Saturday, May 12, 2012

the circus is in town, and no it’s not us...

As an added treat, the largest circus in Central America (so they claim) has rolled into town.  Some of us will check it out in the free time.

Yesterday, we had a great meeting with the Cornerstone Foundation about a health accessibility mapping project to benefit the people of San Ignacio.  Students listened attentively to the lecture led by the foundation’s director.  They then developed a plan to identify different GIS layers needed to suppport the data requests of the Cornerstone Foundation.  the students quickly learned that unlike most US GIS projects there is not much readily available data.  Thus, they headed into the field in small groups to interview residents, collect GPS points, document attribute data, and create field notes for later inclusion in GIS.  By most accounts it was a hot, but interesting day.  What’s most exciting is I think the students came up with a creative analysis of the problems identified by the Cornerstone Foundation.  The student maps will be directly shared with the community and the Cornerstone Foundation in the next few weeks.
In the evening, we had some free time.  About half the group went on a night hike through the jungle.  It was not so good. The animals were not having it, so we didn’t see much.  Saw some scorpions, ants, frogs, a toad, an owl, and a bunch of very small spiders.  Other students stuck around town and had some dinner and fun.
Today we woke up and headed out to Cahal Pech (a Maya ruin site).  Students again created sketch maps and detailed field notes about another important tourism hotspot.  Great stuff.  I then went rogue and off script like Joe Biden.  We took a trip to Rodriguez’ Roadside Chicken Stand (owned by the brother of our driver: Ramone).  I sprung for lunch since I poorly communicated the wake up times two days in a row!  We had great barbecue chicken, a loveley lime drink, and some fresh tortillas.  It hit the spot and brought most spirits back up. 
Now the students are out in the field collecting data for the final projects. 
Tonight we head to the Village of San Antonio for a traditional Maya dinner.  Should be delicious and relaxing.
Tomorrow we head to Mountain Pine Ridge.  It’s a challening trip for all of us especially with the heat, but I think overall its going well.  More soon from a sun burnt, excited and sore professor.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 2 in the books

Our first full day in San Ignacio is officially in the books.  Today we spent a very hot morning at the Mayan site of Xunantunich followed by some cave tubing at Jaguar Paw.  Both of these stops were meant to showcase two of Belize's top income by tourism attractions.  Tonight, the students are required to post to their journals a reflection of how the use of GIS would assist and enhance the tourism of Belize through these two specific attractions. 

While at Xunantunich, the students were collecting GPS points of several of the ruins, and also recording relevant qualitative information about the village, Mayan culture (rituals, games, etc.) as well as the overall layout of the community and features of the physical environmental.  A brief sketch of the surroundings and the layout of the village was collected in data notebooks, all to be collected together as layers of information in GIS later this week.  I must point out, that we still didn't see any monkeys, and my feeling that Tim Photoshopped them into his promotional pictures is growing stronger. 

Tomorrow, we head to the Mayan site of Cahal Pech in the morning to do similar data collection.  Then in the afternoon we will meet with the Cornerstone Foundation to begin collecting and creating a healthcare map of downtown San Ignacio for their clients. 

Moving right along. 


Friday, May 4, 2012

Wednesday is the day...

All the planning is coming together. The equipment is packed, the schedule is set, and I am very excited about what is is to come when we arrive in Belize on Wednesday. More very soon... Tim