, you learn how Junior came to be and all about the zoo's conservation program aimed at protecting jaguars.  The zoo has a phenomenal educational program as well.  I was really impressed with how interactive and informative everything was.  You actually leave wanting to make a difference.

Feeding Peanuts to Macaws
After Junior, we checked out the other exhibits.  We saw mountain cows, macaws, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, owls, eagles, wild boars and a wide variety of other birds.  The animals at the zoo are all animals that can be found in Belize, nothing exotic or foreign.

Baby Howler Monkey <3
I held a small boa constructor and feed peanuts to the macaws.  I even coaxed the guide to let me see the baby orphan howler monkeys in the back.  They were, by far, the cutest thing I've ever seen.  We got to talking about internships at the zoo.  I'm thinking of applying for a few weeks and staying in Belize to get some volunteer work.  I'm thinking more and more I want to get into something that involves the environment AND culture.  Archaeology might not be my thing, but hey, you win some, you lose some.

Either way, the zoo was a good experience.  I really enjoyed myself.  It was great to have a place where you can interact with wild life and still feel safe.  It really is the best way to learn.  However, word to the is a jungle reserve.  Don't be stupid like me and wear shorts into the jungle.  I am covered in bites and scratches.  BUG SPRAY IS KEY.

For your enlightenment I have included the Belize Zoo website.  It never hurt anyone to educate themselves!!

The Belize Zoo

Read all about the jaguar conservation and rescue work they do at the zoo.  Volunteer, adopt or donate.  Be apart of a cause, be the change you want to see in the world.

Peace and Love.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cheater's Prayer

Current hit on the radio in Belize: 

Bus Etiquette in Belize

It is no easy feat riding the bus in Belize.  In fact, I don't even think I have enough words in my vocabulary to give the bus the justice it deserves.  

My first experience went something like this: me walking on a dirt road seeing no end to my journey, a monstrous engine coming up from behind me beeping its horn wildly, a school bus painted in every colour imaginable pulling up beside me, reggae music making the bus shake and a man yelling "San Ignacio?"   I apprehensively said yes and got on the bus.  The bus is crowded and the seats are minimal.  Most people just stand in the middle yelling Kriol to one another.  The people all look at you because they know you have NO IDEA what you're doing.  I sat down in an empty seat and the same man who asked me where I was going came around and collected money from me.  $1.00 Belizian dollar for a ride to town.  When I got to town he yelled "white girl, San Ignacio stop right here!"  (I get called white girl a lot by the way)

My second experience was trying to get to the zoo.  That's an entirely different story.  Long story short, it took forever and consisted of a lot of walking before I actually caught a bus.  Realizing that there is an etiquette for catching and riding the bus, I have made my own list of things you should know about the bus.  
  1. Start walking to wherever you need to be.  When you hear a bus just stop on the side of the road and wave the bus down.  9 out of 10 times it'll stop; if it keeps going, its full. 
  2. MAKE SURE YOU STOP!!! If you're walking, it'll drive right by you.  (this happened to me numerous time before someone pointed out you need to be standing in order to catch a bus...)
  3. There are no bus stops.  Just people stopping everywhere along side the road.  (makes riding the bus difficult because you stop 100 times in what should be a 5 minute ride to town)
  4. When you get on the bus, sit in the first empty seat.  You will be sitting beside someone who probably can't understand you, but they're going to chat you up anyways.  
  5. As the bus clears out and you get closer to your destination, move up.
  6. Someone will eventually come around and ask you where you're going and then give you a price.  It's usually really cheap.  HOWEVER, since we're white, you will get ripped off.  On average, it's $1.00 to town.  But this is subject to change according to the bus driver. (they make their own prices...apparently)
  7. Good Luck.
Peace and Love, 
Adriana <3

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - unknown to me

Tonight is da Saturday.  I went into town with the rest of the exchange students.  It's safe to say that none of them drink like I do.  HAHA.  Oh well, thats what boundaries are for.   I met a very interesting array of people tonight.   The very first person was "Oscar the Grouch" (we call him that because he wearing a grouch shirt).  He bought me a drink and a made all of the females in our party a flower from a napkin (poor Ryan..he really missed out).  I met a Rasta drum maker...his name is Mark; Mark said he'd teach us how to make our own drums and if we rent a car he'd take us on a guided tour (he used to be one).  Mark also tried teaching me Kriol last night and smokes the ganja.  I met a local named Jimmy this morning.  Jimmy is an older gentleman who owns a very authentic restaurant and adventure tour business.  He also has apartments that are much much cheaper than La Cabins. Then we met 3 other boys from the USA.  They're all leaving tomorrow.  Not going to lie, they all reinforced why I'm not a huge fan of Americans.    Finally, I met Rafael.  He helps with archaeological digs...I CAN MEET THE PROJECT DIRECTPRRRRR!!!  This means I may have found a potential place to volunteer!!! SO EXCITED!!!!!

