Unpacking Belize

“How was your trip?”  “Fill me in on your study abroad!”  “Tell me about Belize!”

I’m still trying to figure out how to answer. Since I’ve gotten back to the states, everyone has been asking about my time in Belize and I’ve simply been answering, “It was amazing!” or “I had such a great time!” or something along those lines. I know, it’s the most generic and least specific answer I can give but how to I put into words and quickly explain to you everything I experienced in while abroad?

I can’t imitate the noise the pumas make at midnight out on the trails or the squawking of the macaws at 5 am when they circle the research center.

You can’t smell Maggie’s freshly cooked rice and beans or experience the taste of Angie’s fry jacks or the quesadillas from the street vendors in Caye Caulker or the fresh coconut water in San Ignacio.

I can’t give you the feeling of climbing a mountain out in the middle of the Chiquibul Forrest or swimming in the freshwater pools in the Pine Mountain Ridge or scaling a Belizean Maya temple.

I wish you could experience the rush of diving with sharks and the excitement of swimming with sea turtles in Hol Chan or the blissfully relaxing feeling of napping in a hammock in Ambergris Caye after a day of snorkeling.

If only you could feel what it’s like to hold a tarantula bigger than your own hand or be inches away from a jaguar whose jaws are the strongest in the jungle or catch and hold one of the millions of bats that reside in Belize.

The photos of the milky way in the middle of the jungle fails to capture what it was like to see it in person, same with the ones of the sunrise on the mountain and the ones of the views from the top of the Caracol Ruins.

I could show you all my pictures of the friends I made on this trip but wouldn’t able to explain to you how I became friends with them after knowing them for only a few weeks. I can tell you about the night we spent on the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise the next morning, the day we hiked three hours and camped together in the middle of the jungle, the times we pulled ticks off each other and diagnosed our burns and bites, the nights we spent out on the town after snorkeling all day but I’m not sure I’ll be able to really do it all justice.

I could talk about this trip forever (and probably will) but I apologize if I’m ever at a loss for words in the moment you ask me to tell you about the trip.

As I’m finally finishing unpacking my bags (I’ve been doing some serious napping and catching up with friends), I’m still having a hard time believing I’m back here. I had finally gotten into a routine in Belize and it started to feel like normal life and just like that, it was over. It was only a month but it was the longest and most amazing month probably in my life.

Serious shout out to my parents for helping to make it all happen, I can’t thank you enough for all you do for me. Thanks also to the University of Florida IFAS/CALS Wildlife Ecology & Conservation Dept., the University of Tennessee CASNR Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Dept., the Belize Marine Tropical Reseach and Education Center, the Las Cuevas Research Station, and all of their respective staff and faculty for making the trip happen. I’m also grateful for Dr. Guiliano, Dr. Ken & Maureen, Dr. Andreu, Dr. Emma, Dr. Adam, Boris, Dan, and Lauren, thank you all for teaching me so much on this trip.

I’m still working on uploading photos and I’ll be editing together videos for YouTube this coming week so stay on the lookout for all of that. A full collection of the photos will be up on my Flickr soon but my Facebook friends can catch them on FB for now.

Missing that beautiful country and all my Belizean compadres more and more that I’m back here in the states, hope to see some of y’all soon and visit in the future.

 

xo

Grace

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