This post continues the retelling of my 2017 trip to Belize: participating in an archaeology field school and learning about jaguar conservation. The previous post is located here.
June 23, 2017 was another eventful day. It was the day I moved to Belmopan Tiny Houses, and also when I met with Dr. Bart Harmsen of Panthera Belize. Due to the importance of that conversation, I will recount it in a separate post.
The morning of June 23 was slower than the previous four, because I did not want to arrive at Belmopan Tiny Houses too early. I therefore took some time to admire the views from Bella’s Backpackers’ common area. The hostel was located on top of a hill, rendering the rooftops of many buildings in San Ignacio visible. The city looked spectacular on this foggy morning.
But I could not loiter forever. At 11 am I gathered my bags and took the bus from San Ignacio to Belmopan for the last time. I caught a cab at the bus stop, but the driver became terribly lost on the way to Belmopan Tiny Houses. Even the locals have a hard time navigating around the backroads of Belize’s capitol!
We eventually reached our destination. When I asked the driver how much the ride cost, he asked for 20 Belizean dollars ($20 BZ). This seemed high to me, but since our long drive had likely cost him several fares I paid it anyway.
I walked up to the tiny house and found it locked. Luckily I ran into Linda, a young Belizean woman who lived at Belmopan Tiny Houses with her partner. She called Karen, who came by to unlock the door. However, she needed more time to finish preparing the house. Karen therefore lent me a bicycle, and I immediately headed for the Environmental Research Institute (ERI).
On June 21, I had stopped by the ERI in an attempt to meet with Dr. Harmsen of Panthera Belize. He had not been there, and we had not been able to connect over email or phone. So I decided to pay the ERI another visit.
I found Yahaira at the Panthera Belize office again, and engaged in another round of apologies for arriving unannounced. Like she had done on the 21st, Yahaira called Dr. Harmsen’s cell. This time he responded, and said he would come in and meet with me. We had a long and fruitful conversation, which I will describe in the next post. Much of our talk revolved around Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative, and the Central Belize Corridor in particular.
The conversation between Dr. Harmsen and myself went longer than either of us had expected. It was after 4 pm by the time we had finished, and I immediately hopped on Karen’s bike and began pedaling back to Belmopan Tiny Houses. This time I became more lost than ever.
The outskirts of Belmopan were a maze of nearly identical dirt roads. I spent two hours riding up and down them, certain that the tiny house property was at the end of each street. Eventually my legs became so sore that I had to get off the bike and walk.
I have no idea how, but I miraculously made it back to Belmopan Tiny Houses. Karen had decorated the house beautifully in my absence: pots, pans, tea, dishes, and a stove were laid out on the sink in perfect order. There was a row of books on the kitchen table, and the bathroom was furnished with clean towels, shampoo, and hair conditioner. While I had no need for the last two items, I was grateful for Karen’s hospitality!
I was worn out from my unplanned excursion that afternoon. All I had energy to do was cook some plain spaghetti and go to bed. I was so tired that I left the dishes for the next morning: a sacrilege for me.