Belize/Guatemala 2017: Final Reflections by the Group

For our final blog entry about this incredible Spring Break Adventure, the group was asked to provide a “Top 5” list in reverse order – David Letterman Style (only the oldest of us understand that reference)! Here are the responses I was able to collect on the plane.

What an incredible week – wow! As these reflections show, this experience is an incredible one for the students of C.R. Anderson Middle School. Our next trip will be in the spring of 2019, and all 7th and 8th graders are invited to learn more when we have an organizational meeting late this spring or early next fall. Thank you to those who participated in this year’s adventure, with a special thanks to the parents who made the trip with us and helped ensure success!

(If anyone didn’t answer the question who would like to, please Email me your Top 5, and I’ll get them added to this post!)

“What are were your top 5 moments/experiences of our past week in Belize and Guatemala?”

CRA Middle School:

Auggie –


Auggie Tupper applies some sunscreen.

5. Holding a puffer fish

4. Ziplining

3. Meeting new people/ Hanging with Kevin/ Having Erik as a guide

2. Swimming with sharks

1. Visiting the ruins/ Looking out from the top of the highest Mayan ruin

Autumn –


Autumn Denney sits atop Temple IV, Tikal UNESCO World Heritage Site Ruins (Guatemala).

5. Riding the airplanes.

4. Shopping – all of it!

3. Mayan Ruins – both Caracol and Tikal.

2. Zip-lining

1. Snorkeling – seeing the rays, sharks, and a turtle.


Cale Hines swimming in the Rio Frio on a hot Belizean afternoon.








5. The fifth thing that I like the best was probably the ziplining. That was pretty cool but I had done it before so it wasn’t as good as the first time.

4. The thing that I really loved also was the amazing food from Crystal Paradise. I loved the pineapple.

3. Another thing that I really enjoyed was probably the snorkeling that was amazing and I had never done it before. I liked it so much grabbed a few shells and got to swim with sharks and rays.

2. My second favorite thing was the Tikal Ruins. That was really cool because I learned how sophisticated the Mayans were and how they lived, how smart they were, and how structurally sound their buildings were.

1. My favorite thing out of this whole trip was probably meeting new people and getting to know better friends. Some of the people I met were Auggie, Kendra, Nick, Morgan and Madison

Calvin –


Calvin Dinh strikes a pose in the airport, excited as we work on getting to Belize.

5. Wildlife: birds!

4. Learning about Mayan Culture in Caracol (Erick).

3. Mayan Ruins: Tikal’s Temple 4.

2. Eating – especially the fruits.

1. Snorkeling – the sharks.





Ella –


Ella Shropshire checks out a large starfish before putting it back gently into it’s ecosystem on the sea floor.

 5. I also really liked seeing all of the awesome animals, like the Toucan, and the Tarantulas.

4. I liked traveling in the first bus. It was really cool to sit with my pals.

3. I liked going to Caracol and Tikal because they where sooo cool. I loved seeing the old ruins (and the bats).

2. I really liked Saint George’s Caye. It was very cool, with the ocean around it. I really liked the rooms, they reminded me of my lake house.

1. my favorite part was Shark Ray Alley. It was cool seeing the sharks, but also seeing the turtle with the remora on it.

Harrison –


Harrison Francis enjoys the water blasting in his face as we boat to and from the reef from Saint George’s Caye.

  1. The Chicken.
  2. Seeing all the sharks.
  3. Howler Monkey.
  4. Crystal Paradise Rooms.
  5. Uncle Andrew!



Jaida –

5. My last favorite thing was Tikal. The view at the top of Temple 4 was amazing you could see trees for miles. It was absolutely incredible. The stairs were a little bit tiring but it was definitely worth the climb!

4. My fourth favorite thing was probably the FOOD. I really stepped outside my comfort zone when it came to the food. I even tried fried Plantains.


Jaida Salois smiles for a portrait as she shares earbuds with her buddy Cale while on a boat in the Caribbean.

3. My third favorite thing was definitely the zip lining! It was my first time and I was scared out of my mind before I went, and it didn’t help that the platforms we stood on weren’t exactly stable. After I went a couple of times we switched my harness around and I went Superman style. When I got to the end of the zip line the guy that was there to stop me was a bit of a jokester, he pretended that he wasn’t going to stop me and I was going to have to do it myself which would have consisted of me sticking my hands out so that I didn’t face plant into a tree.

2. My second favorite thing was probably snorkeling… even though my legs are fried (you should see Mr. Elder’s back). Seeing the Coral and Sharks was a really fun experience.

1. My favorite thing during this trip was getting to make new friends. I became close with many people I didn’t expect. At night we would play games like Truth or Truth and BS. We learned A LOT about each other and are all great friends now.

Mia –


Mia Loble flashes a crazy look of excitement as she goes to get in the mini-bus and begin our adventure moments after clearing immigration/customs at the Belize Airport.

