Lee Patrick

Belize Memories

Belize Earth Expedition, 2018

Photo of the blog author snorkeling with a green sea turtle in Belize

Yours truly snorkeling in Belize. Green Sea Turtle below coming up for air. The coral barrier reef off the coast of Belize is the second largest in the world.

Photo by Brett Bartek

Time flies. During graduate school, I got to travel on a Belize Earth Expedition. 10 days on a research and study trip in the summer of 2018. I still think about the trip often, even though it’s been five years already.

Just the other day, a friend texted me a photo of him near some Mayan ruins in Mexico. Instantly, I flashed back to the Belize trip, where we were taken to a whole ancient Mayan city. And the other week, I saw sea turtles in an aquarium. But like you see in the photo posted here, we saw so many creatures in their wild habitat.

I decided to revisit a practice “blog post” we had to write for one of my classes. I had focused that writing sample on the Belize trip. The original gets a little academic, with citations and things, so I’ve adapted just a little bit of it below to give you a taste—

About fifteen months ago, I stepped off a plane, out of an airport, and into a climate of humidity with the mass and weight of lead. I’ve traveled somewhat—maybe I’m not well​-traveled–but I’ve been fortunate enough to venture at times beyond my city-kid background. Here, in an instant flop sweat, I already knew it would be different.

I had applied to and been accepted for an ​Earth Expedition​ graduate class to my first choice destination, ​Belize​. I’m a student in Miami University of Ohio’s ​Advanced Inquiry Program​. Part of my rationale for taking this graduate program was, after years of a museum/zoo career writing about nature and science for public audiences, I wanted my own research experience. I wanted to satisfy my own wonder and curiosity and see how it ​felt​.

Over just 10 days, working alongside about twenty other people, I was inland looking at jaguar tracks, hiking up a rainforest to a bat cave, and eating Ms. Dorla’s kriol bread at a home stay with her family. I met a baby tapir, spied black howler monkeys in trees overhead, and surveyed the landscape below from atop ancient Mayan ruins. And finally, like every great nature documentary I watched growing up, it was ​me this time snorkeling over a tropical barrier reef, southern stingrays swimming next to me, and a green sea turtle coming up for a breath beside me.