Belize - Laid Back.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2018

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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

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. 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.
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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stacey3 on

Hopkins in the eyes of a local woman
My beautiful village Hopkins by the sea in Belize. Has been Home to Garifuna people for almost a hundred years now. When my Garifuna ancestors relocated from New Town after Hurricane Hatti hit Belize in the 1960's. It hurts to see negative or demeaning comments about my village on the internet or other means. For which I descided to write this short blog. In Hopkins Garifuna is predominantly spoken and not creole. From our Garifuna culture we have traditional food, rich in ground food such as yams, cassava, etc with sea food (fish, conch, lobster, shrimp,etc. We have been a quiet village know for its fishing and farming. But due to tourism it has evolved somewhat into destination for vacation homes and snorkeling and so forth.
We are a humble people and very proud of our Garifuna culture. And it has been said many times that the Garifuna people have never been slaves, that Africans survived a ship reck along the coast of St Vincent and escaped slavery where they intermingles with the Arawak Indian and the Red Caribs giving Birth to a new culture...THE GARIFUNA CULTURE.

mapleleafmama on

a beautiful people to match a beautiful place
Stacy3, my daughter and her BF have just moved to Hopkins, having fallen in love with your beautiful town 6 months ago. Jaime tells me the people are even more beautiful than the place. I'm praying for you all as you prepare to battle a second Cat 5 hurricane in as many weeks.

stacey3 on

We've been blessed
mapleleafmama we have been blessed and safe from the hurricane, thank you for your kind thoughts. Some higher power is very protective of Belize, and we are eternally grateful and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected countries. As for your daughter she will have a wonderful and relaxing time in Hopkins, its just one of those places that embraces you. It gives me a sence of pride when I see other people enjoy my small peaceful village. Welcome!

bath mateus on

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

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