5. Shopping

4. Exploring Mayan Ruins

3. Swimming in the fresh water pools

2. Snorkeling

1. Exploring the cave in canoes




Nico –


Nico Bugni strikes a pose with his friends while checking out the elite residences of the Caracol Ruins.

5. Experiencing new foods

4. Visiting the Mayan ruins

3. Swimming with sharks and sting rays

2. Leaving the country for the first time

1. Making new friends







Nolan Burke takes a break while checking out Shark and Ray Alley.

Nolan –


5. Trying new food

4. Going to a new country

3. Seeing a manatee

2. Snorkeling in the ocean

1. Getting a smoking hot tan body



Sophie –


Sophie Palcisko enjoying a little zip-lining through the Guatemalan Canopy near Tikal National Park.

5. Exploring the ruins

4. Seeing all the wild life, especially the dolphins

3. Snorkeling

2. The food

1. Zip lining

Kelly –

5. The wild and the wildlife. From the Orange-Breasted Falcons (we saw a couple of this rare bird, much to Paul’s delight) to the parrots and other birds, the monkeys (Howler and Spider), the dolphins, rays, eel, lobster, sharks, and thousands of fish living in and around the intricate coral reefs – all of the animals were really incredible. We did not see a Jaguar, but other than that – spectacular!


Mr. Kelly Elder waving to the camera with hundreds of fish in the background as he checks out the reef’s ecosystem about 25′ below the surface.

4. Building relationships with others on the trip: Paul with Global Travel Alliance; Erick, Mariela, and Kevin (San Ignacio Crystal Paradise) as well as Victoria and Johnny (Saint George’s Caye). This is most often my favorite part of travel.

3. Seeing all of the students talking and bonding together, more and more over the course of the week – from the opening interviews and introductions (partner activity) to the evening dock sessions the kids had at Saint George’s Caye.

2. Watching everyone come out from the breakfast area excitedly trying to get the best possible glimpses and photos of the Toucan(s) in the trees at Crystal Paradise near San Ignacio.

1. Riding in the back of the 4-wheel drive truck with Adrienna on the way down to the Burton Cave.

Kylie – 


Miss Kylie Pancich on the beach with the “front dock” going out into the Caribbean side of the island at Saint George’s Caye (Key).

5. All of the good food. Fresh fruits, Belizean spices, rice and beans.

4. The history and exploration of the Mayan ruins in Caracol and Tikal.

3. Snorkeling in the Caribbean. Swimming over shark, rays, and variety of fishes.

2. Meeting new people. The adults and students on our trip were so fun. The Tut family (Eric, Victor, Kevin, Edward) were brilliant, welcoming, and such great additions to our group.

1. The views of the forests from the Mayan ruins. The views of the Caribbean Sea from the Cayes, boat, and water.

John –


Dr. John Tupper taking in the view and looking around the main plaza from the highest temple at the Caracol Ruins (Belize).

5.  Canoeing Barton Creek Cave

4.  Hanging with the adults in the evenings

3.  Tikal : ruins and monkeys

2. Crystal Paradise – meals, toucan, Eric

1. Singing in the van with the Belize Street Boys

Andrew –


Mr. Andrew Mayer takes a selfie in front of the Mayan Ruins – I believe this is .

5. The profiles of faces in the cave walls when we paddled out of the cave on Barton Creek. They looked like there were coming out of the underworld in LED light; I can only imagine what they looked like by torchlight for the Mayans.

4. There was a disabled young man in a wheelchair begging at the Guatemala border, with someone I assume was his brother, who was very stern. As we drove by, the brother bent over the young man in the wheelchair and gave him a huge hug and a smile. I wish I could describe how tender it was.

3. The view of the plaza and the canopy from the top of the tallest temple in Caracol. We stood where the ruling family lived so they could be closer to the Gods.

2. My first time sitting under a waterfall. It wasn’t very big or tall, but all the water was unexpectedly heavy. It felt amazing.

1. Thousands of leaf-cutter ants carrying huge pieces of leaves from a tree to their nest, working in a tight row across the ground and up another tree.


Corvallis Group:

Morgan –

5. Visiting a new country.

4. Getting to know our guides.

3. Watching the sunsets and sunrises from St. George’s Caye

2. Getting to see all of the old Mayan Ruins in both Belize and Guatemala.

1. Getting to see all of the marine wildlife. (Turtles, Sharks, Dolphins, Manatees, etc.)

Kendra –


Kendra focuses intently as she comes onto a platform during our Guatemalan Zip-Lining Adventure!

5. Being in a new country.

4. Meeting new people.

3. Hiking the ruins.

2. Swimming with sharks.

1. Seeing a turtle for the first time



5. Getting a break from Montana

4. Experiencing a different culture and atmosphere

3. Swimming with turtles, sharks, and rays

2. Mayan ruins

1. Being in a new country for the first time