Monday, June 4, 2012

Belize

Our first stop on the geology trip was Belize.  We arrived in Belize City in the morning, and took a boat to St. George's Caye.  The Caye was gorgeous--peaceful, quiet (no cars, and hardly any people since it's small and away from the big tourist spots), clear skies and water.  After dropping off our things at the Ecomar research station, and a delicious lunch, we got back on the boat and headed to a dive spot for scuba and snorkeling.

The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest in the Western hemisphere, and one of the longest in the world.  I hadn't been snorkeling or diving in a long time, so this was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

The water was clear and beautiful, and we saw corals, fish, rays, anemones, urchins, a sea turtle, and more.  We learned about the processes that create white sand from marine organisms such as halimeda.  After that most of us headed back to the station, but B and a colleague left again for a night dive.

The next morning we went snorkeling at an old British shipwreck site, where the geologists examined the ship's ballast, trying to determine the type of rock and point of origin.  We then went back to pick up our things, and headed to Belize City.  We dropped our things at a hotel there, then rode in a big van on the western highway towards the rainforest.  We stopped at Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve for a cave tubing tour.  We walked through the forest, learning about the indigenous trees and plants on our way--everything from allspice to the great ceiba tree.

When we reached the tubing portion of the tour, we got into the water one at a time, sitting in our tubes, and linked up.  We had two guides, who took us through the caves and answered questions.  It was a bit slow-going at times, since it was the end of the dry season and the water was a little low, but it was still fun and interesting.  When we finally came to the end, it was dark, so we quickly changed, had dinner, and then drove to the Belize Zoo for an after-hours tour.  It's a small zoo, situated right in the forest environment, and contains only native Belizean animals that have been orphaned, rescued, or bred in captivity--we saw tapirs, howler monkeys, a jaguar, a harpy eagle, and more.  Being right in the forest, we also unexpectedly crossed paths with a wild fer-de-lance, an extremely venomous snake, which was very exciting!

The next day was Easter--we walked to church, and afterwards came back to our hotel to pack up.  We rode to the airport and boarded a little 12-passenger plane that would take us to our next stop on the trip:  Flores, Guatemala.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing them. It is fun to learn more about your trip.