Carly Huth

Coca-Cola attorney Carly Huth from Coke's HR team recently went on the adventure of a lifetime, joining friends who are archeologists at a dig site in Belize. And in a coincidence of history and philanthropy, most of the land being excavated was donated decades ago by The Coca-Cola Company.

Here, Carly gives a brief recount of what it was like to be in the jungle, handling ancient ruins and finding familiar refreshment in an unfamiliar place.




Following a guide through the Belize jungle

We carefully made our way across the rocky path through the jungle when our guide pointed to some trees with silver bark. We tore off a few glossy leaves and crumbled them in our hands, hoping their spicy-sweet scent would deter the huge flies that flitted about us. Not much luck.

I was with my sister and two friends who are professional archeologists as we headed towards a clearing that centuries before had been an ancient Maya plaza. Despite the lush jungle covering it, you could easily picture yourself in that amid the bustle of another time.

Archeology dig in Belize

On either side of us, huge green mounds concealed what were once large temples or work buildings. Bulky stone slabs covered in moss revealed etchings of the ancient people that once inhabited the city. The buzzing of cicadas and the guttural cry of the howler monkeys now replaced the hustle of what was once of the major sites of the Maya Lowlands.

After an afternoon of exploring nearby dig sites, we began the bumpy journey back through the sweltering, oppressive heat to the main camp. It included a little gathering of tents, and a few small structures with metal roofs, such as the dormitory, lab and dining hall. But there was no air conditioning or even fans. The only refreshment to be had? Ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola.



Coca-Cola vendor

That was only fitting. The whole operation – from the camp to the dig sites – has a significant Coca-Cola connection. The company donated a large portion of the land that now makes up the Programme for Belize in 1988. A nature reserve of more than 260,000 acres, the Programme for Belize is home to a diverse array of plants and creatures that include the harpy eagle, jaguar and spider monkey, as well as more than 50 Mayan sites.

I’d been invited there by my friend Fred Valdez, who directs the project and is a professor of archeology at the University of Texas at Austin, and his wife, Palma Valdez, who is an anthropologist at Carnegie Mellon University. I’ve always been an archaeology fanatic, so this was a dream come true. Every year about 80 students, archaeologists and volunteers call the camp home.



Arrowhead

Often after dinner, Fred gives a brief lecture on the history of the people who once inhabited the area, complete with visual aids. He passed around ancient pieces of weapons and pottery, and I actually had the chance to hold a smooth stone arrowhead from 15,000 B.C. I felt like I was going back in time again.

My week in Belize was an amazing experience and I already have my sights set on several other digs. And odds are that after a long, hot day, a refreshing Coke will be waiting for me.