Day 8: Puddle Jumping

Day 8
My favorite day.

We woke up extra early, loaded our luggage onto the van and headed, we thought, toward Belize City. We were supposed to catch a puddle-jumper later in the afternoon to Punta Gorda—the southern most tip of Belize—to meet with a missionary family and pass out school supplies at a school in Boom Creek. But that wasn’t until 2:30, and it was only 6 am.

No one would tell us where we were going.

The road got more rainforesty and narrow the further we drove, and we kept guessing things like the zoo or cave tubing or Xunantunich or even Tikal- a ruin on the other side of the Guatamalan border.  We really thought we had everything figured out.  But then we pulled into a gravel lot at the end of a dirt road, at the foot of a big hill, and saw this sign:

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Zip lining through the jungle!

I was thrilled, but for a lot of people on our team, swinging through the rainforest on a thin thread of cable was a stretching moment. The activity was optional, but in the end, every member of our team stood on the first platform, cheered one another on, and jumped off in blind faith.

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It was a day of encouragement, trust, and teambuilding.

We ziplined between 6 platforms, through trees and vines, and in some cases, above trees and vines—85 feet in the air—and repelled down from the 6th platform. The repelling was the hardest for me, as these were my instructions: swing backwards and sit down. I thought it should be the other way around.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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We made it to the van after a delicious chicken-rice-and-beans meal at the arial trek restaurant.

Hugo drove us to the airport in Belize City and we said our goodbyes… Hugo might not be our driver anymore, but he would always and forever be the 16th member of team #14. We would request him next time we were at Cahal Pech, and he would provide me with the ins-and-outs of city and village life when I returned in January. He would meet my dad 3 trips later, and take my future husband and I on secret side-stepped adventures to the Belize zoo and Old Belize in between transports.

Need I tell you how scary a low-flying puddle jumper is? Our team filled the entire plane (plus Randy, who had to catch the next plane) and Ashley E.  got to ride shotgun with the pilot.

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The view was amazing as we flew down the entire costal length of the country from Belize City to Punta Gorda. We were able to see the depths of the reef from the air, the shrimp farms on the coast, the flooding and storm damage from Dean and Felix, and mountains on the southern border.

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After we landed, we were calling for a taxi when a missionary friend showed up out of the blue in his pick-up truck to buy some airline tickets for next week. He didn’t even know we were there, but was able to taxi us and all of our luggage to the Novitiate where we were staying. He also then took us from the Novitiate to Hillside Clinic to visit with the volunteers and tour the clinic. Hillside is a ministry Denise’s sister Jackie began, and now there is a list of med student interns through summer of 2008.  The volunteer doctors travel out to all the villages on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis to provide healthcare—even to villages only accessible by boat.

It was at Hillside where we saw a Tarantula.

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When we walked into the cafeteria, we were thrilled to find that the nuns had cooked us an entire spaghetti dinner, complete with meatballs, salad and garlic bread. We also had lime-aid and some kind of tropical fruit drink.

After dinner was church with some of the missionary families in an open-air church that was 200 years old, which is sort of amazing if you think about it. We were too tired to think about it.

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After church should have been bed, but there was a cockroach in my bed and it kept hiding in the little cubby. We finally lured it out and killed it, but I had no choice but to put my pillow at the foot of the bed and turn the reading lamp on, shine it into the cubbies and leave it there all night so the roach’s family wouldn’t come out. I curled up at the foot of the bed and slept about half the night. I kept thinking another one was on me.

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