Field Notes

Belize + Costa Rica 1 • June 13-June 26, 2017

Can't Belize it is over!

June 28, 2017

Greetings BCR families, 
 
Well folks, that’s a wrap for BCR session 1! Today was a sad day as we say goodbye to our group that has become family over the past 2 weeks. There were lots of happy tears as the kids all had to depart their separate ways. 
 
White water rafting the last 2 days was an exciting way for us to all be together one last time. We got to climb to some waterfalls, float down the Paquare, and eat amazing meals prepared by our raft guides. The afternoon was spent with a competitive game of capture the flag followed by countless games of ERS and stimulating conversations. We even saw a monkey!! 
 
It seems like just yesterday we were meeting for the first time in Belize diving in the crystal clear water. Our group has come a long way since the two-hour boat ride on the raging seas. We’ve been surfing, zip lining, hiking, cooking chocolate and so much more! All of us have learned more about ourselves and each other as we tested our limits and explored two exciting new countries. Our trip was completed at the Adventure Inn with a pool party and a great Moonup afterwards that could have lasted hours retelling memories had on the trip. 
 
This was the first Moondance group for all 3 of us leaders, and this group will always have a special place in our hearts. We love you all so much and can’t wait to see you again very soon! 
 
Here are a few of our favorite memories ever would like to share: 
 
Did you order the chicken? “Jes”
 
The dive with Elizabeth where we saw a reef shark, bull shark, and baby sea turtle
 
Intense ERS games with Jack
 
Edwards endless underwater selfies
 
Huntykinz being a monkey on trees everywhere with his climbing skills 
 
Grahams afternoon swim with the parrotfish. Glad we got GoPro footage!
 
Sallie finally getting to sing her heart out to “Aaron’s party”
 
Nathalie finally having the opportunity to buy a toothbrush AGAIN on the last day. 4th times the charm!
 
Martin continually rapping to any and every song that came on. 
 
Peyton’s deep thinking and stimulating conversations. 
 
Celebrating Grace’s birthday with an awesome surf in the morning and great birthday dinner at 3 Seeds.
 
The group dance choreographed by Alden that kept our rafting trip very entertaining. 
 
Elinor’s amazing artistic ability and lullabies that helped us fall asleep every night!
 
This could not have been a more amazing group, and we thank you for the past two weeks! 
 
Stay wild, 
Michael, Noah, and Mary Kate

Welcome to the Jungle

June 24, 2017

It is hard to explain how amazing the past three days have been, and as leaders we are cherishing every moment with our BCR 1 group, for the end is in sight. 

We all boarded back into our lovely air conditioned van to head into the Costa Rican rainforest. However, our van could only take us so far because the road had turned to dirt so we all hopped into taxi trucks that drove us fifteen miles deep into the jungle. We finally arrived at our destination in which we were greeted with warm smiles from members of the El Brujo community. After a delicious lunch, shovels were passed out and the service had begun!

Sally was quick to get to work as she grabbed a paint brush and helped prime the walls to be painted on a few days later. Meanwhile, Martin was off playing soccer with some of the locals impressing them with his juggling skills. One of our other jobs was to sand down an old TV dish so that we could paint a sign on it, letting travelers know where the El Brujo community was situated. Elinor, our group artist led the charge and designed a great sign with a picture of the globe underneath painted from memory. After a few hours of painting and sanding we gathered our belongings to make the three mile trek back to our lodging at Buena Adventura. 

The next morning we woke early, headed back to El Brujo in order to finish up some of our service projects and visit the kids at school. Many of our Moondance students brought a ton of great gifts for the local kids and you could see the happiness on their faces. Their smiles were ear to ear as they showed off the new toys they had just received. Grace found a new friend in one of the kindergarteners at school, he hopped on her back for a piggyback ride and did not want to be put down. We said goodbye to the kids at school and made our way to Three Seeds (farm to table restaurant) to have lunch and a farm tour. Instead of walking back Hunter wanted to test his legs and run the three miles back on the dirt road overlooking the jungle. 

