Today (Day 15) was a loooooong travel day. We woke up early, had one last morning of birding, and got on the bus to head back to Belize City. It was a 5-hour drive, but luckily, we split it up a little.
We drove for a couple hours and then stopped at a souvenir shop called “The Orange Gallery”. It had some very fancy things! I picked out a nice ornament for my mom because she collects Christmas tree ornaments from all the places we visit.
On the second leg of our journey, I started feeling really really carsick. We had to briefly pause for me to throw up in the grass (ew), but I felt much better after that! The second stop we made was for lunch. I really liked this restaurant, and I even got to see one last epiphyte before we left Belize. There was a huge group of Aroids on a tree outside the restaurant.
Our last leg of the trip dropped us off at the airport. Unfortunately we were running a bit late, so we didn’t get to stop to pick up Scott’s gear that he left at Glovers. Check in and security were extremely fast and relaxed, which we all appreciated. Once we got into the airport, we even had wifi! Everyone was very excited.
Thanks to Ellie and Sarah getting searched, we all got to sit together on the plane home. Sarah, Damien, and I finished the crossword in a rapid-fire way (thanks to Sarah’s master crossword skills), and we finally assigned nicknames for everybody.
We said most of our goodbyes at the airport, but a few of us went back to Rice on the bus. We had one last jam session together before it was time to go. Even Turiez joined us and taught us a few songs. I will miss Belize, but I do appreciate the air conditioning and cellular service that comes with being home!
It wasn’t a great day for epiphytes 🙁 The only new spots I have to share with you are a few unidentified orchids. They all look the same to me without flowers! I’ll include photos anyway!
Day 9 was amazing! We didn’t do too many things today, but the things we did were absolutely unforgettable. We had to say goodbye to Adrienne today, which was sad, but she promised to read and comment on all of our blogs 🙂
We woke up in the Belize Zoo but left early. We took a bus to the ATM Cave, which was one of the coolest places I have ever been. Sadly, cameras are not allowed in the cave, so I don’t have any photos to show you. We quickly became master spelunkers! We had to swim through the entrance of the cave to access it, and we waded through the freezing water deep into the mountain to see some ancient Mayan artifacts.
The cave was freaky at first, but once we got used to it, we loved crawling through tight spaces and ducking under the overhangs. We begged our guide to take us down the most interesting paths he could! He even made us turn off our headlamps at one point to appreciate the darkness of the cave (it was super cool). To reach the artifacts, we even had to scale a 50(ish) foot rock wall!
At the top of the wall, deep inside the cave, there were many Mayan ceramic pieces and several sets of human remains! They were amazing to see. We even got to see the famed “Crystal Maiden”, although it was recently discovered that she was actually a 16-year-old boy.
When we left the cave after several hours of adventuring, we emerged into a rainstorm in the forest! I was so excited to get the full experience of rainfall in the rainforest. We had to hike for a while and cross several rivers to get back to our bus, and we had a great time splashing and enjoying the water.
On our way to the ecolodge that we are staying in tonight, we stopped in San Ignacio to walk around. We visited a town square and an open air market. What a great city! When we got to the ecolodge, we were extremely excited to find that there are bathrooms in our rooms! We have definitely learned to appreciate the little things.
Sadly, there really weren’t any opportunities for epiphyte sightings today. However, I did give my presentation on epiphytes! Two presentations down, and one to go. Tomorrow is another travel day, but we will finally be arriving at Las Cuevas! Today was a nice tourist-y day, but our break will end as the research continues tomorrow.
Ellie, Isaac, Damien, and I woke up early today to watch the sunrise from the observation tower at Glovers. It was beautiful! The perfect way to end our time at the reef. We’re all very sad to leave the ocean 🙁
We left Glovers around 8 and visited a research station run by the Smithsonian on our way back to the mainland. They had the BEST toilets ever: out on the end of the dock, looking out over the reef crest. Wow! Our last stop before the mainland was Twin Caye, an island of mangroves. We got to snorkel around, and we saw a manatee and a seahorse!
When we got back to Belize City, we headed out to the Belize Zoo, where we are staying the night. We took a hike on a trail, and I saw loads of epiphytes! I could identify some of them, and Adrienne even crossed a river bed to help me. More epiphyte details to come in the following days. Dad – we think we saw a chachalaca!
After dinner, we got to take a night tour of the zoo and see all the nocturnal animals out and about! We got to feed a tapir, see several different owls, and ogle over 4 species of cats. Junior the jaguar did somersaults for us, and I think it was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. The ocelot ran over to us and purred, and it reminded me of my kitty back at home. I even got to hold a boa constrictor.
This is our last night staying in the Belize Zoo. I will miss this place! Tomorrow we will head toward Las Cuevas! Mom – We have pretty good wifi here, so I am about to add photos to all my old blogs (If you click on the tag “Jordan” at the bottom of this post, you can see all of them)!
Day 1 in Belize was a major success! We’ve all arrived safely, and traveling was remarkably smooth, considering we have a group of 14 people.
We’re staying at the Belize Zoo tonight. The beds are comfy and bug-free, and dinner involved banana bread. I have no complaints!
In terms of wildlife, I was most excited by the two species of epiphytes I was able to identify from my taxon card research. I feel much better about my identifying abilities already! I even saw my favorite epiphyte, the Shirley Temple plant (it’s small and curly). I also saw Aechmea brachteata.
We’ve only been here a few hours, but I’ve already learned so much: pack things inside your boots, don’t try to take pictures as you’re getting off the airplane, hydrate or die-drate, and sometimes things look like deer but they’re really just dogs. Our adventures continue at Glover’s Reef tomorrow, and I’m excited for the new experiences that await us!