Update: It Begins in One Month

A shot of the Guatemalan section of La Selva Maya: the forest I will be working in. Jungla de Ceibal by Alfredo Miguel Romero. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In one month I will be leaving for Belize. In case you have not read this post, I was recently accepted into an archaeology field school in Belize. I will be performing archaeological work on Mayan ruins, learning about Belizean culture, and practicing cultural anthropological field methods. While in Belize, I will also be scouting around for opportunities to conduct my master’s research. When I first applied to this field school I did not know much about it, because everything happened at the last minute. I now have more details.

The field school begins on May 22. It takes place in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management area in Northwestern Belize, which is one of the most remote locations in the country. The region is largely comprised of tropical rain forest (La Selva Maya, to be exact), and it will be my first time in this type of habitat. I will be staying at a rugged camp known as “Texas Camp,” which is located right next to the La Milpa field station. I will most likely sleep either in a tent or a dorm, although I am rather hoping for a tent.

Technically my university’s portion of the field school ends on June 19. But I am going to stay in Belize for an extra two weeks: until July 4. This will allow me to do some independent traveling and look for opportunities to perform my master’s research. I have already arranged to visit one team who is studying jaguars in the Rio Bravo area, and I am attempting to get in touch with others.

A Mayan stela near where I will be staying. Stela at La Milpa by jbhalper. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Speaking of my master’s research, I am trying to figure out how I can incorporate what I will learn through the field school into my eventual thesis. I want to design a final project/thesis that contributes to jaguar conservation, and during the field school I will be studying Mayan culture quite intensively. Jaguars were a central part of ancient Mayan life. Apparently there are fields like ethnobiology that apply archaeological data to modern environmental issues, which is intriguing. Perhaps I could seek to determine whether any of the ancient Maya’s respect for jaguars persists in their modern day ancestors, and if this influences conservation in any way. The famous jaguar biologist Dr. Alan Rabinowitz has looked into this extensively, so I will have to re-read his book An Indomitable Beast. I have also ordered a copy of his earlier book, Jaguar. Hopefully the material it contains will help me generate some ideas.

At any rate, I have a great deal to do in the coming month. I need to purchase all my gear, continue reaching out to jaguar researchers in Belize, and attend several pre-departure meetings. So if you do not hear from me in a while, you know why.

Lastly, my GoFundMe campaign is still active. Any last minute contributions would be greatly appreciated!


40 Thoughts

  1. What an exciting opportunity and adventure, Josh! Your images promise a wealth of information and much fun. All best with your research!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great opportunity! I’m intrigued by the Mayans who used the cocao Bean as a measure of wealth and for trading and who had an extensive stormwater collection system that led to underground cisterns that stored water for the dry season. And of course, there’s the Mayan calendar. For such a “primitive” people they really had their act together! Have a safe and amazing trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ancient Mayans were absolutely extraordinary, and not primitive in any sense of the word. In fact I’ve come to believe that the word “primitive” is just another racist term we Westerners apply to people whose lifestyles differ from our own – no matter how advantageous those lifestyles are. I’m quite excited to learn more about the ancient Maya, and to hopefully meet some of their descendants!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No falta nada Josh, que buenoo :D
    Espero que cuando hayas vuelto y estés más tranquilo, nos puedas contar cómo fue toda la experiencia :)
    Mucha suerte con todos los preparativos!
    Un beso grande :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is amazing. You’ll have a trip of your lifetime. Good luck and have fun. :) Will you be able to blog while you’re there, or will you blog about it when it’s over?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is tremendous news – congratulations! What a wonderful opportunity to combine travel with your studies (not that travel doesn’t always involve learning of some kind!). I’m sure you’ll find a way to combine your research with your interest in Mayan culture, since nature and the jaguar are so intrinsic to that culture. Best of luck and I look forward to reading about your experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How exciting! I always dreamed of going to school for Archaeology, but it doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for me. That’s okay, though, because I’m enjoying writing more and more these days. I wish you the best of luck, and I’m impressed that you’ve already got so many ideas for how you want to do things. I’m wondering, would it be alright if I contacted you again in the future for an interview on your progress? If not, that’s okay. Again, best of luck to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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