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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
they do this thing..the men and boys, like hooting.. or whistling.. only more like a ssppppptttt.. like a snake.. they call you out.. dont giggle and look around.. stand tall and keep walking.. those are not always the best people to hang out with.. or do it back at them.. but that is an open invitation..
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.
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.
Too many tourists come off as 'rich Americans' by the locals, and the 'tourists' see nothing but the assumed poverty of the locals. This sometimes causes initial barriers. WE are all of the same material deep down inside, and once this is realized, you will find the most splendid of experiences awaits you, and maybe lifelong friends.
The locals of Belize have a rich cultural mix of Afro-carribean, English, and Spanish ancestry. Although English is spoken everywhere, respect locals who talk Creole and/or Spanish only.