Fun fact, it’s a whole lot more fun putting on four layers of sunscreen than it is putting on four layers of clothing! I’m fairly new to the SOAR GAP Year program and being a part of this gap year so far has been so incredibly rewarding. Even though I’ve only been here for a month I’ve learned more about myself than I have in my 19 years! This GAP Year at SOAR is truly the best experience for me and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next corner.
A long and tiring eight-hour drive to Denver was worth the butt aches we got from sitting for so long. Next, the Star Sleepers woke up at 3 am the next morning to catch a 6 am flight to Houston for their layover, which was a blast 🙂 Speaking of the layover, it was filled with a crowd of excitement as we all were hyped for Belize! You couldn’t “Belize” the beautiful views from the descent down over the land of the magnificent country of Belize! Did you get to catch my pun? A hectic 48 hours of traveling didn’t stop us from laughing and having the time of our lives as we drove to our first destination, the Trek Stop! It had a homey vibe flowing throughout the base; the people who ran the Trek Stop couldn’t have been more accommodating, and generous to our big group! 48 Hours of traveling can do some serious damage to our sleep cycle, so when we walked into our cabanas, we hit the pillows and crashed.
We woke up to singing birds and sunshine filling the Trek Stop, having personally woke up with a smile on my face, because why not? I woke up in Belize! We were all stoked to live out our first day in the beautiful country. This was the first day where Belize would challenge our group of friends to step outside of their individual comfort zones, the first day of the trip where we’d experience a day of laughter and excitement in Belize, the first day where we could come back to the Trek Stop and share our different experiences that went on throughout the day! That night we came back to dinner and shared about our amazing day, Cave Tubing, cliff jumping, and tubing through some rough waters! I personally laughed the hardest when I (dramatically) fell off my tube and into the water! Experiences like these will always leave a funny story at the end of the day!
This trip has been the trip of a lifetime; memories are “soaring” through my mind as I write this blog. The first five days we spent at the Trek Stop, roaming around Belize, challenging our fears was really rewarding to all of our self-growth. We went on these crazy fun adventures, cave tubing across rapids, and in a cave, exploring the ATM caves, hearing about how they took sacrifices into the pitch black caves, walking up rocks through water, it was just so amazing to hear about all the historical things that took place in such an outstanding and beautiful place!
Then the Star Sleepers went on a hike to a waterfall where we had the opportunity to jump off yet another cliff and make our way into heavy rapids to get under the waterfall! But it didn’t stop there, we went to these beautiful ruins, known as the magnificent city of Xunantunich and learned all about what took place there! Looking out at the view and taking in every sight left such an amazing and beautiful picture in my mind, and I won’t ever forget it, (it became my safe place!) We also traveled to Guatemala and went to Tikal, where we hiked up these breathtaking ruins and looked out and saw the mountains in the distance, the trees where the monkeys lived, and the rest of the ruins! Another Gapper and I took our time on the hike up the ruins and supported each other through the fear of heights, which is what SOAR is all about, supporting each other through the tough times, and helping each other overcome fears!
After completing all the ruins and on our drive back to the border of Guatemala to spend our last night back at the Trek Stop in Belize, I reflected about overcoming fears! I feel as though throughout this whole expedition I’ve overcome a lot, I’ve challenged my fear in ways I’ve never experienced before, I’ve never wanted to, or I never thought I could. The GAP director and I had a talk in the ATM cave, we had climbed up this latter that was connected to a rock, in order to get up the boulder we had to climb the later. There was no problem climbing it, the problem was climbing down it. She told me that she believed in me, I got onto the rock and I looked down, and something inside me was telling me that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t safe, so I looked the director right in the eyes and I told her, “I can’t.” She replied back, “Sarah you can do this, you have to, I know you can do this, you have to trust your body, you’re safe, you can do this, I know you can.”
However, at last something changed, having her there and having her support was everything I needed to conquer my fear, I got off the rock and onto the ladder, and I climbed down it. It was when I reached the ground safely that I realized it was all in my head, that she was right, and SOAR provided me with that comfort. It was then that I realized this is what Soar is all about, providing you support, helping you conquer your fears, and providing you a chance to grow your independence. From then on out I wanted to jump into the water and I wanted to conquer all my fears, I wanted to do a lot of reflecting, and overcome the things I didn’t think I could do. I wanted to use the time that I had and I wanted to take full advantage of it. From there on out I had no problem jumping off the rope swings I was once afraid of, I had no problem jumping off a cliff, I took the chance tonight snorkel at Tobacco Caye, and I saw a Shark, several crabs, and I even saw another Gapper get Inked by an octopus, and that doesn’t happen every day!
Throughout this amazing adventure, I’ve realized that I have to trust myself, I have to trust my body and take chances, and I’m so lucky to have had the chance to go on this trip and to learn from it. All in all, I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity and learned a lot from this unforgettable expedition. I have an insane amount of gratitude towards our Director of Eagle View Ranch and GAP Year Director for making this dream come true! This has been a truly memorable trip for me and the Star Sleepers, one that I know we won’t forget for the rest of our lives. However, it is really nice to be back in the U.S and headed back to our lovely base in the mountains. I am really grateful for this chance to write the blog and hope you have enjoyed it. Until next time. Adios!