I would like to pause the action in order to give a quick synopsis of how incredible Three Seeds is. This farm to table restaurant is situated in the middle of the jungle and is all made possible due to the tireless work of Tamara. She is a mother of three (hence the name) who had a dream to feed her children only organic food and fresh water. Tamara grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables, she has an herb garden, a lettuce garden, and many cocoa trees. Tamara also grows some very hot peppers. Just ask Jack, he ate one of the peppers and was laughing in pain for the next hour until he finally found a remedy in one of Tamaras herbs. We ate every meal at Three Seeds and it will surely be a long lasting memory for all the kids. I apologize to the parents because I heard many of the kids say they wish their parents could cook as well as Tamara!

Back to the action…

For our afternoon farm tour we were greeted with a heavy downpour of rain which is very typical in the Rainforest. We all got to try fresh mango, coconut, basil, star fruit, and cocoa to name a few. After eating our weight in fruit we headed up the mountain to find our campsite for the night. Ethan had the group laughing as he typically does, he kept letting everyone know that this was the hardest thing he had ever done. Elizabeth led from the front with our guide Harlow, and was very inquisitive about his life and the land he lives on. Once we got to the top we set up camp, ate dinner and sat around a fire that Harlow so graciously built us. Nathalie, our leader of the day, asked the group very difficult yet important questions to share with the group. As leaders we could tell the group had gone from close friends to a family. After Moonup we surprised the kids with s’mores because what’s a campfire without a S’more. We all got to sleep early that night, for the next day would bring one of the most reviving experiences of the trip. 

On this morning we were all treated with a late wake-up, 7am. After a delicious breakfast that was brought up to us on an ATV we all hiked down to the waterfall so that we could begin our transformation into avatars. Graham could not hide her excitement for this transcendental experience and her positive excitement rubbed off on the entire group. When we finally made it to the waterfall Edward threw off his shirt and made his way right under the actual waterfall to enjoy a much needed cleansing from our previous days activities. 

Then it happened. Harlow showed us all the blue clay that we would be rubbing over our entire bodies so that we could transform. As a side note, this clay has been used to treat all kinds of diseases including cancer, it is also great for exfoliation, sun burns, bug repellents or in our case just pure enjoyment. After ten minutes we were all blue and used a orange clay to paint designs on ourselves. Peyton looked like she truly has stepped out the Avatar movie as she was completely covered in the clay, hair to toes. When we rinsed the clay off our bodies we were glowing and our skin felt the softest it ever has. 

Once we made our way down the mountain we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at Three Seeds learning how to make brownies from pure cocoa beans. Alden used the energy from the pure cocoa to lead a little gymnastics lesson in the field down below. We all got together to play soccer, paint the walls with our names as many visitors had done before, and to enjoy some time relaxing in the hammocks. Our dinner was a surprise pizza followed by ice cream and brownies, life is very amazing at Three Seeds. 

Saying goodbye was hard, we will all miss the simplicity of life out in the rainforest, we will miss the adventure, days packed with activities, and we will most definitely miss the food. We have met many good friends in the El Brujo community, Harlow, Tamara, Salvador, Ocean, Sammy, And Jenifer to name a few. We leave the rainforest having made memories of lifetime. Now onto rafting, I hope the river is ready for us, because we are ready for the river!

 

SHOUTOUTS!

 

Edward- Mom and dad, love you guys and I cannot wait to see you guys soon.

Sallie- Hi mom and dad, I miss you so much, I’m having a lot of fun. This is a fantastic group of people, love you. Sallie

Hunter- Mom and dad I cannot wait to see you guys and I cannot wait to come home and play squash with dad. See you guys soon. 

Elinor- miss you mom and dad, hope mom and James are safe see you soon. Love you and love you sutter butter.

Elizabeth- Hola mi familia, the food is so good here I probably have gained 20 pounds. See you soon I love y’all. love Elizabeth.

Jack- I think I’ll say hello to my parents this time. I love you and I would say hello to Emory and Lindy but they are not home. I love you Gaby and Hazy.

Martin- Shoutout to Haley my mom and dad I love you all.

Peyton- Camille and Ryan I love you guys.

