San Ignacio, Belize
Wednesday mornings usually starts with Randy picking me up for Metaphysics class and a trip to the Ashram. This week Randy did not have class so my morning consisted of waiting on Mary to get back to her house so we could go over and bake some cookies and brownies. I got picked up by Mary and Suzie and we were headed towards Cristo Rey. I helped Suzie unload a cabinet out of the back of her car and then she drove us the rest of the way down the driveway to Mary’s. Suzie lives in a house next to Dana’s which is just up the driveway from Mary’s.
The afternoon was filled with baking, we made flax cacao brownies and peanut butter cookies. I am learning a lot in cooking with Mary, especially when it comes to choosing alternatives to things like butter, eggs, white sugar, and more. Coconut Oil seems to do pretty well instead of butter, flax can effectively replace the egg, and white sugar is usually replaced with honey or unrefined brown sugar. The brownies came out a bit dry when they cooled but fresh out the oven they were incredible.
As the day went on we were waiting to hear the generators shut off next door, that is my 5 o’ clock ride back towards town…the only guarantee that I can get back to the lodge before dark. I managed to get all of the brownies out of the muffin tins by the time they were rolling away and hop in the back of the truck. The adventure began then…just down the driveway the truck started overheating, they stopped and poured some water in the engine but that didn’t do too much. We made it onto the road, dropped one guy off and around the corner in front of the ashram, it stalled again.
We finally made it to the lodge and I hopped out, they continued on the last few minutes of their daily commute. They are usually all so exhausted by this point in the day, but they maintain a happy cheerful attitude. The next step for me was dinner. I had a kale and callaloo salad with fruit and orange juice. I achieved a day of moderate portions of clean food for the first time in a week or so, then after I cleaned up my plate after dinner and came down Ms. Gladis told me that there were extra potatoes and squash. I made a plate of this for my 4th meal, it was delicious but there was a rubber spoon for the squash that surely leached BPA and such into the food.
I can’t seem to shut off that part of my mind, I always see the little hidden toxins like air fresheners in cars, hot plastics in the kitchen, or cleaning chemicals. I know it is a good thing in the sense of staying healthy, but sometimes people think I am weird for avoiding all of these things. As long as they notice the difference in my routine vs. others, they are noticing that there’s something that can be changed. If I can lead by example, even if the people don’t learn about the plastics and toxins, they will know that something is not good about them and eventually they can look into education to make the switch to avoiding them.
I had been torn between prepping for massive food intake by eating a lot and stretching out my stomach, or fasting and making it a reward for waiting. I haven’t been able to have a nice fast here because there is always good food around, and if it is the one time I have it and miss it, it isn’t like I can get it in a few weeks. I got to bed at a decent hour, nobody was excited for Thanksgiving here like they usually are at home. The night before is always filled with hanging out with family and getting ready to eat too much.
The morning came and I only had one thing to do all day, get to Mary’s house and help cook. I went on an adventure hike in the jungle to start my morning, these seem to be the best way to start the day anywhere, even if it is not in the jungle a walk in the early morning gives the day a nice boost. It was raining this morning but I wasn’t going to let any of that stop me, I came back to pick some herbs from the garden, showered, and went down to the road to make sure I didn’t miss any possible ride towards the village. I went down at 9 o’ clock knowing that one of the buses left then but I couldn’t remember if it was from San Ignacio towards San Antonio or vice versa. At 9:18 my memory proved itself correct, but the bus was going into town and I did not need to go that way. Another half hour passed and the bus came back the other way towards Cristo Rey and San Antonio, off I was.
I made it to the end of Watertower Road (Mary unofficially officially named it that), walked up and down and up and down, and finally made it to The Mary and Sparkle Residence. The porch was filled with tables and chairs, the kitchen was full of vegan masterpieces, and more food was ready to be made. I helped out with onion gravy, sesame green beans, plantain tostones, salad, and more. I had never been to a Thanksgiving without a turkey, but I had eaten plenty of meals from Mary and Sparkle, I knew we would eat very well.
The meal was great, of course I ate too much…that’s just what I do. I enjoyed the company of very many like-minded but very different people, we sat around the table and chatted for a while until it started to get dark so Yosiah and Linda took me back to the lodge. Although I had well surpassed my daily food intake, I had the urge to have some more food when I got back. Sometimes I am not even hungry, food just looks good so I eat it.
The Friday after Thanksgiving was a very adventurous day, we went to Macaw Bank Jungle Lodge to check out the property, they are for sale and Mary knows the owner so we took a tour to see what it had to offer. There are 6 cabanas, an owner’s house, dining room and bar, kitchen, and more…Grassfed Jungle Lodge coming soon? Maybe but probably not. I met Ron, the guy who opened the place up and built each cabin one by one, he was sad to have gotten to this point in the journey that selling is the main option but it is time to move on. As we walked around the 50-acre property we saw the river, ancient ceiba trees, and got to dodge puddle after puddle, these few days it rained constantly.
Saturday morning brought another day at the market, the only problem was that the rain had not stopped. I usually go out and set up a booth and talk to people about Pro-Organic and Belize Wellness Institute, but I did not want to risk losing all of the papers and books we display to rain damage. I hungout with my friend Chris for a little while, adventured throughout the market, and had a nice breakfast of coconut water, bananas, and Pepitas. The Cayo Healthy Living booth was not set up so I missed out on the Kombucha.
Following the market, I went to Mary’s house for the afternoon, worked on our book, and got our meals ready for Kirtan. Evan picked us up around six and we were headed to what turns out to be my final Kirtan of the trip. I really want to get something started in my area that includes healthy foods, good music, and positivity, I think that everyone needs some sort of like-minded people to be around a few times a week.
Sunday was a very slow day, I woke up and packed a bag for my day of hiking. I went up and around the back of the lodge to One World Village, took the road down to the river and back up the side of the mountain and enjoyed a nice view over the valley while the sun beamed down. One of the biggest things I will miss about Belize is the accessibility to nature, practically everywhere I go I can find trails, a pool, waterfall, or something outside that does not cost anything. I made it an early night to prep for the second to last week, the time is winding down.
Kim is a herbalist who lives in Barton Creek and runs Ceiba Jungle Camp, Mary and I made plans to spend our Monday with her and her friend Sophie. We enjoyed a nice lunch, walk around the farm, and I was able to stock up on some herbal medicine for a few weeks. I got a blood tonic to help me with circulation and jackass bitters to help cleanse me of any parasites or bacteria. The herbs are extracted in very high proof rum; they taste horrible but are very effective. It has been a week that I have been taking them and I already feel better than before.
Kim’s friend Ben was headed back to San Ignacio around the same time as us so he scooped us up and dropped us off where we needed to go. I went to the lodge and Mary got her laundry from town and headed home, Ben is a photographer who is interested in Food photos so we talked about working together on the book Mary and I will be publishing next year. Another awesome day in the books and another new friend, the joy of Belize.
Just like every other week, Tuesday brought the co-op and a variety of clean farm fresh food. We got the bags split up, things loaded, made it to the carwash, unloaded, and started passing out shares. As I have mentioned before, anyone who wants to know where their food is coming from, a co-op is not hard to start. First, you need a buyers group, a decent number of people to agree to buy weekly shares. Once you have a group of solid members, contact a farmer and explain that you can take a certain amount of produce weekly, without the cost of him taking it to the market to sell it is very likely that you will get a much cheaper price than normal (closer to wholesale).
Along came hump day and another metaphysics class with Randy, I love the different conversations that we have here. The openness of conversation ranges from positive affirmations to where we go when this journey is over. I sometimes wonder how to describe it to most people, almost like a church group minus all titles and much more open-minded. We talk about how most all religions fall into the same ideal principles and how without claiming a title or following a group of people, we can avoid the segregation and all live in peace and harmony. We are creating our own future with our thoughts every day.
Mary and I made a new friend, Ingrid is from Succotz village and came to the Ashram for class. After we left we were planning on going into town, catching a cab to the road to the Botanical Gardens, then hitchhiking up the road. She did not have anything going on so she decided to come along for the adventure. It is so nice knowing people from around here because they know the little tricks like if you find the right taxi, it is only $2 BZ a person while other taxis will charge up to $15. We loaded up with snacks, she waved down the cheap taxi, and we were headed towards DuPlooy’s Belize Botanical Gardens.
We made it to the entrance road and started walking as we waited for a truck to flag down and hop in the back. Mary and I are used to walking this much but Ingrid wasn’t so sure, about a mile in we hopped in the back of a truck and went as far as Chaa Creek, just a couple of miles down the hill from DuPlooy’s. A bit further up the road we got picked up by one of the work trucks going back up, we pulled onto the property and I was instantly amazed at the entire place. As far as you could see there were different kinds of fruit trees, birds, orchids, plants of all kinds, and a plethora of other botanical things. I would definitely recommend a visit here to anyone visiting Cayo.
The evening ended with meeting a new friend, Dennis. Dennis is the husband of Dottie, one of the ladies that I have become friends with through Pro-Organic and they have invited me out to stay the night at their place on Wednesday before I leave. Dennis and I talked about everything from solar power and aerospace to homesteading and fruit trees. I am excited to see their place this week, and even more excited to meet such an interesting person. He dropped me off at the lodge and the day soon came to a peaceful end.
Thursday was started off in my favorite way, Yoga at Full Lotus Yoga Studio with Sera. I have not been able to get to near as many classes as I would have hoped to while I was here, but I have had a nice introduction and can’t wait to get home and start learning more from the online databases that Sera is providing me. After a nice session, I walked down to the market to meet up with Yosiah and Linda to go out to Santiago Juan’s farm. I stocked up on a nice lunch of apple bananas, coconut water, bags of watermelon and pineapple, and Pepitas. Lunch by the river, a tour of Santiago’s farm, some mushroom picking, and I called it a day. There are so many medicinal mushrooms that most people just overlook, the education on mycology can help many people start to harvest and utilize the powerful fungi.
