I travel a lot in my different, as they both are Beautiful Worlds… but I also go to other countries too. This part of the blog is where I will show you where I go ( and where I went ) so you can see what I’ve experienced. I hope you like the places I am talking about so I might be able to convince you to go there too!
March 29th 2017, I applied to Oxford Summer Courses. They are an organization with a network of teachers and former students who want to make children familiar with the university through summer courses. They have the summer courses at Wycombe Abbey, Oxford, Cambridge and even in India. The next day, after I applied, I was very happy to hear that I got accepted!
(I have to say an extra thank you to Lady Bowen, the principal of my school: The Island Academy, for writing a phenomenal reference letter.)
For my age group I went to Wycombe Abbey and this is the story of my Oxford Summer Course Adventure this summer! To go there, I had to travel from Belgium to High Wycombe (in England).
I took a train from Tielen to Antwerp and then a train from Antwerp to Brussels… then from Brussels to London with the Eurostar which is a high speed train. Once arrived in London, we had to change train stations from St. Pancras International to Marylebone station, and then finally to High Wycombe. My mom and my sister came along with me on this journey, and I am very thankful to them for doing so.
When we arrived, I was blown away. The property was overwhelming! The entrance is very big, with security; you could see the 13th century main building of the school, where I had my classes. The building I stayed in was called The Junior House; which was all the way up the hill. On the way there we saw an area where they kept horses, roaming freely on the property. When we entered the Junior House, the Director, the assistants and students greeted us. They showed me to my room and let me unpack. I was so nervous but exited.
My daily schedule was like this:
Wake up - get ready - breakfast - classes – lunch – activities - dinner - more activities – bedtime.
Classes were in the castle-like 13th century building. My teacher’s name is Teacher Beth. She is a student molecular and cellular biochemistry at Oxford University. You guessed it; I choose science! I learned about, the parts of a flower, the Amazon Rainforest, and acids and bases, we had three subjects in four days. It was really fun and interesting.
The activities I did were: bowling, a trip to Oxford University, the Archeology workshop, and The History workshop.
Bowling: I was the second best of our group. I was in the club 100, which is when you score over 100 in bowling.
Oxford University: Visiting the University was very interesting. I saw where some scenes from the movie about Harry Potter were filmed, and I saw the university… It is very big and grand. After the tour, we split up into groups, and as most in my group were Harry Potter fans, we went into some Harry Potter stores. We also went to a bookstore and if you didn’t know I love books, so I bought a lot!
Pedalo boating in Oxford: Boating down the Cherwell River from Magdalen Bridge, underneath the Magdalen College Tower. My group was the fastest. We were the third canoe to leave and along the way, we passed the first two other canoes. We finished first. Along the journey, we saw a storm of geese, when I say that I really mean a storm of geese. The whole section of the river was filled with geese. In this “storm of geese” we only saw one white goose.
Archeology workshop: One of the people, who were looking after us, was studying Archeology, so she set up an Archeology workshop for us. I learned a lot about the Roman times. Archeology in Belize is about the Mayans so I knew nothing about the Romans. Rachel set up a little excavating area for us with clues from the room we were excavating. Although we didn’t know what type of room we were excavating, our group was the only one that had the correct answer. During Archeology Rachel also told us some interesting stories from the Roman times.
History workshop: We had a treasure hunt during the history workshop and we had to answer questions about English history, unfortunately I never learned this, so I had to make a lot of guesses. Although we finished last I really enjoyed it!
Graduation: For graduation we all gathered in a room where Aya (the course director) was going to talk about our week. She seemed very proud and gave awards to the Best Student. I was one of them and the second best student was Mya, my roommate. Aya also gave an award to Joie, the student who stayed for all four weeks. After that we had our formal dinner and took a class photo. Then we all went to the junior house and went to bed.
I told you I like books....
This trip was really fun and a good experience. I hope I can go longer next year!
Hey everyone! So the other day it was my birthday and my Teacher (Teacher Marissa), surprised me with a field trip to Marco Gonzalez. It is a Maya Site not a Maya temple. I am telling this because most people asked me "Louke, how high did you have to climb?" (you can climb Maya Temples) or "How tall was the temple?" etc... So anyway, I'm going to take you on the adventure I went on, by telling you the highlights of the excursion.
To start off with we went on a golf cart (on our island, we use golf carts, not cars) and it took an hour to get there. I was with my friends Xavi and Nicholas. Nicholas' dad was so generous to give us a ride.
