Ya Betta Belize it Mon

Created by Tyler Gahagan on 01/31/2011 11:00 am

There’s nothing like escaping the cold Sacramento weather for a nice vacation in warm Central America, and in the first leg of our trip, we are truly escaping to the middle of nowhere.  The first half of our trip was spent in what a local server called the “deep, deep” jungle outside of San Ignacio, Belize.

Our Hotel, The Black Rock Lodge, is set up along the Macal River & consists of several sleeping huts with one main dining hut shown in the picture above. As you can see, there isn’t a whole lot around. In fact, our hotel is about a half hour drive down a very bumpy dirt road off of one of the country’s two main highways on the border of Guatemala.

There are a lot of exciting things to do at our spot, including swimming, hiking, eating, & drinking. There is a great swimming hole that I spent a lot of time at trying to shake the muggy heat. It was only after a lot of swimming that I noticed a sign that read “Danger, Crocodiles. Swim at your own risk”.

We took a hike to the top of a summit near our spot where we could see the Macal River stretch all the way to the newly built dam supplying the country with hydro-electric power. This was a plus for the hotel, since previously they were running solely on solar power.

One of our adventures was a trip into Guatemala to visit the Mayan ruins of Tikal. It is amazing to imagine the ancient civilization being able to build these massive structures, but even more impressive was the way each structure in the six square mile site was positioned just right as to match the patterns of the sun. They had a 365 day calendar long before the Spaniards ever showed up. However, the most impressive of all, George Lucas used this site as the rebel base on the jungle moon of Yavin 4 in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

We saw more wildlife in Tikal than any other location including spider monkeys, howler monkeys, toucans, crocodiles, and the funkiest looking turkeys I’ve ever seen. Not to mention, on the drive to and from Tikal, we saw signs for snake, jaguar & coatimundi crossing.

Our last day in the jungle was probably the most enjoyable. Julia and I went on a short run through the jungle to get to a secluded waterfall.  The waterfall could have been more impressive but the damn dam restricts the flow, so it’s always hit or miss. However, on the run back it started raining on us which was one of the most welcome rains I’ve ever experienced.  It was very surreal.

That night, my brother and I signed up for a night hike to see the nocturnal creatures around the jungle. Earlier in the day, I had been talking to Elvis, one of the Staff members, who told me he was stoked because it was his night off and he was planning on meeting up with some girls at the local bar in town. After dinner, I saw Elvis step into the dining hut all dressed up and he wasn’t at the bar like he’d planned. I approached him and asked why he didn’t go out, to which he begrudgingly replied “someone requested a night hike”. I told him I was the jerk who wanted to go on the hike and that he should forget about it and go ahead and go out, but his car had already left without him.

Feeling really bad that we had ruined his night and seeing a good opportunity to check out some real authentic Belizean nightlife, I told him we’d drive him into town if he showed us some cool bars. He was very on board with that idea. We even convinced one of the waiters from the restaurant to tag along. There are no pictures from this night because I didn’t want to advertize my tourist-ness to the locals. However, seeing as how my brother and I were the only Caucasians that didn’t speak Creole in both places we went, I failed to blend in like I’d hoped. I can sum up our nightlife experience without a photo with a few words: Caribbean Rum, Sprite, karaoke, armed bouncers, late night street tacos, and hangover.

Now we are off to the island of Ambergris where we’re staying in San Pedro. This will be the more relaxing leg of our trip.   

Suisun Community Center gets Supersized...

Created by Scott Kelly on 01/13/2011 05:00 pm

Jan 13, 2011 ... SUISUN CITY  

The Salvation Army is pleased to announce its commitment to construct a $22 million Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Suisun City, CA. The money for the improvements to a facility already purchased in the city was given by the organization’s corporate headquarters in Long Beach, CA through a bequest left to The Salvation Army by Joan Kroc, wife of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s corporation. When Joan Kroc died in 2003, she left The Salvation Army the largest charitable gift in history to the tune of $1.8 billion. Of that money, $450 million was allotted for the Western Territory of the United States. This community center in Suisun City will be the seventh in the Western United States. 

"The city of Suisun admires the leadership of The Salvation Army in pushing such a creative project forward in our community. This is an unprecedented program in our city and we are honored to house such a dynamic community center,” said Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez. “The city of Suisun pledges to support and help this profitable adventure in any way we can. The facility being built by The Salvation Army will improve our city in remarkable ways."

In whole, this community center is a $44 million commitment. $22 million is the budget for construction with a matching $22 million for endowment. The $22 million endowment will offset some of the operational costs of the facility.

"The Del Oro Division of The Salvation Army is humbled and excited to be rewarded this grant of such generous proportions. It is our goal to fully execute, with great care and certainty, a state of the art community center mirroring the vision of Joan Kroc,” said Major Douglas F. Riley, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army. “This center will be a great asset to the Solano County community and will work to enrich the lives of men, women and children throughout the area. We are blessed to have been rewarded such a wonderful opportunity."

This $22 million facility will include a lap pool, therapy pool and whirlpool, a high school regulation size basketball court, a full fitness facility, including dance studios and workout rooms. The center will also house a café, rock climbing wall, full commercial kitchen with large reception hall, a traditional Salvation Army chapel for worship and a theater for performing arts. The center will also boast several public outreach programs including after school activities for children with opportunities in the arts, including theater and music instruction, an offering that is very limited in most schools in the area.

"This community center in Suisun City will be a center for recreation, education and the arts," Riley said. "It is our hope that through scholarships funded by donations from the public, that every child, no matter their monetary situation, will have an opportunity to participate in this life enrichment center." 

Learn more about more about Kroc Centers...

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