Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More on our Punta Gorda trip....

I have to say, I have fallen in love with this Southern part of Belize. The Toledo district is just so unspoiled and beautiful. The mountains, the jungle, the Maya villages, the coastline, it's all stunning. It does feel like stepping back in time about 10 years though, compared with Belize City and the Cayo district. Many villages are still without electricity and running water and the infrastructure is just not what it is in these more Northern parts (and we complain about things here...)

On our drive down to Punta Gorda I noticed that we had not come across any other cars on the highway for over an hour. This stuff just doesn't happen anymore in places like Cayo. Belize is developing so fast, but Toledo is still pretty much untouched.

The inspiring thing is that there are many farmers getting into organic farming in the Toledo district and there is a lot of attention being paid to people preserving their cultures. The organic cocoa industry is growing rapidly in Toledo. There is a brand of organic chocolate in the UK, called Green & Black. Their best-selling chocolate is the Maya Gold, which is grown in Belize. Because it is part of the "Fair trade" deal, the farmers have the security that they will continue to receive an agreed price & they get assistance from "Fair trade" in the form of equipment and expertise. "Regular" farmers don't usually receive these kind of things, whenever the market price of their crop goes down, they are in deep trouble.This Fair trade deal is also encouraging Belizeans to look into growing organic coffee. There is even talk of growing industrial hemp (although this issue is still controversial).

Anyway...got to go. I'm back off to the children's homes with a mission group who dress up as clowns and do face painting for the kids. They did their "clown show" last year & it was a huge success.