July 10, 2019
Our. Group. Is. Incredible. Not one, not two, but EVERYONE is PADI certified!! Our dive instructors were the absolute best, and it is very sad that our time in Belize has come to an end.
After our long but successful travel day, we woke up early and boarded the “Muloc” boat on a crisp ride to Long Caye. The water was crystal clear, and everyone was excited to see the sun. We arrived at our new home, where we were welcomed with a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pineapple by the one and only chef Martha who would be living with us throughout our time on the island. After a quick turnaround, we headed to get our dive gear. Shortly after we headed out on the water to start learning skills. We divided into two groups which each had one instructor and one dive master. Right off the bat we saw Caroline and Reily making each other laugh underwater and having fun with the process of mastering skills. We boated a little further out for our second dive that day and everyone got a healthy dose of salt and sunshine. After a yummy dinner and a Moonup, everyone headed to bed. Our slumber was interrupted by a summer thunderstorm! It was wonderful listening to the rain outside of our windows that lulled us all back into a peaceful slumber.
Everyone woke up excited for our second day of diving and fueled up with some eggs, sausage, and warm tortillas. We then walked to the dock and got on the boat for a morning dive of skills and an afternoon forty-foot wall dive. Eliza and Liza absolutely breezed through skills, making them look so easy. James ate three pizza’s at lunch, and everyone was fueled for our second dive. We finished up skills and moseyed on over to the wall where we saw two huge, majestic eagle rays and some lobster. Every time we looked over at Jack Good he was exploring the coral around him looking for fish! Multiple dance moves were being busted down below as Cate T and Liza were showing us their moves and John and Turley were doing the electric slide. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing beach volleyball and listening to some tunes by DJ Jack McD. Julia and Kate J proved themselves to be the queens of the volleyball court after winning quite a few matches. After a delicious dinner and Moonup, we all headed in for some well-deserved rest.
On our last full day in Long Caye, we had a superb wall dive at “The Aquarium” in the morning. There were fish galore, and we saw a baby shark! Robert and JR showed no fear of the deep blue easily descending to our maximum depth – sixty feet – like professionals. We spent the afternoon soaking up our last few hours and reminiscing on our favorite moments from the trip. Martha grilled some delicious spicy chicken and fresh lobster for our banquet dinner which our LODs, Liza and John, opened with a thoughtful toast.
Thank you all for trusting us with the most incredible group of kids. We feel so lucky, as leaders, to have gotten to know each and every one of your children. They have all safely boarded their flights in Belize City and are headed your way. We will miss them dearly and will be thinking of the many memories we made with them these past weeks.
All our best,
Gillie, Liz, Turley
July 6, 2019
We spent our last morning at Buenaventura hiking to a waterfall and transforming ourselves into avatars with mineral-rich blue clay. Cate T and James helped us start the morning with a quote before we set out on our adventure. “To stick your hands in the river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together in one piece” The hike was steep at first, but everyone powered through with good attitudes and words of motivation for one another. After getting our blood pumping and working up a bit of a sweat we dipped down into the valley where we would find our waterfall. It was magical and the water was just the refresher everyone needed before covering our bodies in blue clay. Liza proved to be quite the artist, painting tribal designs on her friends and posing for pictures. JR had an awesome mohawk going at one point with his hair completely lathered in clay. After a lot of laughs and baby-smooth skin, we rinsed off in the water and headed back towards Harlow’s. Upon arriving we were greeting with a chocolate tasting of some of his small-batch dark chocolate and were taught how to experience the chocolate through multiple senses. We waved goodbye to Harlow and set off on our next adventure: whitewater rafting!
We had a long travel day to Turrialba with our trusted driver, David, who enjoyed our music maybe more than we did. DJ Turley brought everyone together with some throwbacks, most notably “mmmm whatcha say” which everyone sang loud and clear from the back of the bus. We recently discovered Reilly’s amazing singing voice- watch out America’s got talent! We spent one night at an incredible hostel and got some well-deserved rest before an early wake up call. Our guides briefed us on safety, and we were off and away. Kate Jones lead Gillies boat into the river first, and they could not have been more enthusiastic. Heavy rain might have made things a little chilly, but this did not get any spirits down. Eliza sat in the front with Elizabeth W. and took on some big waves, and Jack McD lead his team down the river incredibly fast.
After several hours of rafting, we arrived at our jungle oasis. We had a super filling sandwich lunch, and everyone took an afternoon nap in the cold weather after some delicious hot chocolate.
Eliza and JR lead us through a deep Moonup where we discussed the hardest things we have been through and our B+ superpowers. Everyone slept like rocks and woke up well rested for our second and final day on the river. Our guides prepared a huge breakfast of pancakes, eggs, fruit, and juice to fuel us for the day. We set out on the river for our second and final day of rafting. Our guides shared that it was the perfect water level due to the previous rains, which made for an epic day on the Pacuare. Robert and Jack Good were natural leaders in the front of the raft helping to navigate the “Dos Montañas” rapid we encountered. Caroline helped keep the group’s spirits up with her funny stories and commentary whilst rafting.
After finishing our rafting, we reunited with David and the van to make our way to San Jose for the night. Upon arriving, we quickly settled back into the Adventure Inn by throwing on our suits and jumping in the hot tub and pool. We all squeezed in the tub to reminisce on our times in Costa Rica and get excited for our travel day and more importantly, Julia’s birthday!! We kicked off celebrations a day early with some festive birthday hats at dinner and some Fourth of July bling. We ended the day with a Moonup led by Liza and Robert and got to bed early to prepare for our travel to Belize!
The next morning began with a wake up of some FUN birthday cheer on the speaker. We know Julia wasn’t able to eat Foosackleys in Mobile, but cupcakes and a birthday sash made it a special day for everyone. We ate breakfast and got to the airport for our flight to Belize. Every single person contributed to helping the leaders navigate through the airport today, and we are very grateful for this!
Upon arrival to our beach town, John ate an entire plate of pasta and we are fueled up for our boat ride to Long Caye tomorrow!
We are so grateful for each of your children, and we can’t believe the trip is nearing its end. We will keep you updated on our diving lessons, and we are excited for what this next week holds.
Until next time! Adios!
Michael, Gillie, Elizabeth
July 3, 2019
We have had the most incredible time at Buenaventura. From jumping into waterfalls to intense soccer games, we have been extremely active.
Our journey began with a long scenic ride through the mountains of southern Costa Rica to our destination, a village called El Brujo. This small village consisting of nearly 200 people, high in the mountains of Costa Rica, is where we began our community service. When we arrived to El Brujo, a lunch of rice, chicken, homemade tortilla chips, and salad was awaiting us in the community service center built by previous Moondance groups. After lunch, we grabbed shovels and wheelbarrows to take to the family’s house where we would begin our community service project, the construction of a greenhouse in their front yard. Jack G. and Kate jumped right into the building process by shoveling piles of dirt to even out the ground. Meanwhile, Julia and Eliza quickly became masters of navigating the wheelbarrow through transporting these heavy piles of dirt around the yard. Suffice to say, everyone was in need of some rest after our long day of surfing and service. We washed our tools and trekked the thirty minutes through El Brujo to our lodging for the nights here. Upon arriving and settling into our jungle lodge, we walked to Tres Semillas (three seeds) where we would eat all of our seriously delicious meals here. The owner of Three Seeds, Tamara, gave us a cooking lesson on how to make papusas. Liza and Reilly learned quickly and took over the job of grinding the corn into cornmeal. This turned into a competition of who could make the best papusa, which we dubbed Robert the winner of. Once our bellies were full, we walked back to our lodging where we had our moon up in the upstairs open air floor lead by our Leaders of the Day, Caroline and Robert.
We had an early wake up the next morning for a full day of service in town. Turley put on some morning tunes to start the day as we walked over to Tamara’s for a delicious breakfast of eggs, rice and beans, an oatmeal banana smoothie, and basil lemon tea. Our LOD’s, Julia and Jack R., set the tone for the day with a quote during our morning huddle before embarking on our two mile walk to the greenhouse project. We split into two groups to attack the day with one planting bamboo and the other continuing work on the greenhouse. Caroline and Reilly kept the energy high in the bamboo group as we hiked up through the rainforest as Cate T. and Liza acted as the translators utilizing their Spanish skills. After a successful morning of work we trekked back to Tamara’s for big lunch consisting of everything she has on her farm. Tamara took the students on a tour of the farm where she grows just about every fruit and veggie imaginable. From coconuts to bananas, hot peppers to many types of basil, she has it all. A highlight of the tour was drinking out of coconut using bamboo straws. After a fun-filled day and another amazing meal we headed up to our campsite for another ~zen~ Moonup. Everyone was tired and off to another night of well-deserved rest.
