Hiking through the jungle and belly rubs every day


Dr. Rosita Arvigo and Mags at the completion of Mayan Abdominal Therapy Course

Belize appeared on our travel agenda to study Mayan medicine with Dr. Rosita Arvigo, a US trained napropathic doctor who apprenticed with renowned traditional Mayan healer Don Elijio Panti. She has made her life’s work bringing a scientific explanation to understand traditional Mayan medicine to preserve and promote the culture and knowledge of Mayan people as well as the rainforest that sustains them.  Our time at the Arvigo Institute enriched us with  daily hikes through breathtaking jungle beauty and the powerful skills and spirits of Mayan healing in Belize.


Welcome to the jungle

Each day we would walk the Rainforest Medicine Trail which overlooks the Macal River on our way to class. Don Elijio bushwhacked this trail about 30 years ago to prove to Rosita the vast provision of medicine in her own backyard.  An acre of rainforest has  medicinal value of over $3,000 US, it typically sells for a few hundred.  We brave mosquitoes and countless other biting critters to live in the rainforest of the Mayan Mountains. Thank goodness Rosita gifted us with Jungle Salve, chock full of Jackass Bitters, the cure for our itchies.

After class we spend time swimming, hiking or relaxing before our evening meal back at camp.  Between courses we venture into town on the back of a cattle truck, canoe to a botanical garden, and find time birdwatch and visit a butterfly farm on our anniversary. We fall asleep and wake to serenading choruses of frogs, crickets, howler monkeys (the loudest land animal on the planet!) and brightly colored jungle birds.

This alpha male Howler Monkey make a racket!


This collared aracari toucan flashes bright yellow, red and green on it's body and beak.


Blue Morpho at the Butterfly farm


Stu eats a picnic on the banks of the Macal River in San Ignacio. Our typical lunch on non-catered class days: papaya half with banana, multi-grain cereal, and peanut butter.


Piper, a powerful healing plant for parasites, spiritual ailments and more.

As part of our classes, our group canoes down stream 2.5 hours into San Ignacio and visit a local arts and crafts shop run by a Ruthie, a friend and former employee of Rosita’s. Her shop is full of beautiful carvings, jewelry, paintings and rainbows of weaving craft.  We then cross the Mopan river on a hand cranked ferry to get to Xunantunich, the spectacular and peaceful Mayan ruins just a few miles from our camp and adjacent to the Guatemalan border



Paddling down the Macal River, miraculously one of the last clean rivers in the world.



Midwife Sunshine in front of royal stone carvings on the West facade of Xunantunich Grande Temple.

Hear me my people! The acoustics are designed so that every person standing below can hear what is said on the temple.   Mags on the Grande Temple of XunantunichDSC00339.JPG



Stony stairs up the back of the Great temple at Xunantunich

The ruined temples and palaces bring gravity to the work we have studied.  Although the civilization declined after its peak in 600-900AD, the Mayan people persisted in the often treacherous rainforest thanks to the traditional healers.

Mayan medicine treats the mind, body and spirit as one.  Our Spiritual Healing class gives methods to address the Mayan spiritual illnesses of fright, sadness, envy, grief, and others.  These feelings are universal regardless of language and can have a strong negative effect on our physical health for years.   I also trained in Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy (AT-MAT) which is safe, fast and effective to treat disorders of abdominal muscles, reproductive, urinary and GI tract.  As a PT I can’t directly treat or diagnose medical disorders but the changes I make in the myofascial (muscles and connective tissue) system improve the balance of pressure and circulation that effect every cell of our body.  I have been using the techniques on myself for 5 months and my health has changed drastically from the first treatment back in the Fall.  More personal health and healing info to come on my healingtreecoop.com blog to come.  I’m thrilled to have more tools to address the emotional and spiritual needs of my patients while healing their physical bodies as well.  I can’t wait to use these techniques in Taiwan once I get my medical Chinese up to par!

I feel so fortunate to have been able to study with Dr. Arvigo in Belize and meet so many amazing people!  Thank you for enriching our travels and our lives! I know we will see many of them again on our travels.

More photos from this part of travels here and here on our Picasa album.


AT-MAT Professional Care Training Class Feb 2012 Top L to R: Mags, Anneka, Christine, Jennifer, Susan, Shelly, Angie. Middle: Eva, Francine, Ellie, Megan, Amy, Rosita, Katherine., Kim, Donna. Bottom: Cathy, Susan, Erin, Bessie. (I wish I could also post the Spiritual Healing group picture but I don't have it.)


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7 Responses to Hiking through the jungle and belly rubs every day

  1. Looks like some beautiful jungle (and I like the Guns ‘n’ Roses reference). The temple is quite something too. How was the canoeing? I always like the slowness and intimacy of that kind of travel.

    You are having some awesome non-touristy and educational experiences!

    • Mags says:

      We have had a surprising amount of canoeing so far on this trip. It’s so peaceful on the river, surrounded by nature. Paddling upriver is an extra workout but still lots of fun getting through rapids. I definitely want to do more. 1000 lakes of Minnesota?

  2. Mags and Stu, Miss you both and hope your travels to Asia are going well. I am doing quite a bit of ATMAT and spiritual healing prayers and water aspersions in my medical practice, and patients love it. So happy I took the time out to learn and stay at the jungle camp – I miss it! Best to you both as you continue your journey around the world. And, if you need a place to stay in Portland at any point, drop me an email! Jennifer K-F

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