Fire Ants of San Ignacio

Woke up in the jungle today excited to be in Belize. Since we arrived at night to the Tropical Educational Center we weren’t able to do any exploring, so we took off down the trails to check out the grounds.

The center, which is run by the Belize Zoo through grants from the MacArthur Foundation,  is a field station dedicated to local tropical research. It has trails throughout its savannah habitat and a bird observation deck overlooking a marsh area. The complex includes a visitor center, large classroom, small library, offices, research facilities, and quarters to sleep a dozen or more people.

In our exploration we came across the marsh area. The kids became enthralled with the fish and turtles. The staff must feed them because a school of fish and five red-eared slider turtles came to visit us. Nick named all the turtles within a minute and Junior quickly became his favorite. As we were looking at the fish and turtles, I had been keeping my eye on the ‘log’ that was floating out in the middle of the pond. Soon the crocodile became uninterested in us and swam away. This was much to the disappointment of the boys.

Junior Buddy hanging out at the zoo

After our hike, we headed back to the cabin and packed up to head out. Our first stop was to visit the zoo in the daylight. Amy and I weren’t sure whether we wanted to see the zoo again, after seeing it the night before, but the boys insisted and we figured our entry fee would go to a good cause. Plus, we had our first Belize Geocache to find. (*Side note: If you haven’t discovered Geocaching yet, check out the link. We have been doing it for a few years now and love it.) Good thing we went to the zoo again because it was a totally different experience and we had a blast. Nick’s favorite part was petting Indy. He said Indy’s head was “really hard”. Nick also got to feed Indy a banana during the night tour. Indy is a Baird’s Tapir, which is the national animal of Belize. It is related to the horse and the rhino belonging to the Perissodactyla family, which means its members have an odd number of toes on each foot. Alex loves this animal because when he was about three years old my father and I took him to the Woodland Park Zoo and it squirted pee at us. What a great memory 🙂 However, we now come to find out the Tapir is famous in Belize for it’s peeing from great distances. They even had a sign that told visitors to stay back from one of the Tapirs because of this ‘gift’.

We found our cache, wrote our names on the wall, and we were back on the Western highway heading west to San Ignacio.

The thing about the Western highway is that it is to Belize what I-5 is to the West Coast of the United States. It is their main road. Now picture I-5 with speed bumps (pedestrian ramps) and one lane bridges. We passed many different towns and schools. Basketball seems to be catching on down here because we have seen many courts dotted along the highway. We even came across a huge billboard of Lebron James. Something Amy and I have noticed is many people burn their trash instead of collecting it. Not only does this smell bad, but it can’t be good for the environment or people’s health. I don’t blame the people of Belize for this, but I hope the government can someday put a better infrastructure in. I have seen trash cans in places and hope this is a move in right direction. After seeing the poverty the people of Belize endure it was an interesting insight from Alex to hear his comment about their lifestyle. You would think an 11-year old kid would say something about how poor the people and their lack of material wealth, but much to our surprise he said he was envious of the simplicity of their lives. WOW! Upon further discussion we could see his point of view and it defiantly gave us something to think about.

Hawkesworth Bridge into unknown destination

When we got to San Ignacio we didn’t even know we had arrived. The way we were supposed to go from Santa Elena was blocked off with a detour and we had to go around a different way. We crossed the Macal River over a large one lane bridge called Hawkesworth Bridge (suspension) and once on the other side hit a round-about ended up heading down a narrow one lane road in the city called Burns Avenue. We weren’t sure how to get back on the road to San Ignacio and asked someone for directions.

“How do we get to San Ingacio?” I said.

“You’re here” said the friendly local with a goofy and curious look on his face.

“Thanks” I said thinking what a dummy I must look like, but glad that we were here. Who says men don’t ask for directions? Now we had to find Cahal Pech Village Resort. The only directions I get from my navigator is “it’s at the top of a hill”. Surprisingly, these directions were very useful and we were there in no time. CPVR is right next to the Cahal Pech Ruins. The staff is very friendly and helpful. The kids were excited because it had a pool and so was I because a dip sounded perfect by this time. The swim felt great and I have to say I don’t think I have every swam in a pool that had a giant pteradactyl overlooking us, smoking what looked like a Bob Marley joint. After the swim, we headed to town for dinner. We found a great place even Nick would eat at because it had pizza. Nick to this point was pulling his Ghandi impression and hadn’t eaten since we got here. Let me just say one of my favorite pastimes is people watching and Belize is full of characters. From the expats to the locals there are plenty of people to keep your interest up.

After dinner we went back to the CPVR and went to walk down to the ruins. Unfortunately, they had closed so the boys wanted to go to the local park and throw the football and frisbee around for awhile. Sounded good! Let’s burn off some energy. As anyone who is raising more than one boy can attest to, burning energy off usually ends with two or more of them wrestling on the ground and two or more of them coming to tears. In this case it was Nick and Tyler fighting on the ground for the football. Unbeknownst to us they had landed on some fire ants and Nick was getting bite on his legs. At this point, Amy and I realized it probably wasn’t the best idea to be running around the park at dusk barefoot at the time of day where the mosquitos are the worst (malaria and dengue fever). This however did not sit well with the kids and we had to explain that sometimes Moms and Dads don’t always think things through carefully all the time.

So, now I sit here on my private balcony overlooking San Ignacio wondering what adventures we will get into tomorrow.

-Tony 11/16/09


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1 Comment

Filed under Previous trips

One response to “Fire Ants of San Ignacio

  1. Laura & Chris

    I remember when Dad, you, Alex, and I went to the zoo and saw the Tapirs. Alex and I laughed so hard because it would continuously walk around the pen in a circle and pee at the window every time it got near. Alex thought it was so funny! That was great! I will never forget that day. I’m glad that the rest of your family has now gotten to see the tapirs!

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