By the time June 29 rolled around, I had accomplished much of what I had hoped to do in Belize. I had met with Jamal of the Belize Zoo, Dr. Harmsen and Yahaira of Panthera Belize, Dr. Kay of the Environmental Research Institute, and had identified a promising thesis opportunity. I therefore faced a problem: what do I do now?
For starters, I took a short walk to the National Heritage Library. I had now been in Belize for five weeks, and had done nothing with my blog during that time. As such, I decided to let everyone know that I was still alive.
It was dead quiet when I entered the library. There was no one there, save two employees. I asked them if they had a computer I could use. They replied that they only had one, and that I could only use it for twenty minutes. I thus threw some text on screen, uploaded a handful of photos, and hit ‘Publish’ as quickly as possible.
With that mission accomplished, I headed back to Raj’s house. During the past five weeks I had accumulated many notes and learned a great deal about jaguar conservation in Belize, and now it was time to start synthesizing everything.
Using a Kindle I had purchased before leaving California, I downloaded a host of scientific papers that dealt with topics I had discussed in Belize. The first set of them concerned zoos.
Of all the places I had visited on this journey, I felt most at home at the Belize Zoo. Even though deforestation within the Central Belize Corridor (CBC) appeared to be the most pressing issue in Belize, I still wanted to work with the zoo in some way. So I began to skim through articles that explored whether or not zoos effectively altered visitors’ attitudes towards conservation.
Unfortunately, none of them held my attention for long. I do not even remember what their findings were. As a result, I was relieved when Raj came home.
Raj did not arrive until well after dark, since he always kept his restaurant open later than everyone else’s. After he had returned home, we talked until nearly 11:30 PM.
As always, we had a great conversation. Raj showed me several videos, and chatted more about India and his homeland of Nepal. Raj’s stories were beginning to affect me in a way I had not anticipated.
Before meeting Raj, India and Nepal were not high on my travel list. They always seemed too far away, and too expensive for one like myself to get to. Living with Raj, however, had stirred something deep within me. I began to feel a desire to visit both India and Nepal. My urge to set foot in the latter country grew particularly strong, until it haunted me both day and night.
But how, and when? Despite the generous contributions to a GoFundMe campaign that covered the tuition of the archaeology program, I had spent nearly all of my money on this Belize trip. Until I completed my master’s degree, I was also fenced in by academic obligations. I knew what I wanted to do, but I could not figure out how to do it. At least not yet.
Luckily, the next day’s happenings would grant me some reprieve from these intrusive desires.