Douglas Meets Galen: A Summer to Remember

Douglas Meets Galen: A Summer to Remember

What good is there in discovering a treasure that will eventually disappear? Seems like a waste of time and energy, right? Sometimes, time as well as energy needs to be wasted in order to discover what life truly has in store. This summer I discovered a disappearing treasure, but I won’t get ahead of myself. Let’s go to the genesis.

“Guys, for the Pre-Maya History class during the summer, you will be working with some students from Douglas College in Canada,” said Miss Gibbs, Dean of the Arts and Science Departments and instructor of the course.

“Okay, cool”, we responded in unison. Little did we know what fate had in store for us.

The course was four weeks. The first two weeks were theoretical, whereby the sessions were conducted via Moodle. On the third week, we welcomed our new classmates from Douglas College. To my amazement, we became friends quicker than I thought (literally, in less than a day). This integration was not only a cultural exchange but also a foreshadowing of a revelation.

The objective of the course was to examine the culture, history and archaeology of the Maya within the Belizean context, focusing mainly on their achievements. What better way to learn about someone than to walk in their shoes? Therefore, our travels took us to Xunantunich, Che Chem Ha, Lamanai, Cahal Pech, San Pedro Columbia, Nim Li Punit, Lubaan Tun and Lower Dover. Each step we took into the past was fuelled by our thirst for adventure. Instead of walking in their shoes, we integrated ourselves into their skeleton, awakening the inner-Maya within us all. As we grounded the recently roasted cacao with the mano and matete, liquefying every grain, a chocolaty aroma muffled the atmosphere, colonizing every inch as its territory. From the liquefied cacao beans, we not only made organic chocolate, but also had the opportunity to make “the drink of the gods”. Unfortunately, we were not taught the Maya language; however, we learnt to read and write the hieroglyphs as well as practiced some Maya mathematical problems (personally, which proved more difficult than perceived). Admittedly, there were times when we had forgotten the purpose of these trips. Maybe it was the cool-down sessions in the rushing lukewarm waters of Clarissa Falls or maybe trying to swing from an ancient rope tied to a tree branch on the bank of the clear cool aquamarine river in San Pedro Columbia that cast an illusion over the truth. After all, all work and no play makes John a dull boy.

If I was given a single wish, I would wish for the ability to freeze time. I would freeze time on June 18th, making it impossible for them to leave, and I would not have to say goodbye. I wouldn’t have to hold back my tears on our last hugs, and I wouldn’t have to feel like I’ve lost a newly discovered part of me. These amazing and unique individuals have all impacted my life in ways that they will never know. They have taught me to appreciate the little things in life, as well as to celebrate the big things, to feel comfortable in my own skin, to speak up, to love unconditionally, but most importantly to respect and be proud of my identity, to be proud of who I am, a Belizean (something that I should have already accomplish).

So, what’s the good of having a treasure that cannot be kept? It’s not keeping or losing the treasure that really matters. What matters are the memories created as well as the lessons that were learnt whilst the treasure was in our possession.

After all, what good is a treasure that was never discovered?

“Tis better to have loved and lost, than to never to have loved at all”.

~ Alfred Lord Tennyson ~