Trip Updates

Belize + Costa Rica 3B • July 14-July 27, 2018

Final Update!

July 28, 2018

WOW. We have just had the best two weeks, filled with adventure, laughter, fun, spontaneous dancing, music, and their love for snacks!Mary brought the group together with her bright personality and contagious laughter. Danny’s passion for life inspired all of us to make the most out of every opportunity. Chris’ positivity helped the group stay grounded. George acted as a peer leader and our surfing mentor. Reed was our spontaneous motivator, keeping us on our toes with his jokes. Will kept the group morale high with his spontaneous comments and great humor. Faith and her witty comments kept the group laughing. Caki always was there with her bubbly personality. CC was always a great leader keeping the group on track. Elizabeth was always there with a smile when times got tough. Alex was always there to talk to no matter what it was. We have never seen a group become so close in such short of a time. Each personality contributed so much to this dynamic. We loved every waking moment with these kids and wish them a wonderful high school experience. We hope to see them all next year.

Love,Tejas, Juliet, and Billy


Hello from Belize!

July 28, 2018

Our last week together was amazing and we can’t wait to tell you all about it. We woke up eager to get to Long Caye and quickly loaded up the boat. After taking in the wonderful views, we finally arrived at the island. We stepped off the boat and headed to our new home. We ate a great lunch then headed to the beach to relax and take in the fresh ocean. After a while, our dive instructors came to meet up and we then got all of our gear necessary for diving. Next up was the swim test, which everyone aced! We celebrated our success by hanging on the dock, with Caki showing us all how to do cool jumps (safely, of course). Danny had so much fun trying new tricks. Meanwhile, George, Reed, Mary, Elizabeth, C.C., and Will all took advantage of the snorkeling gear and decided to explore around the island and dock. They spotted a parrotfish, a giant stingray, lots of conches, a triggerfish and much more. They all also practiced the principles of LNT (Leave No Trace) by picking up any trash they found in the water or around the dock! Elizabeth was like a fish in the water and ended up staying in longer than anyone to look for fish and explore. While all this was going on, Faith and Alex were helping assemble an Eno fortress on the beach. We all spent the late afternoon relaxing and playing with the many hermit crabs on the beach. Danny and Chris decided to name them and race them to see which crab was superior! Dinner was a filling meal of rice, steak, and salad, with vanilla wafers as dessert. Our LODS, Alex and George, led Moonup on the dock. The questions were “where do you see the person to your right in 10 years” and “what is the most challenging thing you have overcome in your life?” We shared, them held hands and howled at the moon to close out our day.After another good breakfast, we all got our bathing suits on and headed to the dock, ready to begin training to become divers! Everyone learned how to properly set up their equipment for diving. We then hopped on the boat and drove out to a very shallow part of the ocean, where we did our first confined water dives. We learned lots of skills, from regulator recovery to full mask flood. After a few hours, we headed back to Long Caye for lunch and some time to rest between dives. In the afternoon, we finished up our last confined water dives. Afterwards, we all got up on the boat and hung out, tanning and listening to music provided by George! When we returned, Reed, C.C., Will, Elizabeth, and Mary decided to create a hermit crab kingdom and race them again, with Cardi B (Will’s crab) coming up as the winner. After a dinner of rice and beans and chicken and potato salad, we went to the dock for Moonup. Our LODs, Mary and Elizabeth, led Moonup. After a long but fun day, we hit the hay early and got some rest before our next day of diving!We woke up early for our first open water dive. A few of us got up to watch the beautiful sun rise over the ocean. After a great breakfast of pancakes we headed to the dock to set up our gear. We took a quick 5 min boat ride to our dive site. We hopped in and descended to around 35feet. We did a few skills then swam around. We saw an eel and a shark!!! As soon as we got on the boat we couldn’t keep quiet about what we saw. We headed back for a quick bit to eat. After lunch we soaked in the sun and went for a quick swim before getting back on the boat. Our next dive blew the last one out of the water. We saw a flock of rays, a few lion fish, and George spotted a shark! They also completed a few skills like clearing their mask and buoyancy. We headed back and a few of us set up hammock while C.C., Elizabeth, George and Will worked on cracking open some coconuts. We had a delicious dinner of self made burritos. We went out to the dock to have our Moonup. Faith and Reed, our LODs, asked about our spirit animals.We woke up with the sun once again. We started off the day with a delicious breakfast to kick off our final day of diving. For our third dive, we went into the famous Cathedral dive-sight. We saw an array of eels, lobsters, rays, and even barracudas. We started the dive by finishing up the last of our skills. Our dive instructors then led us on a tour of the beautiful reef for the last twenty minutes. For lunch we had a surprise and a new crowd favorite: fresh empanadas! We took a nap and set off on our next and final dive-Aquarium. We ventured down to 60 feet as our dive masters took outside the edge of the reef wall. After we surfaced we said our goodbyes to the dive instructors and dive masters and headed back to the lodge. Before our final dinner we enjoyed the sunset. On our final day on the island we ate a hearty breakfast of tortillas, eggs, and bacon. We headed to Half Moon Caye for a tour of the island and the famous bird watch – Red footed booby birds! – at the highest point on the island. On the way back we stopped off in the island’s crystal clear lagoon and snorkeled around the colorful reefs. After a hamburger lunch back at the lodge, we headed off to sea once more to do some true Belizean deep sea fishing. We all used hand rods with small chunks of meat as bait. Quickly after we started Reed, Elizabeth and George all caught small sharks! Will caught the biggest fish soon after, Mary caught a squirrelfish, and CC caught a parrotfish. Alex and Caki were also successful fisher women and Chris caught a big shark too!We cannot say enough good things about this phenomenal group of kids. We truly love them and call every single one of them close friends. It was such a privilege to call one another family for these past two weeks. It was with heavy hearts and lots of happy tears that we hugged each other goodbye this morning. It truly is amazing how a group of strangers can form such an inseparable bond over 14 short days. We hope to see them all again soon, and we would like to thank all of the parents for sharing your children with us for the past two weeks. It’s been an incredible adventure. Love,Juliet, Tejas, and Billy


