Local traditions and culture in Belize

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Belize

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    1 Barrel

    by iwys Updated Aug 18, 2008

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    1 Barrel Rum is Belize's national drink. The winner of many awards, it is considered by many to be the finest rum in the Caribbean. It's a dark rum which is so smooth that you should drink it straight on the rocks. You can buy it in local supermarkets as well as at the airport's duty-free store.

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    Drink em if you got em.

    by Travmad Written May 13, 2007

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    Belikin Beer! My that sounds interesting, Would you like that in Lager or Stout my good man. Well actually I think I would like the stout tonight as it is such a nice beer warm or cold. Good choice if I do say so myself.
    Yeah I would definitely go with Belikin beer. The stout or lager come in the same, smart move, returnable bottles. So please look at the cap to distinguish which flavour you are shoving down your gullet.

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    ganjia

    by Travmad Updated May 13, 2007

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    Belizians consider themselves close relatives to Jamaicans. So with saying that ganjia is a relatively easy thing to obtain in Belize. It is not only frowned upon as well as not legal to use or obtain it for any reason recreational or religious in Belize it isn't hard to to. So if you want to try out the local culture some will probably ask you somewhere along the line in Belize to partake in the religious ceremony. Your choice.

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    Local Laundry

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 16, 2007

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    The day after we arrived at the Trek Stop in the San Ignacio area, we asked the Belizian lady (Flora), who prepared meals in the kitchen, what was our best option to get our 13 days of laundry seen to. She said it was no problem to have one of the villagers in San Jose Succotz take care of it (US$6) and she would look after the details for us. That was great, so we brought our pile to her in a plastic bag and she sent it off into town, with a promise that it would be returned by the next morning. Later, as we walked along the highway through the village on our way to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, we could not help but notice a happy group of villagers doing their (or was it ours?) laundry at the edge of the Mopan River! In the distance you can glimpse a part of one of the sets of rapids on this river that we later braved while on our tubing trip. As promised, the laundry was returned by 7 AM the next morning and, although a little damp, it soon dried out in the sunshine on our cabana's clothesline.

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    Citrus Growers Paradise

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 8, 2006

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    After travelling just over half-way along the Hummingbird Highway from Belmopan toward Dangriga, on the east coast, it became evident that this Stann Creek District part of the country was home to numerous large citrus groves. Along both sides of the highway, orange (mostly) and grapefruit trees stretched off into the distance, partially climbing the slopes of the nearby Maya Mountains.

    Both driving to and while in the Hopkins area, we saw many large truck loads of fruit trundling down the highway (second photo) to the two juice concentrator plants that are located in this part of Belize. Due to the poor port infrastructure in Belize, they had to turn to juice plants because it was too expensive to export the raw fruit to the large but distant European and American markets. It turns out that the citrus industry was introduced to the country in 1926 and has grown significantly since then. Although the production (80% oranges and 20% grapefruit) is small in terms of world output, these locally owned and managed groves and concentrators provide a major source of income for the country, worth about US$50 million.

    So much of Belize's orange juice is transformed into frozen concentrate for export, that we had very little in the way of fresh orange juice served to us in our entire 3 weeks in Belize! The third photo shows one of the typical orange groves that cover the fields and hillsides in this part of Belize.

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    Mennonites

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 8, 2006

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    Belize is a diverse country with a mixed population of 49% Mestizos (Spanish-speaking Mayan/European mix), 25% Creoles (English-speaking African/European mix), 11% Mayan, 6% Garinagu (escaped African slaves from Caribbean islands) and 9% others such as Rastafarians, East Indians and Mennonites.

    We saw this group of Mennonite women waiting for the water taxi on Caulker, dressed in their usual garb of long skirts and head-coverings. They seemed to be having a good time, going off to get some ice-cream cones and lining up for various group photos. The Mennonites are relatively recent immigrants to Belize (ariving within the last 40 years) after leaving Germany following the Second World War to settle in Mexico for a while before finally moving on to Belize. Mennonites and Amish are basically of the same religion, but the Amish hold stricter views about not embracing modern technology and personal grooming/fashions. Because the Mennonite settlers team together to buy large tracts of land and equipment to properly work it, Belize has benefited enormously from their presence.

    During our later excursions in Belize not far from the capital of Belmopan, we came across field after field stretching to the horizon in a remote jungle stream area, with a different crop growing in each plot. When I said to our tour guide that this looked like a government-run experimental farm, he said "no, it is Mennonite land". I was impressed! The second photo shows some of these farmers in Roaring Creek as our tour van drove across one of its fords on our way to a remote Mayan cave site that had been discovered by Mennonites in 1989.

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    Stilt Houses

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 8, 2006

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    In some ways, our arrival on Caye Caulker was almost like a flashback to the days when we lived in Papua New Guinea! During a morning walk along the eastern shore as we headed south toward the Airport area, we saw a number of beachfront properties that were built on stilts - and they looked almost like the house we lived in for 3 years on the other side of the world. We actually saw houses like these all over Belize, used by the locals as well. In hot and humid climates the stilts serve a number of purposes. They get you a little further up and away from the creepy crawlies, the living space is up where the breezes are, you can park your car underneath in the shade and it even helps for the odd storm surge or two if you are living on the coast!

