Saturday, July 18, 2015

Celestún -The Rebecca Express

Today I got up at 7:30 AM.  Probably dragged myself out of bed at about 7:45 AM.  BUT, I managed to get out to the bus on time.  (I believe the bus came around 8:20ish).  We had to pick up the rest of our fellow students, but by about 9 AM we were off to Celestún.

As always, the bus ride was...exhilarating (okay, that's a little sarcastic).  Most people had their music in (including me).  Some slept.  Some talked.  I think I did all three.  Sleeping, talking, and listening to music.  And I had a really cool experience.

When we were about 20 or 30 minutes away from the Celestún, we passed through a little town (I didn't catch it's name).  Wide-eyed, I stared out the window to drink in the scenery, trying to better understand the life people lived there.

I saw big baskets/carts (big enough for more than two people to sit), the top covered with a tarp for shade, attached to the front of bikes (or mopeds).  I saw ads painted on the walls, trying to warn adolescents about the hardships of teen pregnancy.  I saw women in Mayan clothes (white dresses, the tops decorated with beautiful embroidery).  I saw a group of laughing, sweaty adolescent boys playing soccer in a concrete, fenced in field.  Close by to the field, I saw a group of adolescent girls sitting around (and on) a bench, in school uniform (burgundy and white) chatting.  I saw men sitting down on curbs and walking around.   I saw worn down houses with thatched roofs, some of which were in major need of repair.  I saw dogs and cats walking in the streets.  I saw an older woman walking with two little tykes, crossing the street.  The little girl holding the hand of her brother (how I wish I could have caught that scene on camera).  I saw people eating in small little restaurants - open to the outside air and bugs.  I saw containers of purified water stored in various places.  And a water tower that looked old and worn.  There were skinny streets - barely large enough for the van - and colorful buildings.  There were walls with government ads painted on them (PRI).  I saw a boy bike past us - obviously with a pain in his stomach (I said a little prayer for him).  I saw people smiling and enjoying their food, friends, and family.  I saw a little family on a bike - the boy pedaling - the mother looking out for traffic (as they tried to go around a semi).  I saw grey stone.  I saw five people on one moped (that was interesting).  I saw a poor community.  But a happy community - still full of hope and life.  I saw my beautiful Mexico.

I learned a lot from looking out the window today.

I learned that I am very blessed to live the life that I do.

And I pray that I'll be able to remember that moment in that van for the rest of my life.  To remember that, yes, my life may be hard sometimes, but it could be so much worse.  SO much worse.

I hope that someday I can return to Mexico.  Not as a study abroad student, but as a volunteer.  Or a missionary.  Someone who can help the people down here in the Yucatan.  But we shall see what life holds.


Moving on.  Shortly after this experience, we arrived in Celestún.  And it was a BLAST!!  Why?  Cause we got to do a boat tour!!!!!!  And it was the BEST DAY EVER.  See?
This is the first picture I got of the town (this picture basically captures what I thought all of Mexico looks like - before I came here, of course).
This is the little moped carts I was talking about earlier.

That's Becca, myself, and Ellora at the beginning of the boat ride.  (See how nice our hair looks sitll?)

And this is us near the middle of the boat ride (when we found the flamingos!!  See how crazy our hair is now?  The boat was so fast!)

This wasn't our boat (the group was split into three boats.  Six in each.  They were speed boats.  And they went so fast!)

This is where the river and gulf mixed.
This is the same place as pictured above but it's the "other side"  AKA this is the ocean.  The other picture was the river.

I rode on the same bus as the Profe and his kids, so we got to share their snacks! 

Us coming up to the bridge.

All these boats were parked in front of the bridge.  (By in front I mean, on the bank in front of the bridge.  So we slowed down at this part so we wouldn't create too many waves and hurt the boats).

It was super hard to get a good picture of the shore.  But I thought it was cool with all the trees and the roots going into the water.  It's own little habitat.

Flamingos!!!  (Side note:  flamingos are loud!  They sure love to gab!)

More flamingos!!
Even more!
And more!
My selife with the flamingos.

