Halfway. Belize has been my home for 6 weeks, now. Saying 6 weeks sounds like such a small amount of time,“a month and half” sounds quite a bit longer! I am so fortunate to be here, and at this small milestone I am glad to still have a month and a half more.
For the project, we've installed 9 new camera sites in the study area (now totaling 20 sites). All expanding the camera trapping grid in various strategic directions.
To the South: on Carlos' property (actually all forested, of which he uses to hunt), and on the papaya plantation, Eagle Produce. Both were big steps in expanding our grid further south, where we hope to meet up with another camera trapping gird in the protected Programme for Belize lands.
To the East, into Mennonite lands: we've gained 3 more participating landowners, two of which have two camera locations, and 1 of which with one camera location. At our arrival, we had one currently participating Mennonite landowner. Building these relationships has been significant to accomplish, and very rewarding (one landowner, Jacob, even dropped off a gift of three large papayas and kettle corn at the lodge, muy sobroso!).
The Wildcat project is unique in that we are working within the community, in what we call a human dominated landscape. Many studies similar to ours lack the dynamic of installing equipment on private lands, whereas they can place cameras in an organized manner (on public/protected lands), we must be opportunistic, ask permission, and seek out individuals to build relationships with. This type of experience in the realm of conservation is rare in the States, where public involvement in research is a new concept. This opportunity is priceless, and I'm glad I have a month and half to continue working with all the people I have met here.
|The Road to the Ruins and Lamanai Outpost Lodge|
Personally, I've fallen in love with this country. Staying at the lodge has been amazing (of course), and I'm ecstatic to call it home. Many guests become jealous when they hear that I've been living at the lodge for 6 weeks, and have more time to come! I love the small town atmosphere everywhere you go. Everyone knows everyone, and I'm constantly waving and wishing others to have a good day. The lodge staff are great, they are personable to everyone they meet, and work so hard to accommodate all guests, including the long-term ones. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know them, seeing them each day, and the thousand genuine thank yous they continue to receive from me.
Reaching halfway has caused me to look back on my time thus far in Belize, and momentarily I was sad. I've become somewhat attached to the people here, and take pride in working with the Wildcat project, to the point that I don't want to consider leaving just yet (don't get me wrong, I've come to miss home quite a bit now too). Then I realized, I still have 6 more weeks! There is no need to fret about leaving projects unfinished, and brand new relationships behind, at least not for a while! The glass is half full! I will keep working, and enjoying my time in Belize, up until the very last day!
|Morning view from the lodge!|