Prepare for the 2015 trip

This is the letter for this coming year’s trip. The dates are May 21- June 1, 2015.

It is a long letter, but it covers all aspects of the organization and details about this year’s trip. Last year we were full, so please keep this in mind when you decide in your $200 deposit, due 12/15/2014.

To Prospective Project Belize 2015 Members,

Take a moment and send me an email that says you are planning to go this year.

Contents

 

About Project Belize

For those who are new to Project Belize, it is a non-profit, 501-C-03 corporation that was created in 1988 by a group of adventurous medical, dental, nursing, and community individuals who shared a joint experience of providing medical and dental care to Mayan Indians and natives of the country of Belize. The trip is self-supporting by its membership for each year’s trip. Some donations are received from various service organizations, churches, and individuals to offset some of the cost of medicines and supplies. Each participating member pays his/her portion of the trip expenses. Each year’s members serve as its board of directors and the trip and planning meetings serve as its annual meetings. Officers are Pam Mueller, Treasurer, Dr. Bruce McNellie, Trip Coordinator, Dr. Quinn Robinson, Medical Director, and a series of others who have made most of the trips, serving as its officers as the need arises. We are a non-profit, 501-C-03 not associated with a specific denomination or mission effort. Our group works directly with the country’s primary health care administrators. Our principal contact has been Ruth McDonald, Health Care Coordinator, Punta Gorda, and the director of the Hillside Health Clinic in Punta Gorda, Toledo District. Most of our work in recent years has been in the southwest corner of the Toledo District. This year’s trip in 2015 will mark our 28th annual trip.

In the past the group has been arriving on separate days, depending on schedules. The main group will leave Houston on May 21st, 2015 to arrive in Belize City around 3 pm, to pick up the vans for the trip. Those arriving on the 22nd or the 23rd, will take a small commuter plane from Belize City to Punta Gorda, near where we will be staying for the work part of the trip. We need at least 11 people to fly from Houston on the 21st to carry medical trunks, as one of the two checked bags for each person will need to be one of the medical trunks used to carry our medical supplies. There is a 50 lb limit on all bags, so plan accordingly. Our workdays will be May 24, 25, 26, 27. The days of May 21st – 23rd are for travel and work with the hospital and villages in getting ready for the clinics, and May 28 – June 1 are for travel and free time. The main group will return to Houston on June 1, 2015. Your time is your own beginning the morning of May 28th.

The main group will spend the first night, May 21st, at a hotel in Dangriga, and the last night of the work portion of the trip at Sea Front Hotel in Punta Gorda, on May 27th. We will have our last group meal at a nearby café that evening. The vans, and lodging at Blue Creek, where we will spend the nights of May 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26, 2015, and Sea Front Hotel the night of the 27th are reserved.

Left to do are fund raising activities for the purchase of medications, packing, and contact with Ruth McDonald, Health Care Coordinator at the hospital, andthe director at the Hillside Clinic in Punta Gorda, who have been given our dates for 2015.

Trip Costs:
  • About $1200 to $1500 depending on the cost of this year’s flight. (See the detail below.)
  • Project Belize participants split the costs incurred.
  • Funds that are raised are used to offset the cost of medical supplies.

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Deposit: Please send $200 made out to Project Belize, Pam Mueller, Treasurer, 737 Silver Lake, Monticello , FL 32344 as soon as possible but no later than December 15, 2014 to secure your spot.

The balance of the group portion of the trip, or $293 will be due February 15, 2015.

Please email Pam and Bruce to say that it is on it’s way – Email: Muellermont@aol.com and mcnellie@mcnellie.com.

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This will serve as a deposit for the trip and will be about half of the group cost of the trip. This does not include the airfare to Belize City (which is to be arranged on your own and is not part of group expenses), and, it does not count the money needed for those who decided to fly from Belize City to Punta Gorda on the 22nd or the 23rd (Once you have decided on your travel plans, contact Pam Mueller about the amount needed for the airfare from Belize City to Punta Gorda, and to San Pedro, should you decide to go there following the work portion of the trip. Last year this was $250, either roundtrip Belize City to Punta Gorda, or BC to PG to San Pedro. For those going to San Pedro you will need to handle the arrangements for the return flight to Belize City. You can do this when you land on May 28th at the airport at San Pedro.).