Grace- shoutout to my mom and dad, and Cole and Hayes love y’all. I shredded.

Ethan- I saw Kim Kardashians house! I love you! 

Graham- hey mommy and daddy and Robert, I love and miss y’all. Happy belated birthday daddy, you’re the best dad ever!

Alden- Hi mom and dad I hope Maddy is having fun in Fiji. Tell Aubie and Bucky I miss them. I love y’all. 

Nathalie- Hi mom and dad I can’t wait to see you and go to Indiana. Love you. 

Mary Kate- Hey Mama, hey Libby 


Birthdays & Pura Vida in Costa Rica

June 21, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRACE!! 

We are celebrating big here in Costa Rica. Our plane touched down and we have all encompassed the “pura vida” lifestyle. Our travel day was long, but our LODs (Leaders of the day), Elizabeth and Ethan really set an example for the rest of the group on how to be respectful and easy travelers.

Upon arriving we met our amazing driver, Beto! He will be driving us all around Costa Rica and has become everyone’s new best friend with our incredible travel van. We cannot wait to share our pictures! A short drive from the airport took us to our hotel for the night. The AC and amazing meals put the long travel day out of everyone’s mind, and the excitement for the days to come was buzzing. Martin picked some fresh mangos that we cut and all shared. The food coma and exhaustion from the day put everyone to bed within minutes after a great Moonup conversation. 

We woke early the next morning to head into the jungle and catch some adrenaline up in the trees with a canopy tour. At first the kids were a bit a nervous to see what zip lining tree to tree was like but by the end you could hear Nathalie’s screams a couple miles away! On the second one, the zip liners were allowed to go upside down. Jack was pumped to learn such great news and sure enough he was coming in fast both with his head looking down and his feet pointed towards the blue Costa Rican sky. One of the other zip lines in our 10 zip line tour featured a side by side line to encourage a race amongst the kids. Hunter decided to take on Edward as his foe and started off with a great lead for about three quarters of the race. However, with dashing speed, Edward came out of nowhere to gain the lead and ultimately be crowned champion. Hunter was a true gentleman in defeat as he has been this entire trip. To end our zip line tour the guides safety dropped us 50 feet in midair to the ground, where we were caught by our harness. To overcome her fear and excitement, Sallie sang the whole way down, and surprised us with her Adele-esque voice.

We left our comfy hotel and headed to catch some swells at Uvita beach. During our car ride from the jungle to the beach, Graham took over as DJ and kept the bus jamming with great tunes. Grace, Peyton and Alden did some serious shredding and impressed us all. Elinor embraced her inner surfer and spent the whole afternoon in shoulder-deep water getting better wave after wave.    On our second morning of surfing, Ethan decided to take a break and impressed everyone by throwing a powerful and accurate frisbee on the large sandy beach of Uvita. 

We are now heading to our service section, and it sure will be an adventure. Our Costa Rican guide, Harlow has some exciting things planned. We are all so excited to meet the. Community and help to make an impact on their lives as they make one on ours. 

-Mary Kate, Noah & Michael


Making a Splash!

June 18, 2017

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there reading this!!
 
Are we having an AWESOME time these first few days of Moondance? You better Belize it!!! Everyone has been hard at work getting their open water dive certification, advanced open water, or enjoying the reef while snorkeling! Sallie and Natalie are being troopers as American Airlines still has yet to deliver their luggage (they got it after three days-still troopers). Elizabeth, Jack, and Edward have seen 5 different sharks while diving–on their way to being master divers!
 
 
We have come a long way since our two-hour boat ride through the rough seas to the beautiful island of Long Caye where we arrived at our private island resort. After settling in, we met our amazing dive instructors that have given us the experience of a lifetime. The next morning we awoke early. After fitting all the gear, we hit the seas to begin practicing the skills covered in the Padi e-learning. Mary Kate and Graham have snorkeling the week away and have had more students join each day! They saw a shark on the very first day and those working on SCUBA skills were very jealous. 
 
