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Daily Journal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Itinerary
2009 Meet the Team

Greetings! We have arrived in Belize — you betta Belize it!

2009 Tropical Ecology Institute participantsOur early morning gathering (5:15 am) at RDU was the start of a wonderfully exciting but long day. We arrived in Belize and the heat and humidity when we stepped off the plane were incredible. We quickly added Nathan, our guide, and Kathleen and Robert, our Belizean educators, and William, our driver, to the group. As we headed towards the Community Baboon Sanctuary we stopped in the village of Burrell Boom and looked at a chain that had been used in earlier times to hold mahogany logs as they floated down the river after being logged. We saw a Cashew Tree with fruit and a beautiful Vermillion Flycatcher. We arrived at CBS and had a delicious lunch of Belizean stewed chicken, rice and potato salad followed by coconut-lemon cake.

We met our CBS guide, Geraldine, and took off into the bush. Along the way we spotted Mahogany Trees (the national tree of Belize), an Acorn Woodpecker, Bull’s Horn Acacia, Saw Palmettos and a shrub commonly known as the ringworm bush, due to it being used to treat fungal infections such as ringworm. We investigated a termite mound and, at Geraldine’s suggestion, we each ate one! We thought they tasted somewhat minty. Continuing along the trail, we learned about the medicinal uses for all the plants around us. We made our way to the Belize River (also known as the Old River) and saw seven Black Howler Monkeys in the treetops. Geraldine called to them and a large male called back with an amazing sound, which started out sounding like a cough and then changed to a deep air horn sound. We were thrilled to be so close to such an impressive animal.

After our informative tour of the Community Baboon Sanctuary, we headed west along a long and bumpy gravel road. Shortly after arriving at duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge, our gorgeous accommodations for the next three nights, we gathered on the Lodge’s deck for what will become a regular evening meeting. Despite being distracted by the sights and sounds of the surrounding jungle, we had a productive meeting and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner which included a hot cucumber soup and fresh salads with homemade dressings.

After our meal, we strolled down to the Macal River, stopping to watch as leaf cutter ants carried leaves across the trail. So many ants travel to and from their colonies that even their little legs create ribbon-like paths along the jungle floor. The highlight of our walk was standing along the bank of the Macal River and looking up at the spectacular night sky. We used a green laser to trace the constellation Scorpio and saw falling stars flash brightly across the horizon.

Bedtime arrived after an amazingly full 19-hour non-stop day. We fell asleep to the sounds of geckos chirping and the rustle of palm fronds in the breeze.

July 21 Q & A

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