Pre-departure

Only 3 more days till we leave for Belize. I am both nervous and excited, but that’s to be expected. Getting all the different pieces of equipment was a hassle but it’s finally done, although I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to fit the rubber boots that weigh a tonne and those flippers into my camping backpack.

I’m looking forward to walking around the rainforest looking for different plants and animals. Hopefully it’ll be the break I need from school even though this is technically a class. For those that don’t know I’m actually an electrical engineering student. So whilst this trip is a good change of pace I’m at the same time super nervous for all the presentations that I have to do. I’m mostly worry about not being able to meet the level of academic content expected. There’s no turning back now.

I hope going on this trip will be like hitting a reset button for me. Maybe I can finally stop worrying about school and internships and jobs for a minute and appreciate the life that I have and everything around me. At the same time maybe learn something about what Tarzan does for a living.

-Randy

Leaving in 5 days already?!?

As excited as I’ve been about this trip all semester, it has never seemed fully real until this week.

In preparation, I have procured all the appropriate equipment, including two different kinds of bugspray because I was concerned in the store that one might not work. I’ve spent the last few weeks finishing up the book: A Natural History of Belize: Inside the Maya Forest, and researching arachnids and molluscs.

There’s only so much a book or the internet can teach you, however, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to see first hand all the diversity I’ve read about. I’m especially excited to be able to see and learn about first hand how the medium level of disturbance that the Chiquibul (and all the forests of Belize) experience leads to more biodiversity and the growth of species that would normally be outcompeted.

I also want to understand first hand how the spiders who do not use webs hunt. The Wolf Spider and the Fishing Spider specifically seem really interesting, and I hope to get to see them in action.

I’m nervous about being on the constant look out for dangerous snakes or bugs. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the tropics (in Belize itself and also in neighboring countries in Central and South America), and the one thing I’ve noticed the most is that you have to maintain a constant level of respect for the potential dangers around you in order to keep yourself alert and safe. The cryptic nature of the snakes and arthropods in the jungle make it extra important to stay alert in this environment.

Admittedly, though, the thing I’m most worried about is being eaten alive by mosquitos and other biting insects. Mosquitos seem to love me, so I’m hoping there’s other people on the trip who they also love and can distract them from me.

The jungle is one of my favorite places to be. As a kid my parents took me to some amazing places including Belize, and I loved the feeling that the jungle has. It feels like a completely separate world, so I’m very excited to be back in that world. The best thing about the jungle in my opinion is the respect it commands, and how small the trees and noise can make you feel.

I’m also really excited about the possibility of seeing some really cool fauna.

And I will be detailing all my exciting experiences here whenever we have internet.

Rice University