Peace and love

Saturday, January 7, 2012


"Today is d' Friday" = Today is Friday

Before I start talking about my day, I want to let you know that the main language in Belize is English.  The second spoken language is Spanish.  Everyone in Belize speaks Creole (Kriol).  To be completely honest, I've heard very little Spanish thus far but tons of Creole.  Mr Owen said he'd give me a phrase a day to learn so I could come home speaking Kriol.  Mr Isaac said he'd try and teach me Mayan.  However, Mr Isaac might be a glorified pot head...not too sure how legit he is just yet.  

The New Palace - El Castillo
Today Mr Owen picked us up at 9 am and we departed for Xunantunich (I believe its pronounced su-nan-tun-ich). Xunantunich is only about 2 miles from San Ignacio.    As soon as we got there, Mr Owen shooed us off the van and onto a river ferry to cross the Mopan River.  As we hiked up the small slope, I looked around and realized I was walking into a rainforest.  You're probably wondering at this point what is Xunantunich?  Well, formally it was a Mayan city with an estimated population of 10, 000 inhabitants.  Today it is a Maya archaeological site in the Cayo District of Belize.  The name itself is a modern name meaning "the stone maiden".   
Re-constructed hieroglyphs on the side of the New Palace

Anyways, as we ascended the gentle slope, we were greeted by Junior.  Junior would be our tour guide.  He is a small, round man.  He is VERY informative.  I highly suggest if you decide to ever visit Xunantunich you should ask for Junior.  As you pass the gates and enter the forest further, you come across the first building.  This building, according to Junior, is some sort of administrative building.  The evidence for this is the remains that were found during excavation behind the building, suggesting a gift to the gods.  As you continue the trip up the path, you suddenly see the Old Palace and the Pyramid first.  As you turn to your left, the New Palace comes into site.  He says that Dr Howie, an archaeologist, believes that the buildings were painted with magnificent colours and hieroglyphs covered the temple walls and homes.  We raced up the pyramid steps and ascended closer to the heavens.  El Castillo, as the temple is known to some, is the second tallest structure in Belize.  Ryan and I were the first to reach the top.  The breath-taking view that emerged before us was a vision of green and blue landscape with monumental structures and lush untouched, uninhabited forest.  Absolutely amazing.   
Chillin' at the top of the New Palace - whatta view <3

To sum it up: you, the sun, the ruins, the forest and the breeze.  Nothing else seems to matter.  

I could have sat up there all day and just watched the sky get dark-thats how great it was. 

To the far left you can see the Guatemalan border.  So you'll be quick to notice that the army is hiding all over the forest to ensure that no one sneaks into the country.  (Meredith and I ran into two of them dressed in Green we naturally asked to take a picture with them and their semi-automatics).   Immediately under the New Palace, there is a small ball court.  The ball court was an ancient Mayan ball game that held great religious significance.  In most cases, the losing team would be sacrificed to the gods.  

"Monkey Balls Plant"
Along the way, Junior also showed us how the land around the site was used.  He introduced us to what the locals call the "monkey balls plant".  When this little plant is pierced, it produces natural glue!

Junior then ripped a few leaves off a tree and asked us all to put a piece in our mouths, chew it, then spit it out.  This was "all spice".  It was used to numb mouths for piercings back in Mayan times; today we cook with it.

He also pointed out a "tourist tree".  The locals call it a tourist tree because it peels just like tourists do when they get too much sun.  HAHA.  This tree is actually the antidote to poison ivy rashes.  

As we descended back towards the main entrance, Junior and I got to talking.  Turns out his favourite show is 1000 ways to die.  We started talking about the most random episodes and then turned to documentaries that we thought the other would enjoy.  I won't lie, I was upset when the tour was over.   Everyone piled into the bus, when I decided I should use the bathroom before I leave.    I realize this might be TMI (too much information), BUT I SWEAR I HAVE A POINT.  

