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- See Also: Minor Characters in Jess's Story
- Jess McConnell
- Mother, Mom: Of Japanese descent. An archeologist.
- Father, Dad: of Scotch-Irish descent. An archeologist.
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Good-bye, Home, Hello, Jungle
Jess and her parents are on the plane; they are currently over Belize. Jess is a little nervous at arriving at their destination. She points out the jungle to her mother, who then talks about the various artifacts they may locate while there. Her father chimes in as well, excited about what they may discover. Jess joins in a little--she is interested in Belize, but not in the archeology as she finds it dull. Her mother takes her interest to be about archeology and continues talking about how the artifacts they locate will give information about the past, despite others only using the items as treasures to be sold and a lot of looters.
As her parents talk about archeology, Jess looks at her parents, mentioning their looks--her father is fair with light hair and of Scotch-Irish descent and her mother is Japanese. Jess has gone on smaller digs with them but this is the first time any of them have been outside the States.
Jess asks about looting in the Caracol ruins; this is not so much interest as it is showing that she has been paying attention to their discussions over the past year. Her parents had not planned to take any of their three children on the trip but Jess had convinced them to come. She is glad her brother and sister are not around as they tend to fuss over her and boss her around. Jess's father says that only a small part of the ruins has been uncovered which is protected; however, the rest stretch rather far, and so there is no way to know what looters have taken already.
Her parents continue to talk, and Jess looks out the window. She thinks that she might pay more attention if they were talking about soccer, one of her hobbies. She starts making a list of some of the "firsts" she is experiencing, such as her first passport and her first time being homeschooled.
Chapter Two: Ancient Ruins
While riding the bus to San Iguano, Jess sees an Amish man and learns from her father that there are Amish and Mennonites in Belize, and the diversity of the country. Jess and her family then meet Michael Bol, a very nice man who drives the McConnell's to the site. Arriving at Caracol, Jess meets the staff and Fuzz, a mischievous spider monkey who Jess becomes friends with. She adds to her list of firsts:
- First time meeting a real, live spider monkey
- First Maya ruins
The McConnell's then set out to see the ruins. Jess is surprised to see soccer nets. Jess then discovers where her family will stay - in a small thatched-roof hut with a dirt floor. She immediately claims the top bunk, only to be beaten by Fuzz, and humorous remarks follow, ending the chapter.
Chapter Three: Alone
In chapter three, we meet Jess two weeks later. Here, we learn about Jess's routine and the nightly soccer games and stories shared around the bonfire. Next, Jess has just finished her homework, and wants to go outside and play with Fuzz. Jess is kind of lonely, and wants a human child to play with, though she likes Fuzz a lot. She asks her parents to play with her, but they are both really busy and promise to play with her later. Jess walks to the soccer field, and kicks the ball into the goal, but falls hard on the ground, and discovers a girl named Sarita standing by her, asking if she needs a goalie.
Chapter Four: A Friend
Chapter Five: Fire Ants
Chapter Six: Sarita's Home
Jess visits Sarita's house, and can't help thinking how different it is from her house in the United States.