Our second and final full day of service began with a breakfast of feasts. Pancakes, banana bread, a cocoa banana smoothie, and many, many fruits. We trekked to our project under a sunny, blue sky and got right to work on the greenhouse. JR manned the king shovel, distributing fresh soil to all of the sifters while James worked his heart out mixing cement. We closed the work morning a little early to play a game of soccer with a few of the kids in community. John, Jack M. and Reilly lead team Brujo (the wizards) with their impressive communication skills. After a lot of laughter, cheers, and sprints, we all chowed down on some ice cream cones at the community center before walking back to our campsite. We spent the rest of the afternoon painting our names on the walls of our campsite and learning how to make chocolate from cocoa beans.
We are off to rafting next and could not be more excited. Our time in Costa Rica is over the halfway point, but we still have so much to do!
Elizabeth, Gillie, and Michael
Hey Mom and Dad I’m having soooooooooo much fun. Today is Monday and we just finished community service and then played soccer with the kids from El Brujo. The food here is really good here and we had pancakes for breakfast. For community survive we have been building a greenhouse for the community to use. The walk from the place where we are staying is two miles from the town so that’s quite the walk. I can’t wait to see y’all and love y’all so much!! ❤️
Hey Mom and Dad!
I am having such an amazing time in Costa Rica. I have such an amazing group filled with the sweetest boys and girls. I am so lucky to have such an awesome group. My leaders are really nice too. Believe it or not Micheal Turley was Katherine’s leader on this trip two years ago. I just finished the service portion of the trip and it was a blast. We built a greenhouse from scratch and it was crazy to see how much we have accomplished from the first day. The food is also AMAZING! We are headed to rafting soon and then after that we are going to Belize! I am so excited to scuba dive, it is going to be so much fun! Thank you so much for letting me do this trip, I am so grateful. I love you guys soooo much and I will see you soon!
Hey Mom, Dad, Alex, Davis, Murphy, and Sutton!!
This trip has been incredible I have taken a bunch of photos I cannot wait to show you and tell you about all of it. My group is so amazing and my leaders are so cool I love them! My leaders are Michael, Gillie, and Liz. We just came back from our last day of community service and then we played soccer with the Costa Rican kids they were adorable and the three kids on our team were Axel, Noelle, and Anderson even though there were a lot more those are the ones I got to hangout with and know. The guys who were doing the service with us came and played with us with all smiles. My group is so fun I am always laughing and having a good time. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX!! I’m sorry I can’t be there for your birthday I miss and love you I hope you had the best birthday. Also happy early Fourth of July I hope y’all are having fun in Kiawah. Tell any of my friends you see in kiawah I miss them! I am super excited to go scuba diving and Belize is supposed to be stunning. Thank you for letting me do this trip I am having a blast! LOVE and miss you guys❤️❤️see you in more than a week
Hey Mom, Stephen, Daisy, and Bella!!
I’m having so much fun! The leaders are great. Their names are Liz, Gillie, and Michael. Everyone in the group is so nice! First, we went ziplining and it was so cool. We went surfing the next morning and I got up on the board!! We just finished service and we built and greenhouse. The walk from where we are staying to the community service place is 2 miles so 4 miles a day. Surprisingly I didn’t mind walking because the view was amazing. I was LOD (leader of the day) yesterday! I’m getting Lily and I matching scrunchies from a place by where we’re staying called three seeds. I miss y’all so much!! Today we played soccer with the kids in the community and it was so fun. Tomorrow is the day we play with clay. Some girls here have light blue lulu shorts that are rly cute lol. See y’all soon. Say hi to Bella and Daisy for me! LOVE YALL❤️
Hey Moondance is great miss y’all. I don’t really know what to say, but I’m living in the moment and will tell you all the story’s and great times were having here.
Hey mom and dad Moondance is really fun. We have surfed and done three days of community service. Today we played soccer with kids and it was very cool. My group is really good and I have made so many new friends. It has been super fun and I can’t wait to see you guys in Michigan. Tell Billy, Betsy and Mudge I say hi. Love you
Hey mom hey dad I’m having really fun. We’re in Costa Rica right now and just finished our 3 days of service. The first day or two we surfed. Tomorrow we leave and go to raft. It’s been an amazing few days, see you guys at home. I love you.
