When Tom agreed to help fix the chairs, he thought “a few” chairs – not 23 – would need his attention. Julio had invited us to have lunch at his house with his family, and our plan was to fix the chairs in the morning, go to lunch at Julio’s house, and then go tour The Center with Julio. While there were more than a few chairs and we didn’t finish in the morning, we remained on the planned schedule and had a delicious lunch of escabeche and fresh corn tortillas at Julio’s, and then went to The Center.
The Center is a large plot of land in back of 7 Miles which Julio has been improving for the past 15 years or so. The land is all rock, so it’s not suitable for farming, but Julio has had the vision to turn it into an environmental education center, called Ka’ax Tun, which means Big Rock in Mayan.
Julio, with volunteer help, built this education building, along with bathrooms with flush toilets and running water. He’s planning to put in a kitchen so groups can come to stay and have their meals prepared. Groups already use the area, but currently camp and bring their own meals.
From the main building, Julio has created paths through the rocks. The rocks are huge and are covered with jungle vegetation. Small caves with Mayan artifacts are tucked under rock overhangs, and in one place a stonework altar is still in place.
The paths wind through the rocks, underneath and on top, and Julio has put in ropes, cement steps, and wooden handrails where necessary. We only walked around for a few hours, and spent a significant amount of time just sitting awestruck and staring at the rocks, but Julio says you can hike around on the trails all day.
Even after traveling in Belize and spending a lot of time outside enjoying Belize’s natural wonders, Tom and I found the physical features of the area breathtaking, and it’s an area where you can still feel the presence of the Maya. Julio says that we can offer a park tour as one of our trips, and we’re looking forward to our next guests so we can share this beautiful piece of Belize with them.