Here is a letter to the editor I wrote for a Belizean newspaper 😀
With all the traveling that I have been blessed to do, of course I’m going to have hiccups! What was ending as an amazing trip ended in a wee bit of stress. Bird flies into landing plane, breaking a light. My flight to El Salvador, with a connection to Costa Rica, is delayed. They tell me I’m not going to make my flight. 10 minutes later we are boarding- I might have a chance. As I get off the plane in El Salvador, I run across the airport, thinking I have a chance. All I hear is the Home Alone tune in my head as I run across the airport. I get there- the plane left without me. Well, TACA airlines is absolutely wonderful- paid hotel, meals, and upgrade to first class on the first flight to Costa Rica tomorrow. I guess I shouldn’t complain as the last couple of days in Belize with research were pretty exciting…
After Guatemala, went back to Belize to finish up stomach flushing for parasites at ACES facility in Ladyville, and then back to Ambergris to try to catch a couple more. The 24 hours I was in Ladyville, we sampled several crocs amongst other things at the ACES facility. My clothes are all nasty and muddy, thus illustrating what a wonderful time it was! One of the most amazing things I saw was the big American Croc known as George. This guy was being illegally fed on Ambergris, caught by ACES, and removed as he was a threat to the locals’ safety as he had lost all his fear of humans. He’s got to be at least 14ft now- his head is probably half the size or more of my total body length. A force not to be reckon with!!!!! Ladyville ended with a bang as I got 32 parasites out of one of the wild American Crocodiles caught. Data, data, data!!!!!
Back on the island, traps were set, and we decided to head up north as there were 2 crocs known to hang out behind some
houses around Coco Beach Resort. Once they smelled the chicken, 2 popped their heads up (and 2 more later that night). These crocs had been fed obviously by human hands, showing no fear. We waited about 3 hours until a 9ft female went into the snare trap. The capture went very smooth. In a sense, we were lucky to have some local kids around. Many had never seen a crocodile up close or touched one. They were all asking questions and seemed very inquisitive about the croc, and what we were doing with it. It was nice to hear one of the little girls tell her friends, “We can’t kill it because it’s important for the island.” My eyes got teary 😉
So as I sit in my hotel in El Salvador, the last 2 weeks have been pretty successful. Now, off to Costa Rica for holiday, surfing and having adventures with my boyfriend, and setting up some research over there. The major goal- to sample as many populations as possible of crocodilians throughout Central America, examining variation between urban and non-urban populations. It may take some time, but I’m sooo looking for the unforgettable adventures and science to come!