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kann123air
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You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:04 am

Hi airliners!

I am a professor at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith (UAFS). This is my first posting, so bear with blemishes if any. I was inspired to do this by my 15-yr old, Amrit, who is now a seasoned airliners guy (and a regular forum poster). Every year, I teach an exciting tropical biology class in Belize, Central America. Enjoy this report of our 2013 trip with 19 students!

We started in Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) and flew via DFW to BZE. Here's our Embraer 145 parked at FSM.
http://imageshack.us/a/img844/3050/ezx6.jpg

At DFW we saw Korean and Emirates 777-200s.


We boarded this 737-800 to BZE from terminal D.
http://imageshack.us/a/img706/9981/pirc.jpg

We were treated to this sight of the Korean taxiing toward departure for ICN.
http://imageshack.us/a/img194/8429/60fb.jpg

Boarding our flight to BZE
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Thanks to my gold status, I got a free upgrade to Business class (as it happens every year!)

I walked back to the Economy cabin and captured a glimpse of the excited students.
http://imageshack.us/a/img543/5679/yco7.jpg

Good bye, USA (leaving the Louisiana coast somewhere near New Orelans)
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The snacks came timely.
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The FA was a genial elderly lady with a nice smile.
http://imageshack.us/a/img42/5531/ryie.jpg

The salad was tasty.....
http://imageshack.us/a/img713/5942/7h68.jpg

and so was the bread.....
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I took my customary two-sips of Merlot
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Time for the yummy lunch, an aromatic spicy sea food dish.
http://imageshack.us/a/img854/6761/8c9f.jpg

Not long after lunch, we saw the Yucatan peninsula slide by, and I went back and reminded students that this is where a giant meteorite slammed into earth causing (in most likelihood) the demise of the dinosaurs
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Minutes later, we were landing in Belize!
http://imageshack.us/a/img844/1074/w3xw.jpg

We passed right over the emerald green Belize river.....
http://imageshack.us/a/img826/9620/sbb9.jpg

....and touched down in BZE, welcomed by the sight of Cessna Grand Caravans serving the offshore islands (cayes)
http://imageshack.us/a/img51/3820/qxoz.jpg

We taxiied right by the Belikin brewery, site of the plant which makes Belize's signature beer
http://imageshack.us/a/img829/276/b6wg.jpg

Phillip Goldson International Airport, Belize City
http://imageshack.us/a/img577/2475/kkdi.jpg

Exiting the aircraft and stepping into the warm tropical air
http://imageshack.us/a/img199/2594/cnu.JPG
http://imageshack.us/a/img12/4240/0e93.jpg

Sneakily took this photo of a Tropic Air Cessna before being politely reminded by grounds crew that photography was not allowed  http://imageshack.us/a/img825/5786/svny.jpg

The noisy and crowded arrival hall
http://imageshack.us/a/img15/6109/qx6g.jpg

After clearing customs, we were welcomed by Eric Tut, our knowledgeable tour guide for the next 7 days
http://imageshack.us/a/img703/9226/n9io.jpg

Eric runs Paradise Expeditions, one of Belize's best nature tour companies. This van took us right around the little country in nice airconditioned comfort.


Exhausted, the students took to the hammocks for a catnap shortly after reaching Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
http://imageshack.us/a/img21/6697/5qp2.jpg

We stayed in this wonderful lodge right by the lagoon teeming with waterbirds.
http://imageshack.us/a/img849/4568/rwyy.jpg
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The lagoon offered good views of the spectacular Jabiru Storks, the tallest bird in the Americas (not seen in this photo)
http://imageshack.us/a/img541/2864/1qis.jpg

Birding was awesome in the scrub around
http://imageshack.us/a/img541/2864/1qis.jpg
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Wildflowers were plenty and in full bloom
http://imageshack.us/a/img818/107/xg7e.jpg

The stately Guanacaste tree, one of the iconic giants of the neotropics! From beneath this cathedral like tree I lectured on the current role played by livestock in the dispersal of its large seed pods. In ancient prehistoric times, the tree was dispersed by the Pleistocene magafauna like wild camels and horses.


Back at the lodge, this poor Tropical Kingbird had blundered against our windows. It was a teachable moment for me, as I explained the adaptations of Kingbirds to hawk insects in mid air.
http://imageshack.us/a/img199/7100/nlt.JPG

We were accompanied by Prof Douglas A. James of the University of Arkansas, my mentor and best friend of over 25 years. Doug is an encyclopedia of Belize natural history and the students learned a great deal from him. At 88 yrs of age, he still leads trips to the tropics!


