Contribute directly to the local economy by shopping at this community-based organization, founded in 2000 with the assistance of professional archaeologists, artisans, and architects working at the nearby Lamanai site . The center provides workspace, tools, material, craft training, English classes, and a computer center to interested villagers. The center has a small shop at the Lamanai site, or you can check out the artisans’ wares at their workshop in the village.
Artisans produce silver and bronze jewelry, hand-sewn purses, bags, embroidered pillowcases, slate carvings, and fired clay statues. Most of the artwork emulates artifacts found at the Lamanai site, including silver pendants of the Lord Smoking Shell stela. Stop by the village workshop yourself or ask your guide to take you by the shop at the Lamanai site.
The Indian Church villagers have been hosting groups of foreign archaeologists, anthropologists, and biologists (and the odd gringo volunteer) for decades. In addition to the places listed, there are a few informal homestay options available. Find out the latest developments in the village’s foray into tourism by calling the community phone at 501/309-1015, or just wander into town and see what you find. Note that Indian Church is off the electricity and telephone grid, and solar panels and gasoline generators provide power. All budget options provide meals and cultural activities and can hook you up with local guides for the ruins and wildlife tours.
Olivia and David Gonzalez (tel. 510/603-1068, 510/660-3826, or 510/309-1015, from US$20–30 per person) have moved up from rustic wooden rooms connected to their home to a row of modern cement rooms with private baths and basic amenities, including a few hours of electricity each evening. Doña Blanca Hotel (tel. 501/603-7243 or 501/309-1015, from US$25) has 15 rooms with private bath, solar power, and hot and cold showers.
In Indian Church village, you’ll find cheap local food (about US$5 a meal) at the Grupo de Mujeres Las Orquidias Restaurant. This is a communal effort of nine women from nine families who are adept at dealing with both groups and individuals. Doña Blanca (tel. 501/603-7243 or 501/309-1015) also serves food at her hotel.