Tuesday, 12 March 2013


Today we got up really early at 5 am to go and see canoe racing. It was the start of a four day race from San Ignacio to Belize City called The Ruta Maya. There were three men or women in a canoe. When the race started five canoes tipped and they kept on tipping. When the last team finally started to paddle everyone cheered and clapped. There were TV crews and radio hosts everywhere and a band played on drums.

After that we drove to Barton Creek Cave for our own canoeing trip. I got in a canoe with Dad and Elmer from the hotel. We had to manoeuvre the canoes through a tight opening to get into the cave.

When we entered I was surprised because the air was warmer than I expected but the water was freezing. We stopped and talked for five minutes while our eyes adjusted. The cave was used by Mayans for ceremonies that helped their dead get to the underworld quicker. As we paddled the guide used her flashlight to point out skulls and pots resting in ledges, untouched for thousands of years. Along the way we encountered stalactites, about 70.5 m from the roof towards the water.they were so close to the water that we had to duck down as far as we could go. It was pretty scary. We had to dodge in and out trying not to break our necks. It was like being in a maze. It was also scary when the torch died and it was really dark. This is us with Dora our guide.

Medicine Trail

Today we went back to the San ignacio Resort Hotel to do a medicinal plant tour. These plants and herbs were the Mayan medicine cupboard. They did not have a cupboard full of chemicals like us. We looked at a lot of plants and to use most of them you have to boil the bark or leaves up to make a tea and then drink it.

If you are itching badly from insect bites you pluck some leaves from the Polly Red Wood tree and boil them in water. Then add the mixture to eight pints of chilled water. Then you have to have a bath in the mixture.

A tourist tree is a tree that the bark peels off and is red underneath. The locals have called it the tourist tree as it is meant to look like us when we get sunburn. If you see a tourist tree there is usually a black poison wood nearby. The black poison wood will irritate your skin if you touch it but if you take the bark of the tourist tree and rub it on it will soothe your skin.
I was interested in the chicle tree. If you cut crosses in the bark the sap runs out.

The sap is collected and shaped into blocks. This is shipped to the USA and flavour is added. It is chewing gum. I tried a piece and at this stage it tasted woody and not very nice. Our guides grandfather used to go into the rainforest for seven months at a time and collect this product.

We also got to see a hummingbird nest. It was about 12 cm wide. There were two tiny birds inside waiting for their mummy to bring them food.
We also got to eat termites. The guide poked a stick into the nest and a few crawled onto the stick. There are six flavours of termites and it was pot luck which flavour you got. Woody, spicy, celery, minty, nutty and almondy. The thought of eating them was quite yucky but they were quite nice. They tickled our throats.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Iguana Project


Nestled in the grounds of the San Ignacio Resort Hotel is an iguana breeding programme. We walked down a path leading to the enclosures. They said they had about 76 in total. They usually have 20 adults and 30 -50 babies. Two of the biggest males were Gizmo and Oscar. The colours of iguanas change in mating season from orange to green. The males can grow up to three metres long and the females only one metre. They have ears that are very sensitive and so are the spines on their back. If they detect a predator above their heads they can free fall from a branch and the spines tell them to stay the right way up. They will always land on their feet. They can survive a fall from a seven storey building. Wow!


In Belize the local people love to eat iguanas and their eggs so the project was to breed new ones and release them into the wild.

Me and lex held our hands out together like a branch and got to hold Gizmo. He was quite heavy. Gizmo was an orange iguana. He had suction dots inside his legs to suck onto the ladies. Down his back he had sensitive spines to help him land upright if he fell. Under his chin he had a hanging fold of skin. He kept swiping the man with his tail. In the centre of head he had a sensor that detects movement and night and day. He had little holes for ears. Gizmo had been fighting as it was breeding season and he had dried up bit of blood around his mouth.

Gizmo was 17 years old and had been there from the start of the project. He is too old to be released but he is the daddy of all the babies. All the other iguanas are released at a certain depending on whether they are male or female. The males get bigger than the females.

Then we went into the baby enclosure. There were about 40 babies in there. Most were about 30 cm long. He put a baby on my hat and then attached six more to my clothes. They had long claws and when they scratched my skin it gave me goosebumps. We stood next to a tree and they climbed off by themselves.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

Mayan Ruins

Altun Ha in Belize by Oscar

Today we went to Altun Ha to learn some more about the Mayans. It was different to Copan ruins in Honduras because there were no sculptures or carved rocks. I climbed up a temple and it was really steep. I was scared and nervous especially when I climbed down. Some archaeologists found a head a head carved out of jade.
Special types of ants live in the thorns of a tree. If a human or animal touches the plant the ants will come out and attack him.

