Tag Archives: Garifuna

Random West End Photos

The Beach House dock took this direct hit from all the wave action with the recent bad weather.

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Near and far views of Dix Half Way Inn on Half Moon Bay. Looks like a cool place but haven’t made it there yet, mostly because we keep getting waylaid by the ice cream shop nearby.

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Eagle Ray’s over-water bar from the West End Diver‘s dock, with water enthusiasts.

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On cruise ship days we can usually hear the Garifuna performances from E.R.’s deck (turtle shells and drums for percussion, conch shells for horns, and much spirited singing). We finally made it down one day to watch some crazy hips-don’t-lie dancing by these women.

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Speaking of music drifting our way, the Roatan Oasis, just up the hill from our parrot perch, has been featuring live acoustic music the last few Monday nights. This week we finally trekked along the muddy shortcut to the paved road leading that way and met one of the owners (Loren) as we enjoyed some good tunes with their friendly staff and a group of mostly local patrons – not to mention a few beers, two delicious appetizers, and some incredibly awesome desserts (homemade Snickers bar with ice cream). Ray is already plotting how to make these himself.

Our favorite place in West End by far, though, has been Foster’s, pictured here between Eagle Ray’s deck posts and in a following Facebook page photo. The staff – bartender and manager Mark, “PR Guy” Roland, “Future Manager” David, Wesley (Snipes), Burt (Reynolds), cook Joseph, and boat captain Greg – are all so much fun. We’ve had many a good time there in our six short weeks. Too bad we aren’t able to transport the Pier-ettes and Pier-verts here when the music gets going. Miss you guys!

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Here’s one of many gift shops along West End road, typically selling tropical attire, woven bags, brightly colored hammocks and swings, and all kinds of jewelry and trinkets.

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This is the intersection of the main road and the dirt track that leads to Mariposa Lodge. Behind this little fence is Splash Inn Dive Center; I was standing in front of their restaurant, see second pic, which makes really good pizza.

west-end-5007Lastly, one night when I was making the rounds of the property and switching on lights, I liked this view and thought I’d experiment. My iPhone camera has definitely been trusty but we must get a GoPro before our next travels. Even so, I kind of like the way this one turned out. 🙂

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Hopkins Village

We liked Hopkins a lot. We were there during the week, and it’s also low season (ie, there were about twenty gringo guests at the resort, and it’s a large property). Meanwhile, the villagers were doing their normal routines (work, school, shopping, etc) and we felt a little suspect trying to take thhopkins-roadeir pictures. I’m thinking I probably need to get over that, because if you ask, most of them are happy to oblige.

Here’s our picture album from the village – missing two pictures I wish I would have taken. The first was of an old woman in a house dress, plump and barefoot, hauling two big logs down the street (I quipped: “That’s me at 80, still collecting firewood”). The other was what looked like a mid-afternoon class being held outside under a large palapa – the kids all lined up on benches in their neat school uniforms, and a teacher up front reading to them. We would have had to specifically drive closer to get the shot, which meant we’d be interrupting, so we went on by instead.purple-flowers-on-the-fence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I would have liked to go inside, but Miss Bertie’s wasn’t open. 😦
Not sure how or why, but the Chinese definitely have the market on supermarkets, here.

shopping-centerWe stopped at this guy’s little gift stand (I’ve forgotten his name). He told us that he works at Hamanasi, a nearby resort, but in his off time he also weaves a kind of raffia-like straw and what he called “jippy jap,” a flexible reed, into baskets and other items.

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The police station looks kind of imposing, but not apparently as intimidating as this office, where they clearly take their crime and punishment seriously (um, letter spacing, anyone?). Only two days a week, though. 🙂

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School was in session. Time for stressed out parents to visit here:

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These guys were characters – Alex and Santiago, at another gift shop further down the road. Alex told us about his family in Libertad, not far from Corozal, and how he liked living in Hopkins better. We’d actually given Santiago a lift in the back of the truck as we’d come into town the day before, and he recognized us right away. They were dusting out their shop, understandable with dry season still underway. Sculptures like these made out of zericote wood are common in gift shops here – the wood has a beautiful texture – and we ended up buying a parrot (the toucans were maybe more representative of Belize, as the country’s official bird; but they didn’t have any attitude). Also, I think Alex might be a little of a ham.

alex-in-front-of-standIt was VERY hot, even at mid-morning. We stopped at the Tree Top Bar over the Funky Dodo Hostel Inn and had a Belikin served by Matthew. He asked if we’d heard about the Garifuna drum jam at the Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack that evening (we had); good, he’d probably see us there.

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Bet it was a nice view from that palapa. And here’s some blue mangoes.

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On the way back to the resort (and the pool), we passed the Garifuna drum school (which unfortunately wasn’t open at the time). The evening before, the Rhum Bar at the resort (see more about this next post) had been playing a CD by The Garifuna Collective, which was awesome music (apparently available on iTunes if you are interested – I’ll be downloading some of it).

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Great expectations

We’ve had two years to get a lot of ideas about Belize; even so, we’ve tried to be open-minded and just accept people and places as they show themselves to us here – in other words, explore the place without preconceived ideas.

Except, apparently, for Placencia.

We clearly had expectations there – in hindsight now, pretty specific expectations, even. We hadn’t really ever spelled them out to each other, but it seems we both had the idea that the Placencia peninsula was going to be sort of like the Upper Florida Keys, or maybe even the narrowest parts of the Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach barrier islands. In other words, a fairly wide piece of land, with a main road where you can sometimes see the water on both sides, and where along the way, you’d see single family homes, resorts and restaurants, and some condo developments, too.

seine bightMaya Beach was like that, except that its widest spot is only 1/2 mile wide – so while technically there’s a beach side and a lagoon side, neither takes up all that much real estate (the beach is narrower than its opposite).

The next town south, Seine Bight, is a traditional Garifuna village (that’s pronounced with emphasis on the first syllable, like Griff-fin-ah, not Gare-i-foon-ah). There are a few resorts here but mostly it’s home to about 1000 villagers, who live in what most Americans would consider sub-standard housing. To us, it was a very have/have not moment on the heels of Maya Beach. Yet, like most places we’ve been to in Belize, the village felt relaxed and the people seemed happy.

placencia-airportThe Placencia airport is interesting. The coastal road curves around the runway, so there are barricades on either side of the curve to halt traffic when a plane is coming in or taking off. We hoped we would see one during a run back and forth, but no such luck.

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By this point, the peninsula is truly truly narrow – much thinner than we anticipated. By the time you actually get to Placencia Village, you can practically throw a stone from one side to the other.

The vilplacencia-sidewalk-aug2002lage has the kinds of  quirky restaurants and shops you often find in tropical towns, and the sidewalk that runs all through town is interesting, with its colorful directional signs pointing the way to various venues. At the same time, though, it’s an actual village where people live, with a population of about 1000 Belizeans (typically Garifuna and Mayans) and others. That’s a lot of people and activity to stuff into that kind of space, which might explain why our overwhelming sense was of congestion bordering on claustrophobia, even on an early Saturday morning with nothing much going on.

We’d heard so many good things about the place; why weren’t we feeling it? We decided to go back to the hotel in Maya Beach for the rest of the day and come back that evening to give it another try – which we did, stopping off at a few spots as we walked through town again, and we still felt like Jeff Probst on Survivor: “I got nothing for ya. Go back to camp.”

I’m surprised to be saying it, but there’s my thoughts on Placencia. I’m guessing we’ll go back again at some point, and who knows, maybe without our own hype to get in our way. we’ll enjoy it more then.

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