The Belize Zoo

Before we left Belize, we visited the Belize Zoo, which is largely a rescue and rehabilitation center for all sorts of local animals.

Kids with their new Belize football jerseys.
We stayed at the Tropical Education Center near the Zoo. It was very well build, maintained and run, and staffed with nice folks. Researchers and student groups stay here.
Katie leads the family to the Tropical Education Center. Note the tropics.
Reid comparing his size to the Jarbiru stork. They are gigantic. We saw one.
Here it is. It’s taller than Reid, and it was aggressive! This is the bird I mentioned we saw in the wild in Lamanai in a previous post.
That’s a nice thought. Would that we the moral progress of nations WERE judged that way.
Yeah. Crocodiles. Right there. Don’t get eaten.
Liam and Reid looking a little less than absolutely comfortable with their new scarf.
Tapirs are weird animals, and they project their pee backwards by about 3 meters!
Katie charms a boa constrictor.
Spider Monkey in the Zoo.
One of the Jaguars at the Zoo. This one is Chiku, I think.
Reid looking out from our balcony at the rental in San Ignacio.
This is a beautiful mural in San Ignacio about social harmony. “All ah we dah one!” = We are all one.

This country is unbelizeable.

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.

Some Guatemalan politicians are attempting to claim a large part of Belize. Belize is not having it. There will be a referendum before the International Court of Justice this spring. “We Belize” means “our Belize” in Kriol, of course.
Katie stands in line for a local bus while the rest of the family rests. The buses were filling up in Belize City with folks going home for Christmas. This meant that in Belmopan (the capital), they were not taking passengers. We waited about an hour and then got a taxi ride with a guy named Glen.
We arrived in San Ignacio and went looking for a restaurant. On the way we inspected a broken down neighborhood playcar. This thing probably saw more use from children in the last five years than from adults when it was functional.

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.

The car ferry to Xunantunich is operated by a hand crank.
We got a ride with our guide, as it started to rain.
Hard to find better traveling partners that Bri and Anna!
Katie climbs El Castillo.
The fresco on the list of El Castillo. The character in the center is the rain god. The Mayan decline is known to have coincided with major drought. I believe Ixchel, the moon God is in there somewhere, too. I could be mistaken though.
Katie snipes from the top of El Castillo, Xunantnich.
The family standing on the ruins of an ancient Mayan temple still towering above the Belizean jungle. What lucky people we are to get to see this!
Nothing good to say here.
Centuries later, the rain at Xunantunich is going gangbusters.

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.

Where we were staying at Christmas. (Not this cabin precisely but the one next to it.)
We wend on bird walks both mornings. Because of out time in Costa Rica, our whole family loves central cool birds. We’ve become birders, I think. Alex as a great guide.
Reid spies a pair of Lessons mot mots, I think.
Goofing off in our cabin.
The regal Keel Billed Toucan. What a bird. Yes, that was yours truly.
Katie in her chosen habitat, a pool in a jungle.
I forget which heron this is.
Never can get enough.
Black-headed trogon
Eating palm berries.
You can never get good shots of Morphos, except in a butterfly house.
Liam inspects a morpho butterfly, reminded of Monteverde.

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

Quirks on a Reef

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.

Reid and Liam wait to board the batfish, the boat that will bring us to Glover’s Reef.
It was a 3 hour boat ride from the coast to the reef.
And this is the island! The wind gives the coconut palms a wild feeling.
This was the group of visitors the week we were there.
Nico and Anna weave palm fronds.
Reid collects some coco plums.
Shortly after sunset.
Our family’s cabin at sunset.
The harsh rock and shell beaches of the island.
One of the hundreds of conch shells that line the paths around the island.
Daddy opens yet another coconut. Daddy loves opening coconuts.
Liam and Reid discuss important matters with their island friend, Lolla.
Liam and Daddy windsurfing!
I don’t think this needs a caption.
A pencil sea urchin
A scorpion fish
A baby Caribbean lobster
A baby decorator crab
The tide pools reveal brittlestars
Our superhero snorkeling team
A large iguana
Reid lines up for his turn for coconut bowling the day we leave.
The Quirk-Waring-Quirk-Vodickas wrap their week on the reef.

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)

Birds
Frigate birds
Ospreys
Brown pelicans

Plants
Coconut Palm
Coco plum

Land life
Hermit crabs

The Lamanai Mayan ruins, Belize

We began our Belizean adventure with a trip to the Lamanai Mayan ruins, near Orange Walk. Lamanai means submerged crocodile, apparently, which is appropriate. We saw one on our way there.

Thanksgiving 2018

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.

Common Ground Fair

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.

Katie’s Yoga

Katie has recently finished a year-long yoga teaching training, and has jumped right in to teaching. She’s currently got five classes a week and is building her clientele!

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Katie shows off one of the tricky poses she’s mastered. She mastered this before the yoga teacher training, actually.

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Katie Quirk: Yoga Teacher

The Down East Sunrise Trail Relay

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The team before we head out. We’ve all got a major case of nerves right now.

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The team before Matt starts the first leg.

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Our friendly advice to other tired runners.

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What it looks like just before dawn.

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Dawn, downeast.

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I ran a 4am leg, which was awesome, because the sun rose on my run.

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There it comes, over the salt marsh.

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Brian finished a leg at speed!

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Here’s a hand off point the in the morning. We are getting close!

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Andy finished us off in Eastport.

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And then he and I went for a dip.

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There was lobster, beer, and rest.

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Oh, and we absolutely killed it!

 

 

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Vermont, 2018

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To Vermont!

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Gram’s Topher & Marie

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Frisbee golf under the panels.

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A hike up Wheeler Mountian.

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Hiking crew.

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Reid conquerer Wheeler.

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Reid and I run down Wheeler Mountain, acheiving the third fastest recorded descent ever.

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Orion steals the show.

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Tractor equipment talk.

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Orion and I walk to the stream

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We visit Larry and Sharon in the Dome.

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We build a model of Mordor in the sand at Shadow Lake. Note the Ephel Duath, the Ered Lithui, the plains of Gorgoroth, the Moranon, Orodruin, and of course Barad-dur.

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And we have a whole celebration at the Eley-Warings.