Today was our first full day at Las Cuevas and my first day I ever thoroughly ventured into the rainforest. Let me tell you, it was not what I expected. We spent a solid 8-9 hours in the in the Mayan thickets, walking on and off trails to set up camera traps for our tropical field biology project.
In the morning, we travelled on a path called the 50 Hectare Plot- it was really steep with two large hills and really large Mayan structures we had to climb over. On that trail, I saw a black jumping spider (Paraphidippus aurantis) and a small wolf spider (Hogna spp.). Also, we saw a mammal! It was climbing up a tall strangler fig and I pulled my camera out too late to get a good picture of it- it was identified as either a common possum or a type of Mexican porcupine.
Black jumping spider on 50 Hectare Plot Trail
We travelled on the Monkey Tail Trail after lunch, which was mostly flat with a few felled trees we had to climb over. It took us about 5 hours to navigate the trail and come back to the field station. The walk was interesting- we saw a scorpion snake, possible deer bones, and a fer-de-lance! Also, after our last off-trail camera trap setup, we were walking back to trail and did not get lost. I repeat, we did not get lost at 6PM in the Chiquibul Rainforest. We simply took a 40ish minute detour off trail before we thankfully reached trail.
Overall, today was a good experience- there were a lot of smells, sights, and sounds that I have never witnessed before. The forest is an environment I am not used to, so I was on edge the first hour or so. But, it’s actually a pretty serene place to be- once you forget about the venomous snakes, insects, and large cats roaming around.