Yesterday, God amazed us in a variety of ways. Of note, the students, Mrs. Kerry Moore, and I traveled to Xunantunich – a Mayan ruin about five miles from our hotel. Our guide, John Chuc, traces his ancestry through the ancient Mayans that occupied this land of Belize for more than a millennia.
Belize is interesting in this way. Currently, only 330,000 people live in Belize; however, during the classic period of Maya culture (250-900AD), Belize, literally pronounced Bee-Lix, housed 2-3 million Maya and existed at the crossroads of culture across mezo-America. Accompanying this population, a distinct culture emerged around these ancient temples and city-centers. Sports like pokatok- a game played with a heavy rubber ball that could weigh as much as 20lbs – were frequently played and represented on earth a cosmic battle that ended in death of all participants. Along with this game, symbolism accompanied so much of Mayan life and energized their culture. Close to the end of our tour, we climbed the largest temple at the site that remains, even to this day, the second tallest building in Belize, although it was built nearly 1200 years ago.
The Mayans awareness of creation continues today. John Chuc, our guide, described numerous plants and animals, their properties, and how they can be used to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions – some that exceed even our western medicinal practices. We tasted leaves from the All Spice plant, opened pods from the plant used to make Elmer’s glue, looked at a cacao tree and were taught how to make true mezo-American chocolate, and learned about the tourist tree (nicknamed for its redness which reflects the sunburnt skin of tourists).
I want to share more with you…We’re going to the village early this morning to begin our educational initiative and set-up the library in Belize so, until then…