I promised Santiago that I would come back the following day to pick Moringa, so sure enough, I caught the first Benque bus that I could and went to enjoy a beautiful morning at Nubintunich. I showed up and Santiago was out for a tour so I started hunting for some mushrooms, I ended up finding more than I could have imagined. The pick of the day was Psilocybe Cubensis, I got a decent amount and was able to explore into the cow pastures to see a whole new part of the farm. This is easily the most incredible property that I have seen since I have been in Belize, 400 acres of hills, rivers, forests, and pastures.
I left the farm and went straight to Mary’s house, 2 bus rides later I walked down her long driveway and enjoyed an afternoon of Moringa chopping. They have about 7 trees that needed to be trimmed so I took the opportunity to harvest the limbs, strip the leaves, and begin to dry them out so we can make powder out of it. The usual set up is that I leave at 5 when the workers next door head back into town, so when the truck was pulling out around 3:30 I ran out to the road and the guy said, “ don’t worry I will be back at 5 and we are heading out.” Well 5 came and went, they were still hammering away…I waited until 10 o’ clock and the generator finally shut off. I walked out to the road and they never came down, come to find out they spend the night at the worksite, so I spent the night at Mary’s.
I read until about 11, then decided to head to bed. Just as I was getting into bed, I shined my flashlight around and noticed a big spider standing in the doorway, and if you know me you know that I don’t do spiders. I won’t even be comfortable with a microscopic spider, I am sure as hell not going to sleep with a 4-inch daddy spider in the same room as me. I didn’t want to kill it so I was going to sweep it outside with a broom, that didn’t exactly work because as I went to get the broom he ran under the wardrobe and was lost. All I could hear was him walking across a piece of cardboard as I attempted to fall asleep.
The morning came and I had to get down the driveway to the road so I could catch a ride to the lodge, it was Saturday morning and I had to set up the booth at the market again. This was my last trip to the market so I could not miss out, The San Antonio bus picked me up around 6:30 and I made It to the lodge by 6:45. I rushed into take a shower, get dressed, pack my bag, and get out the door…just as I was getting ready to leave I shut the dresser drawer and my laptop went crashing down to the floor. Luckily it was closed so the screen didn’t crack, but as I opened it up the entire screen came falling down onto the keyboard. I did not have time to try to fix it or even get upset about it so I decided to worry about it when I got back. Off to the market I was.
Bart had to be in Belmopan so he dropped me off with the table and chairs, then headed to take care of his business. I got set up, enjoyed a nice breakfast of fruit and a veggie omelet. The morning was very nice, I talked to my friend George for a few hours while we shared bananas and I had a few glasses of Kombucha. George is a huge inspiration for anyone who wants to see justice and change in the world. He has lived his whole life as an advocate for justice and making things the way they should be, no more environmental destruction for corporate interests, no more corrupt governments…I wish more people would join his fight and stand up for what they believe in.
After the market I got ready for another afternoon at Mary’s house, a nice light lunch, fixed my computer by popping the screen back in place, and I went out to the road to wait for the bus. Rey was just leaving so I hopped on the back of his motorcycle and he took me to the end of her road. I have always said I would never drive a motorcycle around but after riding on his a few times I may have been a bit convinced, the open air is an incredible feeling but I can’t help but worry about hitting a soft patch of gravel and going flying.
I made it to Mary’s and we had an incredible afternoon. I helped her do a little work sanding some shutters, then we went on a hike on their trails, had a nice dinner, and called it a day. I can’t wait to get home and share some of the new recipes I have gotten from Mary, there are so many ways to make healthy dishes super delicious that I think I can make even my unhealthy family members enjoy a nutritious meal. Later in the evening Damion picked me up and dropped me back off at the lodge. I walked in and instantly hit the bed.
Sunday was a very relaxing day, almost boring to be honest. The morning started off very exciting when I met Bill and Bill Jr. They are a father and son from Wisconsin that are in Belize for a week doing some birding, as they asked about the trails I told them that I would show them where I have seen the most birds back by the river. Tour Guide Klayton at your service. We went down to the river and became good friends in the process. I love when you just meet people but feel like you’ve known them for years.
After the hike and a nice lunch, the day got pretty boring. I worked a bit on the computer, walked on the trails, and ended the day with veggie tacos with rice and pineapple. As I sat down for dinner, my new friend Jumana invited me to sit with her. I gladly accepted and we got to know each other a bit, she is a midwife from India but has been living in Houston for the past few years. I love learning about where people come from and hope to go, everyone has a different journey and there is something about Belize that brings the right people here.
I took a bit of time off of blogging, I began to feel obligated to spend an hour or so a night getting it written, pictures attached, and posted. My biggest thing about writing is that if it is forced, I don’t enjoy it so I felt that a little time off would be nice. I apologize for not giving a notice of my absence, hopefully nobody thought I was dead. I am still alive and better than ever.
I only have a few more days at Maya Mountain before I head back home on Friday, I have a packed week of learning and seeing new places that I can’t wait to see. It is still surreal that I have been here doing what I have been, life is good.