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.
The tour guides of the CTGA thrive to be the best tour guides that they can be so training is very important to us all. On this day for example guides that wanted to fine tune their birdwatching skills could have done so with the help of other guides. They had a field trip to crooked Tree where the birds are plenty full here are some of those pictures I received from Daren Lamb.
Yesterday was a really nice day. The kids were at Black Rock Lodge and did a few activities there, learning about the water and solar systems. Later they all drove down in a bus and had lunch at Benny’s Kitchen in San Jose Succotz. After lunch they all headed up to the Stone Lady, Xunantunich.
The name Xunantunich was given to the site by the locals of San Jose Succotz, and the origin of the story is a ghostly one. How many of you believe in ghosts? So, back in the 1920’s, a man went up the hill to find something to hunt; he was carrying a riffle. He arrived at the main plaza in front of El Castillo, the tallest building there. Of course, back in those days, there was no clearing so the jungle covered the plaza and the temple building around it. This man said he saw an apparition of a mayan woman and she was dressed in white and had a long gown. He described that this woman walked into a cave in the base of the mountain. Now, remember this was a man with a gun, and he was so scared that he dropped it and ran down the hill. He eventually made it to the river where he crossed on his canoe and went to visit the local Shaman. The Shaman said that it was an evil spirit and that he should not return by himself, and so the Shaman and several other men joined him to retrieve his riffle. When they arrived, they quickly looked around, found his gun and walked to the area where he had seen the woman, but there was no woman and no cave. That’s when everyone said “Xunantunich”, which means “Stone Lady”. During the tourism development project of 2001 to 2004 Jamie Awe, PHD found a stone that gives the site it’s original name, the name ” Kat’Witz ” which means Sacred Mountain.
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.
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.
The Belize Archeology and Anthropology Symposium gets under way at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel for the next four days. The special topic for Archeology is ‘Ancient Maya Domestic Economy, subsistence commerce and industry. If you can remember, last year’s topic was ‘The Common Household’, therefore this year’s topic follows as a parte dos or part two to last year. It is organized by NICH (National Institute of Culture and History) and by ISCR (Institute for Social and Cultural Research). As of last year, anthropology presentations have been evenly embedded throughout the four days.
The brainstorming for a summer camp started about two years ago among the board members of the CTGA. In the planning were Joe Awe, Heri Peña, Shahira Muschamp and few others I can recall going to a few meetings. Unfortunately, the plans never became reality as the Administration changed but the idea seemed to have been stored in Mr. Awe’s to do list. Embedded in Mr. Awe’s speech after being elected as president at the Annual GeneraI Meeting 2013 was the summer camp and immediately I knew we were in for a ride.
A few years ago Mr. Buckley approached me, he had heard we were planning to create a webpage for the CTGA at that time we were still brainstorming the idea. He handed me a few sheets of paper entitled History of the C.T.G.A and told me that he and Don Sam had wrote it and asked If I can use it on the page. I read it though and it was nicely put together so I stored it on my shelf until I could use it recently I found it and decided that it was time. Although it was written on 2005 there was few areas where I could have updated it. So here it is in is full version and can also be found on our about page.
Last night was certainly a very exciting night for the members of the CTGA. We had the chance to elect a new executive board. This year the board decided to change a few things about the CTGA Annual General Meeting. The changes were because having the elections and the formal dinner on the same night does not exactly workout and the night feels rushed. So last night we had the admin elections and next week is the formal dinner. The elections were held at the CET Center for Employment Training. Mr. Anastacio Bol, our treasurer, gave his annual financial report. He mentioned that there was an increase of applicants despite of another association that formed in San Jose Succutz this past year, but that there was a decrease on education expense, which ultimately means we made our money but we didn’t invest that money in educating the youth and he expressed that is one expense that should increase.