Wednesday, November 21, 2007

twenty-one. Colorado. Belize.

And so began the erinera of Birkenstocks, hairy legs, and patchouli. After I'd completed my sophomore year in Georgia, I transferred to a university in Colorado and shortly after went to Belize for a few months to study its "natural and cultural history" with a small band of students. We covered nearly the whole country—plus a short trek into Guatemala to visit Tikal—by van and slept in tents. Not surprisingly, this is the most memorable period of my twenty first year. A selection from the many high points:

Kindness and a Rastafarian prophet in Caye Caulker. The photo on the left is of my friend, Jess, and I on the top of the I&I bar on Caye Caulker with two kind fellas we met from Mexico. The second was taken a little later that evening. Much laughter. Just looking at that second photo makes my cheeks hurt.

One of the guys who sailed the boat we traveled around on during our time on Caye Caulker said his name was Marcus Garvey. I didn't know any better than to believe him. I wonder how many of the others did and how many laughed their asses off at how gullible I was.

Dancing the punta in Dangriga. We were at a bar/restaurant and where a live band was playing. I got into one of those transcendental, deep down in the music grooves. All that was there was that rhythm. A whole lotta booty shakin'. My thighs and gluteus were singing the next day.

Bare chests and a cougar in Mountain Pine Ridge. Suzi, Nate, and I—efficient students that we were—finished up early with the DBH measurements for our alloted section of pines and went for a walk. It was the strangest sensation to go from working in a moist, green broadleaf forest the day before to working amongst shushing pines and walking a dusty red clay dirt road the next. It was hot and Nate was shirtless. Why shouldn't Suzi whip off her shirt as well? Me? Not quite so free-spirited. It was all very surreal.

Another day during our stay here, Jess and I took off early toward the fire tower to see the sunrise and hopefully spot a tapir—our two professors had been out and seen one earlier that week. No such luck. Instead we were blessed by a cougar that come sauntering out of the forest to our right and onto the road ahead of us. It stopped, stared straight at us for a few beats—probably a few hundred since my heart was racing—then went back the way it came. Amazing and utterly petrifying. We continued on to the tower and I always wonder how closely we were being watched as we passed. (not my photo, by the way, it came from here.)

There's more. Much more. I could write for days on this. Instead, I'll leave you with two more photos.
Me. Tree.

Little mobile home in the forest.
[Note the very prickly tree right in front of the door.]

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