Maya home visit - try your hand at tortillas!
While visiting Big Falls in Belize's Southern Toledo District, we visited a contemporary (English-speaking) Maya family. The family is currently working with a local lodge to create a sustainable tourism business model and welcome travelers into their home to educate people on traditional customs and also promote authentic interactions between cultures. It's not often that you encounter Maya communities in Central America that speak English, so taking advantage of this in Southern Belize is awesome. Some of the family members are in the tourism industry (employed at the nearby Lodge at Big Falls), so they are familiar with outside visitors and eager to facilitate an open exchange. During a home visit, which can last for several hours, we made tortillas, roasted peppers and made salsa, drank a traditional cacao drink, learned how to weave baskets and fabric (or attempted to!) and had lots of time to ask questions and share laughs - the Maya in Belize are quite witty and have a great sense of humor. Right now the best way to experience this is to visit the Lodge at Big Falls and ask to include a home visit in your stay.
Maya Villages of Southern Belize
Children gather as the gringo guests arrive. "Upcountry" is a loose term used to describe the Toledo District settlements to the west of Punta Gorda. Most villagers are Q’eqchi’ or Mopan Maya, whose descendants fled to Belize to escape oppression and forced labor in their native Guatemala. One way to visit this area is through one of various Village Guesthouses and Homestays, including the Toledo Ecotourism Association.
By Joshua Berman, AFAR Local Expert