Ya Da Fu We Belize: Dangriga, Belize

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
1
9
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Trip End Jul 29, 2008


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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The title of the blog means "Belize is ours" in Garafuna.  There are a ton of Garafunas in Dangriga, basically it is a mix of black people brought over by the English who settled in Belize, Honduras and some parts of Guatemala.  Kind of neat though, these people intermixed with white commonwealth people, native mayans and also some spanish folks and their language just sort of evovled into Garafuna.  It is a beautiful sing-song language - very nice to listen to.

We arrived into Belize on Friday (7th) to a place called Dangriga.  It is a super chill laid back town that bases its economy on tourism and fishing.  We found a place called Ruthie's Cabanas, they are seaside cabanas that have palm leave rooves and we stayed here for an entire week.  Ruthie is a Garafuna woman who is about 60, grandmother and real nice lady.  We were feeling pretty lazy to go out and eat so all of our meals she cooked us, she offered first so we accepted.  The food was pretty awesome, esp. the Jonny Cakes! and it was pretty reasonably priced for Belize.  Belize itself is probabally one of the most expensive countires in C:A. (exchange is $1 USD = $2BZD) and the dinner per person was $8 BZD each so not too bad.  Ruthie also gave us a few lessons in Garafuna which came in really handy around town!  In Garafuna, there is a word for ¨white people´so Ruthie´s grandkids would speak English to us and always end with ´Bye white people!!´, super cute!!

We lazed around Ruthie's for a few days; kicking back in a hammock, siestas and strolling around Dangriga.  It was a pretty nice break from Spanish Central America, we could speak english and didn't have to barter for a lot of things.  We noticed that a lot of prices were pretty set in Belize and the people didn't really negotiate (it was nice, but, also expensive)

On Monday 10th Belize celebrates the day the English defeated the Spanish off the coast of Dangriga.  So on Sunday night around 7pm they have a Ambulance/Police Car/Firetruck siren parade.  The town basically gathers up all the emergency vehicles and then turns on their sirens and lights and drive a zig-zag pattern down every street in Dangriga (It is dark at 6:30 every night).  Then they usually have the locals on their bikes riding really fast in front of the sirens, pretty funny.  After we walked down to the town hall, with some people we met on the street, where they where going to have a stage performance.  We waited until about 9 then took off, they weren't doing much and it was a lot of talking.   The next day was the actual holiday and they had flatbed tractor trailers loaded with sound equipment and musical equipment up and down the main street.  So from 2pm unitl 7pm they had this wicked music blastin' out of the speakers, really fun to listen to and also watching the kids and the people dance was pretty neat.  I noticed that black ladies in clubs that can shake their booty really well learn at a young age, like 8....crazy.

Tuesday we hired these fisherman to take us to Tobacco Cayes (keys).  We showed up to the dock area around 9am to catch a boat out to the key.  Our friend Clifford who had stopped us the day before assured us that he would get us out there around 10:30am...but he couldn´t find any more white tourists to make the trip worthwhile for him so we caught a ride out with some fishermen headed to the keys.  The waves were choppy and the ride was about 35 minutes directly into them.  Our boat (only 4 of us in it) was long and shallow and fairly sturdy, though we were still tossed around pretty good...The nose of the boat would heave way up and this may or may not coincide with a wave tipping us sideways a bit too - when we broke over the wave the boat would drop to the water with a huge crash...and repeat 100 times.  A bit crazy but worth it!! The key was beautiful and we were the only visitors to it!

We got let off at the dock where we met Tobacco Key George - a resident of the island who loves rum and snorkelling.  We got some gear and went out on our own for a bit - we saw a beautiful school of the blue flat fish (like Ellen in Finding Nemo) and later went out with our new friend George.  When we were out with him, he stirred up a rock fish for us, a couple manta rays, and some tarpon fish 6+ feet long - amazing and huge!!  The colours were beautiful and it was so relaxed and quite out there.  We hammocked a bit and then took off back to Ruthie´s with a much smoother ride with the waves. 

Wednesday we went to Marie Sharps Hot Sauce and Jam Factory.  This factory is down the longest and worst dirt road I have ever seen!! Along the way we passed an oddly out of place really built up complex...turns out this is owned by one of the rich Belizean families.  Apparantly, as is the case in most of the CA countries, this one family controls virtually all of the wealth in the country - and also controls the government.  Anyways, hit the factory and our taxi driver did the tour with us which was sweet!! Very simple factory but it produces jams, juice, and tons of hot sauce and exports private orders as well.  All the peppers and fruits are grown on Marie´s plantations nearby and all ingredients are natural...result = delicious.  We got to sample everything after the tour and left with most of our tastebuds unharmed by the deadly `Belizean Heat`. 

Thursday we went to Blue Hole National park.  We took a chicken bus from Dangriga towards Belmopan and woke up the warden from his nap when we arrived.  He was pretty cool - he is about our age and studying to get into college in Texas for linguistics - his job gives his lots of free time!! We hiked over to the main trails and from there to St. Herman`s cave which was a beautiful mist covered cave tucked into the jungle.  The rest of the park was very beautiful, we eventually made it to a observation tower which gave us a view of the surrounding area of Belize.  While climbing up we woke up a scorpion at the top, I was a little freaked out because I had never seen one, but managed to get a photo of it and also the view.  Sarah didn´t stay too long at the top of the tower, she was a little more freaked out then I was.  (Because I am a big burly manly man that is not afraid of a little bug).  After the tower we walked back to the actual blue hole (swimming hole).  The park gets its name from a naturally occuring sink hole about 100m in diameter.  The hole appeared about 50 years ago and is fed underneath by cool fresh water.  We went for a dip(the locals ranted about how cold it was, but, it was no colder than any lake in Canada about June-ish) and then headed back to Dangriga. 

Early Friday we had to leave for Punta Gorda, BZ.  Meto, Ruthie´s husband, said she was pretty bumed out about us leaving.  She said goodbye at breakfast, but, didn´t really see us off when we finally left because she was too sad.  We headed for the bus station and then took the next bus to Punta Gorda (south part of the country).  At this point in the trip the both of us have traveled in every type of bus in Central America: Chicken Bus, Micro Bus, Omni Bus, 2nd Class Pullman Style, 1st Class Pullman Style (like Greyhound) and Primier Class.  Chicken Buses are by far the most annoying; they stop like every 10 minutes or so to pick up and drop of people, everthing is crammed everywhere and people find any place to sit stand or lean.  We don´t hate them because they are essential, but, we would perfer the 1st or 2nd class direct service buses.  So we took a Chicken Bus to PG because it was the only one available.  At PG we went through customs and then took a 20-person boat to Puerto Barrios (Guatemala).  As we were sitting on the boat about half way, I watched the coast, it seemed that the Belize side was really bright, sunny and calm; the waters we were heading into seemed gloomier, overcast and the water seemed choppier.  I thought to myself `I hope this isin´t foreshadowing for the rest of out trip´.  Belize was really nice, friendly and relaxing remined me of Canada, I think we will really miss it, and Sarah the black mother she never had!!  Once we got to Puerto Barrios (Guat) customs were good, no hassle.  We stayed the night and then took the morning bus to Guatemala City. 

It was a 5 hour ride from PB to GC and then we did a quick bus-line change to a company that had the most buses per day to Xela...So, we are about 1.5 hours into our ride which so far has been a bit noisy due to a very aged bus, but no problems...well, our bus driver pulls into a gas station and takes off for a bit until we all figure out that the transmission is toast and we`ll need another bus for the next 3 hours.  So, he figures we`ll drive back towards GC to meet the bus coming to pick us all up.  So, 0.5hours back towards GC the bus is done.  We hang out eating corn from a road side grill until the next bus comes.  There is a mad dash for the bus, but why we ask - isn`t it empty for us?? Assume nothing!! The bus is full and we are standing along with many others for the next 3 hours so far as we can see.  1 minute later a giant gunshot noise is heard - the tire is now blown.  So our loaded bus is now delayed another half hour or so.  It was a hilariously long day - when we arrived here and met up with our host family, they were like `why did you take that bus line?? They are the worst!!`...yes, we know that NOW!! But all is good and our Spanish school is off to a good start - more on that later. 

Much love, Niko y Sarita.
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Comments

michelleavis
michelleavis on

Black Mama
Sarah- so you have the hair, you have the booty and now you have a black mama!! All you need to do now is learn to shake that booty... and maybe change your name. lol.
glad that you guys are having such a great time. Keep up the great blog!

chickiepoo
chickiepoo on

hi
Are you learning some mean dancing and shaking your tail feathers? It will be almost impossible for you to try out these moves in our country. Your dad and Cathy and in Thunder Bay and maybe on their way back. He is buying a motorcyle in Indiana I think. While he is away I am cleaning the kitty litter. Why do I get these jobs? Our weather has been nice so we can related somewhat to your stories. Soon we will think we are out of our minds living here when the snow comes. Love Aunt Susan

David Paul on

Sounds like you are having a great time! I'm an American and I'm considering retiring to Belize in 10 years or so. Would you say from your experience that it's much cheaper than the states?

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