Tuesday, July 24, 2007
2007 Meet the Team
2007 Q & A
Our day started with an early morning (5:30 a.m.) gathering at RDU for our 7:30 a.m. flight. Most of us slept very poorly the night before in anticipation of the exciting day ahead, and then found we couldn't even sleep on the plane because we were so excited to be heading to Belize! After a quick layover in Miami, we left at 10:40 and arrived at Goldston International Airport at 10:45! Although it appears that we flew very quickly, there is a 2 hour time change between Belize and North Carolina, so the flight really took 2 hours and 45 minutes.
After smoothly clearing immigration and customs, we were greeted by our long time guide Nathan and met Orlando and Lucio, our two Belizean teachers. We jumped in the bus and headed towards our first scheduled stop, the Baboon Sanctuary. Along the way we stopped at Mussel Creek Bridge to watch about nine Howler monkeys, which were climbing in the trees on the side of the road. We also saw Great Egrets, Bare-throated Tiger Herons, Northern Jacanas, White Ibis, a Ringed Kingfisher and Wood Storks. It was hard to know which way to look!
At the Baboon Sanctuary we were greeted by Fallet Young, one of the founders of the Community Baboon Sanctuary and Bermudian Landing. After enjoying a picnic lunch prepared by Miss Lydia of Warrie Head Lodge — a wonderful friend who has hosted us on past Institutes — we followed Fallet into the bush and learned about the medicinal plants along the trail while looking for monkeys. We saw a cashew tree and learned about the time-consuming process required to harvest cashew nuts. A cashew tree produces fruits that are covered by an irritating husk that contains toxins similar to poison ivy. After the fruit is roasted, the husk surrounding the edible nut must be cleaned off. One cashew fruit yields one cashew nut. No wonder cashews are so expensive!
After learning about cashew trees, we continued with our walk and our search for the Howler monkeys. When we found the troop of monkeys, Fallet fed some of the individuals cashew fruits he had picked up during our earlier stop. He also let a couple of teachers feed the monkeys. One monkey tried to take Peggy's hat! It was fascinating to watch the monkeys eat the fruit, and watch us watching them! Fallet demonstrated how to make the Howler monkey call, and we heard the dominant male call back to defend his territory.
After our very rewarding stop at the Baboon Sanctuary, we headed towards Warrie Head and made a brief stop at Bill Hasse's house. At the house, we followed a trail back to a pond where there were tracks from a Baird's Tapir. Bill had poured plaster into a track before our arrival and we were able to retrieve the dried track. Tapirs have three toes on each foot and their tracks are much bigger than most of us imagined they would be — bigger than the size of a human hand. When we return to North Carolina, the Museum staff will make replicas of the track and give them to all the teachers to use in their classrooms.
Finally we arrived at Warrie Head and were greeted by Miss Lydia. A quick evening meeting was followed b a wonderful dinner. After our exciting day on very little sleep we headed off to bed, looking forward to our bird walk in the morning.
Q & A for July 24
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