Lyra Spang grew up on an isolated, off the grid cacao farm on the coast of Toledo District, southern Belize. For her fourth birthday, she received her first machete from her father. She spent her childhood caring for organic cacao trees with her parents and younger brother, fishing, hiking through the jungle and eating everything from fresh cacao beans to wild land crabs. She also had her formative experiences as a tour guide, giving farm guests a thorough introduction to the sea, jungle and farm. As a young adult her interests led her to pursue studies in sociocultural anthropology.
Lyra has a PhD in Anthropology with a concentration in Food Studies from Indiana University. Her dissertation, Food, Identity and Tourism in Belize, reflects her personal interests in food and cultural and national identity. Apart from her dissertation, publications include the articles “Paradise in a Bun”, an examination of the phenomenon of Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chain, and “Chasing the Mango: A Preliminary Examination of Food for Sex Metaphor in English Language Caribbean Music”. She presented on the way Belizeans use food to express models of Belizean citizenship at the 2012 National Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium and on food and tourism at the 2013 Symposium. She loves to fish and can husk a coconut in 20 seconds. One day she hopes to learn to free dive beyond 40 feet. Naturally she adores chocolate (a genetic predisposition inherited from her Grandma).
You can access some of Lyra Spang’s research publications on Academia.edu.
Elroy Burgess grew up in Placencia, Stann Creek District going on tours with his father and helping his grandmother make coconut oil in her back yard. Today apart from guiding as part of the Taste Belize Tours team he runs his own taxi company (El Taxi) and makes and sells seaweed punch, a fortifying sweet drink with a flavour akin to egg nog. His personal interest in healthy, local eating and his drive to learn more about everything around him make him a great guide on our cultural and culinary adventures.
Peter Dacoff was born and raised in Belize’s only city and moved to Placencia in 2013, beginning a new life on the beach as one of Placencia Peninsula’s best known bartenders. He is the star of our new Belizean Bartender classes and is available to bartend your parties and private events. In 2017 he joined his life partner Lyra on her culinary adventures as a full time member of the Taste Belize Tours team. He often acts as our driver on tour. With his past experience maneuvering ten wheeler trucks across the country, he gets us safely and with great humor to our destinations. His enthusiasm, sense of fun, love of good food and adventure are infectious.