Just outside of Maskall is the eco-tourist lodge where I am to live and teach for the next several weeks. Eco-tourism helps Belize preserve its rain forest and reef ecosystem.
Driving onto the grounds of Pretty See Jungle Ranch I see a wide-open savannah, an unusual landscape for the jungles. Horses graze. A toucan, the national bird, nods its head at me. The main lodge and surrounding huts are built in a traditional style with thatched roofs of coconut palm.
My students are at the front of the main lodge eager to greet me. I meet my students – Olivia, Liz and Lenny. They’re very shy at first!
For the next several weeks we work diligently each day, 홈타이 getting to know one another as we laugh and learn from one another. My students are very serious about their massage training. Learning a skill they can practice at Pretty See Jungle Ranch that will pay them money is a tremendous opportunity for them. There is scant opportunity for earning money available in Maskall village.
There is only one business, as such, in Maskall Village, a centrally located house that’s been designated as the village store. A selection of the village’s locally grown organic produce and its handicrafts are sold from here to the local eco tourist trade.
As with their Maya ancestors villagers learn and practice a handicraft or service they can use for bartering. Trade is the primary means of exchanging goods and services in Maskall Village and little work opportunities exist. My new friends are delighted to learn a valuable skill that allows them to earn money for sending their children to the nearby one room school house, as well as to pay for electricity in their home.
When their massage training is finished each of the students offers me a special handmade gift and a huge smile, along with tears of gratitude for what they’ve learned. They’ve been taught a valuable trade which gives them the freedom to earn a livelihood!