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Jan’s Cruise Diary: A Mayan Cultural Experience

When we decided to cruise out of Tampa on ms Ryndam, I hoped to lean more about the Mayans, so we signed up for shore excursions that I thought might give as a good picture of that culture. We were not disappointed. In Belize we went on the Mayan Palaces of Cahal Pech tour and in Costa Maya on the Mayan Cultural Experience.

The first took us on a two-hour ride to the western area of Belize, providing chance to see some of the countryside before we arrived at the ruins. Our guide, who was of Mayan ancestry, kept us informed about Belize and Mayan history as we drove. Unlike ruins in Italy, Greece or elsewhere in Europe where Roman ruins are overrun with people, our small group had the site to ourselves. As I stood in one of the ancient plazas, I could almost feel the ancient past. It was amazing.

During our tour in Costa Maya.

The tour in Costa Maya was even more informative. On an hour drive inland, out guide, Ruben, kept us all spellbound as he shared his vast knowledge of Mayan history and culture and talked about the Mayans in today’s society. When we reached a small town, he took us off the main road and drove through streets where residents lived and worked. Ruben explained that the town had extremely limited electricity until after a hurricane in 2007. He also noted how the arrival of electricity – and the exposure to the outside world through television – is changing the community.

The highlight of the tour was a visit to the home of a Mayan family who are carrying on the traditions and lifestyle of their ancestors while adapting to their changing society. Ruben, our tour guide, was knowledgeable and passionate on the subject of Mayan culture. Our host begins to uncover the pit in which a pot of chicken has been cooking for several hours.

Our hostess shows us how she makes tortillas. She piled them with chicken, onion and homemade sauces for our lunch. Fabulous, and a far cry from a fast-food taco!

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