Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Last Day of School

I have a fair amount to share seeing as I didn't get to post on Thursday, so you'll have to bear with me as I recount the final days of my teaching at San Pedro High School. To begin, Thursday was a relatively boring day for me. Miss Usher had the students take a test on pronouns where they had to copy a paragraph that was written on one side of a piece of paper and write it on the other side. I could tell this annoyed some students, because it probably would have made more sense for the students to just fill in the answers on the front side of the paper, but after speaking with Miss Usher, it is important for students to copy correct writing so they can get accustomed to it. While I counted on this taking maybe 15-20 minutes, most students took the entire class period to answer this test, which seems a bit ridiculous to me. I expected good grades on it, seeing as students took so much time concentrating on it, but I was sadly disappointed when I graded the tests and a majority of the students only got five out of the ten questions correct, and many got fewer than that. Heck, a handful of students filled in all of the blank spaces with nouns and verbs. This was frustrating, to realize that I spent two class periods with students and they didn't even walk away with the concept of what a pronoun is.

One of the things that surprised me on this day was when I entered a classroom and two students were sitting in plastic patio chairs.  I should probably point out that, since all students stay in their rooms all day, they all have "their own desks," meaning, when I asked a student to move to a different part of the room, they would take their desk with them. When Miss Usher asked the students about what happened to their desks, they simply didn't know. I figured that maybe a teacher needed extra chairs, but when the students went searching for their desks in the other classrooms, none could be found. This was a strange occurrence, and one that I couldn't imagine happening in American high schools.

During the tests on Thursday, I saw Miss Usher whisper to students and they would give her money. I wondered what was going on, but I assumed that it had something to do with the trip they are taking to Las Vegas. When I got to school on Friday I was surprised to find out that Miss Usher was collecting money from her students so each class could buy me a gift to remember them by. When the first class came out, Miss Usher told them to take a seat on the bleachers so that I could get a class picture of them. After that, one of the students made a quick speech. Each student was so well spoken and they speeches were extremely nice. Most students spoke about how nice it was to have me in class and how much they would miss me; I was very impressed by the speeches and was really touching to think that maybe I was able to have such an influence in the classroom, having only been teaching for three weeks. 

Next, someone from the class presented me with a gift from the class. I got so many cool things: a mug that has a map of Belize, a key chain with some Belizean sand, a black coral necklace, a hat that says San Pedro Belize, and a ceramic plaque with a picture of my 1A students that has all of their signatures. I couldn't believe I was getting so many gifts. The rest of the time the students asked me questions and we talked about my future plans. I told them that I hoped to come back one day, that I'll be teaching at a middle school when I return home, and that I will make sure they each get an email from a student back home. Miss Usher made it a point to tell me that all of the students asked if they could have a party for me the last day and that she was merely the one who collected the money. I don't know if I believe this, but it was an extremely sweet sentiment and it really made me feel good about the time I spent with the students here in Belize.

After I met with all of my classes, I thought the day was over. After school we knew that the school had planned an assembly. We were all gathered in the staff room when we heard our names announced and we were called to the auditorium. When we got to the auditorium, all of the students were seated on the outside bleachers of the basketball court overlooking five empty chairs. Guess who the chairs were for. As we took our seats in the center of the court, we saw the school rock group, Rocking Peace, take the stage. The band played four songs for us, including Katy Perry, Guns 'n Roses' "Sweet Child of Mine" and two songs by Central American rock sensation, Mana. This was a really cool way to send us off. While it was only a school rock band, the students were really talented and it made us feel like we had VIP tickets to an actual Guns 'n Roses concert. After all of this excitement, Miss Martha, the co-founder and chairlady of the school thanked us for all of our hard work, which was also quite nice.

After the assembly, we went into the conference room to have a quiet party with the staff. They made rum punch, queso dip, pimento cheese sandwiches, and a fruit cake they referred to as "better than sex cake." This was quite delicious and it was fun to mingle with the staff members. We will be having a party on Sunday at Mr. Gustavo's house to send us on our way.

