Maya village homestay program in Punta Gorda
This is something that’s definitely not suited for most people, but could be really great for others. There are three small Maya villages in the Punta Gorda area near the southern tip of Belize that are participating in a homestay program whereby visitors can stay, eat, work, and live with a Maya family to fully experience their fascinating lifestyle up close.
The excellent Toucan Trail site has more information for those who are interested, but to summarize this opportunity:
Guests stay right alongside a family and do exactly what they do. As sexist as this may sound, men might be harvesting corn or working in the fields, and women might be grinding the corn, killing chickens, making tortillas, or doing laundry in the creek. The meals consist of corn tortillas at every meal combined with eggs, beans, hot peppers, and sometimes game meat. (This is actually making me really hungry right now!)
The cost of this experience is a whopping US$6 per day, plus tax. There is also a one-time US$5 registration fee, which goes to help the entire village rather than just your family, and a one-time US$2 coordination fee for the program. Meals are US$2.50 each as well, but even those of us who hate add-ons can clearly see this is still a great bargain and the money goes to people who can really use it efficiently.
There are about 20 families participating in the three active Maya villages of Aguacate, Na Luum Ca and San Jose, and the site says no reservations are necessary although to me this doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you’d want to just show up for unprepared. Again, all the specifics and details can be found on the Toucan Trail page, and it sounds like setting up your own homestay isn’t terribly complicated.
First you have to get to Punta Gorda, which can be done in a variety of ways. From there you can take a local bus from PG to your village, but they only go Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and leave around noon. You could hire an expensive taxi or rent a car to get there, but somehow those seem like they’d nearly destroy the special nature of doing this in the first place.