World AIDS Day

San Ignacio Travel Blog

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Mon 1 Dec 2008

World AIDS Day �" Bethany was in charge of World AIDS Day. The morning started out at 7AM to set-up the float. We strung red and white balloons together, then made our way to the park, where we hung them up. I was impressed by the turnout. The neighboring schools came including St. Andrew’s and Faith Nazarene. I could pick them out by their blue and orange uniforms. Also, there were tons of volunteers present and a few organizations including Mary Open Doors. At around 10AM, Omar started up the small opening ceremony. A few people spoke, including Nurse Witts and Carmita. The we all lined up to parade through San Ignacio and Santa Elena. We were led by a police vehicle with a fire truck as our caboose. Bethany, Tanya, Alissa and Molly had made large posters for the volunteers to walk with. Only one school participated in the poster contest, so they walked towards the beginning of the parade. I took photographs, running up to the front and climbing up on random trucks so I could get a better viewpoint. Then, I’d wait for the parade to pass and run up to the front again. We paraded along the market, past the 5-way intersection, past the shops, over the suspension bridge, through Santa Elena, over the low bridge, and back to the park. You could tell some of the kids were just glad to be out of class. All the bystanders along the street watched as Miss Rita announced HIV/AIDS statistics from the back of the float. We surprisingly ran into Darlene for the last two times and bid her farewell.


Back in the park, all the kids partook in the fair activities. There were several games for them to play and win candy and pencils. Everywhere you turned there were kids sucking on candy or snow cones. I was surprised to see the kids so interested. They were grabbing brochures off the tables as if they were candy. Some had to take notes for schoolwork. The teachers did a good job keeping the students in line and they were well disciplined.  I gladly continued to walk around as paparazzi for the day. Usually I don’t like to snap shots of kids without their okay, but this was the perfect opportunity, since it was my job for the day. We had food catered for us �" sooo much better than the lunch on Fun Day. We had Johnny cakes, banana muffins, rice & beans, chicken and plaintains. Yummy. The festivities started winding down a bit past lunchtime. All the kids went back to school. Some came back during their lunch break. The volunteer booths kept on with their games on HIV/AIDS and health.


When Nick arrived, we ran around to do some errands.  We decided to take a quick trip to Cahal Pech and figure out how to go through the back way without paying. After some navigating and winding up the narrow paths behind Cahal Pech, we finally made it to the top. Now I know for certain I can show the other volunteers how to get there.


It was amazing coming up through the back. And for the second time visiting Cahal Pech, I fell in love with it’s serenity and peacefulness. We walked right up to the ruins straight through and arched passageway. When we came out the other end, we were right in the middle of the large plaza. Again, it was a surreal experience. I thought I wouldn’t really care about seeing the ruins again, but these are different than Xunantunich and Tikal. It’s pretty much empty, so it even has an eery feeling, letting you absorb your thoughts. Despite the peacefulness of the ruins, I had a difficult time keeping myself quiet. I was so enthusiastic to show Nick all the awesome passageways and rooms. In a way, I felt kind of bad, because Cahal Pech is so wonderful to discover alone. Yet, I was really into telling him all the background information and history I had learned. I lingered in some of my favorite places, and walked through the corner I had missed out on during my first trip (when I got sidetracked and excited in discovering all the trails). It was here so I noticed was appears to be an alter, with circular formations carved in the stone �" the only carving I’ve noticed in Cahal Pech. Also, I had never seen anything like it at Xunantunich or Tikal. A bit of a further walk and I came across the ball court. I found myself wondering so many things about how the Mayans lived and why they built the structures the way they did. So many questions, just left to ponder about.


I had to be back by 5PM to take photographs of Sheni’s house. We arrived back to Cornerstone on Belizean time, even though her family and Tanya were on real time. Ooops. Sheni’s house is amazing. I love seeing other people’s homes, wherever I go and here, no two Belizean homes are the same. Sheni is a very kind-hearted lady. She wants so start up a homestay and I’ve agreed to help her out. I’ll probably make a really simple website for her. Most important though, I think, is getting the word out hooking her up with local organizations and global organizations.

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San Ignacio
photo by: Biedjee