    The second photo shows another example of a stilt house, in the much less 'touristy' village of Hopkins along the south central coastline of mainland Belize. Someone described Hopkins as a place that is "halfway between Paradise and poverty", and it is not a bad observation. For the most part, this is still a quiet back-water with most of the infrastructure owned by the locals and, perhaps, not receiving the full amount of maintenance attention that it should. Things at our Whistling Seas accommodations were a bit rough around the edges, but it suited our purposes and definitely had location. Locally-owned places like it dot the long beachfront, interspersed with local 'stilt' houses like this one beside our cabana (2nd photo).

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    Cashew Trees Everywhere

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 6, 2006

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    The inland village of Crooked Tree is famous for its annual Cashew Festival, so it was no surprise to see these huge trees growing here and there around the village, including this one trying to take over someone's house!

    Originally found in northeastern Brazil, the Portugese colonizers of that part of South America exported it around the world to their various colonies that had similar tropical climates so they too could benefit from its many uses. The trees produce a double-whammy, a single oval seed fruit (the 'nut') with a large fleshy appendage about the size of a pear on one end of it (the 'apple').

    The cashew apple can be eaten raw, but is more often used to make jams, chutneys or drinks because of it's acidic nature. Another fine use for this part of the tree is to crush the apple to produce the ingrediants necessary for 'cashew wine' - very good, based on the sample we had at one of our meals! Getting at the cashew nut is a more delicate act, because its skin has a potent toxin similar to that found in poison-ivy. A complex process of boiling the fruit and shelling it is carried out, often with the workers suffering from skin rashes. However, if you have ever tasted cashew nuts, you know they are worth going through all this fuss!

    The people of Crooked Tree have discovered a few extra uses for the Cashew tree: the light, water resistant bark is used to make canoes, the root makes a great bowel purgative, the gum from the fruit stems makes a natural insect repellent and, finally, the oil in the shell of the nut is used commercially for varnish, paints, shampoos and conditioners!

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    Go Slow

    by mcsmiles77 Written Apr 8, 2005

    The lifestyle on Caye Caulker is very relaxed...another words do not expect fast service nor businesses to be open on time. It is somewhat rude to rush service people on the island, just allot enough time if you have to catch transportation or a tour. Be kind and slow down your pace of life on this island. I don't think the "Go Slow" signs are just for the golf carts =)

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    Where everybody knows your face

    by mcsmiles77 Updated Apr 8, 2005

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    Because Caye Caulker is so small, after a few days around town, you will get to know the faces you pass and they'll recognize you. At first, I did not think the island was friendly, but after a day of initiating hellos and waving to random people, the locals started recognizing us, which was very warming.
    There are many children around the island, under houses, riding bikes, and exuding carefree attitudes.
    Don't be afraid to say hello, a smile back is very rewarding.

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    Tipping

    by africaking Written Dec 17, 2004

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    When travelling through Belize, do be aware that tipping is becoming more and more common, it's the usual 10% of your bill.

    Restaurants, taxi's, excursions and hotels are the standard places to tip for the service you got, but of course it is at your discretion, there will be no grudge held toward you if you don't tip.

    The people in Belize do not expect tips, so you won't see hands dangling in front of your face begging for your spare change, in fact I only recall one incident where someone came up to me and asked for money.

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    Slash & Burn

    by diver-x Updated Jun 16, 2003

    We saw a lot of farmers & residents slashing & burning their fields and yards, especially around the San Ignacio area. Around San Ignacio there was always at least a hint of smoke in the air. And if you look out from a hilltop you'll see plumes of smoke all around. Later we found out why it's so prevalent. Our host in Placencia told us that to cut down a tree on your land, you need a permit that costs $300 BD. To slash and burn, the permit also costs $300, so people opt for the easier and more effective way to clear land.

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    The history of Ambergris Caye...

    by kucha Written Sep 7, 2002

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    The history of Ambergris Caye goes back to the days of the Maya and includes exposure to pirates and Mexican refugees who fled during the Caste War. The economy of the island was once dependent on the coconut and fishing industries, but is now dependent on tourism. In Mayan times, Ambergris Caye was a trading post. The Marco Gonzalez ruins at the southern tip of the caye and the Basil Jones site to the north, as well as the many recently excavated sites in the heart of San Pedro Town give evidence to a former Maya population of 10,000. The people of the island are called 'Sanpedranos' and speak English, Spanish, Creole, and Maya all at the same time, making it their own island dialect.

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    There is no such thing as a...

    by Philadelphia Written Aug 26, 2002

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    There is no such thing as a line in Belize. If you think you are in one, ten people probably just stepped in front of you on route to mob the counter.
    Pictured here is a member of the official welcoming comittee of the Belize Tourist Board. Ok. . . No. Though Belize has very low crime, officers like this one can be seen at checkpoints on the highways. It can be a bit disconcerting.

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    Try hard to make some new...

    by Lissa_Girl Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Try hard to make some new friends. You'll get a glimpse into a different culture. Belizeans live in conditions that we can't imagine, yet are still some of the happiest people i know. They showed me how to be truly happy with the simple things in life.

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