AS I WAS PEEING...I heard this outrageous roaring.   I went outside and asked Junior what it was...HOWLER MONKEYS.  It was the most epic thing I've ever heard.  I just took a whole class on Primates and was ecstatic to hear real live Howler Monkeys.  Turns out the area we were in as two types of monkeys: Black Howler Monkeys and Spider Monkeys.  

****these might not be the biggest and best ruins, but they are remote and quiet.  You feel at one with the world around you and aren't crowded by hundreds of tourists.  Definitely a must see and do when in Cayo.  Remember, ask for Junior.  

Junior and I^^^^
******another side note.  Make friends with the locals because they can take you to the ruins for sunrise or sunset.  That's my goal for now.  Imagine those pictures.  I met a guy named Ben in town, he says you can camp over night in Guatemala and catch the sunrise and sunset over Tikal.

After this, we drove into the Spanish Lookout.  This is a Mennonite area.  Mr Owen and Ms Deborah said shopping was cheaper here and the ice cream is fabulous-we obviously stopped in to shop and eat ice cream.  

....I guess this is where I should also include that MaryAnn and I adopted a baby bunny today.  We were driving past a butcher shop and bought it for 7 US dollars to save its life.  We named her Suna after the stone maiden.  Currently, she's pitter pattering around my bedroom floor trying to eat everything in sight.  I guess I am now a mother. 

****also just bought a hammock and hung it up on my porch..this could be the purchase of the year.  CANT WAIT TO BRING IT HOME!!!!!!

Peace and Love, 


Thursday, January 5, 2012

There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth - not going all the way, and not starting. -Buddah

Today I write to you from my tiny cabin in San Ignacio, Belize.  I'm finding it hard to write, mostly because I'm not exactly sure as to what I want to write about and how to start writing about the adventure that will unfold as I begin my 4 month stay in Belize.  What I can say is that Belize is a hidden treasure.  I guess to fully give justice to my trip thus far, I should start with the airport.

My flight left at 6:15 am (meaning I had to be at the airport for 3:30 am to get through US customs..NOT FUN) from Toronto.  I boarded the plane cranky and tired.  I lucked out though, I ended up having two seats to myself to Atlanta; allowing me to catch up on some beauty sleep and be somewhat more pleasant for my arrival.  The Atlanta airport was not at all what I expected.  It was massive.  The hike from one end to the other takes a good 10-15 minutes-especially if you don't know where you're going.  I got off the plane and 10 minutes later, I was at gate A17 with an hour to kill.  As I reached the gate, I realized there's a subway system in the Atlanta a word to the wise...USE THE INTERNAL SUBWAY SYSTEM... the walk isn't worth it after a sleepless night and an uncomfortable (attempted) sleep on the airplane.  This is where I met Brandon.  Brandon will be the first of my many encounters along the way I'm sure.  Brandon is a 25 year old realtor who sells homes in Pickering, Ontario.  This chatty young man sat down beside me in the waiting room and struck conversation with the opening line "you going to San Pedro too?"  For the next hour and half, we talked a ton about travelling and the cool things I should go see in Belize.  Turns out he has a home over in San Pedro (well, his dad does) and he visits quite frequently.   This is where MaryAnn pops in.  MaryAnn is my roommate here in Belize.  But, I won't talk about her much here because you'll probably hear tons about her over the next few months.  Brandon and I parted ways and MaryAnn and I boarded the plane.  Here I met Jessica Rice from Pittsburg; my new seat partner.  I had a lovely 2 hour plane ride filled with American politics.  For those of you who don't know me...politics is really not my thing.

We touchdowned at the Philip S.W. Goldson airport about a mile outside of Belize City.  This is where I got to meet the exchange students who would be staying at the Log Cabins with me and I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Deborah and Mr Owen.  Ms Deborah is our coordinator and Mr Owen is our driver.  He's pretty awesome though.  He has a hook up for everything.

Meredith is from North Carolina.  Ryan and MaryAnn are both from Ontario like myself.  Jackson and Alexandria are from South New Jersey.  Amanda is from New York (Long Island) and Natasha is from British Columbia.

Ms Iris owns the Log Cabin Inn.
Ms Edna and Mr Daniel are our cooks.
Mr Isaac is our security guard.

I think that's all the important names for now.

Anyways, that sums up the first day in Belize.

