Belize - How Laid Back Can One Be?

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Whistling Seas

Flag of Belize  ,
Saturday, March 19, 2005

Crossing the border into the tiny English speaking (and Commonwealth) country of Belize was quite a culture shock.People were suddenly very tall, black and speaking very loudly in Creole, a  local language, which is sort of English but quite a mystery really to understand! 

We had left Flores very early in the morning and after 5 buses and a taxi finally arrived at sunset in a little fishing village called Hopkins where we had planned to stay. Belize was a British colony until 1981. The population (only about 230,000) is really all immigrants except for a few remaining pockets of Mayan Indians. As well as  Spanish and English invaders there were the Garifuna people ( black Carib) who originated in St Vincent when Africans from shipwrecked slave boats settled and intermarried Arawak Indians, Carib's and combined with some French and other European influence created a new race and culture. Then after a series of wars around the Caribbean some of the Garifuna relocated to Belize and now form about 7% of the population with heavier concentration on the coast such as Hopkins. 

We were sure that Hopkins invented the words "laid back". It is a town of some 1000 people, very few whites and the preferred language is Garifuna while most also speak English. Everyone has amazing hair - from dreadlocks, so big you cannot imagine, to fancy braids with lots of coloured bits intertwined. Places to eat don't have menus. It is usually chicken, rice and beans or a special they tell you about. We actually ate a type of wild rat!! It is a sought after special by the locals. These rodents grow to the size of a cat and are roasted or stewed. It actually was very tasty! We also ate Conch which is the meat from the conch shell but didn't try the Roasted Iguana.
One reason we chose to come to Belize and to Hopkins in particular was that they have the longest reef in the northern hemisphere and it is 2nd in the world to our Great Barrier Reef. 
Hopkins is on the Caribbean Sea and just out from shore are many beautiful cay's (tropical islands). We had met up with some locals Quentin and Dasha who offered to take us out in their boat which we enthusiastically accepted. We had a full days boat trip visiting the cay's, fishing (but first we had to hunt down bait fish in the cay shallows expertly trapped by Quentin with a throw net), Avan caught a beautiful snapper and our hostess, Dasha, caught a Barracuda, and snorkeling in the most amazing waters of the coral reef. We were without doubt the fish and coral we saw were as beautiful as those on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. We ended up spending a week in Hopkins and by the end of the week we were even dreaming of setting up a business there - such was the pull of this beautiful laid back place! But time to move on again and back into Mexico this time to the Yucatan Peninsular.

Footnote: The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is UNESCO World Heritage listed.
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bath mateus on

Interesting posting. Thanks for the info. Keep up the good work.

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