Tag Archives: Day 8

The Day I Discover I Actually Love…

Today we left Las Cuevas, and it was pretty hard to say goodbye to the Chiquibul forest. Then we started driving to the ATM caves. The road was very bumpy and winding, so about halfway there I got pretty carsick and had to move to the passenger seat. We stopped at a convenience store, and I was able to get a new towel with the Belize flag on it (getting excited to be constantly in my bathing suit).

 

Once we got to the ATM caves we had to walk to the front of the cave, which also involved swimming across a river a couple times. Then we got to the entrance of the cave and waded into the freezing cold water. Once in the cave and we couldn’t see the daylight anymore it started to get colder but I was mostly distracted by the gorgeous stalactite structures. Inside the cave, after getting out of the water, our guide lead us to where the Mayan artifacts were. There was a bunch of pots, but the most anticipated things were the human remains. There were multiple skulls and even an entire skeleton that was still intact, and it was so amazing the actually be able to see these 1,000-year-old sacrificial remains. Also, on the way back, I was able to see a Basilisk on the side of the trail in the bushes and it looked exactly like the one on my Id card, which was pretty cool.

After the cave, we continued our drive to the Tropical Education Center and I mostly napped and listened to music. I also finally got service on my phone and was able to text my mom, which was nice. After dinner, we headed to a night tour at the Belize Zoo. Me and Andressa got there early and both got to hold a Boa Constrictor, which felt like such an accomplishment for me. I didn’t feel scared at all, it was actually very calming, and after doing all this research on reptiles and specifically snakes I discovered that snakes are actually really beautiful and I might even love them (pet snake in the future??). While on the tour I got to feed a tapir, which is absolutely the cutest animal ever, and I also loved seeing the cats, including the ocelot and jaguar. It’s such a different experience than American zoos because we were able to pet some of the animals and get pretty close to the enclosures as well.

We Sacrafice Will Rice

 

Day 8: May 22th 2018, Las Cuevas to ATM Caves to The Tropical Education Center

We had early start this morning as we ate breakfast at 5:30am. We left around 6:00 am for the ATM cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave). We wore snorkel booties instead of boots as we swam inside to enter and move through the majority of the cave.  Inside there were 14 skeletons of sacrificed human remains, most of them male and half of them infants. As we climbed to the top, we were able to observe the remains of what has been dubbed the Crystal Maiden (which they are not sure is female anymore).  The remains are calcified into the cave floor as the skeleton appears to be lying down.       Our guide jokingly asked who would be the next sacrifice.  Little did he know that we had actually joked around and decided that the Will Ricers in our group would be our offerings (they still protest).  So naturally we offered up Sami.  Unfortunately he didn’t take her.

On our walk back from the cave, we were having so much fun that we almost missed a Basilisk Lizard run across the path on its hind legs, and an Agouti sitting on a tree root.  The Agouti is essentially a large rodent, the largest in Belize.  I would liken it to a smaller, cuter version of the Capybara.

One lunch and an hour drive later, we were at the Tropical Education Center with nicer rooms and showers than we had seen in a long while.  Hot water is such a luxury by the way.

Next was dinner and then the Belize Zoo for a night tour.  We saw some awesome mammals including a porcupine, a gibnut, an ocelot, the Baird’s tapir, the Margay, a Puma, two Jaguars, and the Coatimundi.  They were all very active including the diurnal Coatimundi which were playing in the dark. Additionally, the jaguars could do tricks, the pumas purred, we fed the Tapirs which extends their upper lips like elephants trunks and we heard the most bizarre purr like noise come out of an ocelot’s mouth (it sounded aggressive but it wasn’t).    My favorite was the small wild cat, the Margay, which made a nasal whining sound that resembled the noise I make when a bug flies in my face haha.  Lets just say I found my kin.

All of the animals into the zoo are native to Belize, have either been displaced and sent to the zoo or were born into the zoo.  Most are permanent residents because reintroducing them into the wild would be unsuccessful due to their boldness around humans, previous issues, and lack of hunting ability.  Overall it was a great experience, and nice change of scenery.