All in all, this was a great day. I think that many of us got caught up in the work we had to do to prepare everyday for class and all of the excitement of being in a new country that we never got a chance to sit back and think about the relationships we were building with the teachers and students at San Pedro. It was obvious that the students cared about what we were doing and they realized the sacrifices we went through to be there with them for three weeks. At the end of the day, I felt appreciated, as if my time here in Belize hasn't been wasted and that I will always have some fond memories to look back on as I move forward in my teaching career. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Acting Out

Today was another long day here on La Isla Bonita. I don't mean this in a bad way, it was just full of excitment. Today, I had my lesson prepared for Miss Usher's classes, but when I got to school, she explained that she wanted me to do it a particular way. As I mentioned in my previous blog, Miss Usher told me she wanted me to present a lesson on plays and drama. I had to describe "dialogue" and "stage direction" to the students. I planned on doing this with notes and then using everyday examples. Miss Usher wanted me to go a little further and do some drawing. I'm probably one of the worst drawers, but it is very hard to tell Miss Usher "no."

I began class by explaining the purpose of dialogue and play direction and then started drawing a stick figure of Brad Pitt and had students imagine that he was the star of the play we were creating. From there, I drew a picture of Angelina Jolie, who approached Brad and told him that she was breaking up with him because she found a new man, Mr. Will. The students really enjoyed this scenario. I then explained that the plot thickened, as I decided to break up with Angelina for another woman. When I asked the students who I started dating after Angelina, without any fail, all of the classes shouted "Miss Usher." I don't know what kind of twisted students pair up a twenty-three year old guy with a fifty-nine year old lady, but all of them got a kick out of imagining us in love. Anyway, the moral of the story is "what goes around comes around" and that Angelina was the one who suffered in the end after she broke it off with Brad. Both the students and myself had a good time with this.

After the drawing activity, it was time to demonstrate some acting. I have never claimed to be any type of thesbian, but I had to model some of the concepts of playwriting explained in the textbook, so Miss Usher and I then acted out a scene from "A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt, which tells the story of Thomas More, who was jailed and eventually killed after rebelling against King Henry VIII for taking the head of the church away from the Pope. Anyway, there was a dramatic scene where Miss Usher, who played my wife, Alice, had to grasp my hand in the air and we had to say goodbye. It was very dramatic. There wasn't a dry seat in the house.

Anyway, after performing the play and having a quick discussion, I realized during my first class that there were still ten minutes left in class and there was nothing prepared. I suppose Miss Usher knew this going into class because she took over and began reviewing the topic from yesterday. In each class she discussed heroes and why we need to have heroes, but not one of her lectures was the same from class to class. One of the classes got a lecture on why Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks are so important, one class got a lecture on the holocaust, another was told that they need to stop North Korea from sending nuclear bombs into space, and another class learned about the plot of the movie "Australia" with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman that made her cry. Somehow, everything she said had something to do with heroes and standing up for what you believe in, but it all seems like a blur to me now.

Like many days, probably the highlight of today was lunch, when we had rice and beans, coleslaw, and reef eel, otherwise known as barracuda. I had never tried fried barracuda before, but it was pretty good. It was a perfectly round fillet with the vertebral column in the center of the meat. It tasted like any other oily fish, but it was pretty interesting because the skin was really crunchy. Miss Usher brought me a cookbook today, so I'll have to prepare some reef eel when I get home.

After a long day of teaching, we had to stay after school because we were giving the staff of San Pedro High School some staff development. Dr. K asked my fellow high school teachers and me to do some break out sessions, teaching teachers about some techniques and tools that we use back home. My topic that he chose for me was concept mapping. I like concept maps and think they're useful, but an entire 15 minutes on circle maps, bubble maps, double bubble maps, tree maps, and flow maps isn't terribly exciting. I can be a pretty charismatic person at times, but I struggled at making concept mapping enthralling. While some teachers were really into it, I could tell that I was losing others and they would prefer sitting at home or taking a nap. All-in-all it was a pretty typical example of professional development.

After our professional development, it was time to go home and relax, right? Wrong. We decided to work on a service project where we would paint the high school basketball court. Today ended up being a really good day for painting the court because it wasn't too hot and the mosquitos weren't out in full force at the school. The court is beginning to look really nice. I hope the students appreciate it. If nothing else, it is something for them to remember us by.

Surely after all of this action it was time to go home and work on lesson plans, correct? No no no. Tonight was Amanda's birthday, so we all went out to dinner in town. We went to a pretty nice place called Lily's Treasure Chest, which is located on the beach. I'm rather confident that we all smelled bad from a long day of teaching, sweating, professional developing, and painting, but none of us seemed to mind. Amanda seemed to enjoy it, and it was nice to celebrate her birthday. It truly seems like we are a small little family at this point. I figured that by the final week of this trip, we would all hate each other or grow really close; luckily for us, it is more the latter.   

