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A Belizean Welcome

July 21, 2015

We have arrived!
Most of us agree — it’s not as hot here in Belize as we expected. Maybe that’s because it’s about a million degrees in Raleigh right now, and it is, in fact, cooler in the tropics. However, we are still sweating in the heat and humidity.
We have been welcomed to Belize by the walking Belizean encyclopedia (aka Nathan, our guide) and two wonderful Belizean teachers, Yolanda and Sherry. We’ve only just begun to get to know each other, but we are certain that we have a lot to learn.

Already learning from Nathan

Already learning from Nathan

Our highlight from today was the sight and sound of Black Howler Monkeys at the Baboon Sanctuary, which is about 11 miles from where we arrived at the Belize International Airport. When our local guides, Carolyn and Geraldine, started grunting and clapping we were a little startled. But we quickly realized their purpose when a troop of howler monkeys climbed through the treetops toward our group. It was amazing to watch them move and climb in the trees using their dexterous fingers and prehensile tails. As they climbed down the trunks toward us — closer than we would have expected, though these monkeys are frequently visited by humans and accustomed to visitors — we had the opportunity to look into their intelligent faces and pick out subtle differences between individuals. We could clearly tell which were the dominant males. And we especially enjoyed watching a mother with a baby on her back. When Carolyn and Geraldine mimicked their call, they chimed in, and a low, guttural rasping roar filled the jungle.

After a long and very bumpy trip to the western side of the country, we are enjoying the (very slightly) cooler temperature, good food, cold beverages, and nighttime sounds. A personal highlight from this typist: at our group meeting a kinkajou came to visit and ate a piece of banana out of my hand. His little nails were quite scratchy but he was very gentle as he took the banana.

Now for a night walk before everyone crashes into bed after a 20-hour day!

Tarantula found on a night walk

9 Comments leave one →
  1. G. Byfield permalink
    July 21, 2015 9:54 pm

    Great to hear that the team arrived safely in Belize and the activities are off to a good start. The high school STEM camp students at St. Augustine’s University back here in Raleigh want to ask Doreen – How was your flight?

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 23, 2015 5:27 am

      From Doreen – I had a great flight. the most difficult part of the flight was the lack of leg room, however I was so anxious to get to Belize I did not focus on my aching legs once we landed. We met our guide Nathan, an amazing person, the two Belizean teachers and our bus driver, Bruce. Our first stop was Howler Monkeys!

  2. July 21, 2015 10:01 pm

    Are the howler monkeys restrained in the sanctuary in any way or are they free to roam to other areas and just remain where they are assured of nourishment and interaction with visitors? Do these monkeys have predators and has the population decreased, expanded or remained the same over the years? The tarantula picture is wonderful and assurance that they are not deadly as tradition would claim. I am looking forward to my “armchair journey” with you!

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 23, 2015 8:29 pm

      The Howler Monkeys are not restrained in any way. The land owners in the communities around the sanctuary agree to leave a buffer of trees along the river, and to leave the food trees that the monkeys need in order to survive. They are used to having people around, and therefor are not scared when groups of tourists (like us) walk through. Howler Monkeys are eaten by Harpy Eagles but their biggest threat comes from humans who destroy their habitat, and sometimes steal the babies from their mothers to raise as pets. Thanks to the great work and commitment from the Community Baboon Sanctuary the number of Howler Monkeys has increased dramatically over the years.

      We always enjoy finding tarantulas during our time in Belize. Nathan is very good at catching them so we can see them up close and learn more them about their interesting natural history.

  3. July 22, 2015 3:51 am

    From Yellowstone to Belize, good for you Melissa!!! Enjoy every moment! Hello to Yolanda!

  4. Tammy D Lee permalink
    July 22, 2015 6:18 am

    Nathan is ageless!! He looks the same- any recordings of the howler monkeys- please post love that sound as you enter the sanctuary.. Great first day’

  5. Susan Strode permalink
    July 22, 2015 7:59 am

    I’m so excited to be following y’all along on this trip…..enjoy, as I know I will! kiss Taylor for me!

  6. July 23, 2015 3:13 am

    Doreen, We were glad to see your picture posted, it looks like you’re having fun. The ladies at the church were laughing when I told them about the picture I saw. Your dad was relieved when he saw the picture and I’m he told the rest of your family. Can’t wait to see more and hear about the entire trip. Willie

  7. Kelly Allen permalink
    July 23, 2015 6:15 pm

    It’s so great to see a picture of Nathan! Say “hi” for me!

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