ONE HOUR LATER
When we arrived at Marco Gonzalez we went into a building called "the lab”. Inside there, the people that work there set up a table with artifacts they found at the site and explained to us what the Maya used them for. I took some pictures and will explain to you what they are.
The Maya harvested clams and they ate the meat. Then they cut rectangular or round holes in the shell and used them as a belt buckle or decoration.
STARTING OUR ADVENTURE
So we were going to the site on a rickety bridge and I was teasing my Teacher by asking her “what if a croc would get us?” Anyway... Apparently the mangroves collect salt and keep it on their leaves. The tour guide told us to taste it and we ate salt!!! My partner (for the scavenger hunt) and I made the most ridiculous face because we didn't expect it to be so salty….
Once we arrived at the Maya site we scavenged for items... We found teeth, bones, pottery, and other stuff the Maya left behind.
We went to all the structures and the rocks that the Maya put in the ground are the foundations for their houses. Of course, the houses are all now weathered away (meaning they have disappeared because the harsh weather in our climate). The rocks remain as markings to the archeologists, indicating that there used to be structures there.
On the Maya Site there were dumps for material. What I mean is that the Maya gathered shells in a pile and when they were building and needed shells, they would take them from the pile. They are more like storage places and there are piles of conch shells that are more than 10 feet high, I'm not kidding! I would show you the pictures for proof but my GoPro died half way through. RIP GoPro...
People are NOT allowed to pick up shells or climb the piles. So they told us that one time, this kid picked up a giant conch shell and there was a giant spider in it and the kid was freaked out… Told you so, don’t touch them!!!
Ok I'm not going to tell any more because I challenge you to go and visit the Marco Gonzalez Maya site.
-And the crew of Marco Gonzalez
First I just want to say sorry for taking so long for writing another post... I took so long because, well I just had way to much FUN during my vacation… I have a lot of things to talk about... So let's get started!
First about how you travel from Belize to Belgium!
We always go there because that is where I was born and we always go there to see the family. Belgium is a beautiful country. Where we stay, there are a lot of oak woods, there is a great amusement park, movie theatre, restaurants and so much more.
Here in Belize, I live on an island called Ambergris Caye… The island sits at the second largest reef in the world!
I’m sure that you can imagine that the traveling from Belize to Belgium was very very long.
To get from our Island to the mainland we always fly with Tropic Air. Tropic Air is one of the biggest airlines in Belize, and they fly you around with a Cesna over the crystal blue water and while flying you also see some other islands Belize has. This time we flew to Corozal, which is located North of Belize very close to Mexico.
Once I landed in Corozal, I took a ride with Mr. George Moralez to the border of Mexico, then we hopped on a bus in Chetumal (which takes about 4 hours) that took us to Playa del Carmen...On the bus it was BORING!
When we are in Playa del Carmen we always go shopping. We like to buy some souvenirs… But this time it was raining a lot! So we did a little of shopping, and for dinner we went to the closest restaurant. I’m happy we went there as it was a great pizza place... The food was awesome! After dinner we got to eat ice-cream… While we were enjoying our ice-cream, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Lots of people (hundreds) were running on 5th Avenue with lights on... You know those sticks that you crack and it glows? We are not sure why they were doing this, but it was so much fun to watch!
Pssst... When you are looking for a nice hotel to stay at in Playa, you have to stay at Acanto Boutique Hotel. They are located in the centre of all the fun happenings and the rooms and staff are GREAT!
The next day we hopped (again) on a taxi to get to the Mexican Airport, Cancun… Once we were there we checked-in, had lunch and waited for our flight... The plane was ok we didn't do much, except of watching movies, play games and sleep. Oh yeah I did meet the captain and I told them about my blog. Normally nobody is allowed to go in the cockpit, but a while ago I met an "engineer" of the Dreamliner and he gave us an original pin of the Dreamliner which is made out of the same material the plane is made of… Because the pin is something very special, and not many people have one, I was allowed to go in the captain's cockpit to show my pin to him.
Once we were landed in Brussels Airport, we had to drive an hour to get to my house... It was the longest hour of my life, I just wanted to rest... After cuddling with my dogs, I fell asleep on the floor and ended my night in the bed. I could not believe that I had slept 16 hours non stop!
My mom and dad decided to go to Black Rock Lodge in Cayo. Cayo is located in West Belize, close to the border with Guatemala. This was a gift for my birthday… For them it was their first time, however not for me.
