July 7, 2022
Our Belize + Costa Rica 2B Friends and Family,
We are so sad to see all of our wonderful students leave us after our amazingly action packed two week adventure. Saying our emotional final goodbyes to each of your children truly showed us how much of an impact each and every one of them had on us and we hope we were able to do the same for them. We are so grateful to have had the chance to meet all of your wonderful children and play a small role in their lives. We as leaders can see the potential they all have and can not wait to see how far they will go! We need to say thank you to all of the parents for raising such amazing children and giving us the opportunity to work with each of them. Without your willingness to push them out of their comfort zone we would have never had the chance to grow alongside your children. We hope that you and your family are able to share your wonderful children with our Moondance family for another trip in the future! We wish you a beautiful rest of your summer and we can not wait to see just how far your children will soar with your love and support.
Sergio, Quinlyn, and Parker
July 7, 2022
Today was the day we finally got to start scuba! After a hearty breakfast, we were picked up by our dive center, Splash, to learn how to set up our gear and then head out to Laughing Bird Caye to begin skills in shallow water. Everyone was learning like professionals, but Meg was speeding past her group in skills and often had to wait for everyone else to finish. Eventually, everyone wrapped up their confined water skills and we headed back to Placencia for our nightly routine of dinner, gelato, then Moonup.
The next day we were up for a similar schedule, but this time more of the real deal. It was now time to bring the dives into deeper water—20 feet. While down there completing skills, our leave-no-trace queen Nina picked up a piece of plastic and stuck it in her wetsuit until it could be properly disposed of. We were so proud to see her exhibiting such awesome behavior. Meanwhile, LJ headed for a snorkel session with Parker. Once we completed our two dives of the day, we headed back for the same nightly routine: dinner, gelato, and Moonup.
On our third day of scuba, everyone was up with extra anticipation because today was the day we got certified! We were grateful for our awesome helper Maggie during breakfast (and really all times of the day). Whenever us leaders needed to take a step out to handle business or take a phone call, we always jokingly told the group, “okay, Maggie is in charge.” She is small but mighty being the most responsible in the group. Following breakfast, we were off to complete our last dive that encompassed skills. Once we wrapped up the skills, we had a little extra time to dive around the area and ran into numerous nurse sharks! After that, everyone was stoked to set out for dive two in hopes of a similar experience. We spotted more nurse sharks and some eels. And we all laughed as Coleson got in the habit of swimming upside down on his dives. When we finished up the dives of the day, we headed back to the mainland and had a fun 4th of July celebration enjoying burgers, wings, and pizza while playing in the only bowling alley in all of Belize.
It was sadly our last day of diving, but we were certainly going to make the most of it. After a particularly early wake-up call, we set off to Glover’s reef—one of the best dive spots in all of Belize. We had three dives in store for today and today was the first day the group could dive altogether. That being said, we were all delighted to share the experience of seeing a huge sea turtle up close and personal on our first dive of the day. And we were even more delighted when we had the same experience again and spotted another turtle on our last dive. Hampton even was lucky enough to score the best view and have the turtle swim right over his head. Once we wrapped up our lengthy dive day, we had a long boat ride back on which Gigi fell asleep in some hilarious positions where we jokingly had to check if she was still breathing. She wasn’t alone, as nearly everyone found some position to take a nap in on our way back. Good thing the kids were feeling a bit rejuvenated because after our dinner and ice cream stop we allowed the boys to go initiate a basketball game with some local kids in the area. Mikey, despite not looking too promising in the first half, ended up being the MVP of the game scoring the last two shots and walking off the court drenched in sweat and determination. Sadly though, they lost the game and have not yet let themselves live it down.
It was our last full day together and we didn’t plan to quit having fun now. We were off for the last day of activities encompassing snorkeling and fishing. After first jumping in the water, Eliza and Sergio made the group laugh with their crab walk out to the snorkel spot. We then had the opportunity to snorkel around and spot more cool sea creatures like parrot fish and lobsters. Upon returning to the island for lunch, we discovered a beach volleyball court and immediately split up into teams. Bennett was the star underdog, as she was acing the other team with her awesome serves. Once the kids had some wins under their belts, it was time to hit the water again and fish. Witt was the first to cast a line into the bright blue water. After a while of commitment and patience, no fish came to bite the line and the guides switched gears to take us to another island to explore. Although it didn’t work out as planned, we were happy to see Witt’s valiant attempt to reel in a big fish. Following our day of sunshine and fun, we came back to Placencia and showered and prepped for our big banquet dinner. To celebrate our last night, our budget was upped and we went to the Tipsy Tuna where the kids went all out with fruit smoothies, appetizers, delectable main courses, and even cake. Needless to say, we were barely able to walk out of there to make it back for our final Moonup. It was a great time of reflection as we shared our favorite memories and what we hoped to take away from the trip to our everyday lives back home.
It’s been fun!
Quinlyn, Sergio, and Parker
July 5, 2022
After some early morning pancakes and fresh fruit, our group set off to make the last day at Buenaventura the best. We began with a steep hike up the nearby mountain led by our host Harlow and his dog Sky. Eliza had an attitude brighter than the sun on our backs, as she never complained and expressed how much she loved the hike and the view around her. Her positivity helped push the group to our final destination: Toucan rock. But Simon was the first to face the wrath of the waterfall, as he climbed in the river and sat underneath it. Next, we began our full body blue-clay spa treatment. We coated ourselves in blue clay looking like Avatars, and then used orange clay to add intricate details. Bennett was the real artist of the group, as she pitched in to add cool dots and lines to everyone’s faces and chests. After we let the clay dry, it was time for exfoliate and a quick dip to wash off. For entertainment on the way down, Witt initiated the classic “99 bottles of beer on the wall” but adding his own remix into it each time: he was consistently inconsistent with the beat making everyone laugh and join in.
