"Traveling, it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller"
It seems like yesterday we arrived in Belize City, Belize, yet here we are ready to depart. Though it seems like such a short time, ten days was all it took to expose us all to a country so very different from our own, Everything from culture to climate was a brand new experience, Though we had some hiccups along the way in our initial adjustments, I think it is safe to say that everyone has walked away from this amazing opportunity with a new-found appreciation for the world around us. Though we set out to learn about tropical insect ecology, we are coming back with more than specimens. We have learned about hospitality from our hosts, humbleness in the simplicity of the meals we ate, appreciation of the abundance we have at home, and friendships as we grew closer to one another.
The Toucan Education Center where we spent our first night was a perfect place to let the culture shock wash over us. Being in the jungle it was hot, muggy, and humid; quite different from our New Mexico home which is hot, dry, and arid. Day 2 took us trekking through the jungle. Luckily we had guides to identify harmful plants and to explain the historical significance of the caves we visited. Day 3 we found ourselves spoiled at Clarissa Falls. Our host was the sweetest, most generous woman I have ever met. For anyone missing their family, her talent for making you feel like you were at home was unmatched the entire trip. We were fortunate enough to spend four nights next to the soothing sounds of cascading river falls. During our stay at Clarissa Falls, we visited the A.T.M. Cave, short for Actun Tunichil Muknal which translates to ancient stone sepulcher. Our guide was amazing and so knowledgeable! He created an air of mystery and suspense, yet was able to make us all feel safe at the same time. We saw ancient pottery as well as a full skeleton of a sacrifice victim. We were also able to take a day to tour the Mayan ruins in Xunantunich. We literally climbed the steps of history, and what a beautiful view it was when we reached the top! Day 6 we left for the Cockscomb. Upon arriving we were treated to a tour of a cocao farm (the trees that grow the fruit that chocolate is made of) and even try some of the beans! We spent two days at Cockscomb and never had a dull moment. Both days were jam packed with hiking, collecting, and tubing down the river. After Cockscomb, we headed to Dangriga. From there we boated to an island in Tobacco Caye (pronounced key) called Joe Jo's by the Reef. We were all so sad to leave it behind today! Snorkeling, great food, beach volleyball, fresh coconuts...what more could you ask for in an island get away?
Although ten days seemed more like ten hours, Belize was amazing I am beyond grateful to everyone who made us feel so welcome. Everyone had a great time, entomology major or otherwise. Thanks for letting us sample your culture and for giving us a great spring break!