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a jungle project in Belize

April 11, 2020

We were spending the day at the beach in the lovely town of Punta Gorda, a fishing town on the Caribbean coast of southern Belize. A car stopped, and a couple of university students and Chris Nesbitt, who runs the Maya Mountain Research Farm, jumped out and greeted us. We found out that Chris has been following our Facebook page and was excited to meet us. Not very many Travco Motorhomes are coming to Belize. Chris also owned a Travco in the 1970s. So, of course, we gave a tour of our home on wheels. Chris invited us to join him tomorrow at his research farm for the day and see what it is all about. We accepted!
When we returned to our campsite that night, the Sun Creek Lodge staff was excited to hear that we met Chris and told us that he is known worldwide and teaches about permaculture and so much more. He even was invited by the Queen. Here we have so many followers and are lucky to meet some of you.

” Usually unplanned events, unplanned trips, unexpected friends are actually the best.”

Priyanka Dasari

The next day we started on our adventure with directions from the Sun Creek Lodge staff. We headed to San Pedro Columbia, Belize, a small village populated mainly by Kekchi and some Mopan Maya People. We were looking to find George, who would take us down the Columbia River on his boat. As we arrived at the village and asked for George, the answer returned “Which George? The old one who is a dentist or the young one?”. We answered, “The one with the boat.” Somehow, we found Georges’s family home and were invited by his mother for the traditional cocoa drink while waiting for George. It was a lovely visit.

George House

And his pig ( I love pigs)

After a while, the grandma guided us down to the river, where George was waiting for us. His boat is driven by a long pole that serves as a paddle. With a big smile, he told us that the boat ride down the river would take about 45 minutes, and there was no road access to the farm. So Cliff, our two dogs and I jumped into the boat and started our journey down the river.

This is George, his boat and a large pole  (no motor)

On the way, we met many local Maya people who live by the river and wash clothes for their families and also bathe. It was such a peaceful view.

The only transportation is on the river

Wash day is a social event

Finally, after 45 minutes, we arrived at the Maya Mountain research farm entrance.

Peaceful river view

The jungle view at its finest

This is the Maya Mountain Research farms boat. Look it is carved out of one piece of wood.

George called with a whoop out into the jungle and out popped a student who showed us the path to the farm.

Maya Mountain Research Farm

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.” – Nikos Kazantzakis

 

After a short hike through the jungle, we arrived at the main building, greeted by Chris and his students. They all were waiting for our arrival with a fantastic lunch mostly grown at the farm. While polishing off our plates, we had a chance to get to know some of the students. Many came from all over the globe to participate in this internship. Of course, we also talked with Chris about Dodge Travco Motorhomes, and he laughed and said: “I wished you would be able to load your bus on a boat and bring it here!”
After lunch, we all cleaned up and then it was time to go for a tour.

The common room

The kitchen and a pizza oven in the back

Amazing lunch

A classroom in the jungle

“Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system.”

Bill Mollison

 

After lunch, we started our tour throughout the farm. The research farm mainly concentrates on Permaculture. Twenty-five acres of the site has turned into a forest of fruit, leguminous, medicinal and timber trees, which nurture herbaceous perennials and marketable crops such as coffee and cacao in their shade. In contrast, others remain within the cycle of the forest to enhance productivity through continual nutrient provision.
We learned that the farm is primarily self-sufficient. The buildings are resilient to local conditions, including hurricanes, with minimal disruptive impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
All power comes from renewable energy, primarily solar. Water is pumped from a spring using photovoltaic panels. The farm community has helped install similar pumps in several nearby villages to help reduce their dependence on the grid.
(reference: Common Earth.com)

Our two-hour visit turned into all day. We learned a treasure of knowledge, had fantastic food and made new amazing friends. Thank you, Chris and family, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we hope to see you soon.

Chris is giving a lesson

 

Going on a tour

Cocoa plant

A classroom in the  jungle