At the airport ready to head to the mainland.

After a hectic morning, we’re all sitting here, enjoying a nice breeze and waiting for the small puddle jumpers that will take us to the mainland.

Last night we had a great group dinner and meandered through the town on the way back, experiencing short power outages while a rain and windstorm whipped through. When we arrived back at TREC, it was totally dark! A couple of hours later, the power came back and all was well.

It will be good to get back to St. Joe, but we will miss the sights and sounds of Belize.

Uh guys (actually blub, blub blub) the flag is backwards!

Dr. Mills as he attempts to tell the guys the flag was backwards while they were sitting on the bottom of the Caribbean! The correct direction is the pic of the day.

Today the group snorkeled at Coral Gardens, an amazing patch reef that has a huge variety of fish and coral. After enjoying their time there, some of the group went SCUBA diving, some went spear-fishing and most went shopping! The pics I have added today are of the SCUBA trip courtesy of Dr. Mills and Zach.

This humble reporter stayed home and caught up on this blog and rested a bit.

Tomorrow is a big day. We will be going to Caye Caulker, one of my favorite Belizean Islands for some wreck diving, manatee watching and of course eating and shopping on the island. Then tomorrow night we have reservations to have dinner as a group in San Pedro. Needless to say it might be Monday before you hear from me again.

Enjoy the pics! I also included a shot or two of the octopus we played with last night!

Our daily countdown… 1,2,3… 27, 28, 29… BOB!

Yes, I am the caboose of this group. You might notice in the group shots there are only 29 people. I’m # 30! Just the way I like it! After all, I am a journalist, the one who chronicles events – keeping tabs on what happens and to whom. And in my case, looking through the viewfinder to show the folks back home what extraordinary things we are seeing and experiencing. For instance:

Yesterday was a full day of snorkeling. We visited the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, one of the most protected parts of the reef in the Caribbean. Needless to say, we saw a variety of fish and invertebrate species as well as very large stands of Staghorn Coral which is becoming endangered throughout its range. One of our guides caressed a Morey Eel and Dr. Mills finally came face to face with a sea turtle so his class is safe from failing since that was the deal coming on this trip. No sea turtle while in the water – All F’s!!!!

After an extraordinary day of snorkeling, the group went back for a short rest and then boarded the Goliath again for a Belizean sunset tour featuring beautiful skies, glittering horizons, awesome pizza and a night snorkel. During the night snorkel, the group got to play with an octopus (although I think it was rather partial to Zach!) They also got to experience the bioluminescent creatures that live in the ocean. Little sparkles of light that glowed when you stirred the water.

Another wonderful day in Belize!

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to check out the ever growing gallery of pictures!

 

Take Two! (fearless leader) Look Look! It’s a baby Spotted Eagle Ray… ahhhh it’s a… plastic walmart bag! :( Sheesh!

Today, I took it easy thanks to a bad chest cold that doubled me over at times in coughing fits (not easy to deal with while snorkeling!) So, while I caught up on posting pictures, the rest of the crew went to Mexico rocks, checked out an underwater cave entrance and saw lots of fish. They came back, a very tired but happy bunch and had lots of stories about miss sightings and cool discoveries. In the gallery, I have posted pictures the students shot today. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and enjoy.

PS: Dinner was delicious fried chicken, rice and veggies, tortillas and of course – chocolate brownies!

Tomorrow is a very long day so I may not post. We will be hitting a couple of highlight spots – Shark-ray alley and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Then tomorrow night we will do a night snorkel – always an adventure! A dinner cruise at sunset and then a chance to see the nocturnal creatures of the caribbean!

Look! It’s a Stingray!!!! Ooops sorry, it’s just the boat anchor! :(

I overheard this as we were heading out to our first snorkel at Tres Cocos. Same shape, different material. As I write this, all is quiet here at Belize TREC. The internet being what it is, leads to late nights and furious posting! But, here you go.

Today was a day of snorkeling. THe wind was pretty stiff so we headed to the calmer waters of Tres Cocos (Three Palms – no longer there because of hurricanes but the name stuck!) TREC leader Dr. Kenneth Mattes and his wife Maureen talked through the ins and outs of snorkeling, the reef and what to do and what not to do. What followed was an amazing trip through a living fish bowl with us as the largest species in the water. We saw many amazing fish, corals and invertebrates (there is a picture in the gallery below, just for Dave Ashley!) Speaking of galleries, remember to scroll all the way down the page to find the photos I post every day.

After a quick lunch of Tuna fish sandwiches and PB&J for the less adventurous, we headed to another site for another session of beautiful coral reefs, gorgeous fishes and an unrelenting wind and tide that made it a amazing sight but also a heck of a workout!

After a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, etc (and of course chocolate cake!) we joined Ken for his famous “Fish Lecture,” where he regaled the students in his knowledge of the more prevalent species on the reef. He also explained tomorrow’s snorkel and what to expect. For now, enjoy the pictures and tune in tomorrow for another peek into our Bio in Belize adventure.

Lions, Tigers and bears… oh, wrong country! Jaguars and Toucans and Crocs!

Day three included a trip to Cahal Pech, an amazing Mayan Ruin, and the Belize Zoo.

Cahal Pech (Land of Ticks) is named so because of the large herds of cattle that once grazed on the vegetation that once blanketed the ruins. The cattle and ticks are long gone but the ruins, many of which have been excavated by a number of University archeology teams, still rise above the jungle floor, giving those who walk through its v-shaped arches a glimpse into the powerful Mayan society of a thousand years ago. It really gives you pause to think that the USA is just over 130 years old while Cahal Pech took 2000 years to build and thrived for almost 4000 years.

As we journeyed East towards the sea, we stopped at Cheers for lunch. Yes, I said Cheers! No, we didn’t get a visit from Norm but we did have very good food and enjoyed the covered terrace seating.

The Belize zoo was our next stop. This zoo was literally built around the animals of Belize. The founder of the zoo adopted the animals being used in a documentary and built the zoo around these animals, using the natural plants and contours to create a very comfortable zoo for the animals and information-filled tour for its visitors. The animal and most of the flower shots came from the zoo.

Finally, we journeyed further east until we literally ran into the Caribbean, just on the other side of the small airport where we departed for San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Of course, with 30 people, it took three planes and numerous trips by the TREC van to pick up our crew. We got to TREC and were greeted by a sumptuous dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, corn and a delicious chocolate brownie! Then it was time for some swimming in the TREC pool and an orientation session with Dr. Ken Mattes, our host.

Needless to say it was a very hot and full day and now it’s time for bed. Tomorrow we board the Goliath for our first snorkel trip.

 

Hiking, climbing, hiking, climbing, hiking – oh yeh – let’s not forget the heat!

Today began with a wonderful breakfast followed by a very interesting nature hike through the fields and rainforest of Belize. Cena, our wonderful guide, taught the group all about the healing powers of the indigenous plants. While the hike was interesting, it was the beginning of a very hot and long journey.  The journey continued with a short bus ride to a ferry that took us across the Mopan River. From there it was a mile + long hike up the hill to the magnificent Mayan Ruins at Xunantunich. The groups climbed to the top of the main temple and from there had a 360 degree view of the Belizean countryside as well as Guatemala, 10 miles away. After spending time in this amazing place, the group walked back down the hill to cross the ferry and do a little shopping in some mayan riverside kiosks. Then it was back on the schoolbus back to Clarissa Falls. The river called, the students answered, cooling off after a very hot day. And then there was supper (delicious!) and trying to get on the internet. A feat that is not as easy as it sounds. Tomorrow will be a very long day – we head to the ocean! More to come!!!!!