Being someone who is interested in various sciences, I try to project a rational image to the world. But I encountered a set of coincidences during a recent trip to Belize that seemed too perfect to happen by chance. It almost felt as if some invisible force was organizing the flow of events; putting me exactly where I needed to be at the right times.
I recently spent six weeks in Belize. During the first half of this trip I was participating in an archaeological field school: living in a subtropical rainforest and excavating Mayan ruins. Once that program ended, I spent another three weeks traveling on my own. During this time I was learning about jaguar conservation, whilst also looking for opportunities to perform my master’s research. It was during this phase that the most incredible coincidences occurred.
One of these events unfolded during my second week of solo traveling. At this point, I was living in Bella’s Backpackers hostel in San Ignacio. I had several people I wanted to speak with in the nearby capital of Belmopan, but I had been unable to find affordable lodging there. So I opted to stay in San Ignacio and bus back and forth.
One day, I went to the immigration office in Belmopan to extend my visa. I spent several hours waiting in line, only to be told that I had to come back later. Frustrated and exhausted, I began to wander aimlessly through town. Eventually I found myself standing in front of Everest Indian Restaurant. I love Indian food, and I had accidentally found the only Indian restaurant currently open in Belmopan. And the food was incredible.
While there, a British expat struck up a conversation with me. I told him about my inability to find cheap accommodations in Belmopan, and he immediately referred me to the restaurant’s owner: Raj Karki. Raj had a large house with a spare room, but he was not ready to receive guests. Fortunately, a couple overhead Raj and I talking. They informed me that they were staying at a place called Belmopan Tiny Homes, and that the rates were reasonable. They gave me the owner’s phone number, and two days later I had moved there. By a stroke of luck, I now had a place to stay in Belmopan.
A few days later I awoke with an urge to visit Raj at Everest. When I arrived there, he said that he had readied his spare room for me. I could move in at any time, and for the same low rate I was paying at Belmopan Tiny Homes. I did so, and this ended up being the best decision I made in Belize. More on this later.
During my last week in Belize, I was still focused on trying to meet with key people in Belmopan. I had some downtime one day, so I went to Guanacaste National Park. After a fantastic hike, I stopped to chat with the staff in the visitor center. A man walked in whom they knew, and I began telling him why I was in Belize. When I mentioned my interest in jaguars, he told me that he was the site manager at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an important area for jaguars, and earlier I had regretted that I would not have time to go there. Now, by some bizarre coincidence, Cockscomb’s site manager was standing right in front of me. These things are not supposed to happen in real life! Despite the unlikelihood of this event, the most important coincidence was still to come.
It was now July 3, and my last day in Belize. After a morning meeting with the Belize Forest Department, I chose to spend the rest of the day with my friend Raj. That evening I saw Raj going to great lengths to plant fruit trees in an empty lot. I asked Raj what he was doing, and he replied that he had planted many fruit trees throughout Belmopan. Why? So that when the trees matured, everyone could enjoy their delicious fruits. No one would know Raj had planted them, but he did not care.
I suddenly had an epiphany. At that moment, I was witnessing the type of behavior that would create a better future. Raj did not fit the environmentalist stereotype: he was well-groomed and identified as a businessman. Yet here he was, unknowingly engaging in reforestation, simply because he wanted to help others. In that moment, I realized what my next major task was. I needed to find more people like Raj, learn how they became the way they are, and share their stories with the world. Perhaps then other people will be inspired to follow their examples.
Whether due to fate, chance, or some other factor; my time in Belize was one coincidence after another. These fortunate events helped me overcome challenges, better my circumstances, and forge new friendships. But most important of all, they gave me a better sense of what my next mission is. I need to locate more exceptional people like Raj, and figure out what lessons they have for the world.
My name is Josh, and I am a master’s student at Humboldt State University in northern California. My deepest love is for the natural world, especially wildlife. But my educational background is in psychology, and I greatly enjoy speaking to and learning from other people. As such, I am trying to find away to contribute to wildlife conservation by specializing in working with people.
My hobbies include reading, writing, and anything dealing with the outdoors. I have also recently found out that I enjoy traveling, and hope to do more of it in the future. The same goes for photography, although I am a true beginner in that field. Lastly, I spend a great deal of time thinking about topics that have absolutely no relevance for my life.
To find out more about Josh’s “Belize adventures” and his wildlife study on the interweb go to: