Tropical Ecology

“A Jam-Packed Day”

Day three was jam-packed with adventure. We started with an early morning bird walk, followed by breakfast where two collared aracaris (a type of toucan) graced us with their presence at the bird feeder. We loaded the bus for a short ride to Xunantunich Archeological Reserve. This ancient Maya site sits on the edge of the Mopan River where we crossed by hand-cranked ferry — the ferry workers have to turn a crank to move the ferry across the river. After a mile walk, we entered the historical site, where we viewed different structures that were used for ceremonial purposes. We climbed to the top of the largest structure on the site, El Castillo, where the king would have performed rituals. While at the top you could see Guatemala in the distance. Below, on the plaza between the buildings, we viewed a ball court where ancient Maya would have played.

group sitting on tall stair-stepped stone structure

Group photo with El Castillo at Xunantunich.

When we returned to Sweet Songs Jungle Lodge, Rita, who is Ketchi Maya, shared her culture including an authentic tortilla-making lesson using a Maya grinding stone. We shaped and cooked the tortillas on a traditional Maya wood-burning oven. We ate them for lunch with plantains and grilled habanero peppers.

three people making tortillas

Corinne and Neysy learn how to make tortillas from Rita.

After lunch we headed down to the Macal River where, in groups of three, we canoed down the river, enjoying the flora and fauna along the banks. On our journey we collected figs to investigate later. At the end we were able to stop and take a dip in the cool, refreshing water. As we headed back to the lodge, we stopped for a local ice cream treat at the Ice Cream Shoppe in San Ignacio.

three canoes on a tropical river

Canoeing the Macal River.

woman swimming in river

Mary enjoying the cool water of the Macal River.

Back at the lodge, Melissa, Megan and Andy led us in an engaging activity where, in groups, we dissected the figs that we found earlier in the Macal River. We learned all about the fig wasp, which has a mutualistic relationship with the fig, and its life cycle. We finished the day with a delicious dinner and a short night walk led by Nathan.

four people looking closely at a plate of figs that are cut open

Meredith, Corinne, Scarlett and Kaylie dissect figs.

group waving arms on porch

The group re-enacting the fig life cycle… Shawna is the female fig wasp. Can you tell?

Tonight we pack up for the next stop at the Jaguar Preserve! For the next two days, it is unlikely we will be able to post new blogs. So stay tuned for a big post on Saturday detailing our time exploring the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary!