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Study Abroad

Welcome to the Jungle

May 24, 2014

Our third morning waking up in Belize was also our first full day at Cockscomb Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. After a breakfast of pancakes, we all bravely entered the jungle with rakes and machetes to create a new walking path. We were put to work for about three hours, cutting roots and trees out of the way. During this process, a few students uncovered an old tire buried along the trail left over from the days when the area was inhabited by loggers around the 1970s and 1980s. It took five girls and one of our guides to get it out of the ground. We rolled it onto the side of the trail so hikers will be able to see some of the evidence of the loggers that were once here.

Cockscomb has many paths throughout their property for wildlife watches. The path we helped create will be utilized as a bird watching trail. Nicacio, the director of Cockscomb Bay, will be naming the new path after Lasell College due to our hard work!  There will be a sign for all visitors to see.

Delicious enchiladas, Spanish rice, and salad greeted us when we returned from creating half of the one kilometer path. We were in high spirits due to our great feat and the news that we would be tubing on a local river in just an hour. We were also very surprised and pleased at the rate which we've faced our fears in Belize. Thoughts of tarantulas, fer de lances, and other creepy beings used to make us cower. Today, however, many of us voiced our enthusiasm for the jungle of Belize, falling in love with the overall environment.  We were looking forward to our night hike where we would be seeing much of the aforementioned wildlife, and maybe even a jaguar!

The afternoon was spent floating down the river in tubes, paddling and looking above. The tree canopy was an assortment of palm, mahogany, poison oak, and more. We saw many birds including yellow and red orioles. After our long river ride, we hiked to a nearby waterfall. The water was extremely cool and refreshing in both areas, which felt fantastic after our long morning of hard work.

While waiting for dinner, we all sat around on our porch and a fellow visitor to Cockscomb came over to grab us. He had spotted two baby peccari on one of the trails and we all quietly ran over to look. Peccari look very similar to wild boar. They have glands that secrete a very unpleasant smell which they use to communicate. We were given some insight and tips for our night hike later, stressing that we have to be quiet if we want to see anything.

Dinner consisted of chicken alfredo, pasta, salad, and cheesecake! Some of us even ate dessert first. The guides then met us to begin our forty-five minute to an hour night hike through the jungle. While some of us were nervous, we were all excited about what we might see (if anything, which is sometimes the case).  We were split into two groups and, with nothing but our guides and flashlights, we headed into the jungle of the unknown. The paths looked a lot different at night. Unlike the streets of Boston, these paths are not lined with sidewalks and street lamps; instead, darkness surrounded us as we shined the light from our flashlights down at the path to ensure no critters were squished. One group did not see anything major until they were almost back at camp when they saw a fer de lance slither across the path in front of them and into the bush, where we are hoping it stays for the night. The other saw a possum, not like the ones in the States, a tarantula, and a kinkajou, which is a nocturnal animal. Eyes were also seen, and they are unsure of what animal they belonged to - a thought that will haunt them for nights to come.