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History – Cultural and Natural

July 25, 2014

July 24 2014

Aracari Toucans feeding

Collared Aracari Toucans feeding on fruit.

 

Jason showing Emily and Cindy the inside of a Cicada shed.

Jason showing Emily and Cindy the inside of a Cicada shed.

Our early nature walk at 5:45 was highlighted by an agouti, and a Speckled Racer ( a snake) wrangled by Nathan and Ron. We visited the Orchid House and saw the national flower of Belize — the Black Orchid. As we were awaiting breakfast, we saw a group of Collared Aracari Toucans feeding on some fruit left on the patio. What a great highlight seeing such beautiful birds so close! We had amazing breakfast burritos and cinnamon raisin scones.

Speckled Racer snake.

Speckled Racer.

 

Group sitting in front of Xunantunich.

Group sitting in front of Xunantunich.

We certainly had an action-packed day! We left DuPlooy’s around 8:30 to head to Xunantunich, the Mayan Ruins near the border of Belize and Guatemala. A few of us have a slight fear of heights, but we all overcame those fears, made the trek to the top and were we ever rewarded! It was breathtaking seeing two countries at once from the top of the Castillo, which was 130 feet tall. We learned about the game Pok-ta-pok, a game where the winner is sacrificed. We also learned about rituals like virgin sacrifices (in this case “virgin” means without children) and blood-letting ceremonies of the king or queen from our tour guide Nathan, who has been nicknamed “Belize-opedia,” and even had a few other tourists (Denise from California and her family) tag along in our group to learn from him. After climbing the ruins, we spent some time in the local market buying keepsakes like Mayan calendars, tapestries, clothing, and jewelry.

Ron at Xunantunich.

Ron at Xunantunich.

We returned to DuPlooy’s and changed into our bathing suits, and then took a quick half-hour van ride upstream on the Macal River. We canoed downstream, and along the way we were tasked with catching figs that had fallen into the river. We also saw some great natural features, like limestone caverns and cliffs, and encountered some iguanas, kingfishers, and blue herons. We returned to the beach at DuPlooy’s and swam in the Macal before heading back up to the patio.

Kinley making tamales with Melanie from duPlooy's Lodge.

Kinley making tamales with Melanie from duPlooy’s Lodge.

We learned how to make tamales from Melanie, one of the chefs at DuPlooy’s, and she taught us about the different spices, including coolantro, which is similar to cilantro and in the same family. The tamales were wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed for an hour (and we’re awaiting our dinner as we type! ) (Editor’s note – they were DELICIOUS!)

We spent the remainder of the afternoon dissecting the figs we collected from the Macal. We learned about the very complex and interesting habitat inside, and the fig wasps that inhabit and pollinate it. We modeled this process in an interactive activity, and we learned how to incorporate it into our classrooms.

Single Collared Aracari Toucan.

Single Aracari Toucan.

Tomorrow morning we leave DuPlooy’s and head to the Jaguar Preserve. As we look back on our time here we can’t help feeling extremely grateful and blessed to have spent three days and nights in such a beautiful and picturesque place.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2014 8:29 am

    Hi Liz darling, hello Jason, hugs to Nathan. Why are Red-eyed Treefrogs’ eyes red? Why is the Blue Hole blue? Please don’t bring me any ginger wine. Watch your puppets around that Angie girl! Safe & healthy travels to all!

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 27, 2014 2:48 pm

      We will get right on your colorful questions! Just arrived at Southwater and can’t wait to experience the blue of the Caribbean!

  2. unah permalink
    July 27, 2014 6:04 pm

    I thought you will be going to Tikal but I guess you went to another place. Still looks beautiful!!!

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