On a different note, I can say that San Ignacio is great so far.  We've been here a total of 3 days now.  The food has been nothing but delicious and the people are extremely friendly.  At first glance, you see a run down village with stray dogs roaming the streets and poverty everywhere.  It's not like that at all.  People don't worry.  Everything is laid back and everyone knows everyone.  Someone is always willing to lend a helping hand and they are happy with what they have.  At a second glance, you see an array of colourful buildings built all over the village.  You see church communities gathering together for prayer.  You see children playing football in the fields.  Men and women walking along side the road and flagging down colourful transportation buses.  Music is heard on the streets as you walk by different restaurants and stores.  Cars honk constantly to let their friends know they're passing through.  So yea, according to us, living in a one bedroom, run-down, no hot water home for a family of 4, is not adequate.  But thats the way of life in this small village, and they're just fine with that.  I have no doubt that I'll soon be falling in love with San Ignacio.

*****side note**** best Onion Rings in town...Go to Capellos: The Grill at the top of the Hill.  PHENOMENAL.

Peace & Love,


The view flying into Belize City <3  Nothing but beautiful.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world. - John Green

Come Wednesday night, I will be in Belize for the next 5 months of my life.  It hasn't hit me yet that I'm leaving.  I don't think it will till I walk through my cabin door and hear my suitcase make a noise over the creaky wooden floor boards.  I'm a bit pressed for time.  I realize it's Monday and I have a lot to do.  And I haven't done anything yet.  I'm about to pick up Jaclyn.  Then the fun stuff starts.   Waxing.  Nails.  Mosquito Nets.  Bug Spray.  Sun Screen.  I'll hit up Shoppers at midnight as per usual for the rest. The main goal for today is to do all my laundry and pack my suitcase-hopefully keep it under 50 pounds.  Doable I hope.  

I better get my day started.  Princess Jaclyn is waiting <3

Stay Classy ;)


Get busy living or get busy dying. ― Stephen King

What makes January 1st such a special day?  Why do people wait all year for this one day to ask for second chances?  to make amends with old acquaintances?  to change?  to become better people?  to ask for the forgiveness they could have asked for all year long?  to be healthier, wealthier and then some?  I was driving to London today to pick up the last of my stuff and started thinking about what January 1st meant to me.  I get it, you know?  A day dedicated to new beginnings.  A symbolic start date at a shot to better yourself.  A chance to start over.  Cynics might say that people don't need a man-made date to push them down the road to self-recovery; they should strive every single day to make themselves decent human beings anyways.  But hey, I'm not a cynic.  I believe life, love and the meaning of, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hard on myself about my life.  The last week has been really tough on me, I couldn't help but rack my brain about the past year; my mistakes, my fuck ups, all the words I couldn't say, all the things I did that I didn't mean and most importantly, all the things I didn't do.  Then I realized it isn't about the's about my life.  I need to find something that gives me drive.  I need to find my passion.  I want to be permanently happy doing whatever I want whenever I want.  I don't want to be trapped in a life satisfying everyone else but myself.  This year is about finding myself, finding my passion.  I spent the majority of last year in this black rut.  I honestly feel like I let myself get lost in the shuffle of life and lost sight of all the things important, near and dear to me.  Clocks ticking; I'm not getting younger, might as well get back on track.  What better way to start then on this proclaimed day of change?

I want to fix the relationships that matter most to me and cut the poison out of my life.  That means I want to really work on how I treat people.  It's time I stand up for what I believe in and stop letting some people walk all over me.  I get caught up in people, perhaps I wear my heart on my sleeve a little too often; I give too many chances; I can't say no to people in fear of hurting their feelings.  Well, that's about to change: in with the new, out with the old. Bye bye douchebags.  (Don't be offended when I stop answering your calls..that means you're one of those people).

Volunteering makes me feel good.  Some might say that its selfish and in a way, it probably is.  I don't care though.  I plan on doing a lot more of it.  If helping people makes me feel good, then we're helping each other.   

Finance is a foreign concept to me.  I couldn't pull out two dimes to rub together if my life depended on it.  For those of you who know me, I am a broke student.  I'm in debt and I spend like it doesn't matter.  Well it does.  This year is dedicated to budgeting and paying off my debt, so that when I am done school, I can start with a clean slate.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I smoke cigarettes.  No more.  Health is a major priority.  A healthy, well balanced lifestyle is in order.  I'm hanging up my raving shades, putting away the red solo cup, and  taking some yoga classes instead.  Back to basics.

Finally, I will move.  I won't stand still anymore.  Its time I made moves in life.  I will find my passion this year.  I will light the fire that will drive the rest of my life.

Here's to new beginnings and living the life I love.

Get living,