Disney is right – it’s a small world after all! Just back from my travels through the jungles of Central America with a family member and the similarities I’ve encountered were quite interesting.
First stop was Grand Cayman; our driver gave us historical insights as he took us around the island. The cemeteries, above ground, reminded my of New Orleans. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if you can’t go down you go up! The colorful island flowers left on graves was a custom that I’ve found everywhere. It’s nice to see the commonality of remembering our ancestors.
Next we visited Honduras which reminded me of the West Tampa neighborhood. At the beach we met a local who told us about his educational journey from the island to the mainland for high school. He received a technical degree in air conditioning but was unable to find work so he returned to his birth island. Sure, wars, religious persecution, natural disasters and limited marriage opportunity influence migration but I’ve found with my own ancestors, it was mostly the desire to find work that created wanderlust. I truly believe that Maslow should have put work as a basic need on his hierarchy. We, as genealogists, need to keep in mind occupation as an important factor for movement.
I love Belize! Any country that only has 5 working stoplights and people with a warm and funny attitude is my kind of place. It was in the jungle, however, where I met 3 guides that shared their love of genealogy. All had had their DNA done. Two were 100% Mayan and one was 1/3 Mayan, Spanish and African. In a remote jungle would be the last place on earth I think I would be talking DNA with someone I met but well, it happened. Their genealogy is oral which is probably wise since we all know what happens when computers crash. In their case, there isn’t electricity close. I wish I could have the capacity to remember my maternal and paternal lines as well as they do.
Our last stop was an adventure at Tulum, Mexico and spending half a day on Mayan land. We had authentic lunches in both Belize and in Mexico and I had to laugh at the staple similarities – chicken, beans, rice, and fruit with slight variations in preparation – different seasonings. When I came back and spoke with family, friends and colleagues I got similar comments which applies to my own family. If your grandmother was known for a specific dish and your mom and you tried repeatedly to replicate it with no success, well, that seems to be a worldwide commonality. I cannot for the life of me make my mother’s flaky apple turnovers. She came up with her recipe because she couldn’t make her mother’s to die for apple strudel. A friend told me she has given up making her mom’s fruit iced tea because she can’t get it right, even with her mom standing over her. The patient guide in Belize gave me the recipe but I bet when I make it, it will not taste as delicious. Guess I’m just going to have to go back!