Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Belize City


This past Saturday, I arrived in Belize.  Rather than staying in Belize City, I chose to stay in Ladyville which is just across the Old Belize River from the airport. I'm actually enjoying it here because it is slower paced and I have a small bungalow with a wonderful porch and a kitchen.  I was able to take a shuttle to the store and stock up on a few things like pasta, cheese, etc so I can cook all my meals since there is no restaurant that is close to here. 

I have a beautiful view of the river from the porch so I spend the evening outside enjoying the coolness.  This past Monday I arranged for a trip to see Belize City which is about 10 miles from here.  It was interesting to see how there are two distinct parts, the northern Belize City which is where big business and the wealthier people are and the southern Belize City with the older part of town and houses those who don't have much money.  

There are signs all over the place prohibiting swimming but this is the first sign that explains why swimming is prohibited.  Apparently the waters are filled with two different varieties of crocodiles and they can attack.  There are few places ones can actually swim.  If you look carefully, you will see that there is no beach, rather the water just comes up to the edge.  

There is one place in town where there is an actual beach but it is manmade and it is in a private area.  I didn't get to see it because they are closed on Mondays so I got to go to the local museum.  Our tour guide also pointed out the government is building a place for cruise ships to dock a distance away from the city but they will make it so unless people arrange tours, they will not be coming in to town anymore.  Right now, visitors come off of the cruise ships and explore town.  Unfortunately, the cruise ship that was supposed to come in tomorrow, will not be due to the storm heading for Florida.
We stopped by a light house that has a coffin at its base.  Apparently, a man, Henry Edward Earnest Victor Bliss aka The Baron Bliss is buried there.  The story goes that he arrived in Belize City back in 1926 on his yacht.  He wasn't in the best of health so locals took supplies out to his boat.  He never left the boat and died while living on it in 1926.  He left his entire estate to the country of Belize, all million or so pounds, to help it.  

He did set up requirements concerning the money he left to the country but those restrictions allowed the money to continue helping the country even up to today.  One such restriction was that the government could only spend the interest so that in 2011, the fund still had 1.5 million left. In honor of him and what he did,  they build a light house and buried his body in front of it.
There is something called the Belize Barrier Reef which is supposed to be fantastic and scuba divers have been coming to check it out for a long time.  In between the reef and shore, there are so many islands that began as fishing communities but are now tourist areas.  

Fishing is still an important way to earn money here.  There is a fishing fleet that goes out every day and then either sells it to processors or they sell it at the fish market where everyone comes to buy their fresh fish for the next day.
One thing that they do in Belize is to use buildings for other things as their original use moves on.  For instance, the photo to the right is of what used to be the prison but the prison was moved and it now houses a museum to show the history of Belize including the bringing of slaves back in the 18th and 19th centuries from Jamaica to work in the Mahogany trade.  

The stone used in the building of this prison came to the country from England and they would take the mahogany logs back to England.  Remember the river from above?  Back then, they would cut the logs down and then float them down the river to the boats where they were loaded up.  The slaves were specifically brought here to work in the trade.
The gentleman on the left in the above photo actually worked at the facility as a junior guard when he first came to Belize City about 30 years ago.  Once the prison moved to its new location, the city decided to change it into a museum which talks about the slave trade, the different groups of people, the settlement, and in the top part, they had a display of art work done by a local man who is also a musician. His work is powerful and awesome.  The last part of the upper floor had some great stuffed birds so I could see some of the native birds in the area.  

Aside from coins and such, the museum has the original Belize flag that was hung in the World Trade Center back in 2011.  When the buildings fell, the flag was found among the rubble and returned home where it is in its own display.

The country used to be British Honduras but on September 21, 1981, Belize gained its independence. Now every year beginning on September 1, the country celebrates its independence until September 21st.  

There are flags everywhere right now from that celebration.  They are on fences, flag poles, and just about everywhere they can be hung.  Although they are independent, they have both an American and British military presence which help keep them safe.  Apparently, Guatemala does not recognize their independence and claims they belong to them so they are happy having this protection.
Lastly, this is the oldest church around.  It is an Anglican Church built back in 1812 and is still in use even today.  Belize has an interesting education system.  The churches run the schools but the government provides funding.  Education is mandatory from like 5 to 16.  Many of the schools are male or female only and some are mixed, it all depends on which church is sponsoring it.

It was a really great tour.  The next tour I'm scheduled on is to see one of the local Mayan ruins and a visit to the baboon sanctuary.  Later in the week, I'll be going to see another, bigger Mayan ruin.  I look forward to seeing these places.  

I've been told I need to come back by one of the workers at the hotel so I can explore a place about 5 hours south where they make chocolate and the guide from today said I should go south to where he's from because it gives you a look at the society down there.  I am glad I chose to stay here at this quiet resort as I get to experience something more rather than spending my time at the regular hotels in Belize City.  Yes, they are closer to everything but you also get the bustle of the city rather than the laid back feel of the country.  I'll share more on Friday.  I hope you have a great day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. 

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