Another payment of $293 or a total of $493 for group cost (in addition to your airfare to Belize City, which you must arrange on your own) will be due February 15, 2015. (See detail of budget below).

Flights (Individual flights)

RT – Houston – Belize City (approximate)                                                    ~$700-800

(*This is a guess until you book your flight, and has ranged from

550 to 700, depending on the airline)

RT – air from Belize City to Punta Gorda (PG)                                             $250.00

This is for those flying roundtrip from Belize City to PG on the 22nd or the 23rd for the in-country flight)

Group Costs: (approximate per person)

In-country Transportation:

Truck/van/rental: 3@125/day for 7 days)= $2625

Gasoline: 4 @ 100 gal ea @ 5.75/gallon 2300

Extra baggage fees, handling, and tips: 950

Guides: 900

Mules and health care workers: 550

Lodging: 4000

Medical Supplies: 1000

Total: $12325

Subtotal group expenses: $12325 divided by 25 (assuming 25 will go) = $493

Subtotal Group cost for those Flying in on the 17th or 18th (250 +493) = $743

Subtotal Group cost driving from Belize City on the 16th = $493

Total (Estimated)

Total cost for those flying in on the 17th or 18th : $743 + ~$700-800 air (rt to Belize City from Houston)= $1443-1543

Total cost for those driving from Belize City on the 16th = $493+ ~$700-800 (rt to Belize City from Houston) = $1193-1293

Remember the airfare from Houston of $700-800 is an estimate and could be more or less depending on the final arrangements. As of September 2013 it is $867. Once you are certain you are going, I would suggest getting this fare as soon as possible due to the potential for an increase in fuel costs.

For those flying from Houston, you need to get the United Airline ticket that leaves Houston at 1:15 and arrives in Belize City at 2:55 pm, flight number: UA1410

Depart:1:15 p.m.Thu., May. 21, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Arrive:2:50 p.m.Thu., May. 21, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Travel Time:
2 hr 35 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1410
Depart:3:55 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Arrive:7:35 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Travel Time:
2 hr 40 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1406Aircraft: Boeing 737-700Fare Class: United Business (P)

Also for those flying with the main group on May 15th from Houston, remember to pack so we can allow one of your two checked bags as one of the medication trunks. (This only applies to those ticketing in Houston who will be checking in at the same time as the main group.)

The group will pay for the extra bag fees.

Specific Costs Not included In the Above:

Lodging costs for nights of May 28th – May 31st, 2015 for the “rest and relaxation” portion of the trip.

Food costs for meals (other than the evening meals during the work portion of the trip on Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues and the meal at cafe at the end of the work portion of the trip on Wednesday night, which are covered). Breakfast on Thursday morning, the 22nd , is on your own as we have to get up early for the flights out from Punta Gorda and the van trip back to Belize City.

Transportation other than the round trip costs from Houston to Punta Gorda and return to Houston. (the above assumes in-country van rental for three vehicles from May 21st through May 28th and if some of you decide to keep one of them or pick up another vehicle you would need to handle the rental after the 27th on your own. This assumes return of the vehicles on the 28th. Transportation on or after May 28th, for example, a flight to San Pedro, will be “on your own” or what you can arrange with others in the group. For those flying, the $250 rt is figured on getting back to Belize International airport. If there is a non-stop flight from Punta Gorda to San Pedro, approximately $100 of the $250 round trip cost set aside in the budget that gets you back to Belize City, would go toward that. Last year, this covered getting to San Pedro, but you have to make arrangements on your own for a flight back to Belize City from San Pedro. Round trip from Belize City to San Pedro is about $100. Pam Mueller will send you information on this cost as soon as you let her know your itinerary. The vans will return to Belize City on Thursday morning May 28th, and those wishing to ride overland will save some money in getting back to Belize City.

