Belizing Adventures

Belize Maya Culture Tours | Things to do and see in Stann Creek, Belize

By Angela Wu 4/16/2019 4 minutes

What to do at Nuuk Che’il Cottages?

Nuuk Che’il Cottages offers several on-site activities such as traditional Maya cooking lessons, Maya spiritual healing sessions, and herbal medicine making lessons.

Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize

Traditional Maya Cooking

Corn is a dietary staple in the Maya cuisine, as so many dishes are made from this versatile crop. From tortillas to sweet porridge, corn is in almost every Maya dish! For the day’s cooking lesson, Mrs. Aurora showed us how to make the best corn tortillas and a traditional Maya chocolate drink.

Let’s start with the traditional corn tortillas! Mrs. Aurora began with whole corn kernels that were boiled in water and calcium hydroxide, locally referred to as “white lime,” for 45 minutes on low heat. The corn was drained and washed until the water appeared clear. While she spread a small amount of corn on the mortar, Mrs. Aurora told us a story of when she was given a frog that had fallen from the heavens from her dad. Her dad said that her corn tortillas will be cooked and puffed up like the little frog – and that was our goal, to make the corn tortillas puff up like the heavenly frog.

We began grinding the corn with the pestle. Moving the heavy rock up and down on the mortar, crushing each kernel to get to a dough-like consistency. Water was added when needed to make the grinding easier.

It took us about 15 minutes to grind enough corn to make about 4 corn tortillas. Luckily, Mrs. Aurora had prepared an extra ball of "masa" (dough) for us.

We moved on to flattening and shaping the masa. They had to be flat, round and perfectly smooth in order to achieve the “poof”. To my surprise, there were a lot of technical skills to get it perfect. Mrs. Aurora wouldn’t let me place it on the comal if my tortilla wasn’t smooth or round. 

A tip for those who want their tortillas to puff, make sure your edges are smooth and flat!

Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize

Once they were shaped correctly, we carefully placed the dough on the comal to be cooked for 1 minute on each side. After 3 flips, lo and behold! There was the “poof”! Indeed, our tortillas were puffed up like the little frog!

Our hot and soft tortillas were served with a healthy drizzle of cohune palm oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Up next is the making of traditional Maya chocolate! Chocolate in the Maya culture is very important. Cocoa beans were used as a form of currency in Maya societies and were consumed by elites and only on special occasions.

We had the opportunity to learn about this as Mrs. Aurora removed the dried skin off cocoa beans that had been sun-dried for a couple of days. The beans were placed on the mortar along with some sugar, ready to be ground into a thick paste…mmm, CHOCOLATE!

After getting the right consistency, somewhat close to a semi-chunky peanut butter, the paste was mixed with hot water and sugar to taste. And that’s how you make a traditional Maya chocolate drink!

The taste was sweet and nutty, yet bitter from the richness of the cacao – indeed a drink for the royals!

There’s no better way to learn about a culture than to engage in a culinary adventure. Getting to make and taste these two traditional Maya foods was delicious and educational. Would you try it?

Head over to Nuuk Che’il Cottages on Belizing.com to book your Maya Cooking lesson today. Your taste buds won’t regret it!

Book A Maya Cooking Tour

Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize

Cost of traditional Maya cooking classes

This Maya Cooking Lesson costs $25 USD per person. You’ll get to learn how to make fresh corn tortillas from scratch and the traditional Maya Chocolate drink, just as the Maya people have for many years.

What to bring for traditional Maya cooking classes?

Bring your appetite and your camera! All ingredients for this Maya cooking lesson will be provided by Nuuk Che’il.

Traditional Maya Herbal Medicinal Trail and Medicine Making

At Nuuk Che’il Cottages you can also learn about ancient Maya herbal medicine through a guided tour of their herbal medicinal trail and a medicine making session. The trail has numerous medical plants that the Maya use for physical, mental, and spiritual healing. The plants found in the trail are used by Mrs. Aurora Saqui, a natural healer, to form remedies for clients seeking natural and spiritual healing as well as to create products for Aurora’s H’Men Herbal Center/Clinic.

