On the second leg of my cycling expedition to Karukinka Natural Park at the Southern tip of South America, I will ride through Mexico to Guatemala and Belize where the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) operates a Mesoamerica Program. This extraordinarily biodiverse area is home to charismatic megafauna like Jaguars and Scarlet Macaws. Wildlife flourishes here thanks, in-part, to The Maya Biosphere Reserve in northern Guatemala, which makes up part of one of the worlds the largest tropical forests north of the Amazon. Mesoamerica is also one of the "cradles of civilization" and is widely known as the home of the Maya and Aztec. A number of cultures and societies existed before these peoples, including the Tlatilco and the Olmec who’s cultures had significant influence on later societies, including the Maya and Aztec. It is believed that the Olmec created the first centralized state around 1,200 BC in what is today Veracruz and Tabasco. Additionally, new findings, such as the discovery of 15 Mammoth skeletons in a human-made trap near Mexico City dated around 13,000 BC, are constantly re-shaping our understanding of human history in this region. The post-colonial Human Footprint of Mesoamerica today clearly has a long and storied past. While it would take a lifetime to develop a deep understanding of this region, I will begin by visiting wildlife preserves, cities, towns, and ancient ruins as I pedal my bicycle from the Mexico boarder to Belize City. Once I reach Belize City, in late December 2019, I will pack my bike up and fly to Bogota, Colombia to begin the third leg of my journey to Karukinka along the western coast of South America.
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