Before venturing off to the Islands here in Belize, we wanted to explore some beaches on the mainland. As I was looking for some hotels in a good location that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, I stumbled across this little fishing village. I feel we were very lucky to find it!
Hopkins is on the highway that leads to Sarawee Village, Placencia, Bella Vista and on. It is a little seaside village with about 1000 inhabitants and it isn’t very developed yet. You should see the road it is full of holes! However in the past years some resorts have started building. So tourism has already started picking up.
We were staying in bungalows right on the beach. It was a very peaceful place.
One of the most unforgettable moments was sitting on the beach with a bottle of wine on New Years Eve. We watched every island in front of us as well as some other inland parts lit up with fireworks! It was an amazing way to start the year!
While staying here in Hopkins, after enjoying some time at the beach we also did 2 side trips.
The Other Blue Hole
Belize has another, lesser known Blue Hole. This is an inland sinkhole. It was formed by the collapse of an underground river channel. This Blue Hole is located 12 miles south of the City Of Belmopan in the very center of the country. It is locally known simply as the Inland Blue Hole. We were told about it by a guide we chatted with while waiting in line.
The inland Blue Hole is within the St. Herman’s Cave system and is administered as a national park. It it is easily accessible by a short flight of stairs that take you down about 30 feet into the very cool freshwater pool.
The cool, turquoise water is surrounded by rain forest, mosses and vines, which make it a perfect spot for a cool and relaxing dip. Unfortunately we went there a few days after a strong storms so the water wasn’t as blue and clear as it usually is. However it was still an amazing experience and so much fun for our kids to explore!
As you are enjoying the water you will find the entrance to a cave. Mass defiantly was in the mood for a side adventure. Of course ventured down for a bit but it didn’t seem to end. We later asked the person at the ticket booth and he told us that these caves go on for miles. It really isn’t a good idea to go to far in!
The river in this area is spectacular and is accessible as well as the Blue Hole, to the general public during working hours.
St. Herman’s Cave
About 500 meters from the Hummingbird Highway, Belmopan, Belize – Phone: +501 621-0312 – http://www.belizeaudubon.org/?page_id=3622
Hours of Operation: 8:00am-4:30pm
Entrance Fee: BZ $2.00 (Nationals) and BZ $8.00 (Non-nationals)
On our first day on the beach we met a Mayan girl, who was selling her art. She was very friendly and we started asking her more about mayan traditions and culture. We were invited to her village to meet her family. Of course we accepted and we were so excited to get to explore something on our own without going on a “tour”!
The descendants of the Maya are an integral part of modern Belizean culture. There are three different Maya groups: The Yucatac Maya who live in the northern Belizean districts, the Mopan Maya who inhabit the southern Toledo District and the third group are the Kekchi. This family was part of the Kekchi group.
Many Maya are bilingual in Spanish and/or English (the official language of Belize). However they continue to speak their ancient tongue at home, in fact they all speak unique dialects of their language.
The Maya all still continue to live traditional lifestyles in villages. They grow ancient staples like corn, cacao and pork. They make up about 11% of modern Belize’s population. Traditional Maya dishes include locally ground tortillas, a soup called caldo (with meat, cilantro, and annatto), tamales, chocolate drinks (with honey and pepper), and cochinita pibil, a roasted pork dish flavored with sour oranges and garlic.
They continue to wear traditional clothing, including hand-woven designs that feature colorfully embroidered geometric designs. They have also preserved a lot of traditional healing and medicinal properties of indigenous plants. In fact Herbalists known as “pulia” are still relied upon to cure illnesses using a combination of plants, alcohol, and prayers.
During our visit to this Mayan family home, we were introduced to the many family members. Some lived there, some nearby. The father/grandfather played this very particular instrument for us, which is unique and he is the only one that plays it in the village. He shared more about their culture and the kids enjoyed playing together. They then fed us tamales and their chocolate drink (we also got to bring some home with us).
The reality of the experience at the Mayan Village
We did learn a lot during this afternoon in mayan village, however after a while we realized that this “family moment” wasn’t really that authentic. In our Italian tradition it is very natural to invite you in our home and share our food and stories with you. We don’t expect anything in return other than a pleasant time together. So we thought that the mayan culture was a little similar. Anyway we had planned to leave a donation for this family for their kindness, however at one point the father informed Mass what the price was for their “little show”. it was a set price rather than something from the heart. Actually after that he started suggesting that we come back another time and they would have a little concert for us for just US$600!
In the end it was an interesting day for what we learned. However a part of us also wondered how much of this was still authentic and how much was it just to make the tourist happy.
We decided not to be too upset by the experience. When traveling you to try to understand that everyone does what they can to survive, sometimes also if the means don’t seem the most honest and true. We were not going to let this turn of events ruin our experience but just take the best of it and try to forget about the rest.
Click here to see more of our posts from our travels in Belize!!!
Check out the lovely hotel we stayed at Jungle Jeanies by the Sea!!!