I'm now sitting in my room putting the finishing touches on tomorrow's lesson will be a test on pronouns and we will continue our lesson on heroes. I'm surprisingly not feeling terribly tired from all of today's excitement. I think I'm getting used to this Belizean lifestyle of working hard all day long. It has helped me to appreciate the hours teachers in the United States work. While I still think teachers don't get compensated for the amount of work we do (and the torment some students put us through), at least we are given an environment that is conducive to working (that is, unless your health ratings range somewhere near a 70). While I probably went to school at 7:30 am and worked on lesson plans until 10 pm during my internship, I have seen some teachers who work both at the high school and junior college who get to school at 7:45 am and don't leave the school until closer to 8 pm. This is crazy to me, but I fully realize that there are teachers in the United States who lead the same ridiculous schedule, namely coaches. Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that both my internship at Laney and my teaching here in Belize have given me a pretty good taste of what teaching has been like. While the schedule can be very demanding and students never seem to realize how hard you work outside of school and how much you care about them and their academic success, there is not another job that I can think of that could make feel me so happy and fulfilled day in and day out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rainy Days and Tuesdays

Last night I had one of the best night sleeps I've had in about a week. Typically I wake up three or four times in the middle of the night from either a heat stroke or a mutant mosquito sucking on my back. Last night I had no problems. This morning I woke up and felt something I hadn't felt in a very long time- cold. It seems as though it rained last night and into the morning and this cooled down the island. I couldn't believe waking up and was wonderful.

I realized that there are some down sides to rainy weather here. First of all, the dirt roads instantly turn to mud roads, which makes it virtually impossible to ride your bike to school without splatter mud all over your paints, primarily your backside. Also, all of the puddles are a breeding ground for the nasty mosquitos. This wouldn't be such an issue if I didn't have to go into a garden every time I need internet here at Ak'bol. I'm still debating whether checking my e-mails are worth all of the mosquito welts that are surfacing all over my body. So far, I haven't been able to function without my e-mail, so my body continues to get eaten alive. 

Having said all this, I can't complain. It was a nice cool day and I had another good day of teaching. One thing I realized today is that no matter how cool it is outside, it is virtually impossible for me to leave the school without being drenched in sweat and covered in chalk dust. I don't know what it is about teaching at San Pedro High School, but I just feel like coming back to my hut and throwing away the clothes I've worn that day because they are usually covered in filth. I can't imagine what it is like in Belize during August. That must be horrible.

Anyway, today's lesson was on heroes/heroines. In true Miss Usher style, she told me I would be teaching this lesson twenty minutes before our first class. We discussed what heroes are (most of them believed that they were super heroes) and then she asked me to discuss Nelson Mandela, since the textbook had a picture  of him in it. When I looked for some facts of him in the book, they didn't have any. I pride myself on being a pretty worldly guy, but I honestly don't know that much about Nelson Mandela. I know that he is an equal-rights activist in Africa and that he spent a long time in jail for his beliefs that went against that of the African government, but I am very unclear on the specifics. I was stuck teaching a lesson I knew little about, so for much of the first part of class, I had to pretend like I knew a lot more than I did and dance around any questions students had. This was probably the most uncomfortable teaching moment I have thus far.

After this discussion, students had to work on listening comprehension, so I had to read a story aloud about a boy who saved his little brother from a burning Hyundai pick-up truck. Students then had to recall setting, characters, plot, and theme of the story. After that, students shared stories about heroes that they have seen. In one class, I had a student share a story about one of his peers, Charles, who apparently saved a really large woman from drowning the other day. the students were really happy for Charles and we all gave him a round of applause, which was nice.

The rest of the day was really fun as well. Today I got all of my students' e-mail addresses so that they can exchange e-mails with students at Laney High School. When I explained my plans to get their e-mail addresses so that they could talk with students back in the United States, a lot of them became very excited. I think that some of them are looking for romantic connections, but I had to explain to them that this wasn't (a reference they didn't understand) and that the distance might make any chance at a relationship rather difficult. Either way, they were excited to communicate with the students from America. It should be interesting to see what they write.