Adios, Costa Rica, Hola Belize!

July 22, 2018

Hola once again! Since the last time we checked in so much has happened! Our last morning in El Brujo was a special treat: the waterfall Avatar hike. After a short hike into the jungled mountains we arrived at the Toucan Rock waterfall. Our guide gave us the brief history of the pristine and untouched sight where the natives had once upon a time inhabited. After the history lesson we wasted no time at all jumping into the natural body of water. Our guide shortly after passed out several balls of blue clay for all of us and explained the healing and regenerating power of it. We smeared our bodies head to toe with it, careful to cover every inch. After our transformation into blue avatars, we passed around orange clay to personalize our bodies as true spirit warriors. Once the clay had dried we exfoliated our skin by rubbing off all the clay. After a quick swim we headed back down the mountain to get ready for our transfer to rafting. We said our goodbyes to Buenaventura and Three seeds and were on our way. We stopped off at a wonderful restaurant and had some burritos and salads along with some passion fruit juice. After a couple hours in our bus we made it to Turrialba. We settled into our hotel and walked around to find a place for dinner. We settled on a pizzeria near the town square. Will kept us entertained with some stories while Mary and Juliet switched roles for the meal. George explained his theory on aliens while we chowed down on some pizza. We had a great Moonup led by George and Elizabeth and quickly got to bed for our next day of rafting.We woke up early to get to our put in for the rafting. Jorge, our guide, was showing us the volcanoes on our drive up. After our safety briefing we hit the river. The rapids were incredible – getting the adrenaline going. We stopped off for a waterfall hike and to stretch our legs. Will and C.C. were showing us proper technique of how to slide down the water fall while Reed and Chris were fearlessly jumping off the rocks. We jumped back in the rafts to head to our camp for the night. The water was high and fast, and we conquered class III rapids like champs! We had a quick hike to the camp which on arrival shocked us with the beautiful views of the mountains and the river below. We settled in and got some hot chocolate to accompany our card games. Caki and Danny and Will were all relentless in playing the card game, “spit.” We got in a few rounds of family where Alex and Faith reigned supreme. We sat and told stories and had some good laughs watching the beautiful afternoon Costa Rican showers. Dinner was prepared by our raft guides. We had some delicious chicken and beef tortillas along with a salad. After dinner we played some more cards and had Moonup overlooking the river. Our LODs, Mary and Danny led a deep Moonup underneath the stars, where the question was “if you could bring anyone back to life, who would it be and why?” After Moonup, we were all on our way to go to bed when Tejas spotted a bullet ant! These ants are huge, and are somewhat legendary for their size. We were all super excited to get to see one, and gathered around and checked out its pinchers (while it was under a cup, of course). After letting it go, we all walked back to our cabins and fell asleep, with the rain acting as our natural sound machine!Day 7 was a blast! We woke up to banana pancakes and a beautiful view of the jungle. Due to recent rains, planned to move from the Pacaure River to the Petibaye River in the morning in order to have a safer rafting experience. We hiked out through the jungle and reunited with our bus driver, Miykol, who all of us were excited to see. We bumped to some tunes on our way, but when the speaker died Mary and Will decided to improvise and begin singing for us!! Highlights included songs from pitch perfect and an impressively long rendition of 99 bottles of soda on the wall.

