(post title blatantly stolen from Richard Feynman’s book of the same name)
During the gray cloudy months that constitute winter here in Seattle (or really, the Northwest in general), I find it both therapeutic and useful to do a lot of research on places I plan to go in the next year or two. Useful because there are a lot of things good to know before I go; therapeutic because learning new things about places I plan on going is some of the best daydreaming fuel there is.
If you’re not already familiar with it, WikiTravel is a really good source for travel research. It’s not as refined as Wikipedia (particularly if you’re looking at less-traveled-by-Western-travelers type places, there are a lot of empty stub articles) but there’s a lot of useful information and links that would never show up on Wikipedia, and it’s organized in a way that makes more sense for travelers than for someone simply looking for general information. Today I was looking at the entry for Belize, as I’m currently leaning toward my winter 2016 charter sailing trip being there. Rather than the sailing and coastal information I normally look at though, I decided to see what I (and my friends) would be able to see if we took a few days of time on land before we started the sailing trip.
Being a birder, I’m immediately drawn to the description for Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, just a little ways Northwest of Belize City:
Crooked Tree’s main feature is birdwatching. The village sits off an inland lagoon and there are hundreds of species of exotic birds to be seen with almost no effort. Local guides can take you to the best spots to see the highest variety. The highlight is the Jabiru stork which is the largest flying bird in the Americas.
Some more drilling down through links lead me to discover the Belize Audubon Society website–apparently they co-manage many of the country’s wildlife areas with Belize’s government!
Now, if you’re as into birds and wildlife as I am, this is actually a pretty exciting realization. Having a conservation advocacy group co-managing a country’s wildlife areas is not only brilliant but very encouraging, and makes me even more excited to visit. More than that, though, it gives visitors like me a good point of contact for where to go and even who to hire as guides (if needed). It’s through research like this that I can really maximize my time in any given place.
Now I’ve got other things to research about Belize and the kinds of birds I’ll find not only at Crooked Tree, but also at the various cay(e)s I’ll be sailing to. The more I read, the more excited I am… and the more I forget that I’m in the middle of Seattle’s dreary (but not horribly cold!) winter, and that my next trip to the tropics is months away.
This is how my mind works, people.