Before I left today, I made sure that Miss Usher told me what we would be teaching tomorrow to prevent another "Nelson Mandela incident." I'm teaching drama and play-writing to my first form students, which is an interesting change of pace from today. I'll be sure to write tomorrow to let you know how it goes. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to School Blues

I have to admit, it was awfully difficult to back to school today. I had become accustomed to waking up at 8 am, taking my time eating my chocolate banana pancakes, relaxing on the beach, and then working on my class work. Needless to say, waking up at 6 am, in order to teach a full day of school was no day at the beach. However, I survived and had a good day. It didn't take long for me to get back in the groove of things and realize why I was on this trip.

First thing I should mention is that Ak'bol is inconveniently located two miles away from the high school, so we had to get bikes (and no Mother, they didn't come with helmets...sorry). I haven't ridden a bike since my sophomore year of high school, so this has proven to be quite a surprise to me. However, it is nice to be able to go around town with such ease. It makes our treks much more fun, as well. So, it now takes us about 15 minutes to get to school by bike, which is tolerable compared to the 45 minutes it takes by foot.

Anyway, I felt quite unprepared for today's lesson, seeing as Miss Usher didn't want to ask the teachers in the English department what they needed help with and she didn't give me any plans herself. With that being said, I was pretty sure I would working with Miss Usher for the rest of this week. Since she didn't give me any plans, I just assumed I would be observing a lesson she had worked on for today. Boy, was I surprised when she told me that I would be teaching the first form students subject-verb agreement today. On top of that, a minute before we went into class, she told me to do the ant rap again. I was not too excited about doing the same lesson again, but she's the boss.

I began the class with a review of the ant rap and then I had students rap it back to me, because Miss Usher explained that they would have an exam where they had to memorize the rap. Next, I reviewed subject-verb agreement and then we played a game where I would yell out a verb and either singular or plural and two students would write a sentence on the board using that criteria. The first team to finish their sentence got a point. This continued for the rest of the period.

Probably the highlight of my day, like many days, has been the food in the cantina. Today, I was helping to serve meat pies, when I was told by John to look at what was in the pot on the stove. When I looked in the pot, there was a decapitated armadillo floating in some boiling water. Mr. Gustavo went hunting over the break and was going to make us some armadillo tacos. Thus far, I have not been one to turn down new foods, and I wasn't about to deny this treat a try. When I finally got a chance to make my taco, I had some armadillo, tomatoes, and onions with chili peppers. At the risk of sounding cheesy or cliche, it just tasted a chicken taco. I enjoyed it, mostly because it tasted like any other taco I had eaten. When I open a restaurant, I think I'm going to have quesadillas stuffed with armadillo and call them quesadillos...sorry that was stupid.

Anyway, I did have a low part in my day. The class of 1G had forgotten or refused to do their homework over the break and as a result Miss Usher made them stay after school and do the homework three times. Now, this wasn't some short assignment. Students had to copy three long paragraphs from their workbooks on to paper and then fill in the correct verbs. Once they did this, they had to do it two more times. Of course, Miss Usher asked me if I would stay and watch the kids. After an hour of watching students copy and write in silence, I began to wonder if this was more of a punishment for them or for me. As soon as students finished, I had to collect their work and make sure they didn't skip any sentences. There were at least five students who tried to leave early by skipping sentences and I got really angry that they would do this. I tried to reason with them and explain that I wanted to be there as much as they did, but there was no reason to cheat and try to sneak it past me. This was a bad way to end the first day back, but I'm excited at the prospect of tomorrow being better. 

Overall, I'm glad to be back at school. It makes being in Belize seem more important and I feel like I have a purpose. I'm starting to get the itch to get back home and see everyone, but so long as I'm here I'd like to feel like I'm doing something productive. Being at school and working with the students makes me feel good about my time here; it gives me a reason to wake up at the crack of dawn just so I can ride my bike.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Since nothing is really happening today, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a little bit more about the Belizean culture, specifically something that is unique in my opinion. As I have explained, the school is tightly knit to religion, specifically Catholicism. As a result, students have to take a scripture class at school, there are crucifixes scattered throughout the school, and before school starts, the teachers often take part in a staff prayer. While they are also very religious, students also have a course called life skills, that is more like our health and wellness class that teaches students how to make good life decisions. 

