En route to our destination south, and the need to take care of some required paperwork in the capital city, we stayed a few days in the town of San Ignacio. We have driven through San Ignacio several times in the past and had a desire to take some time to get familiarized with the area. So we decided to take a Sunday drive – not the typical Sunday drive that may come to your mind – a slow, methodical meandering through the countryside on a sunny Sunday. As we were ‘meandering’, we saw signs to a waterfall … we only had time on our hands, so we set off to find the falls. As is typical here, we found ourselves on a dirt road, rough and bumpy (very bumpy) in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. Occasionally passing a home or some cattle, it was basically a trek in the jungle, something that we seem to gravitate toward (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not so much!)
After what seemed like hours, but realistically probably less than 10 miles, there were no signs indicating that we were nearing the falls. As adventurous as we seem to be these days, we continued on enjoying the lush green of the rain forest. Just as I was thinking that we took the crazy side of a Sunday drive, we heard an extremely loud clonk from under the truck as we were maneuvering down a slope with ruts several feet deep. Great, just what we need ….. a broken-down truck in the midst of the jungle seemingly no one around but the snakes and jaguars that were probably watching this whole incident occur. Yes, we are officially crazy! Once we got out of the huge ruts, we stopped to access the damage – as best Eric could tell, it looked like the suspension had given way.
Thank God we were still able to drive, even though we had to go slower than the normal 10 mph – so for the next 2 hours we crept along at about 5 mph to return to our room. Fortunately, the management at our hotel knew of a reliable mechanic who was summoned and arrived within 10 minutes – that’s service on a Sunday afternoon! After installing a new bolt, and a few bucks later (well, more than a few!), we were back in business. Whew…that could have been a nightmare. Guess you could say that there are really guardian angels around us!
Since arriving south, we have begun to make amazing connections – connections that are networking children, women, families, farmers and villages together. Working with our partner farmer, Salucio, who has an amazing heart and mind not only for agricultural entrepreneurship but for helping his people. His ability to connect technical schools with local farmers to provide internships for students, training young women to be business minded by providing them with vanilla cuttings to establish nurseries, to sharing his knowledge of agriculture infused with Mayan heritage is engaging nearly 10 villages and many farmers and their families. Sowing Seeds in Belize is in the midst of this as well hope to provide materials to build solar dryers, purchase seedlings/root stock for farmers, and purchase seeds to begin backyard garden projects.
We visited a technical institute way off the beaten path in the midst of several connecting villages. The school offers courses in electrical, agriculture, carpentry and food service to high school age students to young adults. The ‘campus’ was a former army base built in the 1960s – an impressive example of using what you’ve got to make it work, which is a tremendous asset of all the villagers we have met. We were impressed with the hands on education the institute provides – they struggle financially and have challenges to keep instructors as well as students because of the difficulty paying for tuition. What this institute is providing is a rare offering – an opportunity for persons of nearly any age to learn a trade that will allow them to find a job or begin their own business. Salucio graduated from this institute, so it is near to his heart – as he connects and encourages young men and women to learn agriculture, he is deepening the connection with the institute by providing opportunities for the students to complete the required community service as well as internships with village farmers that are growing spices and coffee and learning permaculture farming practices. These connections are producing some exciting layers of providing a multi-faceted education for students, encouragement for farmers as students come alongside them to learn and work and ultimately the impact to the whole village as students graduate and become business owners bringing commerce to their villages and providing opportunities to hire workers and train young people in their village to learn a trade.
A perfect example of this is the young men that Eric wrote about in our last blog that will be learning woodworking from Mr Cab. They will begin at Mr. Cab’s shop learning the basics and as they progress, Salucio plans to get them connected to the technical institute to continue their learning. As they master the art of woodworking, Maya Mountain Coffee & Spice Company will be able to purchase bowls, cheese boards, utensils, etc. Upon completion of their training, these boys will have the knowledge and skill to start businesses and train others. This is so exciting to be part of!
Of course, for this to be successful, students will have to seek funds for tuition. We have begun the process of establishing a scholarship fund to help students. We will be seeking students who are motivated, have a dream to learn and help their village – those who have great potential to make a positive change for their communities. The need is so great …. so great that at times it feels very overwhelming being in the midst of it.
MAYBE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE A PARTNER? If you’ve ever wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, especially someone young with dreams, then we would invite you to consider sponsoring a student and really, a whole family. We would love to see sponsorships include a connection with the whole family – writing letters, sending birthday cards, sharing life together…and maybe who knows…a visit to Belize to meet your sponsored family!
If this excites you …. PLEASE LET US KNOW! This is an awesome way to Sow Some Seeds!