San Pedro Belize beach pictures

Major Update Day

Unfortunately for those who are visiting like the Jayhawks and Scotty it is a cold rainy day in San Pedro. Perfect for getting stuff done around the house or watching movies if you have that option. I have decided to make today an update day and pass along some great information that pertains to previous things I have blogged about and one new update from Michele Kinnon in Playa Del Carmen.

I have been wanting to update you on Direct Abundance progress for a while now and have been talking off an on with Heather about the composting toilets for San Mateo Belize mission.

About 2 years Back I saw someone from San Mateo California on the Oprah Show. It was an ‘aha moment’ –  I immediately though there are people there who can help the people here who really need it and wouldn’t it be cool if we could somehow find someone in  San Mateo California to help them become a sister city to San Mateo on Ambergris Caye. I did some research with islenutt [she lives in Cali] we both agreed this could be a win win situation – people helping people and then there is the potential diving connection too. I even found out from my stats that someone from San Mateo California had read tacogirl blog but that is as far as I physically got. Mentally I never gave up hope that this idea would fall into place and kept quietly tossing the idea out there like skipping a stone in a pond and imagining the thought ripple.

I am pleased to report Heather (Direct Abundance) is making great progress in putting together the San Mateo California – San Mateo Belize puzzle pieces. Below is her conversation about it from our coconut phone chat last night explaining how it is all coming together.

Just wanted to update you on the phone call on Monday.  Its all great news!  The women I spoke with is very keen on our project in San Mateo!  She said she will help with the technical part of building the toilet and is going to try to make it down to Belize in Jan or Feb for the build. She is also going to go to the city hall to inquire about being a sister city!  just like you thought about!

Carol Steinfeld  from the Ecovita company which is a part of Ecological Engineering Group. She is going to give us a great deal on the toilet inserts, $35 from the usual $120! Ecovita is the place in San Mateo, California that makes the insert we will be using that David Del Porto designed, he is the ecological engineer that shared his design so all this will be possible! (Ecovita and Ecowaters are the same company). Carole  wrote the book Liquid Gold and David Del Porto coauthored The Toilet Composting System book. I am so excited to have these guys helping me!  It helps with the success rate for sure!

I really need to get a hold of Coleen, I haven’t heard from her in a while.  I need the name of the company, I think it might have been the water company…to see about donations of the 55 gallon drums We will also need the plant list if she made one…Do you talk to her?

One more thing Vernon Wilson just emailed and and said they are going to start building the schools Waste Water Garden in January to go along with their composting toilets!  They have their funding all ready! I also touched base with Lucien from Planetary Coral Reef Foundation and Waste Water Garden Rep for Belize and he is still in to help with everything as well.

[In case you are just coming in on this story here are two links to help fill you in – Belize History in the making and  to the post when Lucien came to tour San Mateo and  the school’s state of the art composting toilet system.]

Foodie update Banh Mi Belize has teamed up with Lola’s Pub
Now open at Lola’s Pub from 1-9 mon-sat,  Banh Mi Belize is offering vietnamese sate subs, ceviche, salad rolls, spring rolls, banh mi tacos, chicken satay, rice bowls, and thai curry.

Update from our Neighbors in Mexico – Mexico’s First Ecological School to Host Eco-Challenge 2010

Contest draws the attention of local and international environmental leaders.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico – December 1, 2010 – With just a few days remaining before the 1st Annual Eco-Challenge, a one of a kind contest for families to design and build the most ecologically friendly toy, teachers, administrators and parents of Ak Lu’um International School are preparing the jungle campus to welcome environmental leaders and local government officials as well as families from all over the Riviera Maya who will present their unique creations to a select panel of judges. The contest and eco-fair will take place on December 5, 2010 from noon until 2:30 pm on the school grounds in Playa del Carmen.

The contest, which is free of charge, invites local families to design and build a unique toy or game that encourages play without doing harm to the environment. Each submission must be constructed using organic materials, materials that come from sustainable sources and/or recycled objects and will be judged in several categories: most original, most ecological, most durable and most beautiful. Confirmed on the panel of judges are delegates from the COP16 Climate Change Summit taking place now in Cancun, environmental leaders from the Municipality of Solidaridad and representatives from Flora, Fauna y Cultura. Local businesses have generously supported this exciting event with donations of prizes for the winners in each of the four criteria. Among the prizes are family passes for Xcaret, a family snorkel excursion with Abyss Dive Center, a boat trip for up to five people donated by Bauer Compressors, a swim with dolphins experience at Dolphinaris, a weekend stay in Tulum at Villas Geminis and an electric scooter donated by Carpe Diem Communications. The grand prize, awarded to the family whose toy best meets all four criteria, will be a year of free tuition at Ak Lu’um International School. This scholarship is valued at over $43,000 mn and is transferable.

