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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

My journey into the jungle up the river to meet local Mayan Indians

Punta Gorda is a town in Belize. It is capital of the Toledo District. Punta Gorda is the southernmost sizable town in the nation, with a population of about 6,000 people. Although the town bears a Spanish name, its inhabitants are mostly Kriol/English -speaking, primarily of Garifuna, East Indian, and Kriol descent.

Punta Gorda is a seaport and fishing town on the Caribbean Sea before being settled by a number of Garifuna emigrants from Honduras in 1823 which is on its Southern Boarder. The town is about fifteen feet above sea level.

I travelled down to this region as part of a team who were going deep into the jungle to negotiate with the local Indians about doing a project for their community. We went with the local police, in their boat entering the river having crossed the open sea, the long journey provided an opportunity to see some of the wildlife and birds from that area.

When we arrived at the village and were immediately greeted and taken to the long lodge near the centre of the village, the people could not take their eyes off me, as their tallest person only came up to just below my chest I even towered over the roof of the lodge. What I found interesting was that while the expedition leader (who was a woman) and the deputy leader (a man), talked with the chief and their shaman who was the one who did most of the talking, they mainly with the man and there women folk remained in the background, we found out later that they are not used to negotiating with women.

Later the kids showed us how they catch Iguanas, they would approach them while they were relaxing in a tree overhanging the river. The Iguanas would then drop into the river to escape and one or more of the boys depending on how many Iguanas jumped into the water would dive after them. What they said was that when they dive they twisted backwards and go in the opposite direction you think they are going thus avoiding capture however, the boys would do the same and of course end up catching them.

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