Belize. Delight and bewilderment.
If you look at the map, from Cancun – a favorite vacation spot of many Russians, the southern border of Mexico is close at hand, but if you ride a minibus, it will take 4 hours. The border with Belize – the youngest country in Central America – is like an abandoned industrial zone with broken roads, dilapidated cabins and dirty customs office charging $25 for each person leaving Mexico (they seem to charge their own pocket). I knew Belize was an offshore paradise, but I never thought it was a real state with a border and its own territory. The important and fat Negroes charge $50 for a visa to enter the country, and our guide and former countryman, Alexei, adds another $35. The Russians do not leave their own behind, but meet them carefully and rob them. After standing at the border for three hours (visas are filled out manually) and passing through the humiliating total search at customs (trembling white man, this is not the place for you!) we arrived at the land, which for a long time was not needed. Since colonization, swamps, disease, mosquitoes, and impassable mangroves have made life here unbearable. That is why plantation slaves, criminals, and pirates fled to the unfriendly land, fleeing jobs and laws. Until 1981 there was a British colony – British Honduras, when the British cut down all the mahogany in the country, they immediately got tired of this burden, like a suitcase without a handle, and gave the natives independence. You can’t say they were happy, because you have to work when you’re independent, but a handout of ten million reconciled them to the fate of free people.
Most black citizens are arrogant and lazy, their motto is, “These are different times: slavery is over, my ancestors slaved for centuries, and now I will rest for them!” Those who haven’t lost their working spirit have gone to the United States and sponsor their kinfolk from there, while the rest just sit around all day and poke fun at passersby. No one wants to develop tourism or export-import, because bananas are already growing.
The country is fed by a diaspora of German Mennonite Old Believers, who decided to stay in the 19th century, dress according to that fashion and do not use the dubious achievements of progress (especially those who are stubborn do not even recognize the electricity). This religious movement arose in Europe, and its basis was the rejection of military service, at one time the Mennonites lived even in Russia, but they settled in these wild places. It is very interesting to see their family on the streets – old-fashioned hats and dresses on women, unusual shape pants with suspenders on the men, and long beards on the old men. In spite of their old-fashioned ways, the Mennonites do an excellent job of farming, providing food for the whole country. Everything grows here except apples and plums, which are smuggled in for a buck a ruddy apple. But bananas are sold by the piece, for four or five rubles apiece.
Looking for the New River, we had to drive a lot on the local roads, going through the same place three times. Without a shadow of embarrassment, our guide Alexei admitted that he suffered from geographical cretinism and was not at all oriented, and that the driver was on the take – he was from El Salvador. And that’s when our traveling companion Roberto from Italy came in handy, as he not only has been living in Russia for many years, knows many languages and has an excellent sense of humor, but also knows exactly where to go. After three hours of useless driving, he strictly Leninistically showed Alexey the right way, we found the river, and we crossed into the boat.
The dark-skinned skipper was an expert in his craft – he masterfully made turns in the winding channels, fearlessly putting the boat on its side. Despite the boat’s decent speed, the skipper not only maneuvered masterfully among the snags, but also managed to show the coastal wildlife – lazy and timid crocodiles, turtles in the sun, tiny bats and white herons sitting between the roots of mangrove trees.
After an hour of excitement, we reached the lost city of the diving crocodile, Lamanai. Despite its lost status, the local toilets may be the envy of Moscow train stations, and going into souvenir shops, you would not believe that you are in the jungle.
In these parts centuries ago lived Mayan relatives and, exhibiting wonders of ore heroism, built pyramids, decorating them with mysterious faces. Unlike the Yukotan, the pyramids were used to bury chiefs. Climbing to the top of the highest pyramid is worth admiring the extraordinarily scenic view of the river bend, the giant trees, and the incredibly green rainforest stretching beneath your feet.
We were lucky to get to this corner at sunset, when the heat of the day was gone and all the tourists had left the area. In pleasant solitude we wandered along dusky ancient paths covered with giant ferns and palm leaves, our figures seemed quite tiny against the gigantism of the local flora. Somewhere high up in the treetops were monkeys, and we spotted one after it treacherously peed down.
The grass here is not yet trampled, soft, zoey, springy. The daughter wonders: “Daddy, can I take my shoes off and go barefoot?” It’s good that I did not have time to allow – we hear disgruntled cries – our traveling companions stepped on an ant hill and they bite termites.
In ’99, the first time I was in Mexico, we were told that mysterious tribes built pyramids and then mysteriously disappeared into the haze of time. Now the mystery is gone – the Mayans built pyramids, destroying nature, weather and crop problems began, prayers to the gods didn’t help. So people abandoned the gods, the pyramids, and left the ground. Lamanai is a hundred points ahead of the most popular May settlement of Chechen Itza (Mexico) – there are still no mad tourist crowds, an authentic atmosphere of mystery and peace, nature is not trampled by thousands of feet, no wild commercialization in the form of hundreds of souvenir stalls, covering the ancient structures.
Daylight hours in these latitudes ends at 6 pm, after 15-20 minutes darkness falls, and we have another hour to cut steep turns on the river. Even in the darkness our helmsman flew along the water surface as fast as during the day, this added to the extreme. In the middle of the way we stopped and decided to have a drink of rum and coke – starry sky above our heads, the boat was swaying slightly, someone was rustling in the mangrove, sighing, someone was splashing in the river (no wonder crocodiles take water treatment) – romance, damn it!
