On one of my various trips to the Mayan Ruins at Altun Ha, I was fortunate to meet, Jenivieve August, a local tour guide from the town of Rockstone Pond. She is the grand daughter of one of the two Belizeans, who uncovered the jade head at Altun Ha, while working with Dr. David Pendergast. Her grandfather, Mr. Wilhelm Leslie of Rockstone Pond, along with another Belizean (Mr. Winston Herbert of Lucky Strike Village), had discovered the famous jade sculpture of Kinich Ahau, during their lunch break. Their persistence paid off as they uncovered what is now a National Treasure. Our visit with Jenivieve August, was brief but it was informative and a pleasant surprise. Jenivieve has extensive knowledge of Altun Ha and her personal connection to the town of Rockstone Pond and to the jade head found at Altun Ha, is an extra special treat.
We also met local craftsmen, Leo Hulse, Luis Longsworth. and merchant, Michael Gentle.
My brother, and I drove down to Altun Ha from Corozal Town and we had a great time, even-though, it was overcast, and the sun only came out for a brief moment. Standing on top of the ceremonial alters, I thought of my grandmother and I wondered what life must have been like for her ancestors. There was a few tour groups doing their thing and overall, it was just another day in paradise. Just being there was awesome, standing in a place of great cultural significance, that we have only yet to fully understand. It was here that the largest jade sculpture ever found in the Mayan world was discovered, the sculpture of the head of the Mayan Sun God, Kinich Ahau.
They were selling beautiful carvings and sculptures made of exquisite local hard woods like, Ziricote and Rosewood, among others. The Mayan and African, arts and craft motifs, are displayed side by side and show the diversity of cultures and the intrinsic beauty of the country of Belize.
On our way back we met a lady on the Northern Highway that told us she had been crowned the Tilapia Queen. She was bubbly, full of life and displayed a certain happiness that is a common quality among the local people in Belize. We had a nice chat with her in creole, it was great. She happened to be on her way to town, (Belize City) to party later that night, oh yeah , jump up, till mawning come, just like last week.
It was truly a great adventure, especially being that I was with my brother Edward who has a keen appreciation and respect for the Mayan culture. Finally, to top it off, we met a group of Belizean children, a local posse and their pet turtles. These children were really friendly and were eager to relate their versions of the world, at Altun Ha. I can see them being tour guides one day and telling stories to visitors who would venture to come to this sacred Mayan site. I highly recommend you take time out and visit Altun Ha, the most visited Maya site in Belize.
The Maya are truly a great people. Their monuments, artifacts and writings portray their respect and appreciation for nature, their understanding of the elements as Gods and their embrace of science, particularly Mathematics and Astronomy. All this, in the heart of the Rainforest. The Maya built their temples in the midst of fertile ground and their agricultural systems were guided by the stars. They were truly, one with nature.
If you have a story about your experience at Altun Ha and would like to share it with folks, let me know. Also if you are a local tour guide and would like to publish an article, let me know.
Rockstone Pond Posse – Belizean Roots and Culture