My Recent Trip To The Spectacular and Beautiful Caribbean Gem Call Belize by Trish St Hill
Ian and I arrived in Belize City on Saturday at 3:42 pm on TACA airlines via El Salvador from where we caught a flight to Dangriga on Maya Airlines that same day. Our friends, Mark Miranda and Herman Santini, were there to greet us. Mark drove us southwards for 6 miles on the Hummingbird Highway, then 10 miles on to the Southern Highway and 4 miles on the Hopkins village road to his guest house in Hopkins. The ride was a bit long, but we enjoyed all 20 miles of travel. When we arrived in Hopkins, the first thing I noticed was that Hopkins resembled Barrouallie in St.Vincent (Yurumein), which is the town where I grew up.
Like I had observed during my trip to Honduras last year, the faces of St.Vincent(Yurumein) surrounded me everywhere. It appeared that everyone whom I saw, had a twin in Yurumein. We checked in at our friend's guest house then walked up to 'King Casava''s restaurant to enjoy our dinner of hudutu with fish that our friend had ordered for us. Later, we walked the streets of Hopkins with Mark,our host, and observed that in Hopkins, many people spoke Garifuna as their main language and only switched to English when necessary. As a student of the Garifuna language, it was refreshing to hear the Garifuna language spoken so much. The following morning (Sunday) we visited some friends of our host and walked along the beach, stopping later to swim in the warm sunlit sea especially as we had left the frigid cold of New York.
Later that Sunday, we traveled by bus back to Dangriga, a very popular Garifuna town in Belize, to visit our friends Roy and Phyllis Cayetano, 'Lady Caye', as I affectionally call her, planned a reception for us and invited many guests for the night. If there were any persons who can plan a classy and enjoyable event, they were Phyllis and Roy Cayetano. Everything went just right with the proceding starting on time and the crowd eager to listen. Local cable TV and radio crew were on hand to film and record the evening's events. Persons from all walks of life and a wide cross-section of ages attended, including the Mayor of Dangriga and his family. The event was beautifully cordinated with a full Garifuna band of drummers and dancers. The dancing and drumming were both mesmerising and entertaining.
I was invited by Lady Caye to speak to the crowd. Never one to be shy, I explained to the crowd about my book, how I came to write it, the discoveries I made along the way and my decision to visit my Garifuna brothers and sisters in Belize. On Monday, we travelled back to Hopkins by bus and again enjoyed the food and atmosphere there. We were told that the people in Dangriga rarely spoke Garifuna. But we observed that even though the people in Dangriga spoke mainly English and Kriole(creole), they often spoke Garifuna among themselves very capably. One of my stops earlier that day before we left Dangriga for Hopkins was the Gulisi Elementary school where even the pre-schoolers spoke Garifuna. We visited the Garifuna Museum nearby and It pleased me to see such a valiant effort being made to preserve the language and the culture. Also, I spoke to a class at the Ecumenical Junior College in Dangriga where I hope I have made many long and sustainable friendships. I was particularly impressed with Mr. Sabal, the Dean at the Junior College, and his dedicated staff. His commitment and practical innovations at the college have instilled great pride and passion in the stuents to reach their fullest potential.
On Tuesday morning we returned to Dangriga for our final stay there and spent another night with the Cayetanos, but not before eating bundiga at 'King Casava's on Monday evening and visiting the construction site of a garifuna temple or dabuyaba . In Dangriga, we visited the Art Gallery of the famous Pen Cayetano, who is the father of the popular Punta Rock and even went with his wife Ingrid to visit Pen at his farm. Except for the mosquitos liking my blood a bit too much, it was a pleasant visit. On Wednesday, we said goodbye to the Cayatanos and took the bus into Belmopan, the capital city of Belize. Cesar Ross, a professor at the University of Belize (UB) picked us up at the bus terminal and took us on a short tour of some of the nearby government buildings. Later, he drove us to the University of Belize campus where I spoke to the students of Professors Rita Mae Hyde's History class and Stacey Sangster's Caribbean Literature class , took pictures and had a great rapport with the students and teachers. With time on our hands, we had lunch with Professor Hyde, browsed around the city before returning to the campus to wait for our friend Felene Swaso, a librarian, who had to drive back to Belize City that night. I contacted Felene a few weeks ago when my friend James Lovell brought us together via email and ask her to assist me with contacts during my trip to Belize. We made it to Belize City in time for me to speak to Mr Colin Estrada's history class at the Wesley Junior College. The session was very informative and interesting and after having a late dinner, we retired for the night as I had to appear early on Thursday on the Belizean Channel 5 TV morning show, 'Open Your Eyes' , at 6:30 am. Our friend Felene took me to the TV station and also appeared and supported me on the show.
After the show, we walked to the home of Angela Palacio. Before leaving New York, I had exchanged email messages with Angela after she had contacted me to be Personality of the Month on her website www.apalacioexchange.com. She dedicated her entire day to contacting or taking us around to local bookstores, the tourist market, the Marion Jones Sports Complex that is under construction, the Belize City Campus of UB, and to various places of interest. Angela is the neice of Dr. Joseph Palacio who is author of the 'Garifuna, a Nation Across Borders' and assisted us tremenduosly in visiting and establising links with Dr.Vincent Palacio,who works at the UB campus in Belize City and is the son of Dr Joseph Palacio. Angela was very instrumental in contacting prospective bookstores in Belize that will be carrying my book, 'Beneath the Golden Mango'.
As I sat at the Phillip Goldson International airport on Thursday February 10th waiting to board my 5:30 pm plane for New York, I knew that this was my first of many trips to this splendid country of fresh air, wide open spaces, and friendly and hospitable people. I shivered at the thought of the snow surrounding my home in Long Island, New York. I plan to return to Belize soon, where I hope my next trip would be more extensive and even more enjoyable. My heartfelt thank you to everyone on this email list who contributed to making this trip possible and enjoyable, especially James Lovell, Felix and Mark Miranda, Roy and Phylis Cayetano, Felene Swaso, and Angela Palacio, Ritamae Hyde and Efasina Efunyemi, and Colin Estrada.
Link to my appearance on 'Open Your Eyes' TV show:
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It was great to meet Trish St Hill in Belize last Thursday. Please note that I will be agent in Belize for her book "Beneath the Golden Mango Tree"
I hope to get the books around March 1. The book will also be available at
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I am looking for other bookstores to sell the book at. In particular would love to have it available in every district and major Caye.
Tidewese CD available for purchase. This CD is a gift from Sally Enriquez Reyes to the memory of her mom, Semiona . Sally Reyes comes from a family of composers and singers of traditional garifuna songs. Her mom composed many of the popular garifuna songs that are featured on the CD. Her sister, Virgin Enriquez, and her nephew, Garif, also are composers and talented singers. These songs are classics with deep meaning and great drumming and singing. Seremei Sally hisieti CD le nu. Keep it up!!
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