Monday, November 8, 2010


November has arrived with a vengence! Well, if you consider 70 degree weather vengeful, but hey, it's chilly for here. I feel I often start these blogs with a discussion of the weather and you probably could care less. Granted, I'm shocked that most of my rambling discussions of my weekly life are read in the first place. Ah well. We begin.

So, if you recall, the library was virtually destroyed on Friday for the Spooky House. Instead of troubling myself over the weekend with the cleanup, I relaxed and collected seaglass (of which there is absurd amounts) and took pictures of neat things in the ocean.

1. Cool sea life.

We also had to say farewell to Chris, who worked at Ya'axché, one of the conservation agencies in town. He was heading back to England.

On Monday, I arrived in the library to find it worse than I remembered. However, over the next three days and 30 hours, I put it back into order. In fact, it now looks better than it did before the disasterous haunted house. Included in the restoration was organizing 10 sets of encyclopedias and reference books, along with the 50 volume set of Great Books, from Socrates to Kierkegaard. I'm currently making my way through Plato's Republic.
On Wednesday I finally finished after alphabetizing the young adult novels. I decided it would be fun to count how many books I have read and found 120 novels, 80 picture books, and 40 in-between books. I definitely should be the librarian.
Also, I discovered that if your last name starts with B, C, G, H, L, M, S, or W, you have a much higher liklihood of being published, especially those C and H authors. They are powerhouses.

This weekend we had our fall retreat for JVC. For it, we got to meet up with the Belize City community and spend the weekend together, relaxing and reflecting. The location of the retreat was in Cayo district, in the north west of Belize, near the town of Benque, which is right on the border of Guatemala.
We left on the 6am bus on Friday for Belmopan.

Nice sunrise from the road.

The busride was only 4.5 hours from PG, as we were on the express bus. The ride back, not so quick.

Matt and a cute baby we met on the bus. No, it was not travelling alone. It had a stuffed animal as well. Just kidding, the mom is sitting in front of us.

After arriving in Belmopan, we hopped onto the bus to Benque, where we found Jon, Pat, and Brian. From there we cruised through the hills of Cayo, savoring the cool air. It really felt like fall this weekend, especially up there. The corn had been picked, so there were a lot of empty fields, just itching for a hayride. We got off the bus and walked a mile to the place we were staying.

Most excellent road on the way to our place of residence.

The Lodge at Clarissa Falls was quite lovely and fed us an insane amount of food. I think we all considered the fact we might have eating problems after seeing how much we kept throwing down. Or we aren't used to having no budget and no need for limiting intake. Either way, the food was tasty.

GOOSE! This was particularly scary when Jon, Pat, and I were walking back into the place at midnight and it was standing in the middle of the road, waiting for us.

The town of Benque happens to be the site of Xunantunich, a excellent Mayan ruin. On Saturday, after lunch, we piled into Father Jeff, our in country coordinator's truck, and headed to see what there was to see.

Christin and Pat checkin out the countryside.

We had to take a ferry over the river, then walk around a mile, uphill, to the site.

Pat sitting atop one of the smaller buildings.

So Xunantunich, or Stone Woman, covers only around 325 square yards and has 16 some odd structures, most of which haven't been uncovered. The main building is known as El Castillo, which rises 130ft above the jungle. The site began to be studied around 1895 and has since been cleared out by various archeological groups, like Cambridge University. One of the most impressive features of the site are the friezes that are found on the sides of El Castillo.
I'll let the next pictures and captions speak for themselves.

Jon wondering how quickly he could climb this.

The side of the El Castillo.

Steps leading to the roof of the temple.

A view of Benque and Guatemala, only a few miles away.

Hey! It's me! Lookin out over the complex.

Hanging on top.

Friezes, pronounced "freezes" (right, dad?) on the main building.

Closeup of the frieze

We spent a few hours there, then decided to head back to our place. Instead of taking the $1 bus ride, we decided to hike back along the river, which took around two hours. It was awesome getting to stroll through the woods and fields, chatting with excellent people.
Rapids in the river.
Man fishing by the river.

Awesome tree on the hike back

Well, that's pretty much it. Apart from the 10 hours journey back home, including the 6 hour bus ride from Belmopan to PG. It goes much slower when you stop every 5 minutes to drop off and pick people up. I got some great people watching in and wrote 10 pages in the story I'm writing.
Thus week is the second full week I'll have had. This year. Three months in. Not bad.
I hope you enjoyed your read/perusal of the pictures.
Come again and bring a friend.

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