Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sam of Bomba

When we went on our Lamanai Mayan Ruins tour, in the village of Bomba (Lat=17.8833, Long=-88.2667), we saw some odd-looking pieces of flint-like rock on the side of the road. A gentleman named Sam came over and asked us if we knew what those were. We said they looked like petrified wood.

He told us that he had worked with several archaeologists on various ancient Mayan building dig sites, and that they removed the outer layers of many of the ruins to get to the older portions of the structures. He said that when the ancient Mayans built their structures, they first laid down a layer of "chippings."

These chippings came from ancient stone carvers. They would start with a large piece of flint-like stone, and chip away at it in order to create something like a bowl, a mask, or whatever. The debris from this process were called chippings.

The Mayan builders would then take these chippings and put them into the bottom layers of the foundations of their buildings, and those were what we were looking at. Finally, Sam said that he had worked on building the road through Bomba, and they had used some of the chippings from the archaeological dig site for their roadbed.

Sam was a really nice, and very articulate person. I asked if I could take his picture, and he said that would be OK, so I did. Sam said that money from the very high tourist taxes imposed by the government of Belize was not trickling back down to any of the people. Indeed, his village did seem very poor. Sam said he lived on a ranch a short ways out of the village, and he invited us to come visit.

Kathy also made friends with three children. They were using a stick trying to knock breadfruit down from a tree, and were having a lot of trouble. Each child knew exactly which piece of fruit they wanted, so Kathy used the stick and quickly knocked down a piece for each.

We wished very much that we had been given more time in the friendly village of Bomba.

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