Page 2 of wandke Travel Blog Posts

North America » Mexico » Baja California Sur » Todos Santos December 26th 2011

I guess you could say 2011 turned into the Year of the Turtle for me! Alyssa chose our volunteer project long beforeand I am still learning much about the long lives and longer evolutionary history of these intruiging creatures! Sea turtles spend most of their life swimming the vast oceans of our planet...some traveling thousands of miles each year! Their migration patterns are only being discovered recently, and most of what we know is learned from the female turtles that return to their beaches of birth to nest sometime after their 20th birthday! It is now thought that they are able to return to their birthplace because of a magnetic and earth's angle imprinting that happens within the baby turtles first moments of life. After spending 45-60 days in a nest buried deep in the warm ... read more

So there's a big beak bite on my back. I can barely see it in the mirror, but I feel its presence and the infection is affecting my entire body. Every time I retell the story, I feel the weight of the turtle concentrated on that beak mark. Every time I reenact the attack, my spine shivers with the twisting. This is an interesting injury, because it seems to be affecting my entire body - including my mind. So after the attack, I stayed on the cayes for two more nights to finish the project with my team. The pain would come and go, but was increasing each day. By the time we returned to Placencia on Wednesday afternoon, my friend Rita said the bite was black and yellow and "Not lookin good, gal." I went ... read more
Covered in The Tree of Life
The scarring left

What better place to relax and recover than my friend's private eco-beach retreat in southern Belize! David and Wayne had been inviting me down to their new home just north of the small village (and I mean small - like 30 people) of Punta Negra, and finally our calendars coordinated! I got a ride to their place with them and the Punta Negra school teacher, Teach, who was wearing a Green Bay Packers hat! All right!! We took an amazing journey through the mangroves and past Monkey River, dropping Teach off at the Punta Negra point....where about 6 homes are sitting along a rapidly eroding beachline. Most of the villagers came out to greet us, and we hollered that we'd be back in a few days for "the birthday party!" (I don't remember the little girls' ... read more
Looking south
Great sand here!
Bocchi court

I was asked to help with a local scientific group in their quest to count, measure, and tag the turtle population of southern Belize, and of course I jumped at the chance! Three days of snorkeling and counting turtles while staying out on the cayes sounded like the job for me.... I was excited, but a bit intimidated, as we loaded up the boat and began to head out to the cayes that morning. I was the only rookie (and not native born) on the team, and besides that I didn't know most of the scientific turtle terms! For example, we were identifying the species, measuring the carapace three ways, and recording if they are male or female turtles. Well, now that I'm educated, let me share; there are four species of turtle in Belize- Green, ... read more
View from headquarters
Brush your teeth here
living on a caye requires gasoline

Rain: My best purchase of the month, maybe the year (oh no, I bought my Kindle this year) is my shiny new, plastic rain gauge. I’m so curious about the amount of rain falling here nightly. During rainy season, we get the most incredible storms after dark and sometimes wake up to a village under water! I happen to live in a house that is surrounded my low area that likes to flood….. I call this The Moat. It’s at this time I don’t even feel the need lock up my bike because NO one’s coming through that swamp! We’ve been averaging about 13mm of rain each night (little over a half inch) but we had two nights in a row that had 80mm and 82mm, respectively…over 6.5 inches in two nights! And now I sit ... read more
...that will never be forgotten!
A great moat in my backyard
And to the north

I just love when a friend calls and says, "I've got to pick up my boat in Guatemala. Would you and Cory like to join me?" ... read more
Coast of Southern Belize
Immigration at Punta Gorda
The marina in Guate

Lucky me! I sent out a message asking if anyone was going out to the cayes this week, and it turned out that Lisa was going to be returning to our coral reef restoration project at Laughing Bird to check on her nurseries and perform an overall bleaching survey. Volunteer here! Lisa, myself, and our captain Shane happily made a long day of snorkeling for science! In the last year, an army of volunteers has planted over 4,000 fragments and excited to see most of the new coral flourishing! It was so exciting to see the healthy coral growth and fish frolicking in these new gardens! While we took digital pictures to record the growth, I also made tally marks on a slate when I spotted coral that was bleaching. Coral bleaching results when the symbiotic ... read more
Juvenile Yellowtail Damsel hanging in the new coral
A rope of fragments turning into a reef

I know I've been publishing past adventures, but this one is actually current! Miss you all! If you took New Years, Christmas, and the 4th of July and put them all in one month, you’d have September Celebrations in Belize! What a wonderful time to be home on the peninsula….it’s slow season so the faces are all familiar and our favorite restaurants take turns closing for weeks, BUT there are many holidays and things to celebrate! We’ve got St. George’s Caye Day, Independence Day, and our very own Placencia Assassins football team took the national championship last month! I just got back 30 days ago, but of course it feels like I never left…. My first order of business in Placencia was to get underwater, despite the recent news of terrible visibility due to an unusual ... read more
You'd never guess it's our garbage truck!
Speakers taller than a person!
The festive boys that live below me

North America » Mexico » Yucatán » Valladolid August 7th 2011

This weekend Cory and I visited a most charming Mexican town on the Yucatan peninsula with immense Mayan influence, Valladolid. Pronounced Valley-o-dally. Or Volley-doe-lolly. Or Valalalalada!  Only Cory can pronounce it correctly, so I kept him entertained with my tongue-twisted options! Valladolid is surrounded by dense flat jungle hiding Mayan ruins and dozens of cenotes. Cenotes are ancient collapsed cave systems filled with clear freshwater that are fed through an expansive underground river system. Their geologic formations go back to the meteorite that was believed to strike the Yucatan Peninsula over 65 million years ago and wipe out the dinosaurs. This impact dotted the soft limestone rock of the peninsula with fissures and cracks of varying sizes. Over millions of years, the porous limestone allowed water to seep through its numerous cracks forming gigantic cave ... read more
Cenote in the middle of town
Me swimming!
Jumping off the cliff walls

North America » Canada » Ontario » Toronto June 6th 2011

Alyssa and I left for our yearly road trip on Sunday, and started a leisurely drive through the Great Lakes region. We headed north on M35 and followed along the top of Lake Michigan for a few hours - stopping at beachy rest stops to drop our toes in the frigid water! The lake beaches are extraordinary - with giant rocks, soft squishy sand, and a never ending horizon it's easy to imagine you are on an ocean beach (until you feel the freezing water temperatures!) About 4 hours into the drive, we were stoked to get to the Canada border! The immigration officer asked us the usual list of questions and let us through with a smile....but even though we asked for a stamp, we didn't get one! We hit the Canadian highway following Lake ... read more

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