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2008 Daily Journal

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 Itinerary
2008 Meet the Team
2008 Q & A

What do you call the first day in Belize? FULL! It began in Raleigh at Raleigh-Durham International Airport with a 5 am gathering for our 7 am flight to Miami and ended at 9 pm (actually 11 pm EST) with a significant wildlife encounter!

group in belize airportWe landed in Belize City around midday and were met by Museum staff Bill Hasse, Belizean teachers Ernease and Emilio, our guide Nathan and our drivers Mike and George. We immediately headed towards the Community Baboon Sanctuary, making frequent stops along the way whenever we spotted beautiful tropical birds — our bird list now includes a Vermillion Flycatcher, Groove Billed Ani, Snail Kite, Northern Jacana and Hooded Oriole. We even paused on a bridge spanning the Belize River so that we could watch iguanas and Howler Monkeys!

After an enjoyable lunch of cheese sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, sausage, carrots, cucumbers sticks and cake, we were given an introduction to the Community Baboon Sanctuary by CBS guide Fallet Young. We then set off into the bush with our guides, Russell and Robert, and were immediately intrigued by the medicinal uses of Belize’s native plants. During the hike we watched leaf cutter ants carrying tidbits of leaves along a well-worn path and saw a Basilisk lizard run on its hind legs. The highlight of our hike was watching young Howler Monkeys eat leaves from the hands of the guides and experiencing the vocal displays of the Howler Monkeys. Howlers’ calls are unlike anything we have ever heard before. The closest we can come to describing them are that the calls sound like a cross between metal scraping and an engine. After our hike, we stopped at a local shop for water, which was sold in plastic bags. The bagged water reminded a few of us of the way milk is sometimes served in elementary schools.

fer de lance snakeAfter a long drive along a rough dirt road we arrived at what appears to be heaven — Pooks Hill Lodge. Our hosts greeted us with warm hospitality and delicious food. After dinner we set off on a night walk. Our initial wildlife sightings included tarantulas, millipedes, a ribbon of leaf cutter ants, a Nine-banded Armadillo and a click beetle with two bioluminescent “eye spots.” (The Maya name for click beetle is Koki.) As we sauntered down the path we froze when we heard Shannon quietly exclaim, “Snake!" She’d spotted a three foot Fer-de-Lance, the most dangerous snake in Belize. These snakes can grow up to 8 feet long and their venom can be deadly to humans. Keeping a respectful (and safe) distance from the snake, we took several photos and watched it in the night vision scope. After watching our fill of this venomous snake, we headed back to our rooms and encountered a five-foot-long Honduran Milksnake, which looks a great deal like the Scarlet Kingsnake that can be found in North Carolina.

We can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

July 22 Q & A

2008 Daily Journals | Next