We left Crystal Paradise Resort today. The moment was sad yet sobering. Nobody wanted to leave that cushy eco-lodge with an attached bathroom and outdoor thatched dining area, but we all knew that it must be done in the name of science. Scott and Turiez took us to a beautiful nature-made water park called Rio-on Pool before lunch. The place was magical- one can have his/her back massaged underneath the 20-foot waterfall and sunbathe in the shallow freshwater pools.
Afterwards, we reached Las Cuevas two hours after we left Rio-on Pool, ate lunch, got briefed by the field manager Pedro, and then set off for our first forested path: the Maya Trail. Forest biodiversity is fascinating- the first forest species I saw was the bird Oropendullum montezuma. It is black with a yellow tail. Taxon-wise, I saw a wolf spider (Hogna spp.) and a green jumping spider (M. penicillatus) on the trail. There were a lot of spider webs attached to tree branches, but none of them had spiders- only food materials like a baby flies.
Green Jumping spider on a leaf
As we were walking through the Maya Trail, Scott paused, shoved his hand into some brush, and just casually pulled out a lizard. All of our jaws hit the forest floor, but little did we know that him pulling random organisms out of the brush would become a common occurrence.
We saw three Mayan structures today: a pyramid, a low wall, and a ball court. The pyramid was 40-50 feet high and really steep, but we still managed to climb it. There was nothing at the top- for some reason I thought there would be a secret tunnel into the pyramid. Oh Deepu, you dreamer you. The low wall structure is suspected to be some sort of pathway to a cave, which Mayans regarded as sacred sites. The ball court was pretty cool- the walls to it rose up about 15-20 feet on two opposite sides and the game played in the court often ended in one team getting sacrificed.
Las Cuevas gives off a feeling of mystique and excitement which I’ve never experienced before. Tomorrow we set camera traps!