In past years several have driven to San Ignacio (the western border of Belize) and into Guatemala to visit the ruins at Tikal and the old Spanish town of Flores. (I plan to do that again this year.) The cost of this part of the trip will be about $350: $40 day in lodging and meals, $30 in border fees, $20 in entrance fee to Tikal, $30 for zip line (for those who want to do it), $25 for horse-back riding (one of the mornings), $30 to help with gas and vehicle rental, and miscellaneous costs.) The group going to Guatemala will stay in San Ignacio on 5/28/2015 and at La Casa De Don David’s in El Remate, Guatemala (lacasadedondavid.com) through the night of 5/31/2015.

Flights:

Note that flight arrangements to and from Belize City from the US or elsewhere for May 21st and June 1, 2015 are your responsibility. If you fly in with the group leaving from Houston on May 21st, you will need to check one bag and allow one bag for of the group medical trunks. We will use part of the money collected for group expenses to pay for the extra bags. We will need 11 people to check one medical trunk as a second bag or pay a premium of $100 for each extra trunk.

We will fly on United Airlines, the tentative flight numbers are listed as below, United’s flight that leaves Houston at 1:15 PM. If you cannot make this flight, be sure you are in Belize City around 3:00 pm on May 21st, 2015. It is best if we clear customs together if you are carrying any medications or supplies as we have a medical broker meeting us at the airport. If you arrive earlier than 3 pm on May 21st, and need help through customs, wait in the baggage area until the main group arrives or have customs hold any baggage that has medical supplies in it until then if they give you any problems getting through.

 

Flight to Belize City:

United Airlines Flight CO1410

Depart:1:15 p.m.Thu., May. 21, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Arrive:2:50 p.m.Thu., May. 21, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Travel Time:
2 hr 35 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1410
Depart:3:55 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Arrive:7:35 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Travel Time:
2 hr 40 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1406Aircraft: Boeing 737-700Fare Class: United Business (P)Meal: Snack

Return Flight to Houston:

There are two choices for the return flight from Belize City to Houston (IAH)

Depart:11:20 a.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Arrive:3:00 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Travel Time:
2 hr 40 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1478Aircraft: Boeing 737-700Fare Class: United Business (P)Meal: Lunch

Or

Depart:3:55 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Belize City, Belize (BZE) Arrive:7:35 p.m.Mon., June 1, 2015Houston, TX (IAH – Intercontinental) Travel Time:
2 hr 40 mn
Distance:965 miles Flight: UA1406Aircraft: Boeing 737-700Fare Class: United Business (P)Meal: Snack

Either will work, but for those spending the night of the 26th in Guatemala, book the later flight.

This past year, this flight from Houston to Belize City was about $750 after taxes and airport fees.

Most of the group usually returns to the US on Monday, June 1, but this is up to personal preference and schedules and it is possible to return to Houston on May 28th, by taking a 7 am flight from Punta Gorda to Belize City. Several have done this in the past.

For those flying in on May 22nd or May 23rd, Pam Mueller, our treasurer, will purchase in-country flights from Belize City to Punta Gorda and flying back to Belize City or to the island at San Pedro on May 28th. We must have exact flight arrangements nailed down by March 1, 2015, so let Pam (Muellermont@aol.com) and me (mcnellie@mcnellie.com) know your plans as soon as possible. We have been able to get a discount on these flights in the past, so go through Pam Mueller to make these arrangements.

The main group, as last year, will fly to Belize City on May 21st, get the medical trunks into the country, pick up the vans, and meet with Ruth McDonald, the director of health care on Friday the 22nd. If you cannot fly from Houston to Belize City with the main group, just be in Belize City by 3:00 pm on the 21st  so you can catch a ride with the main group in the vans on the way to Dangriga for the first night, May 21st. We will pick up those flying in on the 22nd or the 23rd at the airport in Punta Gorda and will all spend the night of the 22nd at the IZE Lodge at Blue Creek, Toledo District.
The group costs will cover most round trip expenses from Belize City to Punta Gorda, including ground transportation through the 28th back to Belize City/Houston, group meals for the evening meals of May 22nd – 27th, including one night’s lodging in Dangriga on the 21st, the nights at Blue Creek Lodge from the 22nd through the night of the 26th and one night in Punta Gorda on the 27th.