After getting their bearings straight underwater, Elizabeth, Jack and Edward all dove the blue hole (give it a Google if you have a chance). They all came back with huge smiles from ear to ear anxious to tell everyone about one of the coolest experiences they have ever had. Meanwhile in the other group of divers, Ethan has been getting a laugh out of everyone by sneaking up behind them and purging the regulators, making cool air bubbles.
 
Our group daredevil, who goes by the name of Martin loves to finish up a dive by getting out of the water and doing back flips off of the bow until the captain says it’s time to go. When we all get safely ashore, the group loves to hang out in their hammocks on the third floor eagles nest overlooking the water. Elinor has found her new favorite spot as she loves to hang out the ENO and keep the conversation going. We play a lot of different music, us leaders are learning plenty of great new tunes that most of you parents probably get to listen to on rides to school or practice! Hunter jumps up top and climbs to the highest point as our group protector, he also climbs every tree he can get a hold of. 
 
Meal time has been a group favorite, Sallie has been amazing by helping our chef, Marta, prepare food and pass it out. Nathalie conquered her fear of mayonnaise as she volunteered to spread it on everyone’s bread for them. On another note, Peyton has been debating cutting some of her hair off because the salt water has been causing some problems. She’s going to keep it long, but it might turn into dreadlocks by the end of the trip. 
 
Alden has been leading us in lots of the game called “Big Booty” but has yet to come out a champion. Lots of time has been spent hanging out on the beach right in front of our waterfront home. Bocce ball has been a hit as well as walking along the boardwalk to the other end of the island. One night the group walked over to Sunset Beach, unfortunately it was a little cloudy but still a beautiful night to share some good memories. 
 
As we leave for Costa Rica tomorrow, Grace is super stoked to jump on a surf board and test out her Virginia Beach surf skills in Central America after having mastered scuba diving. All in all, we saw a few bull sharks, nurse sharks, a black tip reef shark, a sea turtle, grouper that followed us like a dog and a ton of amazing fish. The group has had an incredible time here on Long Caye, but we are ready to embark upon the adventures to come. We are so proud of everyone for completing their open water or advanced diving certification!
 
Until next time-Michael, Noah, and Mary Kate
 
SHOUTOUTS!
 
Elizabeth- Hey Mom and Dad I’m having so much fun in Belize, I’m open water advanced certified now, say hi to Guy. I haven’t seen the moon yet but the stars are awesome. Love y’all!
 
Alden- Hi Mom and Dad I’m having fun, I love and miss you!
 
Graham- Hey guys, I love and miss y’all. Will y’all please get crickets for Kevin.
 
Martin- Hey Mom, Dad, and Hayley, thanks for the trip, it’s been totally tubular, love y’all miss y’all.
 
Sallie- Mom and Dad I love you and miss you. I hope Rocky is doing well, please say hi to Oliver and mama Sal for me.
 
Nathalie- Hi Julia and Charlie, how’s Milo? I love you so much!
 
Elinor- Hey Mom and Dad the trio is fun so far, how’s James? Love you 
 
Edward- Hey Mom and Dad I’m having a great time on the trip. Can’t wait to see you soon, love you. Love E-Money 
 
Hunter- Hey Mom and Dad I love you lots it’s been super fun and can’t wait to surf and see the children hope y’all are having fun. See you soon, love Hunter.
 
Ethan- Hey Mom and Dad I’m having so much fun SCUBA diving. I got certified, love you bye.
 
Grace- Hey guys it’s Grace I’m having a great time miss you. Love you!️
 
Peyton- Hey guys, Belize has been awesome. Miss you guys so much hope you guys are having fun.
 
Jack- Hey Hazie and Gaby!

Can You Belize It?

June 13, 2017

Hi Belize + Costa Rica Families!

We’ve heard from the leaders and everyone’s arrived safely in Belize this afternoon. They’re headed to Long Caye and are excited for the two weeks ahead. 

-The Moondance Administrative Team 


Students

  • Graham
  • Edward
  • Sallie
  • Martin
  • Hunter
  • Peyton
  • Elizabeth
  • Elinor
  • Jack
  • Grace
  • Nathalie
  • Alden
  • Ethan

Staff