It was so shallow where the flamingos were (you could see the bottom very easily).  So the flamingos were just walking around.  Anyway, we ended up getting stuck in the mud, so we had to redistribute our weight to help the boat become unstuck.  So I moved up a row and sat in the middle bench part (there were two chairs on each row).  And profe sat up on the front part, which is when I snapped this fabulous photo.

Moving on.  (to more fun pictures).

There were these huge pterodactyl looking birds everywhere!  This is where we found a whole flock (basically, I felt like I was in a nature video this whole boat tour).
If you look closely you can see the little ripples.   This is where one of the underground rivers flows into the river (a spring).  It springs forth sweet water (literally).

After this bird and spring part, we did something crazy.  So I'd been thinking the whole time, man, I wish I could get an upclose look to the trees in the water and see what kind of animal life lives there.  And then, as we were heading back, we totally did!!  We did a turn into this cool little stream with trees and roots surrounding it (this little thorough way).  I was exclaiming, "oh my gosh!  This is so cool!" like a thousand times while this was happening.

Then, after we went through this little canopy thing, we docked at a nearby place and got to tour the sweet springs!!  And we got to swim in one!  (SO BEAUTIFUL.  See how clear the water is?).  Course, it was super deep, but luckily, the boats had life jackets, so after hesitating a little (I hate wear a life jacket, I feel so embarrassed about the fact that I can't swim.  But hey, it was either not go in at all, or go in with a vest), I went and grabbed a vest and came out.  Everyone was very supportive and helpful :)  I even was brave enough to not be holding on to anybody the whole time.

Oh!  But as I got in the water (they had a little ladder I could climb down), Profe was there to help (and Whitney).  So I got in then went under the rope Profe held up for me (which you can see in the picture below), then Profe grabbed the back of my life jacket and, as I floated on my back, pulled me to the center of the swimming area (and I said, haha, the Rebecca Express!!  Hence the title of this blog).  Here's some pics of those gorgeous springs -- there were three.

The one we swam in.

In the very back, next to the shore, is where the spring is.
The 'board walk'  A very creaky, old, holey walkway.  

Another picture of the spring we swam in.

After swimming there for about 20ish minutes, we got out, dried off, and headed back!

The coast line/end of our journey.
Then we had lunch!  (I was SO hungry.  And this food was good!  We all popped pepto beforehand because it always gets dicey with fish round there.  Luckily Profe had sufficient for those of us who forgot our pepto).

Chips and fish dip.  I tried two of the three kinds.  I wasn't in the mood to try octopus (it still had its little suckers on it *shudder*)
Vegetable soup!

Grilled chicken, rice, and veggis.

So there were a lot of at one point we decided to catch the flies in the pitcher (there were probably 20 in this one). was a struggle.  But the food was still good!

After lunch (srsly, I'm going to miss the food here so much!!) we were all tuckered out.  (Some slept).  But the kids wanted to go into the water, so they went down to the beach and then we all followed suit (we were already dressed in our bathing suits, so why not?).  It was fun.  We looked for shells and I practiced treading water.  (Side note:  So at this point I found out that I had left my sunscreen on the boat, which I was a little frustrated with because I had just bought it the day before.  So I asked Sandra, our tour guide, if she knew were I could find it and she pointed me in the direction.  The driver was kind enough to accompany me to the boat drivers to ask for it.  And he helped me search the boats.  We actually hadn't found it, and were on our way back to the pavilion thing when one of the guys - who'd also looked in the boats - said, "amigos!  I found it"  (in spanish, but I can't remember the wording he used, lol.  I was very happy to get my sunblock back).

After about 40 minuts in the water, we finally headed home.  We all slept on the ride home.  Including me.  It was a nice little nap.

Then, we got home about 5ish?  Christina took a nap and I wrote on my novel.  Then about 8 PM we had dinner, then headed over to one of the houses for a movie night.  (I didn't want to go at first, but I'm glad that I did!).  We watched "10 Reasons I hate you" - not one of my favorites, but that's okay.  The importnat thing is is that I got to eat a peanut butter cup blizard from DQ (because Scott was kind enough to bring me one).

After that, we came home (got home about 12?) then Christina and I watched Once Upon a Time.  (Stayed up super late.  Which is why I didn't write this blog post until today).  Then we went to bed.
And yep!  That was our day!  Here are some videos I took of the flamingos and of the stream with the trees part:

'Til Tomorrow.

R J Carr

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My First (And Probably Last) Press Conference

Today I actually got up on time!  (Relatively speaking.  Okay, so I got up late.  But the point is, I got up and made it to school.  I even took time to make myself look pretty-er for the press conference we had after school).  

Class was somewhat interesting today  We talked about Mayan writing in my first class.  Then, in our second class, we studied for our exam that we have on Tuesday.  (Yay?  I'll admit, my brain is not completely on school mode.  Hopefully I do well enough on this exam).  Luckily, in class today, we got five minute brakes half-way through - thanks to Profe speaking out on our behalf.  I bought these yummy treats (and a coke) at some point: 

Then, after class, we had to wait around a couple hours for the interview with the press (the other classes didn't end till 1:30, so we didn't have the interview until then).  So of course, I bought food (so did my classmates) and worked on my novel.  For my snack I bought hot cakes and chiliques (pictured below) from the cafeteria.

This is chilques (nachos with chicken, sauce, and melted cheese).
Finally, at 1:30 PM we all gathered together in the conference room (just to leave seconds later to get a group picture, then we returned).  It was interesting, the press conference.  It was complete with a journalist and a photographer (the camera even had one of those classic flashes.  I felt like I was in a movie.  #famous).  And, I even said something that may show up in the paper!  (He wrote my name down and everything.  It was funny to watch his reaction to our American names.  Well, my name didn't get a reaction, but a couple of the girls did.  So funny).  I guess we'll see if I show up in the papers.

After the conference, we headed home (everyone but Conner, Christina, and I caught the bus home.  That stunk.  We had to wait another 20 minutes for it to arrive.  I was a little mad at the time.  Which is a first for me on this trip).  Random note - on the bus ride home, our driver pulled over to get a coke from a vendor (they do that sometimes) and it was shortly after that, when we were at a stop, that I saw a little boy at one of the windows of a house.  I waved to him, and he totally waved back.  He had such  a cute little smile.  Totally made my day.  

When we got home, we had lunch!  This fish (it tasted okay.  Not my favorite, but still good):  

Shortly after lunch, we were supposed to leave to do a session at four (we got home at 3), but we decided to do one on Saturday instead because we were moving too slow, it was hot, and we were tired.  So, we ended up not leaving until around 8 PM (we wanted to catch a show).  So during that 4 hour waiting period, I ended up taking a nap and working on my novel (for which I am very excited!)  Anyway, at 8ish, we finally left.  (Talking about my book and other personal experiences).  #friends

We arrive at the centro about 9ish PM.  And, as we were walking from the bus towards the centro, we serendipitously ran into our group of friends eating at a sidewalk restaurant (they were the group that went to the temple at 4.  Who we were supposed to meet with).  So, we joined with their ranks and decided to get ice cream (because no one could remember where the concert was.  #epicfail).  Which ended up being okay because it poured down rain about 30 minutes later.  Here's some pictures!

Christina and I eating our homemade ice cream.  Yes, that is a kiwi slice in the middle of a strawberry popsicle.  And yes, that kiwi is real.
Another selfie.

Raquel and I (some of the girls got DQ, others got ice cream from Colon..  I don't remember the name of the place where we got our ice cream).

The shelter we ran to after it started pouring down rain (this is a picture looking out from the shelter).

Our group of girls!
After that (I had to wash off my hands from the sticky syrup) there was a break in the rain so we ran for the bus stop.  Well, first to the cathedral, then to the bus stop.  And we (Christina and I - the other girls had different buses) stayed under the alcove of a building while we waited (on our way to the bus stop, we couldn't help but sing, "I'm singing in the rain!" as we accidentally splashed in puddles/got splashed on my cars/got rained on).  Finally the bus came (we had to double check with the bus driver that it was the right bus, as it didn't look like our normal bus).  So we returned home (after stopping at the bank) and (after removing our soaked shoes) watched a couple episodes of Once.  (It's getting super intense).

And tomorrow, we are going to Celestun!  I so excited!  Flamingos!

'Til Tomorrow.

R J Carr

PS We totally had this bee in our class today.  Or type of bee wasp thing.  Luckily no one got bitten.  Cause that would have stunk.