Hey mom and dad Moondance has been awesome and I have made so many friends. I can’t wait to see you in Virginia and can’t wait to fish. Love you and miss u!
Hey mom and dad, moon dance has been soooooo much fun and all the kids are really nice. I can’t wait to tell yall all about it.
Hey mom and dad Moondance is absolutely amazing! I am having the best time ever! Currently I am sitting in an eno in Costa Rica next to Caroline and a bunch of the amazing people in my group! I have made amazing friends on this trip so far and LOVE MY LEADERS SO MUCH! I can’t wait to go to Belize because I heard that it is sooooooo gorgeous! Scuba diving is going to be unbelievable and I am 100% looking forward to it! So far Costa Rica has be sooooo fun! We have done some amazing zip lining and surfing! We just finished up a service project which was making a green house for a family in the community! We played soccer with a bunch kids of the kids in the neighborhood and that was awesome! I am loving it here but miss y’all so much! Tell bear I said hi! Have so much fun in New York and I can’t sit to see you soon! I love you! I am so lucky to be on this trip! Thank youuuuuu
Hey mom and dad. Having fun. Still not wearing berks. Cate is so smelly. Lol. Lmao. Ha. Miss yall
Hi mom and dad, how are you? I’m having a blast on this trip. Soooooo not sunburnt! Today we did service and played soccer with kids. I’ve been getting a lot of good videos on my GoPro. My leaders are awesome so so nice and I love all the kids in my group. Tomorrow we will start rafting and then will be off to Belize. Can’t wait. Anyways, I love and miss y’all so much!! Tell Madison I say hi and she’s awesome. (Ps tell Mrs Montag that Liza wore a pair of berkenstalks today so funny) Bye, love you!
Hey Mom and Dad, having the time of my life. Costa Rica is the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, more green and mountainous then you could ever imagine. We are headed to Belize in two days, right after we whitewater raft both days. Been eating chicken, rice and beans for 3 meals a day every single day and did a lot of physical labor in a small village for service, which ended in us playing soccer with some very young Costa Rican children (we lost). I love this trip and hope I can go on another Moondance next summer.
June 30, 2019
‘A mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
“All of us need to explore, go out and see what’s beyond the next horizon. When you get there, your heart beats a little faster, you’re focused, you’re living in the moment. It’s those experiences that are the richest in life.” -Conrad Anker
Bienvenidos to Costa Rica everyone! We have been settling into our new home and making incredible friends along the way. After gathering at the airport, we headed to our hotel. After changing into swimwear, we jumped into the hot tub and pool while Caroline Ku lead us in the Moo Off game. We had a traditional chicken and rice dinner- the first of many. Julia and Cate T. made sure to keep the dinner conversation lively, and after we had our first Moonup! We talked about why we were here and our goals for the trip. Everyone got some incredible Moondance swag, so we are set for the rest of the trip.
Day 2 began with an early wake up call, and we headed to Costa Rica’s famous cloud forests for ziplining. On the way we stopped at a local store where Liza and Cate T. purchased some bright Costa Rican bucket hats. John got some awesome videos while swinging upside down like Tarzan, and everyone had an incredible time.
After ziplining, we headed to the bus and our next stop, Uvita- “the whales tale”. A Costa Rican afternoon thunderstorm rolled in, and we were not able to surf that afternoon. This did not get the group down, and Robert kept us entertained with stories and a positive attitude.
Reily and Jack McDaniel lead the group through our second Moonup down on the beach in Uvita where heat lightening lit up the sky. We all shared our spirit animals and huddled close on the beach. It was a beautiful Moonup location.
We had an early wake up call for a full morning of surf lessons. We thankfully had a clear sky today and the waves were perfect. Jack “JR” Reardon was the first one up on his board and others were quick to follow! Eliza and Kate even got up on the same wave at one point. Jack G. and James couldn’t stop catching wave after wave. Everyone worked up an appetite for a huuuuge breakfast of eggs and rice.
We packed all of our things and are back in the bus headed to the community service section of our trip. Incredible food, new friends, and adventure awaits!
Elizabeth, Gillie, and Michael
June 27, 2019
Hola Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders that all students have arrived safely in San Jose, and the trip is off to a great start. The group is headed to their first hotel for the night, and we can’t wait to hear more stories from their adventures soon.