Today we went back to the San ignacio Resort Hotel to do a medicinal plant tour. These plants and herbs were the Mayan medicine cupboard. They did not have a cupboard full of chemicals like us. We looked at a lot of plants and to use most of them you have to boil the bark or leaves up to make a tea and then drink it.
If you are itching badly from insect bites you pluck some leaves from the Polly Red Wood tree and boil them in water. Then add the mixture to eight pints of chilled water. Then you have to have a bath in the mixture.
A tourist tree is a tree that the bark peels off and is red underneath. The locals have called it the tourist tree as it is meant to look like us when we get sunburn. If you see a tourist tree there is usually a black poison wood nearby. The black poison wood will irritate your skin if you touch it but if you take the bark of the tourist tree and rub it on it will soothe your skin.
I was interested in the chicle tree. If you cut crosses in the bark the sap runs out.
The sap is collected and shaped into blocks. This is shipped to the USA and flavour is added. It is chewing gum. I tried a piece and at this stage it tasted woody and not very nice. Our guides grandfather used to go into the rainforest for seven months at a time and collect this product.
We also got to see a hummingbird nest. It was about 12 cm wide. There were two tiny birds inside waiting for their mummy to bring them food.
We also got to eat termites. The guide poked a stick into the nest and a few crawled onto the stick. There are six flavours of termites and it was pot luck which flavour you got. Woody, spicy, celery, minty, nutty and almondy. The thought of eating them was quite yucky but they were quite nice. They tickled our throats.