Tag Archives: algae

Day 1: I can’t Belize we made it!

Day 1: We are finally here! Despite some early morning bumps in the road and a late takeoff for our flight, we made it! It feels so surreal to be here.

The majority of our day was spent traveling from bus rides to plane ride to more bus rides, we have come approximately 1,679 miles. Upon arrival to Belize, let me be the first to say, the humidity hit me like a ton of bricks. But, I soon recovered, and we began our journey to Las Cuevas Research Station in a van. We stopped tonight at Crystal Paradise Lodge before we keep driving tomorrow.

While driving, I could not help be mesmerized by the difference in vegetation compared to Texas highways. Driving in Texas, we are constantly surrounded by cattle pasture or farms, so to be immersed on either side of the car in forest ecosystems, it was quite an experience.

I think I have been the most surprised today about how different it has been here compared to the U.S. I mean I always knew it would be different based on our readings and preparations, however, I had no idea it would be this different. The restaurant, Cheers, we ate at was also immersed in the forest.  It makes me excited for the days to come.

This is the view from the outdoor restaurant Cheers on Belize’s main highway!

I was able to see only 1 arachnid today. I believe it was a wolf spider, but since it was dark outside, it was difficult to tell before it scurried away.

Wolf spider spotted outside Crystal Paradise Lodge

We were not able to do too much exploring today. However with all of the travel done today, we still encountered hummingbirds, termite nests, an Agouti, and leaf-cutter ants, so I have a feeling in the next few days we will definitely be able to see some more arachnids. I hope we will go walking out at night with our headlamps near tree bases or in layered foliage to have the best chances of catching a glimpse.

Wish me luck!

– Bella

Day 2: Getting to Las Cuevas

Today we left San Ignacio and made our way to Las Cuevas Research Station, visiting Caracol on our way. As we were driving to Caracol, we saw a coati and a great black hawk along the road. The roads were pretty bumpy, but the drive was really pretty. As we started our drive we saw Cecropia trees and also saw some gumbo-limbos. The gumbo-limbos are also called ‘tourist trees’ because they are red and flaky, like sunburnt skin. So far none of us have begun to look like the tourist trees, which is good. Hopefully it’ll stay that way.

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A gumbo limbo tree with bark resembling a tourist’s sunburnt skin

On our way to Caracol we drove through Mountain Pine Ridge, an area that was different from other places we’ve seen because of the large number of pine trees. The region was more open and seemed drier, with more grasses and fewer vines.

Once we arrived in Caracol, we walked around the archaeological site to observe the ruins and the flora and fauna of the area. The site is absolutely amazing, with towering pyramids and dense forests. It’s amazing to think that more than a million people used to live in the region, when closer to 250,000 live in all of Belize today. At Caracol the guide pointed out a number of trees, including breadnuts, allspice, and avocado. There also were a lot of Chamedorea plants around Caracol. Chamedorea is sold as an ornamental leaf. The large security presence at Caracol was in part to protect the Chamedorea leaves from poachers.

Chamedorea plant at Caracol
Chamedorea plant at Caracol
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Avocado tree at Caracol

Tomorrow we venture into the forest around Las Cuevas. I’m looking forward to the start of our field work!