Checking in from Belize…

June 24, 2006

Art and I have been in Belize for the past few days, scoping out the possibilities for a new project along the Belize Barrier Reef.  After a few days away from reliable internet, I'm checking in for the first time to see how everyone's doing up in Sian Ka'an…

Reading their posts, I'm impressed with the commitment and knowledge that the Expedia participants have shown thus far, and no doubt their contributions will be invaluable to CTSK.  It seems to me that this is exactly what a community-based tourism enterprise needs: a bit of mentorship and collaboration with experts in tourism to really identify how CTSK can remain true to its commitment to community, culture and environment, while facilitating new opportunities and markets that will allow their enterprise to thrive.

I don't have much to add to what's already been posted, but wanted to share a few photos that I took during one of our first days, when the group had the chance to take part in CTSK's "Muyil Forest and Float" tour.  Not only did the tour provide an incredible mix of habitats (clear lagoons, jungle, mangroves, etc.) and underexplored ancient ruins, but Pastor (our very capable guide) shared some unique experiences that he and other members of his community have had throughout the years in Sian Ka'an — or, as Pastor described it, his backyard.

 Pastor showing how local people around Sian Ka'an — including himself when he was young — have had to rely on harvesting chicle (the base for chewing gum) from the trees in the reserve as a form of income.

Observatory Temple in the Muyil section of Sian Ka'an.  The ancient Maya — known for their advances in astronomy and other sciences — used to chart the stars by their reflection in pools of water at the top of the temple.

Entrance to one of the canals between freshwater lagoons in Sian Ka'an.  We traveled through two of these canals – one made by the ancient Maya to facilitate commerce and fishing, and the other made by natural processes.  We got out of our boat here, strapped on life vests, and floated through the mangroves for a half hour, enjoying glimpses of birds, fish, and coasting in the crystal clear water.

 View of the lagoons of Sian Ka'an from the observation tower of the new Sian Ka'an visitor center.

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