Once we made it back to Buenaventura, it was time for an insightful and tasty farm tour from Harlow. We learned about the cacao bean fermentation process and got a few samples of fresh picked fruit. Loren Jane, Gigi, and Meg were huge fans of the delicious pineapple we picked and ate right then and there. Mikey was such a fan of the coconut water that he chugged two and cracked one open to snack on. We had to say a bitter of our trip. We drove down to the Pacuare River for a safety briefing and then set off! We were up against class 1 through 4 rapids. In-between, we were treated to a few nice stops to hop in the water or hike up to a nice swimming hole. Nina and Margaret helped search along with us leaders to hunt for the perfect rock! Even though we couldn’t take them with us, the girls kept us entertained with all the shiny, colorful and cool rocks she was able to find. After a morning of rafting was tackled, we ended up at our Eco-lodge in the middle of the rainforest and learned it was powered by turbines in the river! The group enjoyed some downtime and dinner and then we gathered for a deeper and more insightful Moonup session where we discussed a hurdle we have had to jump over in the last year. We were very grateful for Hampton’s bravery to open up to the group and encourage others to do the same. We all learned so much about and from each other.
We awoke bright and early for our flights out to Belize. After the normal struggles of checking everyone in and getting through security, the group watched in amusement as Hampton and Witt proceeded to buy an absurd amount of pancakes and French toast in the airport (7 plates): granted, they did finish it all. And we also happily watched and sometimes assisted as Coleson kept busy with his Sudoku puzzle book or a game of solitaire. Thanks to fun games like those to pass the time, we made it through travel day seamlessly.
Check back in soon!
Quinlyn, Sergio, and Parker
June 29, 2022
With surprisingly little first day jitters, we gathered almost everyone together in the San Jose airport and watched in amazement as the group speedily started to get along. Due to some unfortunate flight cancellations, Bennett didn’t arrive to Costa Rica until much later in the night; in spite of this, the group happily stayed up to welcome her and commence our first Moonup session. Bennett fit like the last puzzle piece into our group dynamic. After setting some ground rules and giving out cool Moondance merch, our group was ready to start the trip of a lifetime. For our first full day together, the group was in for a real treat of two activities: zip lining and surfing. After making it to the Jacò rainforest, we began to gear up for zip lining. Hampton—who we learned is terrified of heights—asked us if there was putt putt golf around he could instead opt in for. In the end, Hampton bravely conquered his fears as he soared through ten lines high up in the rainforest canopy.
Simon’s GoPro hit the line, and it took an unfortunate tumble to the rainforest floor. However, he learned a valuable lesson about listening to directions and was thankfully able to move forward and joke about the situation: a notable one being the GoPro footage some monkey is getting right now. Following zip lining and a tasty lunch, we transferred to Uvita Beach to “shred the gnar”. Upon receiving a lesson from our instructor, the group hit the waves and everyone was able to stand up for multiple waves! Loren Jane, who had never surfed previously, stood up on the very first wave she caught! Gigi out-shredded the rest of us, as she caught the most waves (Bennett was a close second). Afterwards, the kids couldn’t be kept out of the water and hopped into the hotel pool for some game time. During Marco Polo and Silence, the group uncovered Witt’s past glory of being invited to the junior olympics for swimming—needless to say he could out swim the rest of us. Then, everyone was tired out as we settled for dinner, Moonup, then bed.
The next day, we awoke for another surf sesh to get the day started. Everyone looked like basically a pro out second time around. But after tiring ourselves out, it was time to hit the road and head to the next portion of our trip: community service! After transferring to Buenaventura, the group hiked over a suspension bridge into the rainforest to reside on our lovely host Harlow’s cacao farm. There, we began service work learning how to crack a cacao seed and harvest the bean for planting and fermentation. Once we began planting, Nina excelled being the quickest to bag dirt and plant the cacao seeds. We have her to thank for getting the work done so quickly! The cacao fun didn’t stop there. After planting was finished, the group washed up and participated in a chocolate making class, where we learned about the bean fermentation process and cooked up our own batch of fresh chocolate brownies. To do so, we gathered an assembly line to crack open the bean shells and retrieve the nib, and then passed them off to our instructor Blanca and helper Maggie who ground the nibs down into a thin powder that would be cooked into melted chocolate. The brownies turned out to be muy bien!
We were up and ready to head to the village of El Brujo the next morning to do more service alongside local community members. Once we arrived, the group learned we were helping to repaint an older playground for the school. Meg had the most to show for her work, as she was coated in the brown paint after climbing into the small tunnels to reach all the nooks and crannies that needed touch-ups. The only person that ended up as brown as her would be Coleson during our muddy soccer game with the locals. His commitment to the game landed him sliding in the mud too many times to count. Matching that same level of commitment, Mikey scored a whopping four goals during our heated soccer match making him the MVP. He ended the game with a heartwarming jersey switch with a local man on the opposing team. Meanwhile, during and after the game Eliza showed off her Spanish skills as she spoke with and learned from the locals. She picked up a couple new phrases we’ve heard her since use. After wrapping up our time with the locals, we reluctantly said goodbye and returned to our Buenaventura temple for yet another cooking class on how to make pupusa—an El Salvadoran dish of dough stuffed with cheese and beans. After stuffing our faces, we reflected on our day and went to bed with the soothing sound of rain as accompaniment.
That’s all for now! Looking forward to another adventure.
Quinlyn, Sergio, + Parker
June 25, 2022
Hello Belize + Costa Rica Families!
We heard from our leaders last night that the group has landed safely in San Jose. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!