Written by Birk Stilund Hansen
Photos courtesy of Birk Stilund Hansen and Karoline Møgelvang
Have you ever surveyed for snakes, dung beetles and mammals in a prime forest, where terrestrial life becomes widely diversified as you embark upon a single hike? And where the constantly altering altitude has a major impact on what species you will stumble upon? Or have you ever been at the bottom of the ocean, exceeding your personal margins while observing turtles and morays at close range?
During my school-expedition with Opwall, I had the joy of doing both. Being surrounded by talkative and passionate participants in the cloud forest, had me feel like my role in the expedition was much more than just being a visiting student. Some of the participants had researched a specific topic in the cloud forest for months when I arrived, and their cooperation and willingness to align me to their cause did delight me.
The daily schedules were long and comprehensive, and even though my soles barely walked Cusuco for more than a week, I left with a feeling of having crash-coursed everything. During the night we trapped bats and moths. There were so many beautiful moths, it was nothing like home! We also looked for herps on our river walks, and on our hike to the dwarf forest which is another type of forest and ecosystem than what we had already experienced. All good things must come to an end, and we couldn’t stay in the forest forever.
On our way back, we descended the mountainous national park during early noon, the temperature began to kindly remind my companions and I, that we were now on our way to a Caribbean island. My long-sleeved fleece and trousers were replaced by a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and off we went to Roatán! Air conditioning never felt so good.
Roatán was a lovely island with vibrant and colorful tourist-towns right by the sea. At the resort, we were greeted by a group of equally aged British students. They turned out to be a huge group, and a great addition to my week. Our primary goal during the marine week was to become certified divers. Luckily this turned out to be rather time consuming, and often you would find me in the dive shop’s classroom or in the clear blue water, either diving or snorkeling. There were various evening activities like night-snorkeling and lectures, and I didn’t find myself to be slacking-off as much as expected— which is great right? Water conditions were excellent, and aquatic was well-preserved since locals seemed to have a proper respect toward the ocean that surrounded them. I was very fortunate to have my own diving instructor. My week on Roatán gave me such a good impression of diving, that I’ve already found myself to be continuing my diving career at home.
I would like to thank my fellow students, my teacher and everyone we met for making this a trip to remember.