I went there before with a friend and it was so great! The nature there is beautiful, the owner of the stables is extremely nice and he has such beautiful horses! Because I had so much fun I wanted to go back!
We flew from San Pedro to Maya Flats with Tropic Air, and the flight took about 45 minutes from Belize Municipal, which is a small airport in Belize City.
Once arrived in Cayo, it took only about 20 minutes to drive to the Lodge.
Our neighbor, Uncle Jim and Auti Diane also came along… I love them a lot and it was fun to do a trip with them.
About Black Rock Lodge
Once I got there, the staff of the restaurant looked to me like, “don’t we know you?”( well some of them ) Of course I explained that I was there a few weeks before, and they were happy to see me again.
We had a great room… there were so many plants around it, and the room had no windows… It was so cool to sleep in the middle of nature. Of course the room had mosquito screens, so small visitors could not come inside.
The food at the lodge is also pretty awesome… They have each evening a set menu, that you can choose from. My favorites were their broccoli soup and they also served cheesy fries. (When I’m writing about it, I am getting so hungry again)
At Black Rock you can do a lot of fun activities… You can go River Tubing, of course horseback riding, you can even ride a horse to a cave system and then take them back to the stables... You can also hike to waterfalls. At Black Rock there are some other tours I didn't do or I didn't know about, so you can always find about that...
Most amazing Horse- Back-Riding ever!
For the Horseback-Riding, I went together with my mom, my brother Alexander and Uncle Jim. We did the Jungle Tour and it was amazing… the nature so beautiful, we walked with the horses in the jungle, went over mountains and we even went to a Maya Temple. It was pretty cool as when we went with our horses on top of the maya temple, we had an amazing view! There we took a little brake, drank some water and continued our tour.
All the horses had different personalities... The horses were great but I liked my horse called "Cookie" the best. He listened so well to me and was not lazy. My mom's horse name was Obama, he was old and not so pretty but listening very well too. At the end of the tour the owner pealed fresh oranges for us, which they farm themselves. I loved it there, and was allowed to stay as long as I wanted. The owner has so many pretty horses... there was even a baby one. I knew this as I had been there before, but got so surprised to see how fast he had grown… If you do this tour, or stay at Black Rock Lodge, you don't want to leave, and go horseback riding over and over again.
May 2nd 2014, it was the 80th birthday celebration of Etienne Vermeersch at the Auditorium of Ghent. Etienne is one of the most influential Philosophers of Belgium.
Because I had met Etienne two years before his birthday, and had such a good time, talking about life and so much more, I was invited to fly over to Belgium to be part of the event.
A thousand friends, press and media were present at the University of Ghent.
Topics of the evening included: ethics, religion, media, music, skepticism, friendship & beauty.
Guest speakers of the evening: Tom Schoepen, Jean Paul Van Bendegem, Gili, Mieke Van Hecke, Johan Braeckman, Lynn Wesenbeek, Kathleen Cools, Dirk Verhofstadt, Jacinta De Roeck, Tom Blades, Peter Schmidt - and as a surprise ME!
My grandparents Bompa and Bonneke also came to support me, and because Etienne could not see me, until the moment, I was hiding together with my mom in the auditorium. My school "The Island Academy" had given me permission to attend the event, because I showed my teacher and principal the video I made with Etienne. They gave me a lot of homework to do, during the days I was there.
A few days before the event, my mom, auntie and I already went to the University, to practice my story and to see how everything looked like.
Before I walked to the front, Tom Schoepen (he is my best friend) talked about Belize (what an amazing exposure for Belize), and Tom also talked about me, living on a little Island called Ambergris Caye.
I walked all by myself in the auditorium Leon De Meyer, in front of a 1000 guests to the stage, I was very nervous… to wish Etienne a happy birthday. I handed Etienne a beautiful sunflower and told the entire story again in English. Everybody loved the story and I got a huge applause.
Etienne was also so surprised and happy and to see me, as I came all the way from Belize! He never thought I was going to be there.
In 2012 I had the opportunity to meet with Professor Etienne Vermeersch, who is a well known Belgian Philosopher and Professor at the University of Ghent.
I talked with Etienne about life, Belize & Belgium and he also told me a great story Van Tippen. The purpose of this interview was to learn about a story of a little boy called "Van Tippen". The story goes about a boy who doesn't want to go home, as he wants to get "carried" by his mom to go home, so his mom tries to convince her son in such cute different ways to walk home.
Below you see the video ( make sure you see the part by 4:12) - you will love it!
This was one of my biggest adventures ever.