Between Forest and Farm, Mayan and Modern

Balam Ja (ha) Way (Maya - Jaguar Water Spirit) is our base and was a Maya satellite settlement of Sarteneja.

The buildings on Balam Ja Way are architechurally designed in a Maya modern synthetic style. This design reflects the merging of traditional culture with the 21st century needs of the community.

On Balam Ja Way we are building a three story facility for accommodation, education, and research and two other ancillary dwellings. The main facility is occupied on the lower level, with the upper levels still under construction. Balam Ja Way uses solar lighting, gas cooking, and well water.

Balam Ja Way has an aguada lake surrounded by Maya constructions including a large mound of uncertain origin with numerous pottery shards and built of material dredged from the aguada, a Maya wall, a Chul Tun or Maya cave, and possibly bathing sites.

  Balam Ja Way
 Balam Jaguar  Maya water heiroglyph  Maya spirit heiroglyph

  Mayan heiroglyphs in B'alam Ja Way sign.

Jaguar                      Water                       Spirit

The main facility is constructed as an integral ferro-cement structure, consisting of reinforced pillars and beams, with walls and floors reinforced by a rebar grid covered with building and wire mesh. This structure provides great strength, and is hurricane, earthquake, and tsunami resistant.


 Balam Ja Way under construction


B'alam Ja Way under construction from road. The Maya colours of red for the east, white for the north, black for the west, and yellow for the south (not visible), are reflected in the colour of the shutters.

We created the three Maya heiroglyphs that spell Balam (Jaguar), water (Ja) and spirit (Way).

Jaguars, tapirs, and many birds have always visited the aguada at B'alam Ja Way for water, especially during the dry season.

 Balam Ja Way stairs November 2012  


B'alam Ja Way follows the Mayan theme through incorporating stonework with local limestone in its design.

Walking up the Mayan stairs, stepping onto the elevated slab, and then crossing the slab into the building is symbolic of the buildings function to blend Mayan and modern architecture.

 Balam JA Way November 2013  



The landscaping around B’alam Ja Way has reached the formative stage with different usage areas defined and about 70% of larger trees planted. 


The Jaguar Spirit was the only entity in Mayan cosmology that could travel between the underworld and the living world, and was a reflection of the jaguars great power. Jaguars can weigh 350 lb and have the most powerful bite of any big cat. Jaguars prefer to kill by ambush and crushing the skull. We envision ceremonies on the Mayan mound that involve the Jaguar Spirit.

The Maya archeological sites are one of four primary landscaping components on Balam Ja Way. The others being native vegetation, horticultural areas, and the aguada. See panarama 230114


 Jaguar  Jaguar armadillo

Maya sacrifice jaguar

Left top: a jaguar. Right top: an armadillo killed by a jaguar as shown by the two deep canine teeth marks. Lower left: a Mayan sacrifice of a jaguar.