Belize Travel

Nature Walks – Belize Diary, Jan 26 and 29

The broadleaf rainforest is the most beautiful place on earth, bursting with oxygen and crawling with life.

Today we’ll look at pictures from an early morning bird walk and a medicine trail hike at Mariposa Jungle Lodge. For all the guided tours we had given during our year in this area, it was fun to get in the back seat and while our guides showed us their perspective. We also wanted to stimulate the local economy.


Bird Walk, January 26

Bob and Agusto

Agusto arrived at Mariposa at 6:00 AM on our first morning in Cayo. He walked the short distance from his house and we went looking for birds. During our walk we talked about the people we knew in common, people we’d worked with twenty-five years ago and others in the area.

Female Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)

Although I kept track of which bird species we saw or heard, I was not able to match this little yellow bird to anything on my list until Deb Ragno identified it as a female Summer Tanager. Deb’s daughter is married to our nephew, so that makes her family.

The morning was abloom with new life, and we were transported back in time to this place as if we’d never left.

The most evil black poisonwood

Yikes! Bob got into poisonwood while clearing bush in the ’90s, and ended up with a fever and oozing sores that took over his legs and kept him out of the saddle for weeks.


Like many large hardwoods, this Nargusta has a shallow root system accompanied by buttresses which help keep it upright.

Bay leaf palm
Former jungle guide

Bay Leaf palms (Sabal mauritiiformis) are good for thatching roofs and should be harvested when the moon is full because that’s when they are heaviest with the sap that keeps them water tight and repels critters.

Spoiled tropical girl

We paused to enjoy the view from Mariposa’s fire tower deck.

Yellow flowers
Black-faced grosbeaks

And watch Black-faced grosbeaks feeding on yellow flowers.

Giant lianas

We saw a lot of impressive vines which made me think of the Tarzan rope swing in the back lot behind my childhood home.

Air plants

Epiphytes all around.

Medicine Trail, January 29

Agusto told us he was one of Mariposa’s first employees and that he helped clear the trails around the property.

Josh in his element

Our Medicine Trail guide, Josh, had intimate knowledge of local plant medicine from a lifetime of living close to nature.

An aromatherapy tree! We burn copal resin at home.

Camille keeps notes. She is dutiful that way.

An allspice tree

The broadleaf rainforest is the most beautiful ecosystem on earth, bursting with oxygen and crawling with life. I felt extremely calm after hanging out here for five days, and it occurred to me that I may be experiencing seasonal food and shelter anxiety from living so far north of the equator.

I nicknamed this little plant the Rehab Plant because Josh said it will cure substance dependency.

Ahhh, the beautifully wretched strangler fig. It climbs a tree and sucks it dead, growing stronger by the year as its host slowly declines.

Fairy tale flowers

Delicate flowers draped in fairy vines. From sturdy to fanciful, we find it all here in the forest.

Fractal tree
Oeceoclades maculata (Lindl.) – a terrestrial orchid immigrated from Africa

A baby orchid, so eager for life that it barely waits to root before setting on leaves and a pseudobulb.

Heliconia psittacorum

At some point, I was so immersed in the beauty around me, I wasn’t even interested in the medicine. It was enough to know that no matter what ailed me, I could find someone who knew the cure and where to find it.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

2 replies on “Nature Walks – Belize Diary, Jan 26 and 29”

Ahh yes…I love medicinal walks. It’s simply amazing the way you can be cured through nature. Shhhh don’t tell the big pharma companies!

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