Saturday morning bright and early, we all boarded the ferry and headed to the mainland, excited for our brief but action-packed couple of days! We arrived at the Belize City ferry terminal and headed right to the Belize Zoo with our knowledgeable guide Melvis who works for Programme for Belize. At the zoo we saw the Tapir, the national animal of Belize, and many other interesting mammals, like the puma, jaguar and ocelot. As the day got a bit hotter, we all got back into the van to drive to La Milpa Field Station (https://www.pfbelize.org), stopping for lunch along the way at “Cocina El Sabor”.
When we arrived at La Milpa, the excitement of the group was palpable. La Milpa is nestled deep in the rainforests of northwestern Belize, and it was truly beautiful to be amidst so much undisturbed wildlife (the group was able to see white tailed deer, oscillated turkey, and many species of hummingbird upon arrival). Melvis then took us to the Mayan archaeological site at La Milpa that is the third largest in Belize (it was just ten minutes down the road from where we were staying!). Despite the rain, we all thoroughly enjoyed walking around the un-excavated site and learning about the Mayan civilization.
When we returned to the ecolodge, we settled in, ate a delicious dinner, and then got ready for our night walk, which was one of the groups favorite activities from this weeked! Melvis lead us around the grounds of La Milpa, and with our headlamps creating a path, we were able to spot cricket frogs, a tailless whip scorpion, two red-eyed tree frogs, various species of toads, a small snake and too many insects to count. We all went to right to bed after the walk knowing that Sunday would be another full day of exploring.
Just as the sun began to rise, some of the group sleepily made their way to the lodge, where we drank coffee and tea before departing on a bird walk. With Melvis leading the group again, we were able to spot many bird species native to Belize, but perhaps the most intriguing find were the Peanut-Head bugs in camouflage just up the road from the lodge.
After a hearty breakfast, the group loaded back into the van to drive to the Lamanai archaeological site. This city, The City of Submerged Crocodile in Yucatec Mayan, is the second largest Mayan ruin in Belize, and was extremely successful due to its proximity to a large freshwater lagoon that was used as a water source. This site was completely excavated, so we were able to climb to the top of the High temple and the Jaguar Temple. It was fascinating to learn more about the ancient Mayan way of life.
The group was pretty tired after the Lamanai excursion but we got ample time to sleep during the three hour van ride back to the ferry terminal. On the ferry ride back to San Pedro we got a nice goodbye from two dolphins that were following the waves created by the boat!
This week we will be busy conducting research and preparing our costumes for Lobster Fest, so tune in next week to see how it goes!