Monkeying Around

Since my last post we have traveled from the Nabitunich Resort to Monkey Bay Sanctuary. Monkey Bay is a wildlife sanctuary, which provides lodging and guided tours for college students visiting Belize.

On our first day at Monkey Bay we loaded into canoes for an adventure on the Sibun River. While paddling through the river we came across countless iguanas in various shades of vibrant orange and one boa constrictor lounging in the tree branches. For lunch we had a hot meal of rice and chicken complete with a red-checkered tablecloth. When eating mid-adventures here in Belize, meals are always home made and served with real plates and utensils. It is amazing how much waste can be avoided, compared to the amount of waste produced by a typical American bagged lunch.

Day two consisted of a guided hike and night canoeing to search for crocodiles. Monkey Bay is home to many different vegetation habitats, which can all be seen on a guided hike through the bush. During our hike we learned about yellow-headed parrots and tapirs, the national animal of Belize. Our guides also referred to the rainforest as a pharmacy and pointed out many trees with holistic medications such as the Bull Horn tree that is said to induce labor, black and white Poison Wood tree, and the tree which can cure you from contact with a black and white Poison Wood tree, the Gumbo Limbo. Although our hike was muddy we all seemed to really enjoy learning about the different plants and animals of Belize.

In the afternoon we got back in our boats and traveled to the Cox Lagoon in search of crocodiles. From a distance the crocodiles look like floating logs, however, you always know there is a crocodile near when you can spot a trail of bubbles. For dinner we paddled ashore and ate in the bush. Our guides had to clear the area with machetes just so we could have room to sit down and go to the bathroom. Once it grew dark we loaded back into our canoes and searched the shore for glowing red crocodile eyes illuminated by our headlamps. At the end of our trip many of us were able to hold a baby crocodile that our guide had caught, which was about 10 inches in length.

Our third day at Monkey Bay was slightly less strenuous, which allowed us all to enjoy the comfortable hammocks looking out over the rainforest. In the morning we journeyed to the Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins, followed by a visit to the Cayo District Farmers Market and a visit to the most popular ice cream parlor in Belize, Western Dairy. During our evening class we had an interesting conversation about the industrialization of tourism at the Mayan Ruins. While touring, our guide mentioned that increases in tourism, especially tourism from cruise lines, is resulting in a large increase in erosion of the Mayan Ruins all over Belize. When visiting the ruins, tourists are allowed, and encouraged, to make the climb to the top of large Mayan temples, often exceeding 70 feet in height. Due to the increased number of people climbing each stair, as well as the effects of weather, the height of each ruin is decreasing. Although the effects are slow moving, there could be a time when no Mayan Ruins are left. There is no simple answer to this problem, however, without a solution all remnants of Mayan life could disappear.

Our final day here at Monkey Bay consisted of spelunking through caves and exploring a citrus farm. While caving, we crawled through small spaces and climbed high walls. We also learned about the Whip Spider, a poisonous spider that inhabits many caves here in Belize. At the Tiger Sandy Bay Citrus Farm we learned that workers are paid 1 Belizean dollar for each bag of oranges they fill. On an average day, a worker can fill roughly 50 bags, which translates to only $25 American Dollars. We also learned that 30% of orange concentrate produced here in Belize is sold to Tropicana!

As of now our Internet connection is much stronger, which should allow me to upload more photos! Check back on past posts to see pictures of our adventures here in Belize.

Until next time!

Junior Kaia Bierman holds a baby crocodile.
Cave tubing through the Mayan cave system.
Sophomore Deric Kalb juggles oranges at the Tiger Sandy Bay Citrus Farm.
Amanda Nyquist '19, Nina Johnson '19, Brooke Stauffer '17, and Madeline Bouslog '17 overlook the Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins
A male Iguana suns itself from the top of a tree.