Toledo Stories and Tips

Jungle Survival Trek

Survival training Photo, Toledo, Belize

After a relaxing morning of tortilla making, it was time to step it up a notch and see some more of the country. I arranged for a jungle survival check with Armando the gardener at the lodge.

He was such happy gentleman and so very proud of the survival skills he learned from generations of family and villagers.

We followed the boardwalk past all the cabanas and through the garden and then we were following a faint path in the jungle. Armando hacked vines out the way with the machete as we wandered through the forest.

As we came to a stop, he pointed up to a huge paper hornet nest hanging from vines above 15 feet above our heads. The hornets won't bother us if we don't bother them.

Next he showed me a twisty vine about 3 inches wide. To be honest it looked like a young tree. He chopped off a chunk of it and showed me that water pours out which you can drink. It was cool and refreshing and reminded me a bit of aloe. It is important to make the two cuts quickly when removing a piece of vine or the plant will actually absorb the valuable water back into the undamaged limbs.

A little further down the trail, Armando had built a beehive in a small log which was suspended by vines. He is able to collect honey to eat. Their bees actually don't sting. He proved this to me, by putting his hand right inside the log when I dubiously explained that beekeeper's need to use smoke at home to calm the bees while they harvest honey.

We finally reached a camp that he had built. There was a small thatched roof with a hammock tied from strong vine. If you are stuck in the woods overnight, the first thing to do is build a thatch roof to protect from the rains.

Behind the hammock was a termite nest on a stick. When I inquired about this, Armando explained that lighting the termite nest on fire will create smoke which keeps away the mosquitoes at night!

He showed me how to build a trap to catch birds, though I'd be harvesting fresh fruits and veggies if I was stuck in the tropical jungle.

Further down the trail was a camp kitchen with a handmade table. Armando chopped up some hearts of palm, palm nuts, and other jungle veggies for me to try. I asked Armando what he would do in the jungle without a machete. He chuckled and said you won't survive long without one.

In the more remote areas of Belize, a machete is as important as a Swiss Army knife. You'll notice that that the locals often keep them by the door of their house, the way we might have an umbrella rack.

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