Monday, April 23, 2012

A day in the Toledo

Great day in Belize! We spent the morning with a Kek'chi Maya family in the Big Falls village learning how they make their traditional craft wears including cuxtal (the traditional woven bag used for carrying seeds, lunch, etc.), baskets, sun hats and calabash cups, bowls. The mother made tortillas over the fire, then roasted habanero peppers and made salsa. Lovely! Juan, the dad, carved rosewood bowls and utensils. It was a truly authentic experience...Rob, the owner at the Lodge at Big Falls is working with two of the families of employees at the Lodge to create sustainable tourism programs in their homes. Visitors then get to see how traditional Maya live in the Toledo District and being English (and Maya) speaking communities, the level of interaction is quite high. The moment we walked into the house, we could feel the heart-felt welcome and the hours we stayed flew by. I learned more in a couple hours in their home than I have on other week-long trips in other areas!

We enjoyed lunch at Coleman's Cafe in Big Falls - fried pork, black beans and rice, sweet, caramelized plantains, coleslaws, stewed chicken, beans and pig's tail...lunch was a culinary adventure and great fun.

After lunch, the best thing to do is to launch yourself through the air at high speeds on a zip line, clearly. So, that's what we did. The new zip line at Big Falls is strung across the Rio Grande and through the surrounding forest. The six lengths take you through the treetops and over the river roaring below. The safety standards were top-notch (double wires, Petzel carabiners) and the crew was professional and welcoming. Great experience all around!

We continued on to the Blue Creek Caves for a hike and cave swim. We hiked up to the mouth of the cave over a rocky (and at points, slippery) trail. The Blue Creek cave is a wet cave so you swim in with a headlamp. Swimming into the massive cave opening, vines hanging down, bats flying around - it was great fun. We swam back to the waterfall half way through the cave, viewing the stalagmites sparkling on the ceiling above. From the waterfall we floated back to the entrance and were greeted by the bright daylight.

Upon returning to the lodge, the sun was sinking in the sky, rum punch was waiting for us and lots of great conversation. Just another day in Belize! Stay tuned for more...

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