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Maya History in Belize - Field Course Day 7

A signature program at FernLeaf is FernLeaf Travel Experiences. These trips are an EXCELLENT way for students to build independence, develop strong interpersonal skills and discover their unique passions and aptitudes. FernLeaf staff coordinate multiple different optional travel opportunities, domestic and overseas, throughout the year for our students. From March 10 through March 17, 2023 three of our teachers and a small group of students went on a field course study throughout the country of Belize. These blog posts are written by the students and will document their adventures and learning! See DAY 1 , DAY 2 , DAY 3, DAY 4, DAY 5 , and DAY 6 posts here.

’Tis FernLeaf’s last day in Belize as of typing this, and emotions are running high. All agree that today was a wonderful closing day to end our trip off. Today was a pretty laid back day. We went to an ancient Mayan cooking class where we made banana leaf tamales, tortillas, and corn soup. The tortillas were handmade by students on the trip, and came in three colors of masa! Everyone got to eat what they made, and we all agreed that it was delicious. However, many were so stuffed that we didn’t manage to eat it all. We were all sad to leave the culinary experience, but incredibly excited for what would be next.

After eating, the students then proceeded to the Maya ruins of Xunantunich where they then got a private tour by Zhawn, our tour guide for the trip. The group learned about the so-called ‘stone maiden’ after which Xunantunich was named, and visited her tomb. Students also got to climb to the top of El Castillo, the central feature of the Maya ruins. El Castillo stood over 130 feet high and students were astonished when they reached the peak of this ancient structure.

The Maya ruins didn’t stop at El Castillo, however. We explored a ball court where an ancient sport called pok-ta-pok was played. The games would settle disputes between rulers, and it was played with a ball of rubber weighing around 5-8 pounds. The sport is still played in Belize today. We also visited a sauna where the rulers of the times would go to be cleansed of sin before performing religious rituals.

After we got back to the van we had a manual ferry across a river, once we were across we got time at some roadside gift shops where we practiced our bartering skills. Then, goodies in hand, we rode back to Clarissa Falls and got to swim for an hour in the beautiful river right beside our cabins and enjoy the nice sunset. After everything that has happened today we ate dinner, packed, then enjoyed the rest of our night.

Tomorrow we travel home!

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