The final phase of our trip started with a two day stay in the Cayo District, this is the agricultural heartland of Belize.

We spent half a day sorting kit from our DofE hike and the following day headed along the river to the Xuantinich Mayan ruins. Only a fraction of the buildings have been uncovered and are truly magnificent both in size and setting. From the top of the main structure the Guatamalan border is clearly visible. We spent a few hours wandering/climbing amongst the ruins and talking about the importance of Mayan beliefs and culture.

climbing the Mayan ruins

climbing the Mayan ruins

On the return walk to our accommodation we had our individual debriefs on our DofE experience and its impact upon us. We were elated to find out that we had all passed with flying colours!

At the time of writing, we are based at the Kings Children’s Home in Cotton Tree for a week’s volunteering. This entails interacting with the children who live here from babies to eighteen year olds. We are setting up activity days for the 5-12 year olds doing a mixture of crafts, indoor games, outdoor games, board games, songs and stories. The children here are delighted to have volunteers who are able to spend time with them, even just to talk to or to be listened to. It’s a real privilege to have this chance to give our time. When this phase draws to a close we will head to the coastal village of Placencia to ‘review and reflect’ on our experiences from the moment a Belize expedition was suggested over a year ago until now and all that has gone on in between. The reprocessing and ‘making sense of’ the experience is as important as the experience itself and this is what we will explore in our final days here.

Mayan ruins at Xuantinich

Mayan ruins at Xuantinich

Placencia is a coastal village very much under threat of over development and key to a new ‘cruise destination’ hub which is threatening the manatee breeding grounds off shore. It will be interesting not only to see a part of coastal Belize but also to see more conservation issues that are at the forefront of debate right now.

Endangered manatee

Endangered manatee

Our Belize expedition has been a mixture of landscapes, cultures, and conservation and has managed to encompass the diversity within this tiny country. With only 300,000 people the diversity of landscapes, cultures and language is truly remarkable. The friendliness of Belizeans and the welcome we have received wherever we have gone has been amazing. We were invited to a very enjoyable afternoon tea at the British High Commissioners Residence where we were able to, not only, share our experiences but also to glean an insight into the work of the Foreign Office in Belize and the issues it faces.

We have really appreciated being able to share part of our experiences on the RSGS blog.

We have been asked to present our experiences at the UK/Belize meeting on Oct 1st in Edinburgh. This presentation will also be used as a thank you to sponsors, funders, friends and family who supported us in the fundraising year before our trip.