Paget’s Belize Journal #10

September 27: Here I Am and It’s Hot!

Here I am in Belize and well on my way to slowing down. Since
we have lots of new people on the list since my June visit, I
will repeat some general information about Belize and Dangriga.

Belize is the northern-most country in Central America, on
the east coast, bordering Mexico and Guatamala and just south
of the Yucatan peninsula. It has a strong Carribean influence
and is multi-ethnic – Maya, Hispanic, Black, plus whatever the
colonists brought in. Belize used to be British Honduras and
gained independence in 1981. The residents speak English and
Creole and many of them also speak Spanish. Schools are taught
in English. Besides the mainland, there are many occupied cayes
(keys) and atolls along the barrier reef, which is the second largest
reef in the world, and, they are proud to say, the longest *living*
reef. The snorkeling, diving and fishing along the reef are fantastic.
More about this and inland activities as we go along.

Dangriga is on the south central coast, on the easternmost
point of the mainland. It is the cultural and spiritual home
of the Garifuna or Garinagu (I think, one is the language, one
is the people, I left all my Belize books at home, so spelling
is also iffy). These are the Black Caribes. The town is pretty
undeveloped with a population of about 10,000. The economy is
citrus (orange, lime, grapefruit, mostly processed for juice)
and tourism-based, but since they make few concessions to tourism,
they’re not making a lot of headway. A reasonable, but small,
retail community (but nothing like we’re used to) and practically
no industry other than citrus.

The country’s inheritance from the British includes a reasonable
infrastructure – water, sewer, electricity and telephone are pretty
reliable. No sidewalks of course and not much paving anywhere.
The town is at sea level and the highest point in town is the
bridge over the river – maybe 15 feet. Here’s a 360 degree view
from the bridge
. It’s the first QuickTimeVirtualReality image
that Tony did, but it’s good.

The trip here was as easy as possible, no delays, no confusions.
This time I knew what color my bags were (thanks also to the
orange ribbons my sister put on), so they didn’t even paw through
them at customs. The flight from Belize City to Dangriga was
a bit hairy, through a lightening storm that had me nearly clutching
the large, bouncy-looking man next to me. The pilot managed to
dodge most of it, though, except for some spectacular sheet-rain
downpour and we arrived intact. Set me to wondering just how
bad it would get before he turned on his windshield wipers, though.
Maybe there weren’t any, I decided I’d rather not know so didn’t
check when I got on the ground.

I think the househunting report will have to wait for another
day. Have to try to earn my keep today.