Event organizers have invited local organizations and businesses to participate in this one of a kind event. There will be a marketplace pavilion where local retailers will offer eco, natural or organic products and/or food services. Registration is still open for both the contest and the marketplace although the space is limited. For more information including directions to the school campus contact

Ak Lu’um International School is a Waldorf Initiative founded in 2006 in the jungle close to Playa del Carmen. The main aims are to promote sustainability, develop ecological awareness and teach children from 2 to 12 to reconnect with our earth. Students at Ak Lu’um learn with their minds, hearts and hands. The curriculum is academically challenging and meaningful with many opportunities for hands-on learning and artistic development. Ak Lu’um also welcomes children with special needs and seeks to integrate them fully, giving all children an opportunity to better know, understand and love fellow human beings. The community at Ak Lu’um International School is bilingual (English-Spanish) and culturally rich with over 10 nationalities represented by staff and pupils.

Media Contact: Siobhan Bowers Director Ak Lu’um International School 984-115-4367

One more update just came through from Be Kind Belize.

Teachers learn to ‘do it with kindness’ during Be Kind Belize workshop in Belmopan

Be Kind Belize, the humane education programme, started in San Pedro in 2007 is spreading kindness across the country. During a three day workshop on November 19th, 20th & 21st, hosted by Belmopan Humane Society, Colette Kase, Be Kind Belize founder, taught teachers and animal welfare volunteers the principals of humane education and helped them to kick start an important new programme in our capital city.

Belmopan Humane Society, with a grant provided by the US Embassy, have started an ambitious new effort to teach children the importance of kindness and to help them develop empathy – the ability to understand what it feels like to be in someone else’s situation. Be Kind Belize was invited to provide materials and train humane educators for this groundbreaking programme in Belmopan, providing them with everything they need to work with ‘at risk’ children in Belmopan and surrounding areas.

Belmopan Humane Society had selected a group candidates, some with many years teaching experience, who wished to become ‘humane educators’. Several volunteers from the Humane Society also participated, as well as a number of local children, who were lucky enough to be able to benefit from the practical sessions. The issue of dog fighting was raised amongst research clearly demonstrating that children who are exposed to cruelty to animals are more likely to become involved in serious criminal activity and violence as adults.

It was noted that children who are exposed to dog fighting and the criminal activities associated with it are highly at risk. A special Power Point, covering the history of the Pit Bull, highlighting its many services to human kind as a military dog, police dog, search and rescue dog and drug detection dog – in fact the most successful drug detection dog ever was a rescued Pit Bull – was shown as a means to help educate young people about the reasons why dog fighting is wrong and illegal.

The workshop was an eye opener for some participants, covering issues ranging from using positive reinforcement in teaching to understanding the status of many endangered species in Belize. Educators learned how to use interactive lessons involving art, drama, mathematics, writing, and science to allow the children to explore the concepts of kindness and responsibility. Because the programme uses a broad  range of teaching approaches, children enjoy the classes and are highly motivated to participate, which in itself is hugely rewarding for the educators.

Nikki Buxton, of Belmopan Humane Society and Belize Bird Rescue said ‘The children who will be invited to take part in humane education through this programme will have been identified as ‘at risk’. We hope that by providing them with a new way of looking at the world, helping them to understand the consequences of their behavior upon themselves, the people and animals around them and their community, they will be more likely to become responsible and thoughtful adults. By teaching children that violence is wrong whether committed against humans or non humans and by offering them choices in life that make kindness, generosity and empathy signs of strength and not weakness, we hope that we are positively investing in the future of Belize.’

Be Kind Belize is a free programme, designed to complement the Belize National Curriculum. It is available to any school that would like to introduce the concept of kindness to their pupils. Volunteers are always welcome.

If you would like more information about how you or your school could participate in Be Kind Belize or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Colette Kase on 226 4366.

Ambergris Caye Weather

Ambergris Caye Weather

Ambergris Caye Weather

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