Aside from my very crazy and hectic work schedule, I still manage to have time for fun! (You gotta do it all when you're in Belize!) Let me start from recent events and work my way backwards (with the exception of Thanksgiving-- which I gave its own blog—and the Christmas holidays, which I’ll tackle another day…)
Fall…for the most part….
.... November was a big Garifuna month, which is a culture of descendants of Carib, Arawak, and West African people. And PG is one of the first Garifuna settlements in Belize, so it was a BIG celebration! Garifuna Settlement Day was Nov 19th, and there was a big party and drumming and all sorts of fun events all day in central park. A bunch of the village volunteers came in town for the day’s events. Even though PG was originally a Garifuna settlement, it has gotten much more diverse in recent years. Nonetheless, we ate some good ole’ hudut, which is a coconut milk stew that is usually served with some sort of fish. I’ve had it with shark before!! We spent the rest of the night watching punta contests, listening to drumming, watching the women in their gorgeous traditional skirts, and dancing. It was a very culturally exciting and fun day!
Because PG has very strong Garifuna roots, the entire month of November was filled with various events to commemorate Garifuna Settlement Day and the Garifuna people. One of the best ones I went to was The Battle of the Drums.... so cool! Drumming groups from all over Belize, and also one from Guatemala and Honduras came to compete in the competition. If you’ve ever been to Battle of the Bands in middle or high school—it’s kinda like that…. but way more awesome! Hahaha. For me, more awesome means more culturally diverse! What happens is they start off with various songs, including the Belize national anthem, all sang in the Garifuna language… which is a very bubbly and poetic language. Though I didn’t understand ANYTHING they were saying, it was beautiful to listen to. Following various songs from primary school children, the “battle” begins. The first part is lone drumming—teams from villages and towns throughout Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras are paired off against each other. The first part, I have to admit, gets a tad bit repetitive because I don’t have keen enough of an ear to actually appreciate and distinguish the differences between the groups’ styles of drumming. BUT the second part of the show down is so exciting! First each group comes out and begins drumming. Then one member from each group starts to act out different cultural activities—whether it’s hunting, washing clothes, farming, etc. After that portion of the drumming and acting is finished, the “jabiru” dancer of another group comes out and starts doing traditional dancing. The jabiru is a dancer that wears a mask and a decorative headress. But the catch is that the drumming group has to match the dancers beat—how cool! It was really awesome to watch! The drumming groups and dancers are so good! At the end of the night, there is a competition for the best “jabiru” dancer, as well as a winner of Battle of the Drums. Hopkins Village was the winner this year, and a woman won best jabiru! (It’s traditionally a man’s role).
November flew by between Garifuna and Thanksgiving activities. But it was overall an excellent month. I spent a LOT of time hiking Sero Hill, one of the times even being at 4am in the dark!! I was scared howler monkeys were gonna get me for sure!! I also finally settled into my OWN house and painted it! It’s a lovely mixture of aqua green and baby blue—so Caribbean!
October was pretty fantastic as well! I officially got my own house—which was long overdue! And after a quick trip to the States for a family wedding, I was able to have a fresh start in my own place! I ended the month in Placencia with some friends for Halloween. We dressed up and had a blast! Since Placencia is a little more prone to tourists, we even saw some kids trick-or-treating! But they used shilling bags instead of pumpkins or any other types of sacks!
Not to mention…fall in Belize is perfect weather! For once I wasn’t pouring sweat as soon as I stepped out of the shower!! I seemed to wear JEANS for most of the time! It was amazing! I even used some thin blankets to sleep in at night! Belize is amazing in the fall!