Before we left Belize, we visited the Belize Zoo, which is largely a rescue and rehabilitation center for all sorts of local animals.
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.
Heard mot mot in the morning
Band backed wren
Golden fronted woodpecker
Great tailed grackle
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.
American red start
Wedge-tailed sabrewing hummingbird
Red throated ant tanager
Boat billed fly catcher
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.
Slaty-tailed trogon (one of our favorite groups of birds, now, the trogons)
Yellow throated euphonia
others I wasn’t fast enough to write down.
Collared aracari x3 (check these guys out online, they are rad)
belted Kingfisher blue
Russet-naped wood rail
Keel billed Toucan
Gartered Trogon male and female
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.
Black Tipped Reef shark (Reid’s favorite fish)
Queen Angel Fish
Queen Parrot fish
Queen Trigger fish
Damsel fish (their immatures are small dark blue numbers with brilliant iridescent blue spots)
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
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)
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)
Some kind of flying fish that we saw while kayaking
Non-Fish ocean creatures
Bandage coral crab
Fire coral (branching)
Fire coral (leading)
Christmas tree worms
Glass eyed snapper
Spine sea urchin
Long spine seat merchant* Poisonous
Pencil sea urchin
Maritime hermit crab
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)
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 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 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 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!
Saw a young porcupine on the way home one day a couple of weeks ago. Pretty jaunty little one.