Earlier this year (May 2010) I had the absolute thrill of playing ambassador to Belize for Friends of the Maya and opening up Belizean Maya communities to the possibilities of learning hieroglyphic writing and the ancient calendar.
My first stop was University of Belize in Belmopan where I was hosted by Cesar Ross. Cesar took me around campus introducing me to various directors and heads of departments as we worked together to make final arrangements and get the workbooks printed.
The workshop was a four-hour intensive introduction to Maya writing and the calendar. About 125 enthusiastic students, as well as visitors from outside the university community, attended and participated.
The excitement continued afterward with television interviews and meetings with Maya leaders.
Misters Tzec and Tzul hosted me to an afternoon lunch in San Ignacio after my UB visit was over, and I began to learn more about the history of their organizations and their efforts to represent the Maya people of Belize in the world community and make their voices heard. There is complete agreement that learning the ancient writing and calendar is a very strong tool for indigenous empowerment.
I then had the great pleasure of driving Mr. Tzul and his father to San Antonio, a community with many Yucatec speakers. (This is the town, I am sad to say, where Dr. Pierre Colas learned Mayan and did his field work prior to his recent passing, and where he has many friends today.)
I met Alfonso Tzul there and we talked about the Maya language and Maya glyphs. We agreed I should return in 2011 to give a workshop in the local high school. It is the young people who need to get excited about their ancestry and history.
I left the Cayo District with firm resolve to return in 2011 to do more, and I headed south to the K’ekchi’ and Mopan-speaking communities of the Toledo district.
In Blue Creek, Toledo District, Tumul K’in is an all-Maya high school, the only one in Belize.
Tumul K’in director Esther Xoc Sanchez and her husband Aurelio Sho welcomed me to their home, putting me up for two nights. We talked in their kitchen late into the night about the possibilities of Maya classes and glyph workshops in Southern Belize.
While in Southern Belize I had the chance to make two very interesting side trips, not directly related to Friends of the Maya, but then, all things Maya do connect in some way.
A nearby K’ekchi’ community staged a deer dance that weekend and I was thrilled to attend.
On another note, I delivered a set of Research Reports on the Nimli Punit stelae to the site museum at Nimli Punit. George Stuart had generously given me extra copies to deliver should I ever make the trip. And what a pleasure to get those reports into the hands of those who care about them most.
My stay in Belize was all too short, but even in this brief visit I became aware of how fertile the ground was for glyph workshops by the Maya for the Maya. I eagerly anticipate returning in 2011 to make new friends and expand our presence there. From Belize I traveled north to Quintana Roo and on to Yucatán, where, as you will see in my next report, wonderful things are happening in the school system regarding the introduction of Maya hieroglyphic writing in the class rooms.
Until then, if you agree with our mission to support Mayas teaching Mayas the hieroglyphs and ancient calendar, them please go to our web site www.friendsofthemaya.com and make a donation to support our work.
Thank you in advance.
Bruce Love, President
Friends of the Maya, Inc.