DangrigaLive.bz Website with travel info
The Dangriga Town Council has a new website (http://www.dangrigalive.bz) that has tons of information for visitors and tourists. We've got stuff about hotels and restaurants, how to travel to the nearby islands, internet cafes, and more.
Dangriga is Located on the Southeast Coast
The map shows our meandering 3-day trip with our rental vehicle from the International Airport outside Belize City into the central Belmopan area before heading south on the Hummingbird Highway to the coastal village of Hopkins. While there, we back-tracked for a quick look at Dangriga, since it is located up the coast only about 20 miles by road. All the marked roads we travelled on were good sealed roads and Belize is not a very big country - it is only 105 miles from Belize City to Dangriga.
Like a welcoming hug...
Dangriga was our gate to Belize. We arrived by boat from Omoa, Honduras, in a vessel that stopped quickly in Punta Gorda and Placencia. Entering was not hassle free, unfortunately. We had to listen to the Immigration Officer saying that entering was ok for the gringos in the same boat we were, but not for south americans...
When we got there we were scammed by a Charlie person, who we paid only to take our time and choose our hotel properly.
After cursing the lack of third world solidarity, the scam and the dificulty to find a place to stay, we finally bumped into Pete's, a GREAT and reasonably priced waterfront hotel. Then everything was great again, and we could reply to all the 'helloes' and 'how are yous" we go from the very nice people in town...
Dangriga - Maybe Not!
It was our 9th day in Belize by the time we made a small side-trip to Dangriga, since we were staying only 20-miles (32-km) south in the village of Hopkins (see my separate page for the details on that). With a population of 11,000 Belizians, we could immediately tell from the traffic and hustle-bustle that we were now in a real town instead of a sleepy palm-fringed village!
The town owes both it's beginnings and much of the culture to the 1823 landing of the 'Garinagu', a group of African descent who had managed to escape from slavery during the colonization of the West Indies. Starting from the early 1600s, over 4 million African slaves were transported to the various parts of the West Indies to work the sugar plantations. In 1635, an intended slave cargo from Nigeria washed up on the remote island of St. Vincent, off the north coast of South America, following the sinking of two Spanish ships. These Africans eventually mixed with the local Carib natives, gradually forming the Garinagu culture over the next 100 or more years. However, in the British-French wars for control of St. Vincent, the Garinagu paid a heavy price for their alliance with the French losers. At the end of the war, in 1796, the British rulers of St. Vincent forceably evicted them almost 1700 miles to the west, onto the small island of Roatan (in present-day Honduras) not far off the coast of Belize. It was from there, over the next few decades, that the Garinagu finally reached the back-water of Belize, where maybe they could be left in peace (my 'General' tip has a map that shows the location of Dangriga).
Although Dangriga turned out to be mostly a busy commercial town with few tourist attractions that we could see in our short time there, it's main claim to fame is the various cultural events that are held to celebrate it's unique heritage.
"Garifuna Settlement Day November 19th"
There are so many explanation about Garifuna and their culture in the Internet..so I am lazy and copy something from it . This part in taken from : http://www.mayaparadise.com/garifune.htm :
The history of the Garifuna (or Garifune) begins before the year 1635 on the island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean. St. Vincent was inhabited by a tribe of Indians who called themselves Arawaks. The Kalipuna tribe from mainland South America invaded St. Vincent and conquered the Arawaks. The Arawak men were all killed and the Kalipuna warriors took the Arawak women as wives. The inhabitants of the island were then the union of these two tribes. The word "Garifuna", which means "cassava eating people", is probably descended from "Kalipuna". The Spanish called these people "Caribes" (Caribs) which means cannibals and that is the word from which "Caribbean" is descended.
In the year 1635 two Spanish ships carrying Nigerian slaves shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent. At first, the Spanish, Nigerians and Kalipuna fought one another but eventually learned to get along and intermarried, thus creating the Black Caribs.
At that time, St. Vincent was a British colony and the Caribs tried to establish independent control of the island. The French supported the Caribs and there were many battles between the Caribs and the British. The greatest battle took place in 1795 and both sides suffered great losses. In 1796 the Caribs and the French surrendered to the British.
In 1797 the surviving Caribs were shipped to Roatan Island off the coast of Honduras. Along the way, the Spanish captured one of the British ships which was taken to Trujillo where the captured Caribs did well. Later, the Spanish captured Roatan Island from the British. The Spanish rounded up 1,700 Caribs on the island and brought them to Trujillo where laborers were much needed. The Spanish were not good farmers and Trujillo suffered accordingly. On the other hand, the Caribs were very skillful at farming so they went to work and did very well in Trujillo. Some of the Caribs were conscripted into the Spanish army where they served with distinction.
The first Caribs to arrive on the coast of Belize were brought there as woodcutters by the Spanish in 1802. They were put ashore in the area near Stann Creek and what is now Punta Gorda. At the time, Belize was held by the British and was called British Honduras. The Caribs continued to serve the Spanish army with distinction, earning medals of valor. At one point, the fortress at San Felipe (El Castillo de San Felipe) was commanded by a Carib. Gradually more Caribs moved to the Stann Creek area in British Honduras.
Because of their alignment with the Spanish, the Caribs found themselves on the wrong side of the political fence when Central America achieved independence from Spain. Those Caribs in Trujillo found themselves in the new country of Honduras where sentiments against Spain were strong. Large numbers of Caribs fled to the coast of Belize where other Caribs already lived in numbers. It is this migration that is celebrated annually as Garifuna Settlement Day. This is a major holiday in Garifuna communities celebrated on November 19th.
Gradually, the Caribs spread up and down the coast of Belize. During this century, some Caribs served on US and British merchant vessels during World War II and travelled the world. As a result, there are now small communities of Garifuna in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City.
The Garifuna culture is very strong with great emphasis on music, dance and story-telling and with its own brand of religion consisting of a mix of Catholicism, African and Indian beliefs. Because of their difference and independence, over the years the Garifuna have been feared and discriminated against by Guatemalans and variously accused of devil-worship, polygamy, voodoo and speaking a secret language.
The Garifuna culture is a unique treasure.