I woke in the middle of the night, actually around 3am, to the sound of drums beating and ceremonial chanting. Our Lodge hosts had not told us there was a festival that night, but here it was, and our lodge was in the middle of it! It was incredibly exhilarating, and a little scary, all at the same time, yet I had no reason to fear, this was the 21st Century!
The costumes were amazing. Men with jaguar skins and masks, their sweat glistening in the firelight as they twirled and danced, to the rhythmic drumming. Necklets of amber and jade, beautiful feather headdresses, animal masks all swirling, gyrating and generating a heady mixture of sensuality, fear and historic significance.
As I watched mesmerized through the timber shutters , typical of Belizean tropical architecture, one of the men in the jaguar masks came up to the window and looked right into my eyes. He shouted something over the drumming, but I didn’t understand, and then whirled high into the air in a circular leap away and back to the fire. The mask was exquisite, his eyes burned a passion and a fire of times past.
My heart pounded, my head told me to close the shutters, my spirit was captured. I could not tear myself away.
The ceremony, rich in Mayan heritage and culture, continued into the early morning. It was impossible to leave such a spellbound spectacle, I was captured mentally, and I felt gratitude to be privileged to share this rich and memorable experience.
As dawn approached, the fires died down, and the dancers and drummers began to fade into the beautiful light of another glorious Belizean morning.
I returned to bed, and slept soundly until breakfast called me with its usual, rich aroma of Belizean coffee and fresh tropical fruits. As I left my Lodge, I found that the dancers had left me a small gift some flowers (these were not on any bush nearby) and an arrow in small stones pointing to our lodge.
I began to tell my host how much I had enjoyed the festivities, he looked at me strangely. He said there was no festival last night. Then he called his wife to share the story. I felt foolish, as it must have been a dream. You know the sort that is so real, that you cannot accept it did not actually happen.
My hosts sat down with a coffee and told me a story. The lodge was built near a site of Mayan significance, and whilst the documented site was preserved, they had bought the land adjacent.
About one year earlier, some archaeological students had discovered the remains of a previously, unknown ball court on the other side of the lodge. It was under study, but was likely that the city had been much larger than first believed, and that would mean that the lodge was in fact inside the original Mayan city.
My hosts also explained that earlier that same year, two other guests had heard drumming in the night. They told me that whilst building, some strange events had occurred which had caused the workers to leave the site for a period. They said they believed my experience was like a time warp, and that I had glimpsed a small segment of Mayan spiritual history.
I will never know if it was one of those dreams you cannot forget, or if it was something more. Neither will you, my reader, but we can both go to Belize again to see, to hear, to feel the unique combination of Mayan culture and history; the jungle with its jaguars, birds and other animals; and of course the wonderful pure white coral sand of the Belize reef.
Belize will be forever memorable as you sip a chilled chardonnay watching a sunset of pastel hues, or listening to the evening calls of the hundreds of species of birds that inhabit the dense jungle regions. You will remember the adventure, the historic significance of an impressive and highly cultured civilization and the relaxed ambience that we call the ‘Spirit of Belize’
Flickering candlelight, wonderful food, and incredibly friendly people. Be warned, Belize will capture your heart!