This post continues the retelling of my recent trip to Belize, participating in an archaeology field school and learning about jaguar conservation. The rest of this series is located in the Travel category of this blog.
June 14, 2017 was an important milestone during my time in Belize. It was my last full day at Texas Camp.
The day started with a 7:30 a.m. meeting. The first session of the 2017 field season with the Programme for Belize Archaeological Project (PfBAP) had ended, and it was almost time for our sight-seeing tour. The director of Humboldt State University’s Dos Hombres to Gran Cacao (DH2GC) Archaeology Project had called a meeting to discuss travel plans.
Starting tomorrow (June 15), many of the PfBAP’s students would be visiting the legendary Mayan site of Tikal. Afterwards, they would be journeying to an island off the coast of Belize called Caye Caulker. My plans, however, were different.
I would be going to Tikal, but I would not be visiting the Cayes. Unlike most of the PfBAP students, I was going to remain in Belize for several more weeks. I was planning to travel around the country by myself to meet with jaguar conservationists, and for this I needed money. So I decided to stay behind when the rest of the students went to Caye Caulker, in order to conserve my limited funds.
Unfortunately, I had almost no idea of what I was going to do when I left the main group. This made me quite nervous, and I suspect my project director was worried as well. Therefore, she spoke with me privately after our morning meeting.
With the help of my friend Mike’s Lonely Planet travel guide, we looked at where I needed to go. My project director recommended hotels to me, and advised me on how to use Belize’s bus system. We decided that on June 17, when everyone else went to Caye Caulker, I would get dropped off in Belize City. I would then be truly on my own.
For now, however, I was still in the company of friends. Oscar, who I talked about extensively in this post, prepared a barbecue dinner for us. The whole event was wonderful. Oscar’s barbecue chicken was delicious, and some of the local Mennonites joined us. Despite everyone’s high spirits, I found dinner to be bittersweet.
I had become comfortable at the archaeology camp, and I was not quite ready to leave. I loved life in the jungle, despite the minor discomforts, and I had just started to get the hang of archaeological field work. But most importantly, I had made many new friends at Texas Camp. I was not thrilled about having to leave them; some tomorrow, and some on the 17th.
Fortunately, one of those friends approached me after dinner. Jonathan was a fellow Humboldt State student, and one of the leaders of the DH2GC Archaeology Project. Jonathan had also chosen not to go to Caye Caulker, and he asked if I would like to share a room with him in Belize City. I readily agreed. Jonathan was much more familiar with Belize than I was, and having his company for an additional weekend would be a huge boon.
I suddenly felt more positive about the next phase of my journey. Of course, it was still not going to be easy.