One of my favorite things to do as a traveler is to learn how the locals live. I love visiting private homes to see how others live their daily lives. So, one of my first goals as a tour operator in Belize was to organize a cultural tour with home visits in the local village of San Antonio, Belize. This tour provides an excellent opportunity for travelers from more developed countries to learn how locals live in rural Belize. Many places in Belize are considered to be still developing. Many live without electricity or piped in water. Many cook on open flames, outdoors, in any weather condition. It is quite eye opening to see families do so much, with so little. And they are happy!
Mariposa Jungle Lodge is located near a junction between the Villages of San Antonio and El Progresso (also called "7 Miles" because it is 7 miles from the George Price Highway.) San Antonio is a predominantly Yucatec Maya community, whereas the residents of 7 Miles are largely refugees or immigrants from other Central American countries who expatriated to Belize for a safer and better life. Farming is the main occupation of both villages. In fact, San Antonio, Cayo (not to be confused with San Antonio, Toledo in the Southeast of Belize) is the largest producer of peanuts in Belize.
The tour begins with a drive through San Antonio Village, where your guide will tell you a day in the life of the average villager. You will see the two local schools and learn how the school system functions. Did you know the government of Belize partners with local churches to run the schools?And all students must wear a uniform? You will see home-front shops and the Village Post Office (shops are often located on the first floor of a home and the family will live upstairs or behind) and learn the basic political structure.
Our guests tell us the highlight of their day are the home visits.First, a home with electricity in the heart of the Village, where we visit an enterprising young mother who supplements the family income by raising and selling chickens and pigs.(?)You learn that neighbors make or alter clothing, includingschool uniforms or uniforms for workers at local resorts.The San Antonio Women's Collective also makes pottery in the traditional Maya way for sale to tourists.So many women are innovative and entrepreneurial, while also fulfilling all parental and homemaker responsibilities.
This family friendly tour continues at a 15-acre property that is home to Maria, the awesome family Matriarch, six of her adult children, inlaws, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Here you will observe, and participate if you want, in a traditional meal being cooked along with homemade tortillas! Yum! The smell alone will have you drooling.Do you prefer flour or corn tortillas.Taste and compare. You will be truly amazed and the flavor coming out of such modest kitchens. You might forget that the property is off-the-grid.That's right.No electricity.Top off your visit with a Belizean/Mayan buffet lunch.
Multigenerational homesteads are most common in Belize. We often hear in the developed world that "it takes a village" to raise a family. In Belize the people live this motto. It is rare to find single family homes. Families live together for generations, help each other raise children, work the land together, and support each other in all aspects of life. It is a refreshing reminder that material things are not what makes people happy but rather helping each other and being together that makes life worth living.
The opening of private homes to tours is an example of how some villagers have adapted to a more modern tourist industry in Belize. By allowing us into their homes and sharing their daily life, they can earn a bit of extra money and in return provide guests with a truly unique experience not found many places in the world. Feel free to ask questions or simply soak up the quaint ways of village life. You will certainly end the day with a smile and a renewed faith in the world.
This is a fun, informative tour that includes a sample budget for a typical rural family. All questions are welcome.