What we learned early on is that Belize has the highest rate of HIV and AIDS. Throughout the town you see billboards and signs that promote the use of condoms and safe sex. I found this extremely interesting, especially given the inherent religious nature of Belizean culture. Having taught in the south, there is a clear debate between those who believe in teaching abstinence and those who believe that we need to teach our students how to practice safe sex. While I'm not going to share my personal views on this topic, I think it is fascinating that Belizean culture is able to put their religious and personal views aside to preach for a cause that best serves everyone, especially young adults. It seems as though Belize has realized that HIV and AIDS has become an epidemic that has gotten out of control and, as a result, they moved away from the push for abstinence to a campaign that tells people that, if they are going to have sex, be safe and use protection. 

In America, we have this great debate and it seems like one that constantly conflicts with our personal morals. Whereas the United States cannot seem to settle on what is best for our culture, Belize has whole-heartedly adopted a plan to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by choosing a campaign that best suits them. They realized that people were going to have sex no matter what, and decided to teach them how to practice is safely. I don't know how successful this campaign has been, but I can't go a block without seeing a billboard that promotes safe sex. It is crazy to me, because I think topics such as this are rather taboo in our culture and we have a hard time discussing this, for fear of angering someone. This is not a topic I necessarily feel strong about, but one that is seemingly unavoidable here in Belize.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Quiet, Mosquito Infested Week on the North Side

I'd like to begin this blog by apologizing for my lack of writing this past week. I wanted to blog, I swear I did, but the days have been so quiet and uneventful here on the north side of San Pedro that I had little excitement to share. This is our second week of Easter break and I have been using it mostly to keep up on my school work to prepare for graduation. I've been working on a teaching notebook, my inquiry project, and my portfolio defense and it has been a rather boring week. However, I have had some opportunities to leave Ak'bol yoga resort and explore some of the sights and sounds of Belize.

For example, on Tuesday I decided that my chi needed some aligning, so I decided to give yoga a try. Dr. K explained to me that people who do yoga get real muscular because yoga provides a workout that you don't get by simply lifting weights. I had felt like a bum this entire trip because my goal to join a gym fell through and I haven't been running like I had hoped, so yoga was a perfect chance for me to get back in the swing of things. It was this morning that I realized yoga wasn't for me. My body simply doesn't stretch and move the ways the yoga instructor, Kirsten, was trying to make it. She would constantly remind everyone that "there is no competition or judgement" when doing yoga, I think because I looked like an idiot trying to replicate the moves and positions and she didn't want me to feel bad, but then she would come over to me and stretch my feet and legs for me and begin much for no judgement. Anyway, after our hour and a half session, I was ready for a nap because it tired me out. The next day my core was burning. I think this was a sign that I need to hit the gym when I get back because I am obviously out of shape.

On Wednesday we decided to go snorkeling. All of the science folk were quite excited for this because they got to look at all of the beautiful marine biology- I just wanted to get out and do something. This proved to be a bad choice. It started pretty well. We saw some cool coral and fish on the reef. We even saw a barracuda. Midway through the tour, I started to swallow a lot of salt water and began to feel queasy, but I kept following the group because I'm a trooper. I was so excited to hear our tour guide, Steven, tell me it was time to go back; I had survived a day of snorkeling without chumming. As soon as we got to the boat, Margo and I simultaneously started to feel like we were going to throw up. Unfortunately, I was the only one who followed through with this feeling and ended up feeding the fishes the ham and cheese fry jack I had for breakfast. I felt absolutely terrible. To top it off, Steven decided to take his sweet time talking with the the other tourists while my face was a ghostly white color. Finally, Margo had enough and told Steven to step on it. By the time we got back to the dock, I ran to land and rested in the shaded cabana by the sea, in case I needed to ralph some more. Luckily, the feeling had passed and Dr. K's wife brought out a soda for me to settle my stomach, which helped a lot. We made plans to take another snorkeling adventure next weekend and I think I'll sit that one out.

I spent a lot of time Wednesday getting my bearings back and taking care of school work. By Thursday I was ready to get back out and see more of Belize. We decided to take a trip to Caye Calker, a quiet island south of San Pedro. This was a nice, relaxing day. We did some shopping and I got some goodies for some people back home and we spent some time at a place called Lazy Lizards. This is a bar on the end of the island that has absolutely beautiful blue water. What makes this place even better are the characters we met at Lazy Lizards. There was one guy who approached me and said, "I know you." I was confident that I hadn't seen him before. He went on to explain to me that we had met twice in previous lives and that we were doing some immoral things. I was fascinated by this guy, but not enough to stick around and find out more about my previous life. There was another guy who wore a hat made out of palm leaves and had several different aliases he went by including "Thanks for helping me" and "Dr. Aloe." He rubbed some aloe on Amanda's back where she had burned and then let us feed the fishes by holding out sardines and letting the frigget birds swoop down and take the fish from our hands. This was really cool. 

