July 8, 2015
After a brief hiatus I am back to weekly posting! During the break I was fortunate enough to travel to Belize, one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited.
I spent the first few days along the coast in Hopkins, a small Garifuna village. The center of the village was made up of multicolored houses, constructed of wood or concrete blocks. Because I visited in the off-season, there were few tourists, and when my husband and I visited restaurants we almost always had the chance to speak with the locals themselves, not merely fellow visitors.
What they had to say was very interesting. Hopkins was founded by the descendants of freed slaves, and children growing up in the village learn to speak four languages: Garifuna, Creole, English, and Spanish. Impressive! They also described the changes they had seen in the last decade: resorts, condos, and McMansions rapidly rising up and down their coast. On the one hand, tourism expansion is a boon for the community, providing jobs and an influx of capital. On the other hand, development threatens to spin out of control, destroying the environment and the traditional values they know are so important.
Though over-development may loom in the future, right now the landscape is beautiful. The water was warm and a gorgeous blue, and mountains stretched up to the sky in the distance. We spent two afternoons out by the mangrove islands fishing and snorkeling, providing excellent views of the shoreline. And the birds? Forget about it, totally awesome.
Hopkins is a dream for the adventurous traveler, and we are confident that the intelligent, kind, and capable Hopkin-ites can manage their tourism and protect the surrounding ecosystem. We hope we can return!