Rotary Online Makeup Program

Meeting Date: 16 November 2012

Prepared By: Dick Strayer

 

Belize Rotary Trip in 2004

This was a 2004 Rotary trip BUT like most Rotary trips, at least 50% is fun time! This one was probably 80% fun. Belize is part of the Caribbean and formerly British Honduras, a British colony.

My travel partner was Rotarian Pete Leveroni from Bakersfield. Upon arrival, rather than the normal staying 100% with local Rotarians, we rented a car and toured the entire country. Of course we did 4 or 5 projects in Belize.

Our first stop was Belize City and the local hospital. There was a decent looking facility and atmosphere but woefully short of medical equipment. We initiated a Rotary matching grant for medical equipment and an ambulance. The project was completed about 18 months later. Now some fun.

 

 

Our next stop was the caves in the states of Belize and Corozal. There are underground tours, spelunking, that are conducted for hours or several days. We were at the exit of one cave when a group emerged after 2 days. They looked terrible. Exhausted, totally mud , they almost ran over us on their dash to the bar to get a beer. We decided on a milder cave tour of about 1-2 hours. That is me coming through the entrance. You can see Pete to the left in the middle picture with the exit in sight. Finally, the exit and daylight.

To get to the caves and into the rain forest, the roads were not exactly modern. That is Pete with the car. We surrounded with by the rainforest—that is me hiding behind the brush, looking for monkeys.
 

 

 

Enough monkey business, on to Belmopan, the capital of Belize. It was moved inland from Belize City to avoid the hurricanes in the Caribbean. We met with the president of the local Rotary club.

Local school Dick with Rotary Club President

He showed us the state of the local school and the only outhouse they had for all the students and faculty, all the males as well as the females. There were no facilities to wash hands so there was a health issue related to the latrines.

Pete and his Rotary Club of Bakersfield Breakfast took the lead on this project building a block of four toilets in a permanent structure. One toilet was strictly for faculty. Sinks with clean water were provided and hand drying blowers. It was completed about 18 months later. Unfortunately, I have misplaced the picture but it is a beautiful new structure.
  Old toilets, doors would not stay closed

 

 

Enough business, back to fun. We head for the Guatemala border in the county of Orange Walk. There we found some remote Mayan ruins that were quite fantastic. Below is Pete in the car on a raft we had to use to cross the river. The ruins were not open, however, the three men on the left side of the picture worked at the ruins. They would let us in IF we gave them a ride up the hill to the ruins. It was quite a hill and a good deal for both of us.
Moving bridge to Mayan Ruins – men going to work on Ruins  

 

This is me in the middle of the ruins standing on an old Mayan sport field—really gigantic. The next picture is taken from the top of the structure looking down on smaller structures. Notice in the upper right you can see the very dense forest/jungle.
The next picture shows the dense forest and the height in the fog.
The Jungle is also very thick looking to the South down the mountain and off in the distance beyond the forest, a village is barely visible—seemed like ants from that position.
The others show some of the many more structures to the North.
Pete and I were the only people at the ruins. This made exploring much fun yet a bit eerie.

  Dick in the middle of the ruins

 

View from the top looking straight down View of heavy dense jungle to the North
View from top, dense jungle and village at bottom of hill Many other structures back in the jungle
Dick with travel companion, Pete Leveroni from Bakersfield, California

 

Back to work with the Rotary club of San Ignacio, Cayo in the state of Cayo.
While Pete was playing around taking pictures, I was busy at work at Eva's drinking beer and thereby supporting the local economy.
We did meet with the President and the Director of International service of the Rotary Club of San Ignacio. They really did not seem too interested in doing projects. So back to fun for us.

 

 

Off to Dangriga in the state of Stann Creek, Southern part of the country.
It was a bit of a drive but saw some beautiful country. This was a national park and access was restricted.

There was a mountain range to cross. The mountains had many waterfalls, jungle and quite desolate. There were beautiful views with exotic plants.
A couple of luxury resort hotels but no customers. There were great restaurants without walls at the resorts and fantastic food. We were very close to staying overnight. But after a great meal and a couple of beers, we pushed on.

A secluded 5-star hotel with luxurious facilities Dick at one of the many waterfalls

 

We arrive late afternoon in Dangriga, capital of the State of Stann Beach. This is a city of 10,000 and the second largest in Belize behind Belize City. Dangriga is the cultural center of the country. We went to the main hotel on the beach, the Pelican Beach Hotel. We were the only guests at the hotel and the only patrons of the hotel. Very nice having our own private hotel on the beaches of the Caribbean. Two employees had a little spat as they both wanted to wait on us for the tip.

Pelican Beach, Dangriga, Belize Strange looking plants and I am not talking about me!


Notice the hammock under that thatched shelter? 
As you can see below, that's where I decided to go to contemplate the problems of the world! 
In my reclining position below, our hotel is in the background directly above my feet. Both of us had our own suite opening onto the beach. The price was very inexpensive!
Difficult life we have.

   

Not finding any Rotarians in town, the next morning we headed back to Belize City. Belize is by far the largest city with some 70,000 people. It has the longest barrier reef in the western Hemisphere. It is also subject to natural disasters being hit directly by three difference hurricanes, flooding in the rainy season and many fires. That is why the Capital was moved inland to Belmopan. It has a dock and is a prime area for tourism.

Back to Belize City where we rented a 4 wheel beach buggy and drove the full length of the beach, about 6 miles. Of course the beach has open bars the entire length like the one below.
Time for Fun and Business. Pete had the fun and went on a scuba diving tour of the barrier reef. I was the business and met with the District governor of District 4250 consisting of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The District Governor actually lives in Guatemala and was in town for a meeting. My District asked that I meet with him and set up Group Study Exchange teams for two years later. That we did.

We had a great trip. Most of the scenic spots were visited and we accomplished a great deal for Rotary—three projects and a Group Study Exchange team set up. The next morning, we headed back to California.

 

 
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