Leslie Fox and friends find history is sweet in the Belize jungle.
'Sittee River 92' was a school expedition made by Trent College last summer to the coastal savannah and tropical forest of southern Belize in Central America. Its original aim was to develop the self reliance and leadership skills of the sixteen-year-olds in the group, and to increase their awareness of cultural and environmental issues in a physically challenging setting. Developing from a sixth former's suggestion to visit the jungle, the trip had initially been conceived as a Combined Cadet Force adventurous training exercise to trek through the jungle and climb a forest-clad peak in the Cockscomb Range. However, a peculiar series of chance events and discoveries was to result in a unique opportunity for 'hands on' historical research, and an initiation into the disciplines of industrial archaeology.
Instead of a climbing and trekking exercise, we devised a conservation project in Sittee River Village, a small Creole community not far from the Cockscomb Basin jaguar reserve, to clear a historic site of riverine vegetation, excavate machinery and buildings and to map the site. Because of its industrial history, Belize has some interesting abandoned (and thus far neglected) industrial monuments and sites. These are vital educational assets for the country and represent considerable potential as tourist and recreational attractions. We hoped that the project we planned would not only enhance the environment but bring us into constructive contact with the indigenous people.