We spent four days in Belize in July of this year. Two of those days were on the island Caye Caulker, which we reached with a ferry from Belize City. This is the view you have of the island when approaching by ferry:
Here’s a short history to give insight into why Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America: There used to be a Mayan population in Belize. We visited the Mayan ruins of Cahal Pech and Xunantunich while we were in Belize, but there are many other ruins all across the country.
During the 16th century Spain was invading the Yucatan area of Mexico, which is just North of Belize. English buccaneers (pirates) were cutting logwood in the Yucatan area and according to legend, one buccaneer named Peter Wallis (the Spanish pronounced his name as Ballis) gave his name to the Belize river. The British and Spanish continued to attack and fight with each other, until the British drove off the Spanish in the Battle of St. George’s Caye in 1798.
The British imported slaves from other British colonies and eventually the creole culture was formed. Slavery technically ended in1838, but the British masters continued to control the country for more than a century by denying access to land and by limiting freedmen’s economic freedom. During these years the British attacked Mayan villages in an attempt to drive the Mayans out.
In 1862, the settlement of Belize was declared a British colony named British Honduras.
In 1859, under the terms of the Anglo-Guatemalan Treaty, Guatemala agreed to recognize Belize as British territory and in exchange Great Britain promised to build a road from Guatemala to the nearby Belize town of Punta Gorda. The road between Guatemala and Belize still has to be constructed, and Guatemalans are currently fighting to claim back part of Belize’s land that they feel belong to them.
Belize, the youngest country in Central America became an independent country in 1981.
Belize reminded me of Mozambique, with palm trees everywhere and dilapidated buildings lining the streets of Belize City. These photos show the sandy streets of Caye Caulker where silly tourists drive around in golf carts.
As we walked with the dogs a local guy called out: “Thunder! That’s the sixth time you’re getting a walk today!” Another guy said that the dog Dirk was walking used to be his dog. I didn’t feel comfortable to take photos of any of the locals – swearing is part of their local creole language, and I did not want to get into a fight with any of the people who acted and talked like American gangsters. Creole is a strange language – it sounds exactly like English, but I can’t understand a word of it, except the swear words.
Despite the beautiful white sand, there’s not really a beach where people lay around to tan and swim. At sunset, people gather around the area where the island was split in two by a hurricane in 1961; the spot is known simply as the split.
Here you sit on one side of the island with a drink and watch the sun set over the other part of the island. Apparently you can swim to the other side of the island, but you have to take a stick with you to fight off territorial stray dogs.
We missed the annual lobster festival by a month, but we still chose a sidewalk restaurant run by a very loud lady named Fran to eat a Lobster dish. Much to our dismay, the lobster we ate was not whole lobster, but we enjoyed our meal, while Fran swore loudly at a poor man who dared to cycle through her restaurant with his bike.