Back from Belize

It’s been two weeks since I returned from co-leading an Earth Expeditions trip to Belize and I’m just now finding a moment to post a recap. It’s amazing how much work can pile up when you’re out of the office for two weeks!

Overall, the field expedition was fantastic! The heat and humidity were high. Even the locals said so. I carried a bandana with me everywhere we went so I could wipe the sweat off of my face every five minutes. The bugs, on the other hand, weren’t half as bad as I expected. I still came home looking like I had chicken pox on my legs from all the mosquito and doctor fly bites I did get, but it wasn’t as terrible as I remembered it being the last time I was there.

I could write a book about everything we experienced and discovered, but I’ll just describe a couple of my personal highlights for now.

The Belize Zoo, where this jaguar was photographed, was amazing. The zoo only displays animals native to Belize and its primary purpose is to connect Belizeans to the wildlife around them and inspire them to be proud and protect their natural heritage. The coolest thing EVER was to be at the zoo at night and hear the black howler monkeys roaring all around you. It is the creepiest sound and so loud that you’d expect a dinosaur to come crashing through the trees any minute.

After spending a few hot and humid days in the tropical forest and savannah, floating down the Caves Branch River in an innertube was heaven. It was so refreshing and provided a completely different perspective of the surrounding environment. I felt like I was in the middle of a National Geographic episode. The river flows in and out of these giant cave systems. At one point, we all turned out our head lamps. It was so dark that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face. Coming out of the cave, we were like butterflies emerging from a chrysalis – transformed.

BATS! I just love bats. I’m not sure why, but they fascinate me.

As a group of educators, we were excited to get to spend some time visiting schools and interacting with the students.  Dozens of kids came to the school to meet us in spite of the fact that it was their summer break. We learned a bit about the school system in Belize and engaged the kids in arts and crafts, soccer, and conversation.

And, finally, here I am on the beach on Carrie Bow Caye where a Smithsonian research station is based. We got a brief tour of the station and then had some time to explore the tiny island. I had fun watching all the little crabs duck in and out of their burrows and scamper sideways across the sand.