Thursday, May 24 , 2018, 6:10 pm | Overcast 63º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Laguna Blanca School Scouts Out Maya, El Pilar for Experiental Learning Trip

Anabel Ford, director of UC Santa Barbara’s MesoAmerican Research Center at El Pilar, hosted a contingent of Laguna Blanca School teachers, including Blake Dorfman. If all goes according to plan, upper school students at Laguna Blanca will soon be venturing to Belize to help work on the El Pilar project.
Anabel Ford, director of UC Santa Barbara’s MesoAmerican Research Center at El Pilar, hosted a contingent of Laguna Blanca School teachers, including Blake Dorfman. If all goes according to plan, upper school students at Laguna Blanca will soon be venturing to Belize to help work on the El Pilar project. (Laguna Blanca School photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: First in a series. Click here for a related article.]

Arriving in Belize after a long series of overnight flights from Santa Barbara, adventurous Laguna Blanca School teachers Blake Dorfman and Arturo Flores met Anabel Ford Ph.D. of UC Santa Barbara’s MesoAmerican Research Center for an introduction to the tropical world of El Pilar in western Belize and the Peten of Guatemala.

This is a familiarization journey designed to establish links for a future journey for Laguna Blanca’s upper school students as part of the Hope Ranch school’s commitment to experiential learning.

Ford rediscovered the ancient Maya city of El Pilar some 30 years ago, and is researching the site with extreme care, making fascinating discoveries while keeping conservation of the area in mind.

Through this proposed program, Laguna Blanca students will have the opportunity to learn about the Maya use of forest gardens, a method of sustainable farming that brings promises for conservation in the future.

The drive up to “BRASS Base,” a hub funded by Exploring Solutions Past, a local nonprofit organization, traversed the flat savanna of palmetto and grasslands and broken ridge of pine and oak with little settlement. As the terrain rises it becomes more forested, interspersed with quaintly named towns: Camelote, Teakettle, Backman Eddy, Georgeville.

On the way up, the group stopped to meet staff at the Tropical Education Center, part of the outreach of the Belize Zoo. The center offers a wide range of hands-on learning on the tropical animals of Belize.

The group also was given a quick spin around the Ring Road of the capital Belmopan, the suburb without the “urb”! They passed the U.S. Embassy, the government house, the Mexican embassy, the British High Commission, and the National Institute of Culture and History where the El Pilar Project is linked.

They concluded their first day with a traditional Belizean meal of Relleno Negro, a delicious black soup with meatballs, chicken, boiled egg, and a rich flavor, or sason as they say in español!

More on the Laguna Blanca School’s El Pilar adventure to follow.

Click here for more information about El Pilar. Click here for more information about Laguna Blanca School.

— Blake Dorfman is a teacher at Laguna Blanca School.

Laguna Blanca School teacher Arturo Flores visits the Tropical Education Center, which is run by the Belize Zoo to study regional wildlife. (Blake Dorfman photo / Laguna Blanca School)
Laguna Blanca School teacher Arturo Flores visits the Tropical Education Center, which is run by the Belize Zoo to study regional wildlife. (Blake Dorfman photo / Laguna Blanca School)

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