As we continue featuring student stories on our blog, today we turn to Belize. The following reflection was written by Maya C., a two-time RLT alum. Maya traveled with The Road Less Traveled in 2018 with our Florida: Conservation is Key program. Most recently in 2019, Maya completed Belize: Gud Mawnin, and has her sights on our new programs for Summer 2020.
Belize: Gud Mawnin is our 15-day teen SCUBA community service trip and marine conservation program. Students get the opportunity to earn PADI SCUBA certifications and work hands-on above and below the water in a range of environmental service work including fish identification studies, aquatic life tracking, capturing invasive lionfish, and more. On this RLT trip to Belize, Maya was able to work on existing dive skills and had the chance to earn her Rescue Diver Certification. According to Maya’s trip leaders, her curiosity and outgoing personality were valuable components to the group’s overall success. Continue scrolling to read Maya’s poem about her experience with The Road Less Traveled in Summer 2019!
“One, two, three, go!
I lean back as my tank slaps the surface
My head is enveloped by the water.
Ok? Ok. Descend.
Bubbles floating up
I rise and fall with each breath
Sand clouds form around me
Standing at the bottom of the ocean
A shoal of squid floats past me
With nothing to do, I count them.
Time passes and no one has come,
I have a stare-off with some big fish
It might have been a hog fish
(Or a grunt, I don’t know if there are hog fish in Belize)
It also could’ve been a snapper
It followed me with its eyes
Protecting its reef from me.
The vast ocean around me
Recalling moments from the past few weeks
Boarding the plane
About to start on my next adventure
New people, new culture, new food, new country
What is friendship?
Embracing old friends in a hug
Catching up on the year that’s passed
Meeting new people all on the same journey
Together in the same car, room, house, island
Everyone has a different background
A different story
People from the states, some even across seas
Laying in hammocks
Our feet brushing on the sand as we swing
The slight breeze caresses our face
As we belt out songs
Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, Moana
Time passing slowly, island time
With nothing to do, except to dive
Allowing us to soak up each other and our experiences.
We went through it all together
The tough moments facing our fears,
Whether diving for the first time
Or performing an unconscious diver procedure.
And the best times
Shrieking with delight as eagle rays glide past us
The adrenaline rush as you release a spear heading straight for a lionfish.
I am forever grateful for this experience
To travel to a new place
To eradicate lionfishTo help restore the reef
To tube through rivers
To slide down rock waterfalls
To swim with eagle rays
To plant cacao trees
To make chocolate
But I’m grateful for my friends
Who at the beginning were strangers
And now are family.”
Discover an adventure worth writing about! View our 2020 programs.