Today was a very poorly lit day…we set up pitfall traps under the cover of the canopy, explored a cave, and went on a night hike!
The cave was amazing and surprisingly close to the field station. Archeologists believe that this cave was a special ceremonial pilgrimage site for the Maya because of how well its structure coincides with the Maya mythology. The Maya believed that there were 4 levels of the underworld you had to go down when you died, on the fifth one you’d fight demons, and then four levels back up to the living world. The Sun and his brother, Venus, were the first humans and undertook a journey through the levels of the underworld, emerging victoriously and the Sun becoming a jaguar. Interestingly enough, the cave’s structure has narrow points that mimic the passage between levels and has a weird curve that brings you back up to the beginning. It is believed that the Maya may have used this cave for ceremonies reenacting the Sun’s journey through the underworld. The Maya built a temple on top of the cave, the cave being the underworld and the temple reaching to the gods.
After the cave we went to a place called “frog pond”. Unfortunately, there were neither frogs nor a pond there. It was very muddy, but since Belize is still in the dry season the pond hasn’t reformed yet. We were super disappointed, but then just as we were leaving Brendan spotted a tiny turtle! The highlight of my day was getting to hold this little guy…the only thing better would be being able to identify him (I’ve been searching through a field guide, going back and forth between two turtles, for hours already). After frog pond we explored the Maya site sitting above the cave, which is were we found a Greater Scaly Anole (Norops tropidonotus)on a tree.
After dinner we went back to frog pond and the Maya site for a night hike…which is where the danger glitter comes in. During a night hike the best ways to spot things are by seeing movement and by seeing eyeshine. Eyeshine is when the light from your headlamp hits the eyes of a creature and reflects back into your eyes…lots of little spiders have eyes that look like little spots of glitter all over the ground shining back at you. At first it’s kind of nice because its sparkly, but then I remember it’s spiders (and other things, but overwhelmingly spiders) and it’s, well, less nice.
Also! On our night hike we saw a Central American Tree Snake (Imantodes gemmistratus) and completed our set of all the reptiles in Belize: a crocodile, some lizards, a turtle, and a snake (don’t worry though I’ll definitely keep looking for more reptiles).