Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Wednesday 31Jan

Construction in San Mateo.

 San Mateo's first solid road.

 San Pedro police and fire station. We don't hear sirens.

 The old road (now torn out).

We ended the day with a special treat: a long visit with Kevin, the high school student whom St. Luke's is current sponsoring. Kevin is in third form (junior year), and looks forward to graduating in June of 2019. Kevin told us about his special interest in music. He is taking guitar lessons. He and his friends would like to form a band - they're just waiting to find a drummer. An unexpected bonus on Tuesday was getting to meet Kevin's mother. She works at a store right next door to Holy Cross, so we were able to meet with her to arrange Kevin's visit on Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tuesday 30Jan

On Tuesday, Bob and Wendy helped both Standard VI classes with their math lessons. The topic was was word problems involving percents: "On a test with 40 questions, Maude gets 34 answers correct. What percentage of the answers did she get correct?" The students actually did better answering this question than they did answering the "gift" question: "If Maude answered 100% of the questions on the test correctly, how many questions did she answer correctly?"

A highlight of the day was a visit from Valdimir, a student that St. Luke's had sponsored through high school. Valdimir graduated from San Pedro High School last June, and is now taking courses from the junior college on Ambergris Caye. Well done Valdimir!

Valdimir's new interest (at least new to us) is cooking. In a few years, a St. Luke's team might find ourselves enjoying a meal at Valdimir's restaurant.

Walking back to the hotel from Holy Cross can also be interesting. Here are some boys from the Catholic school swinging on the palm frond after school.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Monday 29Jan

After a full weekend, the team starts its work at Holy Cross on Monday morning. After the usual great breakfast, the team begins recording heights and weights for all of the students. It's a team effort, with Lera measuring the students' heights and reading off their weights from the scale and Jeannine recording the values. For the youngest kids, the most challenging part of the process is helping them take off their shoes and then put them back on. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Sunday's fun activity was a six-hour sail-and-snorkel trip on a 35-foot catamaran. We got up for an early breakfast at Estel's, and were ready to board the boat by 8:00. The first 90 minutes of the trip were spent sailing to the Mexico Rocks snorkeling site.

Here are Don and Jeannine sitting at the front of the boat enjoying the sun.

Here we are snorkeling at Mexico Rocks. You can always spot Bob with his orange in-the-water hat. You can also spot Audrey and Wendy snorkeling at Mexico Rocks. 

Here's Audrey back on the boat enjoying an adult beverage.

 We spent much of the day very close to the barrier reef, but always on the inside side.

Whenever we weren't snorkeling, we went back to sailing. The crew hoisted the sail briefly on the way home, but we used the engine for most of the trip.

We shared the sailboat with a couple from St. Louis who had just arrived from the U.S. Here's Lera talking with Michelle, with Mark visible in the background next to Nancy F.

Here's Jeannine talking with Lera. We didn't know it at the time, but they would spend the week working together as our team gathering heights and weights for the students at Holy Cross.

Here's Don looking for the shore. We could see that it was there behind him - but nobody shared the secret with him.

Back at the dock after a great day, here's Wendy with our crew Captain Claudio and First Mate Jerry. We have always had great crews when we've sailed with Catamaran Belize.

Safely back on shore, the snorkelers went next door to Belize Chocolate Company for some post-voyage refreshment.

Here's Nancy W.'s favorite, the chocochino.

 Ginger caramel in dark chocolate at The Belize Chocolate Company next day.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Saturday Sojourners

Four members of the team started early on Saturday for a packed day filled with adventures. First was a 90-minute water taxi ride back to the mainland, then a bus trip to the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha.

Lera is climbing to the top of the tallest structure at Altun Ha. Nancy F. is documenting Lera's climb - but afterwards she climbed to the top as well.

Sometimes Nancy F. was above Lera.

Here we see Lera, Audrey, and Nancy F. on a slightly shorter set of stairs.

Audrey and Lera atop the tallest structure - those are the tops of the rain forest trees in the background! In other words, they have climbed above the level of the rain forest canopy.

After the long water taxi ride, Nancy F. investigates an alternative transport for getting back to Ambergris Caye.

Next on the agenda was zip lining through the jungle (and over the river!). Here, Audrey is about to start down one of the lines.

The team of adventurers is waiting to move to the next line. They completed all six lines, from the "chicken" run to the last two lines over the river.

Lera says "Yee haw!" as she takes off over the river.

Here's Nancy F. riding the zip line with her copilot.

"Yee haw!"

The final attraction of the day was a stop at the Belize Zoo. They saw a tapir (the national animal of Belize!) ...

... a native plant ...

... a jaguar ...

... a puma ...

... some black howler monkeys ...

... and a toucan (the national bird of Belize).

While the adventurers were off adventuring, Jan, Bob, and Nancy W. remained behind to reconnect with two of our high school students.

Here's Jan with Isolene, the student she supported through high school. Isolene is planning to graduate from university next year.

And here's Bob with Arianie, the student whom he and Mary Jane are supporting. Arianie will be graduating from San Pedro High School in June. Like many high school seniors, she is working on her college applications.

Friday, January 26, 2018

2018 Friday around town

We went to Holy Cross Anglican School to say hello to the office folks, see the school, and visit Ashanti's newborn. Baby Melanie has been home only a week with her mom Ashanti and we were fortunately able to see them at grandma's food stand, just a few minutes' walk from Holy Cross in San Mateo. We delivered gifts from Ashanti's sponsors and even got to hold the baby (Bob is practicing for his own coming grandchild).

Walking back to the motel we see the advertisements for the two political parties (red and blue) running in the upcoming local elections.

Town patron St. Peter centers the roundabout in San Pedro.

By happy accident, Holy Cross Education Foundation board member John M. and St. Luker Audrey C., both of whom have expertise in solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems, met on Friday at the school. There, John presented the board with updates on existing solar PV systems and plans for future solar installations. Audrey and Wendy attended that presentation, and Audrey will spend next week doing some much-needed assessments of Holy Cross' energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

Below shows a snapshot of a data system tracking power usage and PV generation at Holy Cross. The original photovoltaic System 1 is monitored in real time with system statistics here. If you would like to further support sustainability at Holy Cross, you can donate towards the funding of a future 5kW array through the Global Giving Foundation.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

2018 Week 1 Thursday arrivals

From a first-timer's point of view:
The first wave arrived in Belize City. The five of us came early due to excellent rates on SWA.

What a colorful land!

We transferred to Tropic Air to get to Ambergris Caye. Bob, Audrey, Wendy C, Lera, and Nancy W (behind Lera). The view from the plane is amazing and we had an uneventful flight on Thursday (Jan's Friday flight was a bit more exciting.).

Coming in to the small airport at San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.

A short walk through the alley to Ruby's Hotel put us at a modest but excellent location and facility for our lodging. It's good to be humble.