On the Trail of "Rainforest Remedies"
The Maya have been using plant medicines for centuries: for example, ginger is known mostly as a spice, but in Belize, it is used for relief of indigestion, gas pains, stomach ache, colds, even motion sickness. You can follow a jungle trail where medicinal plants are featured, at The Lodge at Chaa Creek, Rainforest Reserve, Adventure Centre, and Spa.
Owned and operated by Mick and Lucy Fleming, Chaa Creek was the first jungle lodge in Belize, established in 1981, along the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. Chaa Creek purchased 15 acres of land from Ix Chel Farm last year, including the farm’s Rainforest Medicine Trail.
Natural healing experts Rosita Arvigo started the farm in 1981, with a vision of establishing a natural healing clinic. Dr. Rosita, as she is called, named the farm after Ixchel, the ancient Maya goddess of healing.
About two years after starting the farm, Arvigo, Dr. Rosita became acquainted with a shaman named Don Eligio Panti, a renowned 86-year-old practitioner of traditional Mayan medicine.
Arvigo became an apprentice of Panti, and during one of their walks in the forest to gather herbs, Panti showed Dr. Rosita medicinal plants that were growing along the path. This is now preserved as the Rainforest Medicine Trail, often referred to also as the Panti Medicinal Trail in honor of Panti, who died in 1996. Arvigo has since become an authority on “Rainforest Remedies,” including co-authoring a book by that title with Dr. Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Garden.
The Panti Trail is now one of the major attractions in the Cayo District, with signs by trees and plants to explain their medicinal uses. Here, you will see and learn about vines that store drinking water, plants that help abate malaria, aid diabetics, cleanse the blood, and more. The trail is remarkable in that all the plants and trees were already there; the fact that none were additionally planted is a testament to the natural diversity found in the rainforest.
It is fitting that Chaa Creek now conducts guided and self-guided tours of the Ix Chel Farm and the Panti Trail, since the adjacent resort is renowned in its own right for its cultural history and rainforest habitat preservation efforts.
There are over 70 Maya sites on the 345-acre Chaa Creek property alone, and Chaa Creek’s own Natural History Center and Butterfly Farm is recognized as one of the best displays of archaeological artifacts, butterflies, moths, insects and amphibians in the country. The Center includes a research room with archives of scientific studies in Belize that is often used as a reference by universities.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is comprised of 16 comfortable palm-thatched cottage rooms, two tower cottages, two luxury suites, two Treetop Jacuzzi suites, an orchard villa, a restaurant and bar. The resort has a full-service spa and conference center on its grounds, as well as miles of well-maintained trails, activities, and tours. Chaa Creek has camp casitas located within its nature reserve about a half mile down river from the lodge. At Ix Chel, Chaa Creek has a gift shop and has renovated two buildings for guest use, including a family Orchard Villa and Honeymoon Sky Room.
From the Magnum Belize Newsletter, http://www.magnumbelize.com/news/newsletter.html