COA Presents “Hamacas, Milpas, y Coca Colas”

Posted April 11, 2013, at 6:01 p.m.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 4:10 p.m. to 4:10 p.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - McCormick Lecture Hall, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: Gray Cox; 207-288-5015;

BAR HARBOR, ME—Hear about traditional Mayan massages, medications, music, and more when College of the Atlantic students returning from Mexico present “Hamacas, Milpas, y Coca Colas: Learning to Practice Human Ecology in the Yucatan.” The talk, for the college’s Human Ecology Forum, will be at 4:10 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16 in McCormick Lecture Hall by 12 students who took part in the Spanish and Maya immersion program in Yucatan. The students will present photos, stories, reflections, videos, music, and perhaps even a bit of dance.

According to second-year student Maria Escalante, a native of Colombia, “For a month and a half all of us had a family in Mérida. During this time we took classes in Spanish.” Escalante, being fluent in Spanish, studied Mayan. Working with COA lecturer Karla Pena, the students also studied Mayan history and culture, as well as Latin dance. “Some had classes in photography and some in Mexican film history. The idea was to get a sense of the culture and how could we better understand our new context,” continues Escalante.

That was December. By January, she says, “we all had in mind certain project or focus that we wanted to develop somewhere outside of Mérida. Each one of us had a different inclination.”

Leaving the city, the students fanned out for more than a month, settling with families in separate villages. Several students studied medical practices—one with a sobandera, a woman who uses herbal massages in healing, and another with practitioners of traditional plant medicine. Several others were looking into agricultural practices. Two students focused on spiritual views. Meanwhile, one student studied regional dances, another regional music, and another focused on photography. “We all learned so much,” says Escalante.

For more information on “Hamacas, Milpas, y Coca Colas,” and the student talk on the Yucatan on Tuesday, April 16 at 4:10 p.m. contact Gray Cox at or 288-5015.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit