Monday, May 13, 2013

I have spent the last few days running the jungle with my friend Marci. I met Marci when I first came here, and she and I hit it off right away. She's from a traditional Mayan family. Her mother pretty well refuses to speak any language other than the traditional Mayan tongue. Marci said that she understands Spanish and English perfectly well, but if you try to speak to her in those languages, you will only get curt, "Yes" or "No" answers. Marci's mom is very upset by the turn her culture has taken in the last few decades. The grandchildren all speak creole, even in the home. Marci's mom doesn't like the way the kids dress, the music, and pretty much anything that is not traditionally Mayan. I can't say that I blame her for feeling that way, she wants to preserve her culture. In the news here this week, an atrocity occurred. A contractor bulldozed a Mayan temple and used the rubble as his quarry stone when laying a new road. Yup...I said that. I remember the feeling of knowing that our home in the states was sold to the church only to be paved over for additional parking. The thought of it still brings my Brain Radio right to Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi"....They Paved Paradise, and Put up a Parking Lot... oooohhh...Bop Bop Bop...    Imagine how devastating this would be to a culture who had their heritage destructed in such a way! The Mayan ladies are right. If they don't preserve their culture no one else will. Surely they can count on the outside world tearing them apart just as this mound was sad. Here's a link to the local news report if you're interested.

While we were frolicking in the jungle, I overheard a phone call between Marci and her mom. Of course, Marci spoke to her in the native Mayan tongue. I could not possible understand a word. At the risk of being taken the wrong way I AM going to try to describe the way the language sounds to me. It has a lot of hard sounds. Clicks...and strong T's...It doesn't sound at all like Spanish, English, or French...I wouldn't even compare it to Mandarin in voice...The "NG" sound is much harder than the sound in "thing", it's more forceful and less twangy...There are also many consonant blend sounds that simply don't occur in English... a sort of "DCH" sound...the softer consonants, M,N, F, etc, are just not used in the language. It was really neat to hear such a rapid exchange in such a foreign tongue.

Marci is a mix between the traditional, and the modern ( much like myself). We are the same age, our children are the same age, and we both love the places on earth where the water runs through the dense forest. Marci is as familiar with the jungle swimming holes, as I am familiar to those back in PA. The terrain is similar, except the trees are of different varieties.  Also...where I come from, each winter we get a VERY DEEP FREEZE. This kills off many of the tender small low growth underbrush type of plants. So even the densest forest is somewhat navigable. This is not the case in the jungle. The plants that grow low to the ground are very dense from years of continual growth. Most places, you can see no further than 5 feet off the trail.

There are crayfish in the jungle rivers. I remember as a child we would catch crayfish from the streams at home also. (I must comment that the crayfish population in my hometown has taken a DRAMATIC hit. I was out a couple seasons ago with a small child trying to find some...and they are just not a plentiful as they once were. sigh) So...the crayfish here are as big as my arm to my elbow.  (I remember thinking that one 3 inches long was a whopper!) Also, in the streams and rivers here, there is a type of freshwater crab. They are blue and really cute! lol. Marci said that both the crayfish and crab are delicious. Maybe one day I'll grow up enough to eat adult food...sigh.

Having been raised in a mountain river, I was able to keep up with Marci and we traipsed about 2 miles deep into the jungle. Off the path, just following the stream to it's source. At least I think it was it's was a cave of some type (smaller than the ones the tourists can raft through by far...). And the water appeared to be coming from the mouth of the rock. I had an excellent time! In the stream, where the water rushes, a type of plant grows. Marci said I should just think of it as grass and it's fine to walk through. It was really neat! At home, green rocks are some of the slipperiest. Here, the green in the water is soft, and quite grippy! The bare rocks are much more slippery! We started our walk at the Bocawina Falls in the Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize. Marci had me scale the falls right away. They are about 50 feet high, but not a complete cliff...maybe a 60 degree angle? So we got to the very top, and I had to cross under the rushing water. I am no sissy. As I said, I was raised in this type of terrain, and the girls from our mountain are known for their strength and agility. Nothing scares us. ...I was just...worried. I was worried that my scrawny little 100 lb self would be washed down the falls by the force of the water. I expressed this worry to Marci. She said, "Throw your shoes up ahead of you and use your toes to grip the cracks and holes in the rock." Great. Thanks. That'll do it. So...flip flip go the water shoes, grip grip go the toes, and whoosh wet wild Melly pops out the other side! Wow. You can't imagine how much fun it was! After we were safely on the top of the falls, Marci proceeds to tell me a story about another girl she tried to bring to the top. It didn't end so well for the other girl. She bumped and slid and screamed and fell. Was she OK? Well...she didn't have any broken bones, but she was quite bumped and bruised. THAT'S another way Marci and I are alike. If I had some chick at Moonshine Rocks, I would wait till after she jumped the chasm to tell her of the guy who was stuck in there for 3

We were having a great time. Some tourists arrived at the falls shortly after we did. They saw us scaling them, and thought they would try it also. That evening, those same tourists were having dinner and Sean was their chef. He likes to talk to his guests, and this couple told him a story. The story was about two crazy ladies who scaled the side of a jungle mountain; a waterfall that was, in his opinion, impossible to climb with no rappelling gear. LOL! We ARE tough mountain chicks!

Marci and I took a bunch of funny pictures of ourselves. I asked her if I could post a picture of her on my blog. (I would never post a picture of a lady in her swimsuit unaware! HORROR!) We agreed that I could as long as I posted one of myself also. Lol...I am going to put them here now, so you all can see Marci, but I'm not putting either of us first. Sometimes the first pic in a post ends up ALL over the world. Really. Fast. Neither one of us is comfortable with that. lol
 Approaching Bocawina Falls
 Half-way up....
 Marci! My MBFF! (Mayan
 Alls fair in swimsuit pics...
 I made it to the TOP!

 More pretty jungle photos...
The center is the cave the stream comes out of...I didn't go any closer when Marci said there could be wild things there. I believed her.

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