Happy June! We started the month off with a trip to Runaway Creek, a nature reserve here in Belize that serves as a protected area for the wildlife! Rey is in charge of Runaway Creek and he gave us a tour of Runaway Creek! We were there to practice use of GPS maps and to set up camera traps! We were very much just in the jungle hiking around, because if you stopped moving for even a moment there would be 20 mosquitos on your back trying to get a bite. It was pretty brutal but I was completely covered with a jacket/ bandana/ hat/ hood combo. I was super sweaty and left Runaway stinkier than I had hoped, but I had significantly fewer bug bites than I was expecting. They still managed to bite through my long pants, but c’est la vie.
After setting up the camera traps, we were taken on a hike through the jungle! There were more mosquitos, but we made our way through and found ourselves at a cave entrance. Inside the cave, there were paintings dating back to 300 AD. It depicted a jaguar coming to the entrance of a cave. According to Mayan legends, at night the Sun took the form of a jaguar and walked the Earth at night, finding shelter in a cave until day came again. It was amazing getting to see this painting because it is something that only educational groups like us students or researchers get to see. Runaway Creek isn’t open to the public, so it was a really special thing to get to see.
We hiked through more and came across a wild young barn owl at the entrance of the cave! The landscape was honestly breathtaking it looked like something off of an Apple computer wallpaper. But I was there in the flesh, getting to experience it first hand.
We hiked to one more cave where we were able to walk in super deep. In the cave there were what looked like faces carved out into the rocks. They were evidently to scare off unwanted people from entering the cave. As we made our way through, we passed a camera trap that Rey had set up 6 months prior. We stopped and checked to see if anything had come through, and we saw that a jaguar had passed through not 8 hours before we were there!
When we walked further into the cave, the number of bats flying around increased. Once we got to the end of the path, Rey had us turn off all of our flashlights to experience true darkness. It was again, so insane. I couldn’t see anything, not even my hand waving directly in front of my face. After that, we hiked out of the cave and back to the van to leave our productive day at Runaway Creek.
The weekend of the 2nd and 3rd was an amazing opportunity to relax, decompress, and to really enjoy the beauties of Belize. The three weeks prior of being here had been such high pace that it was amazing not having anything that I needed to do or get done by a certain time and I could just enjoy my day. The two nights over the weekend however were a tad stressful. We had really heavy rains and there is evidently a type of bug called the flood fly that are just termites with wings. They come out in large numbers after heavy rains and are just a general nuisance. There were 40 or so just in our room, and throughout the night I woke up six times needing to pick them off of me. Flood flies don’t bite or carry disease, they’re just really good at flying in your face/ ear/ hair/ everything and crawling all over your sleeping body. We woke up to our floor being covered with their wings (as they fall off relatively soon after they are born.) I’m sad that the relaxing weekend is over, but I’m excited for all that this week has to come. We’re going to be doing a lot of cool stuff this week! :^)