CUAHI LI HIX – Peace Corps stories by Barbara Wheeler (Belize)


Imagine yourself at 22, barely a year out of college, and the United States government determines that you are qualified to not only teach — (yes, we have all been there, but also to live on your own in a remote Mayan village in southern Belize: no running water, no electricity, no mode of transportation other than your own two feet.

It could be a complete disaster . . . or a recipe for a delightful novel retelling the hilarity!

Cuahi li hix” (qua hee lee heesh) is a common farewell salutation offered by the Mayans to bring forth luck to the traveler. Literally translated, it means “Beware the tiger!” This may seem odd since there are no tigers in Central America, but volunteers soon learned that “tiger” comes in many forms: snakes, bats, scorpions, voracious insects, monkeys, turkeys, rabid dogs, illnesses, and, yes, sometimes even jaguars. Cuahi li Hix describes much of what it is like in the Mayan villages and how the people have lived for centuries. The book is a humorous, lighthearted retelling of one Peace Corps Volunteer’s journey to a world where time seemed to have stopped.

Barbara Wheeler was a former Republican Illinois General Assembly  Member, years served: January 2013 — January 2019. Also a middle-school teacher; B.A., education, Loyola University Chicago; master’s degree, education, National Louis University; RPCV (Belize 1990-92); McHenry County Board; married, has four daughters and one son.


Cuahi Li Hix: A tale of hilarious and sometimes harrowing adventures in the jungle of Belize
by Barbara Wheeler (Belize 1990-92)
Self Publisher
170 pages
May 2021
$4.99 (Kindle); $8.99 (Paperback)


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  • Barbara—–thanks first for having served your country and the people in a remote village in Belize–and thanks also for recording for posterity the stories of your Peace Corps adventures and “misadventures” . I too served (Peace Corps/india 1963-65) and it changed my life and I think did some good for the people in South India villages. Godspeed.

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