Belize Adventures (Part 1) with Lauren

Our flight landed in San Ignacio Airport in Central Belize. The airport was quaint, located in an area with barren surroundings. I had just arrived in Central America for my first time and was accompanied by 15 other American students from Santa Monica College. We grabbed our hefty roller bags and Jansport backpacks off the rusty baggage turnstile and waited for a big white van to come pick us up and take us to our first destination. I was somewhat relieved to hear the humming chatter of English from the locals working at the airport-English surprisingly being the national language of the country. 
The bus had come to pick us up; locals had grouped up around us volunteering to load our baggage in the van. I was completely blinded to the fact that these people were actually not actually employees of the airport-but rather locals selflessly offering a helping hand in exchange for a generous tip. Our professor, who was overseeing our trip, told them to scram in a harsh tone, and later explained that we would experience this sort of thing, well often.
I situated myself on the van, which was really a retired yellow school bus. Open windows allowed for the warm, humid breeze to pass through. Cameras out and ready to snap pictures of the passing images from the other side of the window pane. We are en route to Cahal Peche Village resort-where we would be spending the nights in palms roofed cabanas, swinging in hammocks on our outdoor private porches, and listening to the tropical thunder hit the valley floor of San Ignacio.
Gazing out of the bus window, I noticed colorful, rickety homes perched on stilts-later it was told to us that this was to prevent flooding during rainy seasons.

Store fronts with painted Coca-Cola signs and advertisements for the local beer, Belikin (delicious, crisp and served in a cute green bottle) were sparsely located off the main road- people, hanging out on their porches; it was a lovely sight to see. The bus was indeed a vessel that carried us from point A to point B, but to me it served as transportation from my chaotic, materialistic world to a place with simple living, and deep rooted cultural values that never ceased to fascinate me the entire trip.

After being greeted by the gracious resort staff, we nestled into our cabanas, and headed up the hill to for an orientation and lunch of beans, rice and plantains. We were handed out itineraries, as well as syllabi for the classes we would be simultaneously studying for while touring around, and lastly, a printed text of the “Popul Vuh”, the ancient doctrine of the Mayan religion, its context containing stories about the origins of Life. After our group talk up in the outdoor dining tables, we were set loose –we raced to our cabanas to change into swim suits, ordered our first blended iced mango margaritas and hit the pool area.
One of our first planned for the next day was the outdoor expedition of the ATM, Aunichil Muknal cave. We would head out from the resort to the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve early the next morning.
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