One Traveler's Experience

With Homestays

On an 18-day trip to Belize, including a week in Toledo, I spent three days in the village guest house program, initiated and operated by Chet Schmidt (Nature's Way Guest House), and assisted by his lovely wife and able son. My two days at the Mayan village of Laguna was the most incredible and unique experience of this or previous trips to Belize. The Laguna guest house, which sleeps up to eight, was very basic but clean and well kept, as were the support facilities. Some villages, including Laguna, do not have electricity. People are shy but friendly and accommodating.

The program provides for close contact with villagers as each of your meals is taken with a different family. Most are quite willing and able to discuss their lifestyle and culture with you, as well as their past. Santos Pop coordinates the Laguna program. His father was a "bush doctor" and he was able to point out all of the plants utilized for medicines and food. A hike through the rain forest and the caves was a memorable experience. The advantage of staying in separate facilities, as opposed to staying with a family, is that it allows for an opportunity to be apart and reflect on the experience.

I also spent a day and night in the Garifuna village of Barranco, the southernmost settlement Belize, and a completely different culture. Activities here focused on fishing and river trips.

For those looking for this type of experience, this program is a must. Added is the fact that these villages are set in what is clearly the most beautiful and unspoiled area of Belize. Also recommended is Nature's Way Guest House. It is reasonable and seems to attract interesting and offbeat folks. Ben Wagner, Coos Bay, Oregon

Rich Mahler's Take on Toledo District

IF YOU GO -- Practical Information

Update on the Southern Highway

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