Officially transitioned from reef to rainforest

DAY 10 – We finally made it to Las Cuevas Research Station! It’s nice and calm here, not too hot today (it’s been raining in the area).

This morning we left Crystal Palace around 8:40 am and drove to a swimming area, the Rio On pools. It was a beautiful site, which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. We explored multiple pools, connected by waterfalls, slipping and scooching on rocks covered in algae. The water was so refreshing, and we dried quickly in the sun. We were supposed to only spend 30 minutes at the swimming pools, but we ended up enjoying ourselves for an hour.

While we were standing around drying off and postponing our departure, Isaac shared his Sour Sop fruit, which he bought at the outdoor market in San Ignacio yesterday. It was a hit. I thought it tasted like mango Hi-Chew candy.

We resumed our drive which took us through multiple distinct regions, which contained unique flora. The Caribbean pine was populous until we entered the Lowland area, which is where Las Cuevas is located, and the vegetation changed.

We entertained ourselves with cards in the van until we eventually emerged into a large clearing in the rainforest: Las Cuevas. We wasted no time and went on a short hike on the nearby Maya Trail.

We made it to Las Cuevas! Damien is excited!
The view of Las Cuevas from our rooms

We saw a huge Ceiba tree with a couple vultures perched up high and teardrop shaped nests hanging from the branches. We saw a huge leaf cutter ant colony, which Scott fearlessly kicked to agitate some soldier ants. We saw the Xaté palm, which is a popular palm in the floral market (in the US, UK, Australia, Japan, and more) and is often illegally extracted by Guatemalans to be sold. We saw the Sapodilla, or Chicle, tree which was recognizable by giant slashes where knives had cut the trunk to collect the sap.

We ran into a large mound of earth, which we learned was the remains of a Mayan temple. There were two large temples across what was formerly a plaza. Nearby, there were the remains of a ball court. I love how much we get to see and explore related to the Maya civilization.

Climbing up the overgrown Mayan temple

I didn’t see any bees today, unfortunately. Tomorrow, while we hike through the rainforest, I hope to see some bees. I especially want to see an orchid bee (Euglossini tribe).

I’m waking up tomorrow morning for 5 am bird-watching, so the sooner I sleep the better! Goodnight!

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