Monday July 23, 2012
After another fantastic breakfast, our eco-campers were getting ready for what was expected to be a lot of serious hiking involved. The centerpiece for today’s activities focused on the ancient Mayas, with a trip to the biggest Maya temple remaining on the Chaa Creek property, as well as a presentation in the conference center from renowned cultural anthropologist Joe Awe.
We had barely left the main road on the hiking trail when the skies began to pour rain down upon us!! It was not long before many of the campers were telling me that this was the longest they had ever been outside in the rain in their lives. And let’s face it, this is why we come to camp in the first place – to experience new things and bring back stories to tell our friends and families. Well, the kids certainly got that on their hike up to our Mayan site today. In fact, the rain gave Joe a perfect seg-way into discussing one of the reasons why the Maya civilization collapsed –drought, caused by over clearing of the trees. While our modern eco-campers may have been praying for the skies to clear and the sun to come out, at that very spot, over a thousand years ago, there may have been a group of Maya people praying to Chaac (their Rain god) for exactly the kind of weather we experienced.
Joe did a fantastic job describing the Maya people who would have once inhabited the area and created an image of what life might have been like for them. Many of the campers were surprised to find out that some of their fellow eco kids are, in fact, descendants of these unique people. One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind was the end of the Maya calendar, which occurs on December 21, 2012. “Is the world actually going to come to an end?!” Joe was able to reassure everyone that unlike the Western calendar we use today, the ancient Maya calendar is cyclical in nature so it is not actually ending this year, but just completing the circle. Instead of worry about the end of the world, we should, in fact, be getting ready to celebrate the rebirth of the cycle.
By the time we had finished at the main site, it was determined that we would be getting rides back to the resort conference center due to the weather. The eco-campers quickly spilled into the two vehicles (yes only two!) where they were transported to the next area…although one got stuck for awhile on a muddy hill to the campers delight. Luckily most of the children had brought their swim suits with the expectations of swimming later in the afternoon, as the resort offered towels and a dryer to use for all our wet clothes. After changing, we sat down to an indoor presentation from Joe, and it was evident that the kids had learned a lot of new information about the ancient Maya people. Most of the campers got all ten questions correct on the “pop” quiz at the end of the session!
By the time the clothes were dry, it was pretty evident that we were going to postpone the water activities for another day, and the campers were excited to return to camp for some free time. The next couple of hours showed just how different boys and girls can be. Immediately upon their return, most of the girls ran into the showers to bathe and then went back to their cabins to rest and relax. The boys, on the other hand, started playing American football and then soccer on the muddy grass, instantly re-wetting and dirtying their new clothes! One of the goals of the eco-camp is to show our young Belizean citizens that all cultures have something unique and special to offer. By gaining knowledge about the ancient Mayas, and learning alongside their Maya campmates, we can be sure that everyone came out of the day with a better appreciation for one another!
Coming up next, Belizean Wildlife.
Playing games in the morning
Making homemade purses for Mom
Trekking up the hill during a brief break from the rain
Our wet eco-campers posing for a group picture
The Land Cruiser getting stuck in the mud
Learning about the Maya culture
Docio preparing the nightly feast