Saturday, August 13, 2011

Caye Caulker--The Place to Run Away To

A typical Belizian road!
Home again, but filled with the feelings of adventure still.  The road from San Ignacio and the Macal River wove itself through Barton Creek Cave, an incredibly bad road (in the U.S. I'm not sure folks would call it a road actually,) past a settlement of Belizian Amish, through a few wonderful meals at Duplooys and into a great adventure on Caye (pronounced "Key",) Caulker.  Eventually we traversed the most dangerous part of our journey--Bush International Airport in Houston!!!!  (More about this latest 'Reality Show adventure later.)
San Ignacio and Santo Elena the twin cities is the second largest 'metropolitan' area in Belize.  It is accurately described as an 'olde west' sort of town with paved streets and a casino.  Some of the streets aren't paved, but the main roads are very passible.  Drive a few hundred yards out of town though and the dirt/rock/mud roads appear again. In fact, going to the city's main attraction (other than the Royal Palms Casino,) Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins, is a journey only 4 wheel drive or a Belizian guide would attempt--and it is really in the town itself!!

We found the same little cafe that we had eaten in two years ago and tasted some local 'color'.  A short visit after a beautiful canoe down a Central American river.

I think the highlight of the entire day was seeing a grey fox emerge from the jungle while we were visiting a local nature center.  It was not part of the center, but certainly part of nature.   The life cycle of the Blue Morpho Butterfly is a great example of evolution, natural selection and environmental adaptation.  It gets it'd defense against predators of the bird variety by eating just the right type of leaf as a caterpillar.

Male and Female Morphos
 ' The Blue Morpho is a member of the Peleides family, with a wingspan of approximately 6 inches (15 cm). It is an iridescent blue butterfly that lives in the rainforests of South and Central America, including Brazil, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. The Blue Morpho Butterfly is a species of neotropical butterfly that has brilliant blue wings (the females are are not as brilliantly colored as the males and have a brown edge with white spots surrounding the iridescent blue area). The undersides are brown with bronze-colored eyespots. Adults drink the juices of rotting fruit using their straw-like proboscis. The caterpillar of the Blue Morpho is a redish-brown with bright patches of lime-green on the back.The larvae eat the plant Erythroxylum pilchrum nocturnally.' The leaves of the plant contain cyanide and give the caterpillar its protective toxic condition.  Of course they don't eat the plant because it protects them, they eat the plant because it tastes good to them. They eat other plants as well, many from the pea family. The caterpillars are only toxic while they are eating the toxic plant.  Of course they are concentrating the cyanide because they eat lots of plant material.  The adults are not as toxic, but their lower wing coloration provides them camouflage protection from predators.

To Be Continued !!

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