I rarely think to share articles I’ve published on our family blog, but here’s one about our recent trip to Belize, or at least the first half of our trip. We enjoyed a lovely weekend with extended family on Glover’s Reef. The full article can be found here in The Los Angeles Times.
The English Creole (spelled Kriol in Belize) is a wonderful English-proximate language, which we tried and failed to get the hang of. We do have bits though: “Dis da fi wi chickin.” This is the chicken for us! A very good, locally-phrased advertisement about chicken grown by the Belizean Menonite companies. They explain it here.
Once in San Ignacio, our first trip was to Xunantunich. Xunantunich (Stone maiden) was a city of the Yucatec Maya. Ceramic pots at Xunantunich start at 1200 BCE. Xunantunich held about 10,000 people at its height. It is special because unlike other ancient Mayan cities in the region, it survived the decline of the Maya in the central lowlands, even including Tikal the largest Ancient Mayan city site in central America. The main temple is called El Castillo, and looms to 120 ft high.
After San Ignacio, we treated ourselves to two nights at a very fancy jungle resort, name Chaa Creek, during Christmas eve and Christmas day. It did not feel like Christmas, but it sure was a gift. The place was gorgeous, the staff were extremely courteous and hospitable, and the guests, aside from being too wealthy on average for my tastes, nice too. We stayed in the cheaper “camping” part of the resort, and Wow.
Birds Heard mot mot in the morning Brown Jay Band backed wren Golden fronted woodpecker Great tailed grackle Plain Chachalacka Clay colored thrush Keel billed toucan x5 – toucans are viscious predators. They eat the eggs of other birds, and they have a great, creaking, cracking squawk. Great kiskadee Melodious blackbird American red start Magnolia warbler Summer tanager Wedge-tailed sabrewing hummingbird Red throated ant tanager Hooded warbler Wood thrush Boat billed fly catcher Rose-throated becard Squirrel cuckoo – Cuckoos are brood parasites. They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and when their eggs hatch first. Soon the cuckoo chick pushes the other eggs out of the nest. Finally, it stays and gets all the free food it can often growing larger than the host species. It’s revolting. Lineated woodpecker Slaty-tailed trogon (one of our favorite groups of birds, now, the trogons) Yellow throated euphonia Rufus-tailed hummingbird Social flycatcher Black-headed trogon others I wasn’t fast enough to write down.
Canoe paddle Collared aracari x3 (check these guys out online, they are rad) Heron Vulture belted Kingfisher blue Russet-naped wood rail Keel billed Toucan Lessons Motmot Gartered Trogon male and female Melodious Blackbird Rufus-tailed hummingbird Montezuma oropendola – never thought we’d see one of THESE here. What a find! Masked tityra – the masked tityra female takes over the nest of a woodpecker and modifies them to her liking
For the holidays we spend a whole week on a small Carribean island with the Quirks and Brian and Anna. The outfit, called Slickrock, was a good combination of low tech and well organized. The guides were gentle, kind, people, who kept us snorkeling and kayaking and snorkeling and windsurfing and snorkeling and eating and snorkeling and kite surfing and snorkeling and SCUBA diving and snorkeling and kayak surfing and snorkeling. And snorkeling. We also ate *very* well, and spent time with the delightful other guests on the island that week. It was unlike anything we’ve ever done.
We saw an unreal amount of sea-life that week. Here are our highlights. Seriously, our note taking proved inadequate to the task.
Fish Black Tipped Reef shark (Reid’s favorite fish) Nurse shark Queen Angel Fish Queen Parrot fish Black Durgeon Queen Trigger fish Damsel fish (their immatures are small dark blue numbers with brilliant iridescent blue spots) Sergeant major Blue-headed wrasse (Tim’s favorite fish) Spotted Eagle ray (everyone’s favorite ray) Scrawled file fish (Liam’s second favorite) Honeycomb Cow fish Spanish hog fish Lion fish (invasive, beautiful, the guides were killing them when possible) French angel fish Blue tang Scorpion fish (Tim was proud to have spotted a couple of these camouflaged deals) Yellow-tailed goat fish (digs in the sand) Fairy Basslet (another favorite) Black grouper Tiger grouper Golden tailed moray eel Change more ain’t you Purple moray eel Spotted moray eel Stoplight Parrot fish (Liam’s favorite fish) Puffer fish (juvenile) Porcupine fish Trunk fish Needle fish Trumpet fish Midnight parrotfish Barracuda Some kind of flying fish that we saw while kayaking Squid Stingray
Non-Fish ocean creatures Sea cucumber Bandage coral crab Spanish lobster Caribbean lobster Conch Elkhorn coral Staghorn coral Fire coral (branching) Fire coral (leading) Brain coral Sea fans Sponges Barrel sponges Christmas tree worms Squirrel fish Yellow stingray Glass eyed snapper Spine sea urchin Long spine seat merchant* Poisonous Pencil sea urchin Maritime hermit crab Brittle star Seastar Fairy shrimp Sea goddess (small sea slug) West Indian sea welp (a sea snail the shell of which was a common choice of for terrestrial hermit crabs) Sea turtle (Tim saw on a scuba dive) Hammerhead shark (Brian and Anna saw on a scuba dive)
Thanksgiving in Maine, 2018. We had the Eely-Warings and the Waring-Warings and Orion, who gets his own mention. It was delicious. Highlights include chasing Orion in circles, cooking with Liam and Reid, eating great food for 4 days. And catching up with rellies.
This Halloween, Sal and O’da visited, and it was perfect that they did. Here’s a visual documentation of our experience. Liam was link, right down to the tunes he learned on the ocarina. He also borrowed a professionally made Hylian shield from Antonio and Seth (thanks Antonio and Seth!). Reid was a grim reaper with awesome black leather boots and a bloody scythe. They have only just reached the end of their accumulated candy, after eating four pieces every day. So that’s about 100 pieces each. Reid still has some to go!
We spent Labor Day with the Walsh Dalozes in Barville this year. To do so, however, we had to clear a large log from across the road before we could access the cabin. We also hiked rattlesnake mountain again for the stellar view.
This year we volunteered at the homesteading tent at the Common Ground Fair. Liam said “I think it was a great experience to help out at the Fair.” Reid said “It was one of the best Common Ground Fairs I’ve ever been to.” Liam and Reid guided visitors in making corn-husk dolls, and Katie and I helped people make tortillas and served soup. Volunteering made it feel much more satisfying. Afterward we went to the big feast for the volunteers, which made it special as well.