It was a pleasure to join my aunt, uncle and cousin on an adventure to Belize to bring in the new year. Together we explored coral gardens, crystalline caves, Mayan ruins and lush rainforest. Save the lack of suitable coastline for surfing, Belize is paradise. And to my childlike excitement, a bastion of medicinal herbs referred to by the locals as bush medicine.
The ethnobotanical heritage of Belize has been preserved in part by the work of Dr. Rosita Arvigo and by locals like my new friend Juan Carlos Orellana who was our guide for the 5 days we spent in the jungle. Juan Carlos introduced me to countless medicinal plants that beckoned from along side the foot paths leading to caves, rivers and ruins. He also introduced me to the work of Dr. Rosita Arvigo. He explained that she came to Belize and implored the Mayan chiclero (high shaman healer) Dr. Elijio Panthi to teach her the ways of his medicine. Panthi resisted her request for several years and with a swift brandish of his machete to boot. Rosita’s persistence prevailed and she worked closely with Dr. Panthi for 12 years until his death at the age of 104. She went on to create the Terra Nova Medicinal Plant Reserve and the Belize Ethnobotany Preserve. In addition, with the help of Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Gardens, published a book, Rainforest Remedies: 100 Healing Herbs of Belize. Not only has Dr Rosita’s work been key to preserving the rainforest medicine of Belize, but also the traditional healing practices of that region by establishing Mayan Abdominal Therapy.
I am very grateful to have learned of Dr. Rosita’s extraordinary efforts to preserve this valuable heritage and maintain the lineage of traditional healing for the modern world. A big thanks to my knowledgeable and skillful guide Juan Carlos for connecting me to her.
If any of you are as fascinated by ethnobotany, traditional healing, pristine coral reef and rainforest adventure, a trip to Belize may be in order. I am planning to organize a trip to Belize January 2014 for a wellness and yoga retreat. If anyone is interested contact me by clicking here. It is “unbelizable”!
To learn more about Dr. Rosita: