“There arrived at that time a canoe long as a galley and eight feet wide, made of a single tree trunk.”
Many times, when we think about Columbus, we think about his first voyage. We think that he simply came and left, but there is more…there were other adventures. Ferdinand, Columbus’ second son, accompanied his father and his older half brother on his last voyage. He would later write his father’s biography entitled “The life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus” where he told the account of the fourth voyage, which was largely regarded as a failure in his book. He wrote of two hurricanes, being shipwrecked and marooned, but also of discovery.
The British army was the biggest purchaser of slaves. These men formed and served in the West India Regiment. In the late 1790s, Britain was defending several of its territories around the world and they were stretched thin. Between the years of 1775 and 1783, there was the American War of Independence, Anglo French War, Anglo Spanish War and the 4th Anglo Dutch War. Britain was having difficulty in the Caribbean as well. Many of the infantry men that were shipped from Britain had not adjusted well to the climate and were dying from heat exhaustion and deceases like yellow fever. The high mortality of troops led that army to form the West India Regiments in Jamaica in 1795, just prior to the Battle of St. George’s Caye. From there, they were deployed to various parts of the Caribbean.
“At night I experienced an attack of the Benchuca, the great black bug of the Pampas. It is most disgusting to feel soft wingless insects, about an inch long, crawling over one’s body. Before sucking they are quite thin, but afterwards they become round and bloated with blood, and in this state are easily crushed. They are also found in the northern parts of Chile and in Peru. One which I caught at Iquique, was very empty. When placed on the table, and though surrounded by people, if a finger was presented, the bold insect would immediately draw its sucker, make a charge, and if allowed, draw blood. No pain was caused by the wound. It was curious to watch its body during the act of sucking, as it changed in less than ten minutes, from being as flat as a wafer to a globular form.”
As Belizeans, we are very superstitious people, and so is the rest of the Caribbean. All areas of Mesoamerica have their own traditional folktales and legends, and within the Maya territory, there are numerous characters and stories. Xtabai is what many would consider to be the most malevolent of them all. The very mention of her name is enough to bring chills to someone’s entire body. The character is not fully understood, which brings even more mystery to its motives and is best described as a demon.
The early explorers, adventurers and archeologist believed that the ancient Maya were quiet people that lived in the forests, in harmony with their surroundings. Slowly, over time, they realized that these ancient people were actually people. They slashed and burned jungles to plant their corn. They hunted and domesticated wild animals like the wild turkey, great curassow and collared picary to be used as meat. They mined large open quarries and burned limestone for lime production so that they could later make mortar and plaster. Another trait they had was that they waged wars with each other.
The Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic (BWRC) is a registered non- profit animal welfare organization that operates country-wide in Belize. BWRC provides free medical care to injured, orphaned, neglected or otherwise imperiled wildlife. Medical care is provided at their veterinary clinic in Central Farm, Cayo District, by their staff of veterinarians and technicians. Wildlife patients are treated at BWRC, where they may undergo medical treatment and possibly rehabilitation prior to being returned to the wild.
Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge, an extreme endurance race that entails running, biking, canoeing, spelunking and certainly not limited to these, now joins Belize’s top races. It is now the longest race in Belize with over 300 miles spanning 4 days, a record previously held by Belikin La Ruta Maya at 180 miles in 4 days and followed by the Holy Saturday Cycling Classic at 130 miles in 1 day. This new adventure tests the human ability and pushes it to its very limits. It is unbelievable what the participants are put to do. This race is to be held every 2 years and covers an area of San Ignacio Town, Mopan River, Xunantunich, Macal River, El Pilar, rural farming areas, the Mountain Pine Ridge and the Chiquibul National Park.
For the past weeks we have seen children from different schools visiting marketplaces, factories, sanctuaries and many tourist destinations, all part of the Education Week here in Belize. This week in particular is Education week, all leading up to Friday, which is Teachers Day, a day teachers are given a break from regular classes and participate in activities planned for them either at national, branch or school level. It applies to all teachers from primary school and secondary schools and normally they use this day to go on a day or weekend trip organized by themselves or their school administration. Teachers work very hard on the days leading up to Teachers day, planning trips, writing end of year exams, but today is Sports Day at least for the children of Sacred Heart Primary School in San Ignacio.
Within two days, the Tourism Eco Camp is set to begin. Tonight we will have our final meeting to iron out all the details. It is a great feeling to know that what was once a dream is now a reality, and hundreds of hours of planning has now materialized into this Eco Camp. Last week we met with the parents and the kids that will be participating in the camp. We all introduced ourselves and gave them the rundown of how this will all work, but I would like to share with you what exactly we are going to be doing on our first day this Sunday July 27th.