February 11, 2017

Belize is known to have exceptional and historic ancient artifacts that have been a major focus of study by scientists for over 50 years now.

 Mapping and remapping of the caves have been at the forefront for more precise and detailed cave documentation while providing government Institutes the means to have the necessary information to protect the Mayan heritage.

Over the years, cavers have put out a tremendous amount of dedication into the success of their expeditions and the results have been accurate documentation and preservation of these caves.

Belize has hundreds of caves that not only provide education and a beautiful look into our past, but also protect Mayan artifacts and provide clues as to how the Mayan civilization have used these caves. 
A lot of the caves and artifacts have been, and still are, held in secrecy to ensure their protection and preservation.  We want to make sure that we continue this ritual and uphold a standard that will allow these relics of the Mayan past to be protected.

I was surprised to see how similar that caves of Belize were in relation to the caves that I have been to in Puerto Rico.  The Limestone in Belize and the respective cave passages had a very similar look and feel to that of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico lifted out of the south American ocean millions of years ago so the Limestone might have similar properties and story as the Belize caves have.

Recently, there has been some damage that has been documented that has shown the impact on the caves due to tourism and vandals.  There is a constant effort to improve training programs and ensure that continued damage to the caves in kept to a minimum or, Ideally, stopped in its entirety. 

This is a beautiful country with the jungle flourishing with life.  We were able to see some monkeys swinging around on the tree branches on one of the days which was a nice occurrence.

Fortunately we did not get any of the bot fly's that have been well noted to be a problem in the rain forest. The bot fly is a mosquito that lays an egg inside of a wound after a fly bites you and the lave grow inside the wound and eventually pop out.

Its pretty nasty stuff but its not a big deal if you get one as they can be removed pretty easy.

Most of our days were spent inside the caves mapping passages and snapping a few photos here and there when we had time.

One of the caves that we visited, has trail tape marking the designated trail as the impact by going off trail can be damaging to delicate formations and the cave as a whole. 

The project focuses on quality work and also strives to ensure that the members have a comfortable time in Belize.  We stayed in a small but really nice hotel in San Ignacio.  Every meal was fantastic and the staff members were extremely helpful.

We also had a few land rovers rented as well as a van to transport all of us around which kept us centered within the group and not having to take cabs or buses around.  

The accommodations spoiled me which was a nice relaxing approach to the rain Forrest environment, than what I typically accept on trips into the jungle.

The objective was to map caves and provide education through conservation and preservation within the Belize karst as well as the respective artifacts.

Sketching is absolutely a point of improvement for me and I am glad I was able to get more exposure with the sketch priority because I now have more of a drive to become proficient at sketching as it is a very important to understand.

We spent four days caving in some nice Belize caves and we were able to continue to develop multiple maps and complete another map for another cave. 

Afterwards, we headed out to the ocean to visit San Pedro and Caye Caulker for 3 days to wrap up the trip and change the pace a bit.

We took a water taxi from Belize City which is a reliable way to get to the islands. It took around an hour and a half to get to San Pedro on the water taxi which was not all that bad since we made a couple of stops and we were on the ocean.  San Pedro was a nice stop a nice island to spend a day on.  we rented a cart and drove around the island a bit enjoying some of the hotel amenities and food which was a relaxing twist.  No diving for me was a surprise but I did get into the water and found a place under a pier where tons of fish hung out. 

We stayed a Caye Casa hotel on the island which was a good place to rest.  Overall the island is a bit busy and if you are not diving or staying active with some kind of activity, I don't see what San Pedro can offer that the other Keys can offer.

Caye Caulker was a bit more chill and relaxed which had a bit more of an island feel to it. We also were able to find out more about the islands as they are similar to the Yucatan karst with very solutional rock and submarine caves.  There are multiple caves that must be entered from under the ocean. The caves have pottery and formations which was really interesting to see. I am looking forward to returning to Caye Caulker to learn more about the extensive cave systems under the island look forward to helping with the survey.

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