“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.
Earlier I showed you pictures of a birding expedition that the tour guides did in Crooked Tree. This time around, the guides visited the site of Actun Che Chem Ha Cave. This adventure is part of our guide betterment project which means tour guides are, and should be, constantly upgrading their skills in different fields. We also want more guides to access the cave so the guides needed to be trained by other guides. So, here are a few pictures of this tour, images provided by Daren Lamb.
Today was a great start for the Tourism Eco Camp. The kids had a very long day. We assembled at Hode’s Place this morning and left just after 8:30 a.m. for Che Chem Ha. My role is to document the trips and activities through photographs, video and blogging, but today I also took a second role as part of the support team. The kids arrived and met with Mr. William Pleitez at El Mirador Restaurant, about 8 miles up the Mollejón Road. He is the person that discovered the cave back in the 80’s when his dogs kept barking at its entrance. He gave an excellent tour, talking about jungle plants, the history of the cave and maya activity within the cave. Che Chem Ha is a dry cave so there is no heavy flow of water, not as we would see in Barton Creek, Actun Tunichil Muknal or Nohoch Cheen caves, although the clay in there is very sticky. I can only compare it to what I imagine walking on chewing gum would be like. I’m surprised that no one left a shoe as an offering. After the cave, the kids hiked down the hill to an area where there is a great view of a valley and the upper Macal River, just below the Vaca Dam. This is where we all had lunch. This was the only time everyone was quiet. After lunch, the group left and hiked another 2 miles down into the valley towards the Macal River. Then they followed the river towards Black Rock Lodge. The tour guides later arrived to set up the tents, and their luggage was waiting for them. They certainly had a long day and they must now be getting some much needed sleep.