How to condense thousands of years of a rich cultural heritage into a one or several day experience? Belize’s Lodge at Chaa Creek is creating a unique Maya Cultural Village to give visitors a crash course in this ancient culture while introducing them to contemporary Maya village life, according to the eco resort’s resident Mayanist, Joe Awe.
“The 2012 Winter Solstice on December 21 is so important to Maya everywhere that we want to make sure it’s celebrated with the respect and energy it deserves. And this means that participants learn about the Maya culture generally, as well as the significance of the 2012 Winter Solstice. We want our guests, especially those taking advantage of the all-inclusive Belize Maya Winter Solstice Vacation packages, to get as much out of the experience as possible,” Mr Awe said.
The Chaa Creek Maya Cultural Village is being constructed for Belize’s 2012 Winter Solstice celebrations, and will feature representational dwellings as well as hands-on workshops and demonstrations on various aspects of Maya culture and day-to-day-life, Mr Awe said.
In addition to popular Maya cooking classes, there will be demonstrations in slate, stone and wood carving, pottery making, weaving, roof thatching and other skills thousands of years old and still practiced by today’s Maya, who make up some 12% of Belize’s population.
Mr. Awe said that during cooking classes, guests will learn to make tortillas, Maya tamales and other meals from recipes developed thousands of years before the birth of Christ and still considered essential in Maya households today. The Maya were the first people to use and cultivate cacao to make chocolate, and Mr Awe said many Chaa Creek guests return home with the recipes to make xocoatl, the Maya hot chocolate beverage that introduced the world to chocolate.
The Chaa Creek Maya Organic Farm, which supplies the eco resort and local families with fresh produce, will also host demonstrations in Maya organic farming techniques. “The Maya fed huge populations for thousands of years and many of these agricultural methods, including the concept of the Maya forest garden, or Archaeology under the Canopy, are being seriously studied today by anthropologists and nutritionists. I personally think we have much to learn from these ancient methods,” Mr Awe said.
In addition to arts, crafts, cooking and basic life skills, guests will also learn about Maya medicinal plants and healing practices, Maya glyphs, the basis of one of humankind’s first written languages, astronomy, cosmology and other aspects of the rich ancient Maya culture.
“Especially with all the gross misinformation, fear mongering and sensationalism surrounding the December 21 2012 Winter Solstice, and the nonsensical apocalypse theories running around on the internet and Hollywood films such as 2012, we found it important to give the Maya culture a fair hearing and let people discover for themselves why this date is so important. Having learned so much from this fascinating culture we want to share it with the rest of the world and show people that the true facts about the Maya are much more interesting than the current fiction,” Mr Awe said.
“And of course, this being Chaa Creek, it’s important that everyone, including families and couples looking to share something special, enjoy a fantastic, fun experience at the same time,” He added.