Day two was the first opportunity for our group to get out and interact with some Belizean residents. The first stop on our itinerary was with the Ellis family from San Ignacio, Belize whose daughter represents the Duke of Edinburgh Award Program (DOE) for the Caribbean district. They welcomed our group from Auburn Montgomery and a group from the University of Belize to their home and taught us about a variety of traditional medicinal methods which primarily utilized local plants and trees. We were given a tour of the archaeological site of El Pilar, a medium-sized Maya archaeological site which lies northwest of the town of San Ignacio near the Belize-Guatemala border. We were guided by Mr. Narciso, a Maya man who acts as the master forest gardener for the Forest Garden Project which is in association with the El Pilar site. While at El Pilar, he introduced us to a variety plants and natural remedies which have been used since the time of the ancient Maya. The Forest Garden Project offers outreach and assistance to a variety of projects in and around San Ignacio. This includes a garden which was made for school children in San Ignacio, which is filled with every plant we were shown at El Pilar. After we were finished touring El Pilar we dined with our new friends from the University Of Belize (UB). The lunch was graciously prepared by Mr. Narciso’s family and consisted of a tamale with a side of fresh fruit and greens.
After an early evening break, we traveled back to the Ellis family home. Once settled, we were given a demonstration of traditional Garifuna music which features a Primero (tenor drum) and Segunda (bass drum). Our demonstration included our participation in both song and dance. What a great experience. The first few days have been long, but filled with rich cultural information and social interactions.