Click here to jump to a web album with 31 photos from today.
Greetings from Clarissa Falls, a lovely facility near the town of San Ignacio on the western edge of Belize (about 8 miles from the border with Guatemala). Today saw us travel from the eastern edge of Belize to the western edge, with some fun stops on the way.
We had a 6AM wake up call to make our 8AM flight. We were divided into two 12-seat prop airplanes for the short ride to the municipal airport on the mainland:
Upon landing at municipal airport, we were met by our guides for the day, Diego and Luis. We divided into two vans (by gender, interestingly) and drove to the Cave Branch river for tubing (to a site formerly called Jaguar Paw). Our guides handed out innertubes, life jackets, and headlamps, and we ventured into the rainforest for about a one hour guided nature walk:
The braver among us stopped to snack on termites (after encouragement from the guide) which, true to his word, tasted like carrots. Along the way, we ventured into some caves (on land) to view the limestone formations and the resident bats:
At the end of our hike, we put our inner tubes in the water and cruised down the river. We passed through two large caves, each taking about 15 minutes to get through. One had a waterfall inside it. It was a unique experience to be sure!
What a unique experience! At the cave tubing site, we enjoyed a picnic lunch, shopped a bit at the various tourist stands, and then drove on to St. Herman's Cave. The land beneath Belize consists primarily of limestone rock, so it has the most extensive cave system in Central America. At St. Herman's, our guides led us on a short walk through the forest to the entrance of the cave. We all had head lamps and descended slippery limestone steps into the cave. We spent about an hour exploring the cave (which has a river running through):
At this point, we were all hot and sticky from the jungle humidity. So we welcomed the opportunity for a dip in the Blue Hole, a natural limestone underground-fed pool with cold, crystal-clear water, perfect for this group of weary explorers:
Another hour's drive brought us to our home for two days: Clarissa Falls, a large working cattle ranch that also runs an ecotourism business. Students were divided into thatched huts, 3 to a room:
We enjoyed an authentic Belizean dinner (rice/beans, potato salad, fried fish, fried plantain, fresh-squeezed juice), discussed plans for tomorrow, and worked on lab reports late into the evening.
As always, thanks for reading!