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On to Southwater!

July 30, 2017

We have come down from the Cockscomb and made it to Pelucan Beach! On to Southwater Caye after lunch!

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Out of contact

July 28, 2017

We have a busy few days ahead – visiting the Zoo, belmopan, the inland Blue Hole, the Jaguar Preserve, Maya Center, Monkey River… but we don’t anticipate having any internet connection so won’t be able to post until late Sunday. We are all well and having fun!

Xuantunich, Macal River and figs – a very full day indeed

July 27, 2017

Our adventures today early with a bird walk around the Belize Botanic Gardens. Today’s walk brought us a glimpse multiple orchids including the Black Orchid and a bonus sighting hummingbirds in the butterfly garden. The walk was a perfect prelude to an amazing Belizean breakfast prior to the official start of our day.
After a short drive, we rode a hand cranked ferry to Xunantunich, the ride was a first for many as we saw an example of simple machines at work. An added bonus was sharing the return ferry with horses!
Once we arrived at Xunantunich, the serenity, sheer architecture, rich cultural history, and continued conservation of archeological study left us in awe. Looking at the temple after our hike to the Mayan Ruins was nothing short of magnificent. Our guides Nathan and Bruce, as well as archeological interns were amazing through their teaching of the culture of the Mayans. Many from the group made the trek to the top of the temple presenting them with a panoramic view of the surrounding area as well as Guatemala. Our budding ecologists were thrilled to see a King Vulture while taking a group photo.
After an inspiring morning, the group was able support the local economy by taking advantage of shopping with local artisans. This gave us a chance to ensure that the memories of our experiences will remain, even after our journey ends.
We returned to another wonderfully prepared lunch to fuel up for our canoe trip down the Macal River. With the humidity at 100%, the three hour journey seemed daunting. Well all put forth the effort and were thrilled with our journey and observations. The local ecosystem of the Macal included: iguanas, bats, kingfishers, spider lilies, toucans, snakes, social flycatchers, ant nests, cactus, mangrove swallows, among many others. We were taught the scientific names of all but are still determined to learn and commit those to memory. Memories were made as a beautiful rainstorm fell on us during our canoe journey at at the culmination we agreed that tropical flavored ice cream from a local Belizean shop was well deserved.
Memories continued as we were tasked with a team building exercise and lesson study with figs collected from our trip down the Macal River. Whether it was our exhaustion of our willingness to take part as a team, the pollination activity of the Fig wasp and the fig fruit, it became a humorous yet thrilling time to find our way towards our final dinner at the lodge. Duplooy’s has been an amazing host for the first leg of our journey and though we leave with wonderful experiences it will remain a special place of the first third of our ecological study. Our journey continues tomorrow with our anticipation of our trek to the jungle.

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Hummingbird at a Heliconia 

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Black Orchid

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Yet another caterpillar!

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Hand crank Ferry

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Group at Xunantunich

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At the top

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Canoeing on the Macal – the river we read about in “Last flight of the Scarlet Macaw”

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Rain on the canoe trip

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Michelle, Melanie and Drew learning about figs

Tropical Immersion

July 26, 2017

Our first excursion of the day took us to the Mountain Pine Ridge, where we discovered tapir tracks and went in search of a cave. As it turned out, a hurricane that came through last summer downed several trees in the forest, obscuring the trail. We did have some amazing sightings, including a Walking Stick Insect, Acacia Ants, and a nest of baby birds. We also made an audio recording of the Cicadas singing in unison.

After a very welcome picnic lunch, we explored the Rio Frio Cave, where the “cold river” flows out of a giant cave opening into the forest. After gathering our bravery and strength, we ventured inside the cave, which opened up on the other side to reveal the spot where the river entered. Through human chains, strong muscles, and wet feet, we crossed the river and climbed the rocks to exit the back of the cave and explore the rest of the nature trail.