Remaining personal meals and lodging costs will be your responsibility (Evening meal on the 21st, breakfast and lunches during the trip, and all meals and lodging beginning May 28th through return to Houston on June 1, 2015.) (Many buy lunch and breakfast supplies in Dangriga the morning of the 22nd so they will not have to carry so much food on the plane.)

Tentative Agenda
  • December 15, 2014 deposit – $200 group expenses due to Pam Warren Mueller, Treasurer
  • January 15, 2015, $293 balance of group expenses due to Pam Warren Mueller, Treasurer. This is the remainder of the final group payment due to Pam Mueller, of $293, or (a total of $493 including the 200 deposit) for those traveling on the 15th and picking up the vans. Or $293 plus $250 ($543) for the in-country flights for those flying in on the 22nd or the 23rd, for a total of $743.
  • By February 15, 2015 – have purchased your own airfare round trip to Belize City.
  • April 22nd, 2015 Pre-trip meeting at Memorial Hospital cafeteria at 12:00 noon for those that can make it to answer questions and make last minute travel arrangements to and from Houston.
  • May 17, 2015 Sunday, 1:30 PM, Tentative Afternoon Packing Medication Party at SFASU Nursing Department – Bring friends to help.
  • May 21, 2015 Thursday, Main group leaves for Belize City, picks up vehicles, and spends first night in Dangriga.
  • May 22 or 23, 2015 Friday or Saturday, balance of group travels to Belize City, and flies by small plane, regular service to Punta Gorda. Entire group spends night at Blue Creek, Toledo District.
  • May 23,  Saturday, Group free day (Cave tours, swimming, Lubaantun ruins (which are near the lodge), while some visit villages to make arrangements for clinics.
  • May 24, Sunday First work day
  • May 25, Monday Second work day
  • May 26, Tuesday Third work day
  • May 27, Wednesday Fourth work day, spend night in motel in Punta Gorda, eat in Punta Gorda.
  • May 28, Thursday – Travel day. Group splits up as desired, some to fly out to destination of choice, return to Houston , or some to drive vehicle back to rental agency in Belize City. Spend night your choice.
  • May 29, Friday Free day, spend night your choice.
  • May 30, Saturday Free day, spend night your choice
  • May 31, Sunday Free day, spend night your choice.
  • June 1, Monday Return flight to Houston.

If you have other questions please contact Bruce McNellie 936-560-9437 home; 936 371 2910 cell, email mcnellie@mcnellie.com

As noted above, mark your calendar for a brief group meeting at Memorial Hospital in Nacogdoches if you can make it at 12:00 on April 22nd, 2015 in the cafeteria at to go over any last minute details. You do not have to be at this meeting. I will send notes to those who can’t make it. We can coordinate some of the after-trip plans as well as travel to the airport.

Hotels

There are several nice hotels on San Pedro. In years past some have stayed at the Holiday House – 011 501 2 62014 or 011 501 2 62295; for approximately $200/night for a four or five person apartment, or 110/night for a double. They have a web site too: http://www.sanpedroholiday.com/index.html Their address is Holiday House, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, P.O. 1140, Belize City, Belize , Central America . San Pedro Holiday Hotel, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Phone: 713-893-3825, Skype Name: sanpedroholidayhotel, Fax: +501-226-2295, Email holiday@btl.net

Last year they gave us a discount so identify yourself as with Project Belize.

And finally, those of you with connections to clubs or other funding sources, please begin updating them on our trip to see if they might be willing to donate for the medications and dental supply expenses. We need about $4000 to buy necessary medications. This year we are collecting about $50 each as part of group expenses to help defray costs of medications, see above in budget. The more funds donated the less of this will be needed and Pam will do a reconciliation at the end of the trip.

 

THE LIST

Click here for the list of recommended items

Donors & Medication

Be talking up any donors you know for medications for this year’s trip and get them to Bruce McNellie or Quinn Robinson in time for the packing on Sunday, May 17, 2015, at the SFASU Nursing Department Building.

The annual medication packing party will be at SFASU Nursing department as in years past on May 17, 2015. Bring friends.

Feel free to call me if you have questions:

Bruce McNellie
mcnellie@mcnellie.com

936 560 9437 home: 936 371 2910 cell

For pictures of past years trips and more information on our group, take a look around the site!