The tour of the medicinal trail at Nuuk Che’il consists of an orientation with the plants and their uses in the Maya culture. We were able to learn so much about the medicinal and healing properties of plants that are in abundance in Belize’s lush jungles. Most of these plants were used as home remedies as opposed to a medical prescription.

Mr. Ernesto walked us through the trail, highlighting the plants that have been playing an integral role in the Maya culture for spiritual and physical healing for centuries. These plants were mainly trees, with majority of the healing properties from the leaves or bark.

A common way to prepare the plants was to gather an abundance of leaves and boil them in water to either ingest or bathe in.

Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture, Copal - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize

Learning about these medicinal plants gave us an insight into the definition of health for Maya people. Being healthy is not only related to physical strength but also the well-being of your mind and psyche. This medicinal trail tour allowed us to see health in a different light that it brought us to a greater appreciation for our own overall wellness.

Book A Herbal Medicine Making Tour

What is the cost of a traditional Maya herbal medicinal trail and medicine making?

The cost of this traditional Maya Herbal Medicine making session costs $35 USD per person for the medicinal trail tour. You can find and book this tour with Nuuk Che’il Cottages on Belizing.com

What to bring for traditional Maya herbal medicinal trail and medicine making?

Some recommended items to take along would be insect repellent, water, and camera.

Traditional Maya Spiritual Healing

This was our last activity of the day at Nuuk Che’il Cottages and surely it tied all our earlier activities together perfectly. Having learned about food and healing in the Maya culture, we ended our day with a traditional Maya spiritual healing and thanksgiving ceremony.

The displays and preparation for the ceremony were painstakingly assembled with colorful flowers, candles and copal.

We started with a prayer at each cardinal point, giving thanks for the blessings we’ve received for the day and for the blessings we were about to receive. Spoken in both Mayan and English tongues, each prayer was equally significant from the other.

As we closed our eyes, cleared our minds and allowed the prayers from Mr. Ernesto’s voice carry out, a sense of peace was expelled into the atmosphere.

Immediately after the ceremony, I felt calm and appreciative for the day that I got to spend at Nuuk Che’il. Along with experiencing the Maya culture through various activities, I also got an in-depth glimpse of a rich heritage that is the Maya culture of Belize.

Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize
Maya Culture - Things to do in Stann Creek, Belize

A massive thank you to Mr. Juan, Mr. Ernesto, Mrs. Aurora and the staff at Nuuk Che’il Cottages for giving us this great experience. The Belizing.com team had a marvelous time and would recommend Nuuk Che’il Cottages to anyone, either travelers or locals, to visit and participate in all onsite cultural activities.

If you would like to experience these amazing tours, visit Belizing.com/NuukCheilCottages to book a tour with them!

Book Maya Spiritual Healing Session

What is the cost of a traditional Maya spiritual healing?

The cost of a traditional Maya spiritual healing is $25 USD per person. This ritual includes a reading of the crystal ball, prayers and copal smoking to remove the negative energies from your aura. You’ll get to experience true Maya culture through this ritual and enlighten yourself with a traditional Maya ceremony.

What to bring for a traditional Maya spiritual healing?

Bring yourself wholeheartedly to experience a cleansing and prayer to give thanks for all blessings and clear your mind and body of negative energy.
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Learn More
Service Providers
Tours/Activities
$
25
/ Person
Departs From:
Belize City
 (1)
Learn and experience how the Maya make their cultural food.
$
25
/ Person
 (1)
Gather around the fire, while being spiritually cleansed by Ernesto and Aurora Saqui, performing a Traditional Maya Ceremony.
$
35
/ Person
 (2)
1. ​History of Maya Medicine 2. Garden Tour 3. Medicine Making

Angela Wu

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