Friday, October 31, 2008

Helpful links for travellers

I have been getting a lot of great questions from students interested in going to Belize. Many of the answers come from websites. I'll give the links here for your reference.

Passports: you need a passport good for at least 6 months past the date of travel. Passports are valid for 10 years. It takes a few weeks to obtain one, so apply now even if you are not sure you can go on this trip. To obtain a passport, start at this link:

Health: only you and your physician can determine if you are healthy enough for travel to a developing country. I suggest that you make an appointment before the trip. You should read the information on this website before you see your physician:
For this trip, we will spend most of our time on the island of Caye Caulker. It is "healthier" than the interior portion of the country. For example, the island has few if any of the Anopheles mosquitoes that can transmit malaria. There is a health clinic on the island that is usually staffed by a physician, and there is also a pharmacy. The nearest hospital is in Belize City, however. Hospitals in developing countries like Belize are not up to the standards of those in the U.S.

Safety: developing countries are not as safe to live in or visit as the U.S. Visitors need to exercise more caution than they do at home. The U.S. state department has advisories for Belize at Most of these advisories relate to Belize City and the remote regions, not Caye Caulker, but some are applicable. You should be familiar with the precautions recommended by our diplomats in Belize!

Caye Caulker: I have taken students to this charming island since 1999. It is one of the more successful parts of Belize because the lobster fishermen organized a cooperative in the 1960s to obtain higher prices for their harvest in overseas markets. Sociologists have studied this island as a model for other villages in the developing world struggling to respond to globalization. This experience with globalization prepared the village for the "ecotourism" boom in the 1990s. The villagers resisted outside corporations and developed their tourism industry themselves. The villagers use the Internet to promote themselves. Here is the village tourism website: There are many Internet cafes competing for business, so the village is ideal for students in an online class!

Getting there: The easiest way to Caye Caulker from Oklahoma is to fly. American Airlines and Continental Airlines fly daily from Tulsa (TUL) to airports in Texas (DFW and IAH, respectively) where you can change planes for non-stop flights to Belize City (BZE). The airlines have comparable airfares, but check both. It helps to be flexible about the dates you travel. We are not flying as one large group, so you can arrive early or stay late for extra sightseeing or a mini vacation. Any travel agent can assist you for a small fee, or you can check the airline websites and those of the many online tickets booking services (e.g., travelocity, expedia, kayak, orbitz, etc.) yourself.

Once you arrive at the Belize City airport, there are two ways to get to Caye Caulker ( The easiest way is to fly directly from the international airport to the Caye Caulker airport. Two airlines, Maya Island and Tropic Air, have several flights daily. You do not need to buy tickets in advance. Just walk up to the ticket counter in the tiny Belize airport and buy tickets with cash, traveller's check or credit card for the next flight.

From the Caye Caulker airport, you can walk into town or hire a golf-cart taxi. If you have a hotel, they will take you there. If you do not, no worries! You can find one without advance reservations and negotiate a price after you see the room. Links to some of the hotels are at You can email me for recommendations in your price range ($20 to $200/night).

The more adventuresome way to get from the Belize City airport to Caye Caulker is to take a taxi from the airport to the downtown water taxi terminal, then take a water taxi to the island. Here is the website for the oldest of the water taxi companys: This route costs less money than flying and is more fun. You get to see a bit of Belize City from the taxi window and enjoy a fast boat ride through the mangroves between Belize City and Caye Caulker. The water taxi takes you to the front dock in the center of Caye Caulker--a short walk to any hotel. Bicycle taxis are available to help with luggage if you wish.

What to do on Caye Caulker: we will learn about how people in a developing country solve environmental problems. We will do this by talking to people and walking around and looking at the island's infrastructure. To expedite this, we will sign up for a few "tours" operated by local people. We will go snorkeling in the marine sanctuary to learn about conservation of lobster, conch and fish. We will also go inland to tour ruins of the classic Maya civilization at Lamanai. Lamanai is unique for being the only classic Maya city in Belize still occupied by the Maya when the Spanish conquistadors arrived five centuries ago. We will also visit the larger village of San Pedro on the next island to the north. San Pedro choose a different development pathway than Caye Caulker; we will use the comparison to see how decisions made by one generation have consequences for the next. This website gives an overview of the activities on the island:

What you should do next: enroll! Once you have done that, go to Blackboard ( and look for Winter 2009 Environmental Problems. We'll continue trip planning there.

Monday, October 27, 2008

News release

Here is the press release put out by NSU about the trip to Belize this winter:
As it says, contact me by email for more information!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Belize flyer

Here is the flyer I am asking NSU faculty to pass out in their classes to interested students.
Click on the image of the flyer to make it large enough to read or to print it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Winter intersession


BIOL 3413 Environmental Problems ONLINE 12/22 - 1/9

ZAP number XXXX for all campuses (Tahlequah, Broken Arrow, Muskogee).

This is a class intended for non-majors, but open to biology majors.

We will review the basics of science, then apply that knowledge to understanding environmental problems. The Blackboard software ( will be used throughout. We will read and discuss timely books. Also, students will form teams to study in depth environmental problems in a particular community.

There are two options: option A is to study an area where the student lives, and option B is to study a village in Belize, a developing country.

Students selecting option A will form a team with classmates who live nearby. Students will have to travel to places in their community to see how environmental problems in their community are dealt with.

Students in Environmental Problems selecting option B will examine how villagers in a developing country (Belize) address various environmental problems (energy, transportation, food, water, waste, income, etc.). This will allow a comparison with the methods used by people in a developed country (the U.S.) as examined by the rest of the class (option A).


The particular village we will focus on for Environmental Problems, option B, is Caye Caulker (CC), a tiny island in the Caribbean with an economy based on lobster fishing and tourism.


Here are supplemental cost estimates for students in Environmental Problems,

option B:

Date Day Event notes Event$ Food$ Lodging$

Jan 4 Sunday Fly TUL -> BZE, Caye Caulker $450 $20 $40

Jan 5 Monday Tour village on own $10 $30 $40

Jan 6 Tuesday Lamanai tour $120 $30 $40

Jan 7 Wed. San Pedro tour on own $15 $40 $40

Jan 8 Thursday Tour marine reserve $40 $30 $40

Jan 9 Friday Tour village on own $0 $30 $40

Jan 10 Saturday Fly home $450 $20 $0

Total cost = $1,525 + $175 contingency = $1,700 + tuition, fees, books.

This will vary from student to student. The biggest expense is airfare. I assumed $850 from Tulsa to Belize City, and assumed that includes all taxes and fees. Airfares change, and are more likely to go up than down, especially if you wait. (Note: I bought my ticket for $800.) Also, students can fly from Belize City to Caye Caulker (~$50 RT) like a tourist or take a water taxi with locals--cheaper and more fun. I assumed students would spend $40/night for lodging. There is less expensive lodging available, and students can share a room to split costs. There is also more expensive lodging. Each student will make their own lodging arrangements. Food costs will also vary. I encourage students to shop in local markets, like villagers do. This is inexpensive—much less than reflected above. Restaurants vary in price; some cost much more than is reflected above. Costs for daily activities will also vary, but the estimates above are typical based on previous years.