After spending a few days in Siene Bight we discovered we were living in a Garifuna community. The Garinagu are a people who are a mixed African/Indigenous people defined by their Garifuna language a dialect of the Arawakan Language. They were a population that originated on Yurumein, now called the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the in Windward islands of the British West Indies in the Lesser Antilles. They are a mixture of Red Carib, Arawak Indians and African slaves who were ship wrecked near the island. After an uprising on St Vincent island they were forced into exile taking 5 years to reach several locations in Belize, Hondouras and Guatamala including Siene Bight.
We were lucky enough to meet Joshua who arranged for a drumming and dancing demonstration. We were treated to about an hour of history, drumming and dancing. They got us involved in dancing and it was apparent that this community was very passionate about keeping their cultural identity intact.
I tried some of the food at a local restaurant it was a mixture of Carribean food with African influence including cassava and spices as well as seafood. I had fish with beans and rice, it was one of the best meals I had while in Siene Bight.
The Garifuna have their own celebration day to commemorate their landing in Belize around the early 1800’s. The celebration occurs in mid-November and includes lots of dancing and donning of costumes. In 2008, UNESCO proclaimed the Garifuna language, music and dance as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”
We finished up our time in Placencia with packing up our stuff on Sunday, always an onerous chore. We headed out toward San Ignacio a three hour drive west toward Guatamala. On our way we stopped at the Marie Sharps hot sauce factory, this was the ubiquitous condiment on the table at every meal in Belize and we have developed a love for it; yes I’m including the kids. We tried more than 20 different hot sauces but the habanero is still the best.
Further along toward San Ignacio we stopped at the Blue Hole National Park (not the diving one) but a flowing spring that fills up a sink hole until it overflows and drains to a cave system.
We explored for about an hour and enjoyed our time but knew we had to get to San Ignacio so we went on our way. We stopped for lunch at an Indian restaurant at Maddy’s request and had a wonderful experience, got face paint and apparently ordered about 5 times too much food and then felt a bet ripped off when the bill came. Oh well.