After Lazy Lizards, we decided to look for a pool hall. When we couldn't find one, we asked someone for some help. The guy we found was named Charles and he was from Brooklyn, New York. After failing to find us a pool hall, he decided he was going to follow us around and host us for the rest of the day. He took us to the bird sanctuary, where saw one bird hidden in the trees. After that, we decided to walk on the beach and just relax until our taxi came. It was at this point that I realized Charles was a pathological liar. He explained that he was a carpenter, plumber, electrician, substitute teacher, and the reigning karaoke champion for three islands in Belize. While impressive, Alberto explained to us that he knew the karaoke champion of San Pedro and it wasn't Charles (I suppose they take their karaoke very seriously here). After humoring us for the afternoon, we had to say goodbye to Charles and we went back to San Pedro.

Once back at the dock, I was excited to see some of my students at the bar. Now, I know that students aren't allowed at the bar because if they are seen drinking in public, even if they are 18, they will be expelled from school. They were all wearing the same shirts and I realized it was the school rock band. They were at the bar to put on a show to raise money for the school. I was really impressed by the band. They had some really great musicians and the lead singers were really exuberant. They really got the crowd into it and it was fun to see these students doing what they love outside of school.

After that it was time to go back to Ak'bol. Staying there has been interesting. The lack of air conditioning has presented some issues for me, not because it doesn't get cool enough, because some nights it does. However, we need to keep the windows open in order to get air, and there are no screens on the windows. As a result, I have been eaten alive by the mosquitos that past few nights. This has not been enjoyable. However, the lack of television has forced me to work on my school work to the point where I think I will be well prepared for my final assignments when I get home. 

Overall, this has been a quiet week, which has been nice. We are all a little nervous to go back to school on Monday since we have been away for so long. It is crazy to think that there are less than two weeks left in Belize. We will be sure to make the most of it. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back to La Isla Bonita

On Saturday it was time to leave the mainland to head back to San Pedro. After packing our bags, it was time to say a sad goodbye to Herman and Paradise. I should mention that this was not a day any of us were looking forward to. Not necessarily because we didn’t want to go back to San Pedro, because I think all of us were ready to get back on the island, but because all of our stomachs had had enough of the traveling and this was just going to be one mode of transportation to the next.

Personally, the day went by rather smoothly. We took an express bus from Corozal to Belize City, which was surprisingly nice. It was more like an old charter bus than a retired school bus. It had pleather seats that reclined and the bus wasn’t packed. After our two-hour journey from Corozal to Belize City, we took a cab to our water taxi. We hopped aboard our express water taxi and after an hour an fifteen minute trip on the water, we were happy to be back on Ambergris Caye. Dr. K was also excited because his wife, Megan, was in town for the next week, so this only added to the excitement of being back.

When we got on the island, we had a boat take us to our new “home” for our final two weeks here: “Ak’bol Yoga Resort.” When I first heard about this place, I thought it was pretty hippy dippy, my feelings were totally accurate.

When we reached Ak’bol, I was happy because I realized that we would be staying on the beach. We had to walk five minutes to the beach when we lived at Pedro’s- it was horrible. Now I just walk out and I can see the beach. However, my joy quickly turned to apprehension after we were taken to our rooms. When we got to the first room, we looked in and all we saw was a wooden platform, with two beds, and a ceiling fan. We don’t have TV, wireless internet, and we have a communal bathroom down the hall. I could see the faces of my compadres fall when the realized what we’d be dealing with for the next few weeks. Remember when I said I wanted to see what it was like to live with less technology- be careful what you wish for.

To be honest with you, I have thoroughly enjoyed my stay thus far at Ak’bol. Yesterday, all I did was sit on the beach and read my book. They serve breakfast here all day and everything is healthy. Yesterday I had multigrain banana pancakes and I usually detest anything lowfat or health-food conscious, but this was really good. I’m even considering doing some yoga tomorrow. It gets a little warm at night without air conditioning, but I’m coping with it well. I slept like a log last night and I’ve gotten more sleep here than I have this entire trip. I think what we all needed was a relaxing time to finish off what has been a fast-paced and somewhat stressful experience. I think Ak-bol will be good for all of us.