I arrived in Belize on May 28th and have been at the farm where I will be working for the summer for over a week. I caught my domestic flight to Punta Gorda (PG) without a problem and enjoyed watching the green scenery below only broken occasionally by a river winding its way to the Caribbean or by a burning field. The flight stopped three times at single-runway airports that were mostly surrounded by water and bordering a small town before I got off in PG. Because I was not taking the bus to San Pedro Columbia until the next day, I had made a reservation at a guesthouse. Unfortunately my room was given away on accident before I got there, but the man who had taken the room graciously helped me find a different place to stay in town. My room was clean, cheap and had a shower which I desperately needed after getting off the plane into 90 degree weather while still wearing what was appropriate for Wisconsin when left my parent’s house that morning.
Friday I spent the morning and afternoon walking around PG and sitting in various shaded places. I was met by Kira, a past
assistant manager, who was going back to visit the farm and we took the bus together to the village. It was a old US school bus crowded with people many with children and things they had picked up from town. The walk from the village to the farm was made quite difficult with my bags and the heat. The man who usually takes people up the river in his dory was out of town, but luckily I got some help from friend of Kira’s to bring my bags up the trail to the farm. Along the way I saw a flock of mealy parrots and an iguana sunning in a fig tree.
The farm is really beautiful. It is located along a river that starts close by from a large, bubbling natural spring, which I visited last weekend. Both sides of the river are big hills called the Maya mountains that offer great views of the surrounding landscape. After a week I have learned a lot about how agroforestry works and how to prepare meals from daily harvests of the land but I certainly have a lot more to learn. I have picked, roasted, ground, and baked into bread
We have fired this for cooking twice and we have been able to make bread, cocoa cookies, banana bread, and pizza. Cooking times are quite variable, but it is a great group activity.
Maya (ramon) nuts. I learned how to harvest and prepare cacao into balls that can be made into a drink like hot chocolate. Other plants that are new to me are calaloo (it’s actually pigweed, who knew it was edible?), chaya (which needs to be boiled for at least 20 minutes before eating in order to get the cyanide out of it), and marenga (used to treat cancer and malnutrition in Malaysia) to name a few. I am also learning to prepare familiar fruit that we have in surplus in new ways such as coconut and pineapple. I have never in my life eaten so much pineapple. It really can be put in every meal.
Today I had the opportunity to go to a neighboring farm that employs agroforestry techniques. It was an amazing place with fragrant flowering plants along most of the trails coming up from the river. On the way back I took a swim to cool off and wash off my incredibly clothes. I am staying in a thatch building with a traditional made roof which holds up remarkably well under the wet season rains. We have only gotten rain here a few days, but it seems to thunder every day. The first big rain we got was also a nice experience with the cooler wind and new sounds until the ‘flood flies’ came out. These bugs are actually termite queens in search of a place to start a colony that drop their extra wings and land every where. I had a hard time keep them out of the food I was preparing for the big firing of the cobb oven we did. All in all they are not the worst bugs as they do not contribute to the scores of itchy insect bites I have up and down my arms and legs.
I am finally starting to adjust to living at the farm. The other interns have been fun to get to know and very helpful in sharing their knowledge. I am sorry to see them all go within the next week. Other people will be coming and going throughout the summer. So far I find Belize to be a very beautiful and friendly country and look forward to spending the next two months here.
Tot: 0.028s; Tpl: 0.015s; cc: 8; qc: 19; dbt: 0.005s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb