Arriving at Cave’s Branch on the 3rd we had the afternoon to relax and get accommodated as for the next 2 days while we are here. Yesterday, we were split into 2 smaller groups to do the cave tubing and Black Hole drop. The tubing involved heading down a creek into the cave on tubes. Then, we explored the cave to see the remaining Mayan pottery and carvings. The latter entailed hiking up a mountain and rappelling down into a sinkhole cave; which we then explored and hiked out of. Both events involved having lunch within the caves. Today the groups switched events while others opted out and are instead using the day to relax here at Cave’s Branch. One more night and then we are off to San Pedro and the conclusion of our Maymester here.
The group stayed with host families in San Antonio for two nights. We helped the families cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. The San Antonio Women Co-op showed us how to make corn tortillas from scratch, as well as homemade tamales, salad, sweet potato pudding, mashed yams and salsa. We were also shown how to spin pottery on a pottery wheel and played a soccer game against some local kids and adults. Finally Monday was our last day at Lower Dover and we said goodbye to Bill and Maddie. Now we are in for a fun three days in Caves Branch Jungle Lodge. – Angie & Armand
Today we woke up bright and early to check mammal traps, to bird watch, and to nature watch. After lectures and lunch we made our way to San Ignacio to visit the Green Iguana Conservation Project. The tour guide explained how the iguanas are kept safe and are let go into the wild after they have grown. We enjoyed feeding the iguanas and having the opportunity to hold them! After visiting the Iguanas we explored San Ignacio on our own. We shopped at local stores and ate local restaurants. It was a fun and relaxing last day in San Ignacio before we head to San Antonio for the weekend!
Today we went on a long bumpy ride to Rio Frio Cave in the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve. It was a huge tube-like cave that was open on both ends and let light inside unlike the other caves we previously have visited. There was a small stream that flowed throughout the cave. The cave had a sand bottom and solid walls riddled with stalagmite and stalactite formations. Both openings to the cave were massive and the entrance was 65 feet tall.
Rio Frio Cave
Rio On Pools
After visiting the cave we went for a dip in the Rio On Pools which were a series of small ponds and pools surrounded by granite rock formations that were very slippery when wet. A waterfall flowed through the granite rock which filled the small pools and swimming in them was cool and relaxing. There were also natural waterslides and there were plants too along with algae on the rocks.
Green Hill Butterfly Farm
After swimming we had lunch in Mountain Pine Ridge and departed for the Green Hill Butterfly Farm! -Ekin Colpan and Rory Sullivan
Today we woke up at 7:00 to a delicious breakfast of french toast and fresh fruit! It was a great way to start our morning before both of our lectures. We talked about our time in Tikal, Guatemala, and also about birds, fish, and the different things we have found during our time here in the jungle at Lower Dover. We then had some free time before lunch, so some of us went to the market while some of us stayed back to finish some school work. Lunch was at 12 and it was burritos with rice and cucumbers. It was then time to do aquatic field work. This was the most time we have spent in the water yet, so we went to the wide opening in the Belize River where we caught tons of fish. We are all becoming experts at identifying central tetras, silver side, and cichlid fish! After we came back and cleaned up, we had a special guest teach us how to make tamales. Saundra has been making tamales for eight years and we loved getting to learn from her— plus we had fun doing it! It was important that we made the tamales just right because this was our main meal for dinner. The rest of the night was filled with fun bonding time(: -Alana Madera and Carlie Oddo
The day started with johnny cakes, banana bread, and fruit. Immediately after breakfast, we hopped in the vans to start our journey to Cave World. Cave World is a newer park in Belize with multiple large caves and an exciting bush medicine hiking tour. Upon arrival we split into two groups. One took the three hour cave tour while the other took the bush medicine tour up to a lookout. In the cave, we got to scale slippery rock walls, see Mayan artifacts, and explore the biggest cavern so far. We saw scorpion spiders, gigantic roaches, and many different species of bats. At the end of these tours, we had lunch at Cave World. After lunch, the rest of the students went on the tour, and we returned to Lower Dover. Most students were extremely tired after the long day of hiking and relaxed until dinner. For dinner, Maddie made split pea soup, rice, stewed chicken, and salad. We wrapped up the day with a bonfire where we made delicious s’mores and hot dogs.
Today, May 26th, we got back to the field station at around 5 pm after a weekend excursion to Tikal, Guatemala to visit one of the most famous cities of the ancient Maya, Tikal. We arrived in Tikal at about 1 pm yesterday, and had some free time to lounge by the pool before we embarked on our hike to watch the sunset from one of the tallest temples in the city! We had to rush to beat the sun, so we sped-hiked through the jungle and up many flights of stairs in order to catch the sun going down over the entire jungle and city of Tikal. While at the top, the guide had us stay as quiet as we could, and it was incredible to just sit there and listen to the sounds of the forest. After walking home only by light of flashlights, we all headed to bed to get some rest – because we had to be up to leave for our sunrise hike at 4 am! At a slightly slower pace this time, the group trekked through the jungle in the dark, boxed breakfast in hand, and climbed all the way up the current highest building in the Mayan empire, one of Tikal’s temples to watch the sun come up and listen to the jungle awakening! It was definitely a once in a lifetime type of experience. After a tour of the whole city once we descended, we went back to our rooms and got ready to go back to Belize. We first stopped on the beautiful island town of Flores for lunch, where we got some lovely photos and had a nice rest before crossing the border back into Belize. Overall, it was a super exciting and memorable weekend! – Louise Ferris and Kelly Shannon