Once we arrived at the river, we got into our rafts and began conquering rapids! The river was absolutely beautiful. The jungle was surrounding us on both sides and we were blown away by the greenery. Reed led the team on his raft by teaching everyone how to count in Chinese, so that we could synchronize our paddling. Elizabeth and C.C. fearlessly jumped in to swim even though the water was a little bit chilly. With our adrenaline pumping and feeling victorious after a morning on the river, we hopped back on the lunch to go eat some lunch and then head back to San Jose. At the beginning of our ride, Chris decided to begin reading a new book. About an hour and a half later, he had finished the ENTIRE THING, which we all decided meant that Chris was a superhuman. Once we arrived in San Jose, we spent some time relaxing in the hot tub at our hotel before dinner. For dinner, we had gallo pinto (the traditional Costa Rican meal of rice and beans), steak, plantains, and salad — a perfect last meal in Costa Rica. Our LODs, Will and Caki, led moonup and asked the questions “when in your life have you felt the most afraid?” and “what is the most beautiful view you’ve ever seen?” Everyone answered thoughtfully and honestly, which speaks volumes about how close our group has become.

Shoutouts:

Chris – Hi mom and dad! I am in the airport right now preparing to leave for Belize. Costa Rica has been amazing. I think I got over my fear of heights 100% because zip lining was both higher than last year and I wasn’t scared! The other things we’ve done (service, hiking, surfing, and rafting) have been great and I’ll tell you all about them in at home. I can’t wait to scuba dive! Love you 😎😎😎Also I have no sunburns 😎

Reed- Hi mom and dad. Costa Rica has been great! We are on our way to Belize. Smash burger was so good at the airport. I taught some Chinese and learned some Spanish. It was fun. The food is yummy and fresh. Adios.

Will- Hi mom and dad! Costa Rica was so much fun. We went zip-lining, surfing, did our service, and went whitewater rafting. I had a lot of fun. The food at the service place was so amazing because it was farm to table and we did a farm tour. I love the group and the leaders too. We leave for Belize today and I am super excited. We are staying on a private island and we have a chef. Love you!

Mary- Hello from Costa Rica! I am having the best time and I miss you so much! Everyone is super nice and I am super excited to go to Belize! I am looking forward to scuba diving and meeting a bunch of the guides there! Please feed Martha! She haven’t been fed in four weeks! I am having so much fun with a bunch of my new friends. Every single person on this trip is the very best! I love you so much!P.S. Hi rob and Tommy I miss you so much! Tommy- I can’t wait to spend time with you when I get home! Rob- you don’t like to hang out with me but I still love you I guess.P.P.S. What’s up macie I can’t wait to see you in a week at the beach. You better be ready cause I’m back and better than ever.