The last big adventure of the day had new friends laughing and shrieking as we dipped into the refreshing waters of Rio O

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Betty Jo and caterpillar

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Beth and caterpillar

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Michelle and caterpillar

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Taylar and caterpillar

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Noelle and caterpillar

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Taylar showing off the Walking Stick on her elbow

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The group hanging out in the forest

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The baby birds we found  – we think they are a Yellow Bellied Euphonia

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Golden Silk SPider

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Looking at a Monkey Pot

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Brittany and caterpillar

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Rio Frio Cave entrance

n Pools, where the river cascades over large rocks, creating thundering waterfalls, slick natural slides, and deep, still pools. We swam, posed for photos, and challenged ourselves and each other to seek out adventure among the flowing waters.

Throughout our travels today, Noelle and Melanie, the Belizian teachers who are part of our group, have been teaching the NC teachers about the local food, culture, and languages of this beautiful country.

With our spirits refreshed, our knowledge expanded, and our friendships strengthened, we enjoyed a wonderful dinner together then immersed ourselves in the nighttime sounds of our temporary home before turning in for the night.

We hafto seh, today da mi wa gud day

Passionate about the environment, education and nature…

July 25, 2017
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Cathy, Taylar and Brittany enjoying a traditional lunch

 

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Tropical relative of a lady bug beetle – Chrysonelidae

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The head of the soldier Leaf Cutter Ant – they have been used to cut woulds because the mandibles will pinch  the skin together. then you remove the ant body and the jaws will stay clamped for a long time.

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Howler Monkey

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Soldier Leaf Cutter Ant

Looking at Monkeys

Watching the Howler Monkeys

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Our group at the airport

Anxious to get started on our Belize adventure, we found it difficult to sleep last night. We were looking forward to getting to know the other educators selected to travel. The flight from Fort Lauderdale provided beautiful view of the Mexican coastline. The beautiful turquoise waters below were inviting, even from an altitude of 36,000 ft.
As the plane made the descent into Belize, many of us were amazed by the number of trees and limited amount of built-up areas.
After clearing customs and immigration, we were thrilled to see that our luggage had arrived with us. Happy to finally meet the two Belizean teachers selected to join us, and our guide and our driver, we set off for the bush.
Getting acclimated to the change in temperature and humidity created little worries for us, probably due to the excitement of being in this tropical environment.
Upon arriving at the Baboon Sanctuary, a beautifully prepared lunch was presented, all cooked by the wife of our guide Nathan.
Happy to jump into the culture, we enjoyed a lunch of roasted chicken, beans and rice, plantains, fresh avocado, potato salad, watermelon and orange juice. We were introduced to the way to eat avocado. Squirt a little fresh lime juice and sprinkle lightly with salt. We were also introduced to Belizean pepper sauce, which has a little more of a kick than NC produced, Texas Pete.
After lunch, a walking tour provided views of Howler monkeys, and plants native to Belize. The Howler monkeys, known to Belizeans as baboons, make the most incredible sound in the forest. We were able to see the monkeys up close, making this walk a dream come true for many. We found in intriguing that Belizeans are very aware of the medicinal benefits of many of the plants that were observed on our walk. This of us teaching plant behaviors were thrilled to see tropisms in action, particularly thigmotropism. The sites and sounds of our surroundings abounded.
Heading across Belize through a varied landscape of lowlands, valleys, and hills, we stopped when animals or plants native to this area came into view.
After several hours, we came to a tranquil place nestled deep in the jungle, which would be accommodations for the next three nights. Welcomed by a special beverage and a buffet of Belizean dishes, we compared notes from the day and enjoyed time at the dinner table together. We quickly found out that we are all passionate about the environment, education and nature.
Following our meal, we donned our headlamps and did some exploration for nighttime creatures, which were plentiful. As we write in our journals and reflect on the end of our first day in this tropical environment, the sound of the rain gently taps a soft tune on the roof. Thankful for this experience, we looking forward to the next 8 days together.

(pictures coming soon!)

First flight!

July 25, 2017

Michelle celebrated her very first airline flight with us this morning and the flight attendants made it memorable! Happy first flight Michelle!

In our way!

July 25, 2017

We are  enjoying a second cup of coffee and  lots of laughs as we await our flight! We look forward to getting your questions during our trip!