The Traditional Maya House
The Maya knew how to make all they needed from the forests around them, some of which are on display inside this traditional Maya house.
The materials the Maya used to build their homes depended on where they lived. This traditional (Belizean style) Maya house was constructed from sustainably harvested materials gathered here in the Gardens. This particular style of house has been constructed in this area for centuries.
Building a Traditional Maya House
Bay-leaf palm is the preferred material for roof-thatching. By tradition the leaves are typically cut within a few days, before or after a full moon. This is done in order to enhance the leafs longevity. A new roof typically lasted 5-7 years before needing to be replaced.
Sapodilla wood was often used for the frame because its a hardwood that is insect resistant. Thin, straight palmetto sticks tied side-by-side and set vertically make up the 4 exterior walls. Sometimes a mixture made of clay and straw was packed in between the sticks to keep out the rain. Vines were used for tying together the wooden framework.
Take a look inside and you’ll notice that all the wood used in this Maya house has had the bark “peeled” off. The reason for this is because the softest part of the wood is the bark and where insects like to live.
Floors – typical flooring in this area consisted of a plaster made from crushed lime-rock and an aggregate, like river-sand, mixed with water.
Cooking area – Cooking was typically done over a low fire and much of it involved the use of a comal in the making of tortillas. Clay pots were also important cook-ware. One must-have-item found in every home was the Matate, a stone-tool used for mashing grain and seeds. Typically, it was used to grind lime-treated maize, cocoa and other organic materials used in food preparation.
Hammocks for sleeping – No worries about insects and other creatures getting in the bedding because the Maya slept in hammocks. They ranged in size from infant, single and matrimonial to family size, all conveniently suspended above the floor at night.
Typical Maya diet
Corn (maize) was the central food in their diet, along with vegetables such as beans and squash. Avocados and tomatoes were also widely available, along with a wide variety of tropical fruits.
A trail leading away from the traditional Maya house, splits off and becomes the Medicine trail – The original trail continues as the River Walk trail. Follow this trail – Cross the Hammock bridge and continue on down to the Macal river for the best beach and swimming around.