Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Last Day with Linda

It‘s a big day, the pressure is on. This is why we came to Belize. Today, we interview Linda Thornton.But first we needed to visit one more shrimp farm -- Haney Farm, a partner of Aqua Mar. At the ponds, we filmed as workers cast nets to check the size, weight and health of the shrimp.

We moved to the extraordinary gardens at the farm, which is also a sprawling orchard. Seated amid gardenias and orchids, Linda answered all our questions, building a picture of a life of resilience and endurance and capturing her spirit of relentless optimism.

When asked what keeps her up at night given the big, costly operations she runs, Linda smiled and said, nothing really, except squawking birds. It was an informative, emotional and compelling interview and a great way to wrap up our exploration of shrimp farming and Linda’s remarkable life.

After the interview, Mr. Haney, who created this farm, led us on a pickup-truck tour of the orchards, weaving through coffee and allspice shrubs, cashew, teak, mahogany, mango and jack fruit trees (jack fruit is the biggest fruit in the world). 

He jumped out at one point and tossed an armful of pickle-shaped fruits at those in the back of the pickups. They were crisp and refreshing but as mouth puckering as a handful of Sour Patch Kids candy.

After departing Haney Farms, it was on to Maya Center, home of the world’s first Maya Museum, which was established in 2010. The museum is run by Mr. Julio Saqui, whose family was relocated from the rainforest by the government to make way for a national park set up to protect jaguars. 

He founded the museum to bring the rich Mayan culture both “forward and back to the people.” Many children, he explained, had lost their awareness of traditions in a flood of microwave ovens and TV. We learned how Mayans lived using only natural resources, getting everything they needed from the rainforest. He showed us traditional musical instruments and even persuaded several students to dance traditional dances. 

We watched his wife, Eleodora, make corn tortillas and got the opportunity to make our own on a clay sheet over a fire. 

Mr. Saqui then acted as our guide for an hour-long hike through Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, a 128,000-acre preserve. We hiked through the rainforest until we reached a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole, where most of us jumped in to cool off.

After returning from the preserve, we had one more stop, and it may have been the highlight of the trip. 

Linda Thornton hosted a dinner party for the group at her spacious, Spanish-style home on a hill overlooking forests and fields and Cardelli Farms. On the menu, shrimp of course, Mexican style! Besides sharing food and drink, Linda shared more of her life, showing us photo albums and reeling off more tales. We ended the night with laughter and hugs, having come full circle on why we came here in the first place. 

At home with Linda
We made a new friend and memories we will never forget. The visit provided a perfect conclusion to our days in Independence, Belize. 

Now it’s time to make a film!

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