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This small marble we call home

July 22, 2016

What did you do today? How old were the stairs you climbed? Odds are the stairs you climbed did not exist 100 years ago, let alone 1,000. We climbed stairs that kings and queens climbed over 1,000 years ago (wearing 30 lbs of feathers and jewelry!).

Our day today consisted of one never-before-experienced excursion after another. We toured the immaculate botanical gardens here on the grounds at duPlooys at 6:00 a.m. This tour included a guided bird watch by our friend/tour guide extraordinaire, Nathan. He showed us countless features of the local ecology, including the exciting wood stork casually trawling for an early morning bite to eat in the pond.   Liz, our fearless leader, was giddy to see this fellow! Nathan also introduced us to a jackass. This plant got its name because its taste was so bitter, the natives claimed you’d “have to be a jackass to eat it”. Nathan pulled off a leaf and let some of us partake- sure enough, we were kicking ourselves hours later as we still tasted the strikingly bitter aftertaste. Oddly enough, the plant was used as an indicator of diabetes- if you didn’t taste the bitter, your body likely had issues processing sugar. Also, this plant was used to suppress malaria symptoms. This reminds us, once again, of the multitude of natural remedies found in abundance throughout this country. We have noticed that locals reference natural herbs as remedies to health issues, omitting the chemical treatments or pharmaceutical options.

After a blog-picture-worthy-breakfast, we piled into our bus with our stunt driver, “Badass” Bruce. His name is indicative of his driving skills, y’all. He handles the rugged terrain like James Bond. We traveled through San Ignacio and crossed the Mopan River on a ferry that used a hand crank. The Ocracoke Ferry to Hatteras takes an hour and is powered by large diesel engines; but this ferry takes less than 5 minutes and powered by a man who stands at a well-oiled hand crank. Nathan was even able to assist with the ferry crossing.

Visiting the Mayan ruins at Xunantunich, we were all struck by the ancient culture that still felt present. In fact, “Badass” Bruce was able to connect us with Dr. Jaime Awe, a San Ignacio native and professor at Northern Arizona University. He provided us with a generous crash course on the Mayan culture and the latest research on the excavations of the ruin cite. How cool is that!? We will be watching for him on the History Channel.

After a brief stop at a local market, we headed back to duPlooys for another amazing meal before we boarded our canoes for the Macal River. This excursion featured new wildlife including river otters, snakes, (huge!) iguanas, a myriad of birds, and a friendly competition of fig-catching.

As the days continue, our group frequently reflects on the complexity of the culture, history, and ecology. Our experience with the Mayan ruins today were extremely striking as we compare and contrast this ancient way-of-life to our own culture. With a culture lasting for 2,000 years, it is hard to imagine the structure and systematic intricacies that are required to coexist for such a duration. Learning about the importance of embracing diversity and appreciating various perspectives are just the beginning of what we are dipping our toes in to. As our journey continues, we anticipate to dive further in to exploring a different way of life for all creatures on this very small marble we call home.IMG_2050

Trying our hand at playing the traditional Mayan Ball Court game – go Amy!

at temple

Climbing the temple.


With Dr. Awe from Northern Arizona State University

new discovery

Dr. Awe showing us a newly discovered stone – there is an amazing story about this new find.



7 Comments leave one →
  1. Carroll Stevenson permalink
    July 22, 2016 7:21 am

    I’m captivated this entire blog ! It is so interesting to learn bits of information about a culture that has been around for so long. I loved the story about the jackass plant… interesting to hear the story behind how it got its name. Can’t wait for the next group of pictures!

  2. Unah permalink
    July 22, 2016 7:54 am

    You should ask Nathan about give and take tree. We learned that during our honeymoon when we went on one of the hikes.

  3. Jimmy Clark permalink
    July 22, 2016 7:50 pm

    Hello from Cincinnati USA! What an amazing world we inhabit!! So excited to follow your journey!

    Ps – hugs sis!!

  4. Shawn Sampson permalink
    July 23, 2016 9:40 am

    Guess you got to see the competitive side of Amy playing the game! Very interesting about eating some jackass. I have many things to say on that but will refrain at this time. Hope you guys are doing well. Tell Amy I miss her and that I will get Aura to write her on Monday. Also tell her Rosalee has been staring at walls a good bit, Ben is still running away from me, and Fozzie is just being Fozzie.

  5. Katie Graham permalink
    July 23, 2016 12:33 pm

    Wow! What an amazing trip! I love hearing about everything y’all are learning. The pictures are great!

  6. Laura Cochrane permalink
    July 24, 2016 9:31 am

    I’m enjoying following your journey in Belize – loved my trip with the museum three years ago – sounds like you all are having a fantastic trip. Climbing Xunantunich was one of the highlights of my trip – so exhilarating to meet a challenge like that and learn so much about the ruins. I can’t wait to hear about your time in the Jaguar Preserve. Kayla, I’m so glad you are getting to experience this amazing adventure!

    • lizbaird permalink
      July 24, 2016 9:31 pm

      thanks! We have had lots of people stretching out of their comfort zones on this trip!

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