Faith- Hey family, miss y’all! I am having the best time here in Costa Rica. I love Costa Rica and am sad to leave but can’t wait for Belize. see you in a week!

George- Hi mom and dad I’m having so much fun in Costa Rica. Can’t wait to see y’all. My friend Mary is such a cutie. Love you!

Danny- I’m having so much fun! Tell Lucy and Stella I said hi.

C.C. – Hi Fam!! I hope everything is going well. I am having so much fun on my trip. I just finished the Costa Rica part of the trip and now we are heading to Belize!! I hope everything is good at the ranch and I am wishing good luck to Sophie and Vivian at JO’s. Also I hope Sophie passed her driving test!!! Love you all! Best wishes C.C.

Alex-Hi family;) Costa Rica was so fun and we are going to Belize right now. So exited to tan and scuba dive. Best trip ever don’t wanna come home at all love you guys!

Elizabeth- Hi everybody, I have had the best time in Costa Rica. We have gone ziplinng, rafting, surfing, and so much more. I have so many stories to tell. I can’t wait for Belize we are on are way now. Can’t wait to see everybody. Love Elizabeth

Caki- Hey guys!!!! I am having the the best time ever!!! I love it here! I hope y’all are having fun at home. I don’t really want to go home but it’s ok! I really want Houston’s the day I get back and I want chicky! We have had many adventures and i have had the best time! Tell tabor I say hi and I hope he is all good I miss him so much and I want to see him! TELL HAILEY THAT SHE NEEDS TO MAKE ELIZABETH AND BUTTER COOKIES RIGHT WHEN I GET HOME!!! please! Love y’all and miss y’all and if you see my friends tell them I say hiiiiiiii!!! Byeeeeeee

We were sad to leave Costa Rica, but we are even more excited to see what Belize has in store! We arrived safely tonight and can’t wait to get on the island! Pura Vida.

With love,

Juliet, Billy, and Tejas

Hope y’all are doing well!


Meaningful Service in Costa Rica

July 19, 2018

Hola from Costa Rica! After an amazing start to our trip, we’re happy to bring you the first trip update. We have kicked off the adventure and everyone has found their way to San Jose in good spirits.

 

Our first full day in Costa Rica was full of adventure. We began our morning by driving out of San Jose and to our first activity: ziplining! The views along the way were incredible, with beautiful mountains on both sides. We arrived at ziplining and began zipping through the trees like monkeys. Chris deflected any nerves associated with the activity by quickly zipping across! At our first opportunity to go upside down or spin, Alex and Mary both fearlessly decided to do both at the same time (which is completely safe)! Another big highlight was going on the longest zip line in Central America, which is also the 4th longest in the world.

 

As George would say, “the surfing was unreal, Dude!” After some initial help from the instructors, everyone was up on their boards and surfing. The waves were big, but everyone was undaunted and undeterred. Even our instructors were amazed at their progress. After all the basics had been covered, the instructors decided to show the kids some tricks. In no time, the kids were doing 180 degree jumps on their surfboards while riding the waves in.

 

We woke up to a light drizzle this morning and didn’t skip a beat. We headed out to the beach to hit the waves and apply all of our new knowledge from the day before. The surf was wonderful, and while we were enjoying the rain, it finally lifted. CC was an all-star tearing up the waves. Reed got up quickly and showed the group that hard work pays off. After feeling very “tubular”, as Reed put it, we headed back for a quick swim in the pool and breakfast. We had some delicious fresh squeezed Orange juice accompanied by eggs and rice. After breakfast we learned that Danny is a Rubix cube master. We got in a few rounds of cards and then got on the bus for our transfer to Buenaventura. While en route, we were all happily singing to some tunes when suddenly, our driver Miykol slowed down and put the bus in reverse. We were all confused – had we missed a stop? It was at that moment that Miykol pointed to the trees, where we saw a SLOTH hanging upside down and munching on some leaves! We decided to name him Sid, and all said hello. Next, we stopped at a local market, beachside, to buy a few gifts and mementos to remember our time at the beach. Alex, Faith, and Caki bought shark tooth necklaces, and are now sporting them as many of the locals do. We got back on the road taking in the wonderful views of the Costa Rican jungle and mountains.