Tikal in Guatemala by Lex

Today we went to another Mayan ruin in Guatamala. The Mayan civilisation started in 600 BC but the city was abandoned by 900 AD. It was rebound by archaeologists about 100 years later. At Tikal there are about 3000 structures made out of limestone. That's a lot of stone! The ruins at Tikal are part of a huge reserve. It's mostly rainforest with animals such as monkeys, parrots, wild pigs, raccoons, and jaguars.
Archaeologists think up to 100,000 people lived in Tikal. Bizarrely there were no rivers near the city so the Mayans had to make reservoirs. They dug holes then lined the sides with clay so the rainwater didn't drain out.
The 26th ruler was called ' Jasaw Chan Kawill' meaning 'ruler of chocolate' he was the only ruler to be buried under his own temple so he was pretty special. His temple was 70 m tall, around 18 storeys. We were able to go into the royalties bedrooms. They were still standing. They used to be painted red from crushed berries. I would hate to be royal because the rooms were so tiny and the beds were made of stone.
In the Grand Plaza there was a pyramid where the astronomers calculated when the solstices would happen. On the 21st March if you stood in the middle of the pyramid and look east the sun would rise exactly above the temple. There was also a huge face in the rock in the plaza but not many other sculptures.
The ball court in Tikal was smaller than the one at Copan.

Saturday, 2 March 2013


Today we went snorkelling for the first time. We put the mask on and breathed through our mouth. Next we got into the water and swam around.it was quite cold but the fish made it worth getting in. There was a lump of coral that was yellow. The fish were little yellow and black ones . There were also big yellow ones with a blue sparkly line down the sides. Me and Dad swam over to the buoy. Dad managed to dive down and collect some clam shells. I saw a fish that looked like a squid with a long nose. This was a great day but tomorrow is going to be better i think. We have booked a snorkelling trip and I am so excited.

Today was the best day so far on my trip. We went to the dock at 'Searious Adventures' where we were given flippers and masks. Oscar decided to use normal goggles.
First we went on the speedboat to Hol Chan Marine Reserve. (Channel in English) we stepped out into the freezing cold water and we were off. We had to swim with a buddy. I swam with the guide and with Dad. The first thing I saw was a massive 50 cm long fish. It had a big poppy eye and very sharp looking teeth. When I saw the coral I was amazed at the different kids and cours. The brain coral was yellow, the fan coral pink and the coral that looked like tentacles was a shade of brown. In Hol Chan I saw a few species of fish , coral, rays a moray eel AND a green turtle within touching distance. The turtle was the best animal I have ever seen as it was so close and so real. It was eating the sea grass then coming up to the surface to breathe every few minutes.
Next we went to Shark Ray Alley. We stopped the boat and suddenly the harmless nurse sharks stated swarming around the boat. Some of us jumped in the water and swam alongside the sharks and rays. The sharks were about two metres and the biggest ray about one metre. I had the chance to touch the ray. It was really smooth and slimy rather than rough like Dad had thought. The sharks and rays made this trip amazing. I loved it...and that's why this was the best day ever!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Cowboys and Coffee!

Honduras - Lex

I was really excited today as we were going on a horse riding trip. First we had to drive for an hour to get to our guides house. When we arrived we got ready with cowboy hats and lots of sunscreen. It was so hot. I thought my arms might fry. Luckily I was wearing long sleeves. When I got on my horse I thought my foot was not in the stirrups right and it really hurt so Carlos tried to help, unfortunately it didn't work but he told me to keep taking my foot out of the stirrups.the stirrups were different to English ones as they had a closed toe and lots of smooth leather to rest your leg on. They were also longer than English ones. This plan worked well. After about an hour and a half we stopped to stretch our legs. There were calves and foals. There was also a pregnant horse with a huge tummy. We had to help get the young horses used to humans by
hand feeding them.

After that we went back to the huge farmhouse to have lunch. It was stewed beef, vegetables, mashed potato, yucca, fried banana and homemade banana lemonade. It was delicious.
In the afternoon we went on a mini coffee tour. We talked about how the machines worked and what made a good and bad harvest. We felt the good and bad beans . If the beans are put in water the good ones sink and the bad ones float. We felt the beans in different stages of drying, they felt really crusty! I liked putting my hands in the sack to make a sound like maracas. To dry the beans they are put in the sun. I helped sweep them into piles ready to go into sacks.

Next we went to some hot springs. There were lots of different pools. We went to a sulphur smelling one, a boiling hot one, a foot massaging one and a waterfall that hit your neck and shoulders for a massage. I was really surprised to see a hot waterfall. Unfortunately we had to get out after three hours and catch our truck back to Copan.