(Crystal Paradise Ecolodge)
Today, we arrived at the airport in Belize City around mid-afternoon Belize time. Ironically, our pilot was the father of one of the attending students and greeted us both before we entered the plane and as we exited. Soon into driving, we stopped at a little market shop to stock up on snacks, water, and anything else we might have forgotten.
I wasn’t personally expecting to see much of anything besides Belizean scenery on the way to the ecolodge, where we’d be staying for the night; however, I was pleasantly surprised. I had prepared myself to identify several types of wild Belizean mammals, but what I hadn’t prepared myself for was the domesticated ones. We drove through the outskirts of Belize city and several small towns on the way to the Crystal Paradise Ecolodge, each of them with a variety of domesticated mammals. I sited several horses standing outside fences with riding collars on. One was even being ridden. We saw a variety of dogs, both what appeared to be strays and pets ranging from large pitbull-like dogs to a nursing female and puppies. I spotted a small white cat lurking outside of a house, but it was hard to tell if it was domesticated. Several farms with cattle were spotted, including one near the Mayan Mountain range with what was anywhere between 30 and 50 cattle.
I don’t think I’d be surprised to see any of these mammals if I were driving through the Texas countryside on a normal day; however, I was today. While preparing for the trip, I was so caught up in preparing to identify all of the wildlife, I almost forgot that people live here too and all of the things that come with that including domesticated animals. It sounds silly, to forget that people actually live in Belize, but when you are preparing for a trip like this, other people are the last thing on your mind. Instead you’re thinking ‘did I pack enough clothes?’, ‘did I forget anything?’, and ‘am I prepared for the work I’m about to do?’. Rather, I got so caught up in everything, that I was surprised to see so many familiar species.
After the drive, we arrived at the Ecolodge around 7, ate dinner, and got an introductory run down of the trip. It’s all quiet after that… except for the chorus of insects in the background.