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Day 3: From Mayan Ruins to Rushing Rivers

July 26, 2012

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From Laura, Kevin and Jennifer:

We started our day with another great bird hike further into the Botanical Gardens. Very shady in places, we were rewarded with many amazing plants and animals including the national flower of Belize, the black orchid.

Next we took a walk (and we actually mean climb!) back in time today and learned about life as an ancient Mayan. Stories of their culture and life were all around us. We were impressed with the amount of time, effort and skill to develop this intricate civilization with structures that dwarf modern day. A fun climb to the top rewarded us with a breathtaking, birds-eye view of the city. We imagined life as a Mayan while overlooking present day cities of Belize and Guatemala.

We got to experience the life cycle and various stages of the blue Morpho butterfly complete with caterpillars hatched this morning! While holding the chrysalis, we were able to feel the twitch of life,  awaking in us a sense of wonder.

We were refreshed in the afternoon with a canoe trip down the beautiful Macal River. We were challenged to collect figs floating in the water along the way and enjoyed a dip in the cool water which included a swim across the river through a strong current! Seeing toucans, iguanas, kingfishers and bats was a great way to spend the afternoon.

We ended the evening dissecting our figs from the river to truly experience the interesting life cycle of the fig wasp. Many of the group many never eat a fig again! It was another incredible day in an incredible place. Thank you Belize!

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Gavindra Bharrat permalink
    July 27, 2012 4:59 am

    Are there any niches in the areas of Belize that you have explored so far that is specific to the area and do they contain any species that could serve as an indicator species or show proof of changes (evolution) of the area?

  2. David-Asheville High APES permalink
    July 27, 2012 8:45 am

    What kind of role did wildlife play in the sophisticated Mayan civilizations? Was it much like today or was it involved more or less? If more, in what ways?

    • August 8, 2012 9:35 am

      David, the Mayan people used animals as a necessary food source. They did not have animals of burden so all work was done manually with good ol’ fashion hard work.

  3. Tori Jones permalink
    July 27, 2012 12:54 pm

    Did you learn anything about the Mayan calendars when you were exploring the ruins? How did their way of life differ from ours? This all seems so interesting!

  4. July 27, 2012 5:17 pm

    Sounds like you are all having fun! Seeing toucans and monkeys very cool. I recall seeing the kneel-billed toucan when I visited. One question did you get Meg to climb to the top of the ruins? Have fun and drink good coffee when you can.

  5. Beth Howard permalink
    July 27, 2012 8:51 pm

    Hey EE troops! Hope all is well in Belize! Special Hellos to Jennifer (flipper hugs from the turtles) Dacia ( my ROOMIE) and Liz (the busiest woman in the WORLD!) I have finally unpacked from PERU! LOL I know you guys are on the most amazing trek of your lives! Back when I went, in 1996, the Olympics were taking place out here in the “real” world! We did our version of synchronized swimming and impressed none of the judges! LOL What kinds of critters have you seen? Did you see a “free range” jaguar? Any red eyed tree frogs? Enjoy your time and drink it all in! *wink!

    • August 8, 2012 9:37 am

      HEY ROOMIE!!! We also did synchronized swimming in the blue hole (video seen on fb), we saw lots of critters my favorites were the kinajou, green-headed vine snake, and howler monkeys. We didn’t see any free range jaguars BUT we did find fresh prints on our bird walk.

  6. Kaya Hedt permalink
    July 28, 2012 4:22 pm

    What makes the fig wasp so interesting? Is its relationship with the fig mutualistic?

    • August 8, 2012 9:48 am

      Kaya, the fig dissection almost made me give up fig newtons :-). The fig wasp’s relationship to the fig is very interesting. The female fig wasp burrows into the fig, pollinating the fig flower (found on the inside of the fig) then lays her eggs and dies. The male larva then burrows in the fig increasing the CO2/O2 within the fig, the male then fertilizes the female larva and dies. The females then continue the circle.

  7. Ciara Agustin permalink
    August 1, 2012 9:15 am

    Once the Morpho butterflies hatch are they released into the wild?

  8. Mary permalink
    August 1, 2012 4:17 pm

    What a beautiful orchid! I have never seen the Blue Morpho catepillars. They are awesome! Great to see you out there having so much fun and learning so much Laura.

  9. Mattie Vorder Bruegge permalink
    August 5, 2012 5:45 pm

    Do you think the Mayan civilization influenced the species that lived nearby and/or the environment?

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