A week in the bush.
We were dropped off in Corozal at the bus station. It has a different feeling to Mexico, it’s quite a different place altogether. We found the nearest ATM to get some Belizean dollars and then to try and find the Meditation and Yoga centre, that Line had found as a contact in England. We had arranged to come and help out a bit on the building of the centre. We had been emailed a map of the directions and took a picture on the camera the night before we left Mexico, hoping that it would be enough for a taxi driver to find the house. Nobody had heard of the place, and nobody seemed to be able to follow the map. Eventually a very battered taxi agreed to take us, it ground out on every speed bump and pot hole, of which there were many. After a lot of asking questions of locals and guessing which dirt road it was that we had to go down, we eventually happened on the right road.
It’s set on a 30 acre site, most of it used to be sugar cane fields with some of it left undisturbed, because of the Mayan ruins and wells that are down one side of it. The rest of the area has mostly been untouched. There has been two houses built. One for the worker that’s employed partly as security and partly to help tame the land and another for the Manager of the place. The other land that has been tamed already has been turned into orchards, veg beds and Milpas, (the Mayan way of managing the forest,) basically its slash and burn, plant maize in it for 2 years and then plant in it fruit trees and useful wood for timber, so managing the forest for it to be more useful for you to live off. The modern and lazy way of Milpas is to slash and burn, plant for 2 years, then either abandon it to mother nature, or keep adding more and more chemicals.
The house for the manager was built by the Mennonites, similar to the Armish people of the US. The house was built 60 miles south and bought north on the back of a truck, reversed into place and jacked up, and then the concrete pillars built underneath. Then, lowered back into place all without the use of a crane.
It’s completely off the grid. It has solar PV panels for power, with battery storage for the night. It has 3000 litres storage tanks for the rain water, it’s then pumped to the roof under pressure for the houses water supply. Near to the workers house a well had been found. It was dug out and repaired with a pump in the bottom, which supplemented the water supply in the dry season, as well as helping out watering the garden.
The alarm system for the house, for the undesirables, that may be lurking around at night, was a homemade system. It consisted of switches, lights, a horn up stairs and PIR’s on the balcony and under the house where the truck was parked. The horn was as loud as an air horn. It was triggered 3 times when we were there. All at 3am. It made me jump 2ft in the air out of a deep sleep and your heart felt as if 3000volts had just been pumped through it. It wasn’t the nicest feeling to be going to sleep on. But thank fully it was only wild animals setting it off.
It was good to see the renewables in action for real, not just pictures, and in Museums, something to learn from in the future.
We spent the rest of the time fixing chainsaws, dodgy carpentry (making the lid of a box actually fit and not wobble all over the place), making the concrete surround for the pump housing square. Set squares are here, but not necessarily used much.
The mosquitos and humidity make working here almost impossible. Life out here working isn’t easy. The guy here, Henry has achieved a lot in not very easy conditions. For the first for months that he was on site he lived in a tent, fighting off stinging scorpions and mosquitos and collecting rain water in a sheet hung between posts. On the last day that we stayed at the Centre we cleared the steps down to the Mayan well, so you could actually see where it was and then re built some of the steps that had started to fall apart and rot. It was so hot and humid that knocking in one post was enough to leave you breathless.
We said our good byes and Henry droves us into Corozal. We spent the rest of the day washing clothes, posting parcels and walking around the town.
It was an early start the next morning. We were at the dock at 6.30am and already there was a queue forming. 2hours later, after a fairly choppy crossing we arrived at San Pedro, Ambergis Caye.