 

Next, the group transferred to 4×4 trucks to make our way deeper into the mountains. We passed breathtaking waterfalls and rode through the clouds. Once arriving, we headed to Three Seeds where we would be having our meals for the next two days. We had a delicious pork and rice dish with a fresh garden salad. Three Seeds is run by a very nice woman named Tamara who serves everything farm to table. After letting our food digest, we worked on transplanting trees to help with the beautification of the area since most of it had been destroyed by the hurricane in October. The kids named every tree (which there were 100 of) before each was planted in the ground. Mary, Will and Elizabeth named trees after all the Kardashians and their favorite characters from The Office, and their stories have sparked hilarious quoting and laughter throughout the group. After a day full of hard work, we headed back home, a new place, called the temple. We squeezed in some evening yoga and Tejas told a few ghost stories. We quickly hopped in the shower and headed over to Three Seeds to find out what was for dinner. We were astounded by the chicken soup and homemade garlic biscuits. After a delicious meal we headed back to the temple for moonup but not after tasty ice cream and of course Chris got his popcorn. Our LOD’s, Faith and Will, asked us a wonderful question: “Show a physical scar and talk about an emotional scar”. This question quickly allowed the group to bond together, as we shared personal stories and became a true unit! We loved everyone’s answer and really saw the maturity of this group.

 

Juliet woke us up today for a wonderful yoga session as we took in the morning mountain air. We enjoyed the traditional egg, rice and, beans for breakfast accompanied by Yuka hash-browns and a homemade banana, chocolate, and almond smoothie. Once all filled up, we started our long walk to the community of El Brujo (the wizard) for our community service. We soaked in the breathtaking views and loved crossing the rivers to cool off our feet. Once there, we split up into teams. One team was working on demolition of the church kitchen, another spot painting welds on the new kitchen, and the last working on repainting the recycling center. CC was an all-star at the demolition of the kitchen with the help of George and Danny. Mary showed us her artistic abilities while painting the bins. After a couple hours of hard work, we took a fruit break and got right back to work. Once the kids got out of school, we hit the soccer field for a quick pick up game. Alex was showing off her soccer skills, scoring a few goals, while Will was holding a strong defense. After giving our donations, we headed back to Buenaventura for lunch. It was a hot walk back, so we decided to jump in the river to cool off. Lunch was a culinary masterpiece. We had pork tacos with guacamole. Again, we had to take a few minutes to digest before going on our farm tour. We started out in the herb garden trying all things from basil to wild cilantro. Next, we met one of the milk cows and tasted some mango, turmeric, and coconut. We even got to see a vibrant Toucan high up in the trees. After our farm tour we started our chocolate making class. Starting with the cacao bean, we ground it up and then melted it down and made a brownie mix. We put it in the oven and headed back for showers. Dinner was a crowd favorite, pizza. And, of course, desert was ice cream and our delicious brownies. After dinner we had a great moonup asking about favorite foods and our dream water polo team.

 

We write to you now as we look forward to setting off to raft the Pacuare River tomorrow! Wish us luck and we’ll see y’all at the end of the river!

 

Your BCR Leaders,

Tejas, Juliet, and Billy


Safe Arrival in Costa Rica!

July 14, 2018

Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!

We have heard from our leaders, and all students have landed safely in San Jose. The trip is off to a great start. Stay tuned for more news from their adventures.

  • Moondance HQ

Students

  • Reed
  • Danny
  • Elizabeth
  • Faith
  • C.C.
  • George
  • Chris
  • Will
  • Alex
  • Mary
  • Caki

Staff