Food at the Bird's Eye View lodge was phenomenal! Fresh, sumptuous, and local.
http://imageshack.us/a/img13/9481/7del.jpg

[Edited 2013-07-03 18:07:56]

Continuing on the next post.....


[Edited 2013-07-03 18:08:25]
Now more than ever, moving forward with the new American.
 
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:19 am

Continuing.....

Our next destimation was the Howler Monkey sanctuary at the village of Bermudian Landing....
http://imageshack.us/a/img24/2262/9lvx.jpg

Robert, our local guide, explained the remarkable commitment of over 200 villages to protect Black Howler monkeys and plant saplings that would eventually feed them with fruits and seeds
http://imageshack.us/a/img153/1231/x4xb.jpg

The monkeys regaled us that entire morning, coming down to within 4-5 feet to accept fruit handed over by the guides


The local villagers cooked a great picnic meal of chicken tamales for us. It was delicious!


For the next three days, we stayed at the delightful Crystal Paradise Resort, by San Ignacio. It is run by the friendly local Tut family.
http://imageshack.us/a/img819/9990/cmr6.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img694/549/0iu7.jpg
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Meals at Crystal Paradise are cooked by the Tut family. They were served with class and hospitality. After a long days field work, the meals were hot, fresh, tasty and welcome.


src="http://imageshack.us/a/img826/3183/7uii.jpg" width="600" height="800" border="0"/>

My friend Paula who is a Chemistry prof in my college, at the Macal River......
http://imageshack.us/a/img42/8861/cw4u.jpg

.....and some of our students relaxing and cooling off at the river.
http://imageshack.us/a/img42/5456/hlla.jpg
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Crystal Paradise Resort is a haven for tropical birds. Wild toucans (Collared Aracaris) come down to feed on the papayas we have laid out for them, within about 30 feet of our students, who stood around and photographed them like paparazzis!
http://imageshack.us/a/img401/3563/a5zo.jpg

Next morning, we crossed a quaint hand-cranked ferry to cross the Mopan river en route to the Mayan ruin of Xunantunich, a masterpiece from the Classic Mayan civilization (circa 900 A.D.).
http://imageshack.us/a/img829/9148/a8zw.jpg


The tallest temple, El Castillo, stands 150 feet tall......
http://imageshack.us/a/img600/2070/lfd8.jpg

....offering great views all around, including that of adjacent Guatemala


Delightful house geckos kept us entertained in our rooms at the Crystal Paradise Resort


One afternoon we canoed the Macal River for 5 miles and saw lots of birds, including rarely seen ones like Tody Motmots and Sungrebes.
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I gave the students a free day in the middle for them to do optional activities like Ziplining and Cave tubing.
Ziplining through the rainforest was a thrilling experience!


After 3 days at Crystal Paradise Resort we spent 2 days at Caye Caulker, a delightful offshore island, where our main activity was snorkeling in coral reefs to get a feel for tropical marine life diversity.
http://imageshack.us/a/img843/9809/c903.jpg

At the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, we swam with hordes of Sting Rays and Nurse Sharks!
http://imageshack.us/a/img842/2318/rp42.jpg

Watch the Remoras attached to the Rays. They are the hitchhikers of the ocean.
http://imageshack.us/a/img11/1786/kto5.jpg

The massive Sting Rays glided right by us and sometimes between our legs, apparently oblivious to our presence!
http://imageshack.us/a/img826/8114/wdrv.jpg

The Bally-ho or half-beak was one of the 17 species of fish we identified, along with Yellow-tailed Jacks
http://imageshack.us/a/img51/2053/qu5n.jpg

This was one of our most coveted fish--the Blue-headed Wrasse--a fish well-known for the fact that the all-yellow female changes into this spectacular male when the local dominant male dies.
http://imageshack.us/a/img13/6585/u50g.jpg

Yellow-tailed Jacks
http://imageshack.us/a/img43/8393/cdko.jpg

I conclude this TR with an image of the iconic Black Orchid, the National Flower of Belize!


I would any day recommend Belize for a fun-filled, informative, nature and archaeology tour! It was really unBelizeable!
Now more than ever, moving forward with the new American.
 
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:26 am

Oops.... I messed up while trying to add pictures of the FA on DFW-BZE and the lunch on the same flight. Here they are:

http://imageshack.us/a/img59/5884/8df6.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img849/9682/qp2j.jpg
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omidp
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:48 pm

Great TR. Thanks for sharing  
Very beautiful animals.
 
aussiepomm
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 9:32 pm

WOW!!! What a great report (makes ME want to go there!!)

Congrats on the TR; well done!
if my calculations are correct slinky + escalator = everlasting fun!
 
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Schweigend
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:23 pm

Mr. Kann, thanks for taking the time to compile and post this very nice trip report!

From the airport to the monkeys and beyond, it was wonderful.

I've only been to Maya ruins in the Yucatan, never in Belize. Now I will certainly consider a visit to Xunantunich, "Stone Lady" -- it's amazing what can be hidden under hundreds of years of foliage growth. Especially if I can get service as nice as Mr. Eric Tut provided you guys!

Your meals in AA F-class looked tasty and well-portioned, although I object to dessert being served with the main course.

Since I live in Houston, any trip to BZE for me would be on UA, FWIW.

Sir, I now want to see a trip report from you of a group visit to Tikal -- Flores FRS Guatemala is the nearest airport!

 

Thanks and warmest regards,

Scottie
 
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 10:54 pm

Quoting Schweigend (Reply 5):
Sir, I now want to see a trip report from you of a group visit to Tikal -- Flores FRS Guatemala is the nearest airport!

Hi Scottie, thanks for the nice feedback. Yes, we do go to Tikal sometimes, but we do it by road from Belize. We see more birds and other wildlife that way, and it is a lot cheaper. Tikal is a spectacular place, both for ruins and for rainforests.

Cheers,
Kannan
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Thu Jul 04, 2013 11:46 pm

Quoting aussiepomm (Reply 4):
WOW!!! What a great report (makes ME want to go there!!)

Congrats on the TR; well done!



Thanks, Bernie! The awesome Belizean hospitality can only be rivalled by yours, as we experienced first hand in Sydney this March!
Kannan
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jetsetter629
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Fri Jul 05, 2013 8:36 pm

Thanks for the trip report - it brought back many memories of my trip to Belize in 2009! I still think it's one of the greatest countries with the wonderful Caribbean coast, wildlife rich rain forrests, and anchient Mayan ruins!

Quoting kann123air (Thread starter):
We taxiied right by the Belikin brewery, site of the plant which makes Belize's signature beer

Love Belikin beer!! Now only if I can find it in the US...

Quoting kann123air (Thread starter):
After 3 days at Crystal Paradise Resort we spent 2 days at Caye Caulker, a delightful offshore island,

Caye Caulker is a great island - IMHO, I think its waaayy better than Ambergris Caye. I got scuba certified there in the pristine offshore reef. My wife and I took the Tropic Air flight from BZE - it stopped in Caye Caulker to drop the two of us off before continuing onto Ambergris Caye - great memory!
 
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eastafspot
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:50 pm

Nice TR,

Always great to discover areas rarely covered here, and Belize looks fascinating, at least you seem to have enjoyed your time there.
Those pictures underwater with the ray are superb!

What is the flight duration from DFW?
J Meal looks fine but the presentation is terrible!
Anyway with a nice upgrade it can be interpreted differently  

thanks for sharing
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Wed Jul 10, 2013 3:05 pm

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 9):
Nice TR,
Quoting jetsetter629 (Reply 8):
Thanks for the trip report - it brought back many memories of my trip to Belize in 2009!

Thank you!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 9):
What is the flight duration from DFW?

The duration from DFW to BZE is 2 and 1/2 hours on a 738.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 9):
J Meal looks fine but the presentation is terrible!
Anyway with a nice upgrade it can be interpreted differently  

Exactly.... Beggars can't be choosers though!  
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jns13
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Fri Jul 19, 2013 4:17 am

Great pictures on this one, I really enjoyed hearing about your trip! I just posted my first trip report a few days ago, so I understand where you're coming from-but you did a really nice job and it was certainly a unique destination! All of the food on the trip looked delicious-from the inflight meal to the home cooked offerings!
 
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kann123air
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RE: You Better Belize It! Tropical Field Biology Uafs

Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:22 pm

Quoting jns13 (Reply 11):
Great pictures on this one, I really enjoyed hearing about your trip! I just posted my first trip report a few days ago, so I understand where you're coming from-but you did a really nice job and it was certainly a unique destination! All of the food on the trip looked delicious-from the inflight meal to the home cooked offerings!

So nice of you to not let my blemishes get on the way to enjoying the TR! Thanks for such a nice feedback. Makes the time it takes to post these TRs well worth it.
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