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My first field trip and the discovery of a Savannah

As part of the MayanToons Team, it is fundamental to keep the right references and have inspiration resources. Most of the time we use the photographs taken by the team during field trips just as the fundamental information about the species we are portraying in the illustrations.

Going to a field trip as part of the MayanToons team is an extraordinary experience. To have that interaction with nature, its colors, textures, environment helps massively to have a better understanding of how the species are in real life.

Discovering the Savannah

I had the opportunity to take part in one of the field trips to Paso Caballos (Paso Caballos is the entrance to Parque Nacional Laguna el Tigre, Petén) in search of a Savannah. It was my first field trip ever and it resulted in one of the best experiences I’ve had.

Just on the first day of the exploration, right at the beginning, we found a beautiful Tarantula spider (Tliltocatl vagans) we also saw frogs, a very stinky mushroom, many native trees and leaves with quite different characteristics.

The second day we took a further walk into the forest, looking for the second Savannah. It was an exhausting experience, so exhausting that 3 members of our team had to go back to the camp. We continued to adventure into the trees and started to see how the environment changed in a matter of meters.

The most impressive ecosystem we saw was the Savannah, a natural quite extensive Savannah. When we arrived, Dr. Nicholas was so touched and happy that he cried, after long hours of walking through the trees we finally found what we were looking for. Tasiste was one of the most important trees palms we found, in some of these palms we could see how its trunk was carbonized by a previous wildfire, but the leaves were bright healthy green. This is a characteristic of this tree a resistance to fire.

This photo was taken at the entrance of the Savannah. Photo by Boris Llamas.

The road back to the camp

The more we walked through the Savannah the harder it got, the sun was very strong and the heat as well, there weren’t many leafy trees for us to hide. As we reached half of the way we saw in the distance some dark clouds, we hoped it rained just a little so we could refresh from the heat. In a matter of minutes, we had to stop walking and hide near the forest, it wasn’t just raining it was a storm! and most of the thunders dropped on the forest.

While we were grateful to have some refreshment, we had a bigger situation in front, the storm was so strong the guides (“guardarecursos” in Spanish, park rangers in English) couldn’t find the way back to the camp. We still had sunlight, so we followed the guides through a new road and hoped to find the right one while walking. However, we got lost again and we had to wait for our guides and helpers to find it once more.
After a while and still raining, we were back on track. We were all very tired and when we reached the river, the only way we could cross it was through a fallen tree, and of course, we had to be careful, we were told that this river had many crocodiles and falling was not an option. With that in mind it was my turn to cross it, and… (suspense music…) I slipped and fell on the river. Fortunately, there were no crocodiles nearby, but we did see some further down the road.

Reaching the camp was one of the most relieving moments after the trip, it was certainly a full experience of surviving in nature. We all learned a lot and saw many interesting species there will definitely have a report, So, stay tuned!

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