Our hotel-casino PRINCESS is very nice, the view on the sea is gorgeous, under the windows the waves splashing, sorry you can not swim – the water within the city is muddy to the point of impossibility, as in the Moscow River. However, there is a problem – if you’re accommodated in rooms _01 – _18, to sleep in them is impossible, dozens of air conditioners installed in the casino, roaring like jet engines. We were placed there, but we escaped in time, and the Italian Roberto didn’t think to move in, as a result, he hardly slept the night.
The pearl of these places is a great barrier reef – the second largest in the world after the Australian. That’s where Alexey offered to roll up the next day “only” for $ 128 per person in a jam-packed boat with no guarantee of a tent over his head. To spend 7-8 hours in the fusion tropical sun without protection – it’s suicide, so we went to the island of San Pedro. All the boats depart from the docks, which are near the famous Swinging Bridge, which is manually unfurled!
Despite a warning not to wander around the city, we decided to walk – the city struck by the squalor of the houses and streets, the unusual colonial architecture and the Negroes with dreadlocks who sit in the streets and shout something to passersby.
It’s not easy to walk forward, the homeless people keep turning to you, I only met one guy who looked decent, he was like a good old Uncle Tom, and didn’t hesitate to let me take a picture against the background of an abandoned house.
The center of the city surprises with its ruins and abandoned houses, between which there are quite decent buildings, such as the world famous Bank Atlantis. Only on the outskirts is a small neighborhood for the wealthy – well-kept houses are surrounded by secure wrought iron bars, and barbed wire is strung on top (probably under the current). Successful people are here, but on the streets we see the poor, which is interesting, Belize has free medicine, not the best, but not worse than in Russia. The undoubted attraction is a prestigious cemetery in the city, it is divided in half by a highway. Moreover, on the part of the dividing strip are also arranged graves, several times cars have already crashed into the vaults with the bodies, because here they do not bury in the ground, but in stone vaults-cells.
Surprisingly, the local passport, which I have only contemptuous interest, has a good rating in the world – 65 countries are allowed on it without a visa! The guide strenuously offers his assistance in obtaining it through a sham marriage with a local sultry beauty – you do not even have to come to the wedding, much less kiss the bride. The cost of pleasure – 30 thousand bucks, some Russian riches have already got the cherished credential.
Tickets for Caja Caulker and San Pedro are not cheap – 27 bucks round trip, as usual, the departure is delayed, an hour and a half walk, and the muddy sea is replaced by clear blue water, its color approaching the standards of Bounty. In the distance you can see the silhouettes of huge cruise ships, they can not come close to shore (too shallow) and tourists are taken to shore in motorboats. All the way a local girl did not take her eyes off me, I wonder what she was thinking?
And I looked around, appreciating the beauty of the natives
On the island immediately puzzled leisure time, the benefit of looking for a long time did not have: at a nearby jetty hired a comfortable boat with awning for $ 105 for three (additionally paid a permit to the protected area – $ 30). They promise two hours, but in fact they are only one and a half. I wanted to get straight to the Blue Hole, a real maritime miracle – a deep hole in the seabed, where at a depth of 40 m there is a huge underwater hall, filled with amazing creatures. But the tours there are only 2-day trips with snorkeling and cost $225 per person. The driver spurred and we raced through the blue sea to the reef, flying over every wave and raising a cloud of splashing as he fell. My daughter asked me to slow down and the sailor said, “I’m on a schedule…”
The boat stopped, we look over the side and ahaha with delight and surprise: a meter off the board in the clear water is a large turtle. Grab masks and flippers (without them you can not – a swimmer can be taken in the open sea beyond the reef), and overboard. There are even two turtles, they leisurely float in the clearest water. I immediately decided to play tag with them, caught up with a tortilla and slapped her on the shell, she stunned by this insolence and grudgingly looked at me, but it did not bite, but could take away the hand at random. Corals here are small and much less than in the Red Sea, there are few beautiful fish. But there are a lot of big fish – they “stand” in shoals near coral branches and algae – it initially seems that the coral branches grow strange “leaves. If you throw a roll, a horde of large fish swiftly rushes for the free food, not paying attention to swimmers and sometimes hurting them with their fins. Suddenly our guide dived to the depths – the water is exceptionally clear, visibility is excellent, he grabbed a shell on the bottom and tapped on it. A bright yellow moray eel peeked out from under the rock, the diver tickled her belly, she wriggled with pleasure and hid back. Once again, around the turtles, fish scurry back and forth, and just below us are constantly accompanied by 2-3 large stingrays. Tails long, it feels poisonous, what do they want, how they behave? – These silent sea creatures inspire anxiety.
Bathing is a great pleasure, but it’s time to go further, another 5 minutes and we are at the famous Shark Ray alley – sharks live here, enough to throw overboard fish tripe, as there are large brown silhouettes in the water. The water boils overboard from the commotion, brown dumbfounded faces burst to the surface, sharks jostle with their bodies, as in a crush for the shortage, a fight for pieces of yum-yum. My daughter even managed to pet one voracious snout that showed up out of the water.
Between the large carcasses of sharks, each 2-3 meters, scurry smaller fish, but cheekier, they also do not remain without a treat. Brown giants are cat sharks, they do not seem to eat tourists, but you should not put your fingers in their mouth – they bite accidentally, but they love dark-skinned people, taking them for their relatives. According to our guide, as soon as a dark-skinned man enters the water here, the sharks swim to him, get acquainted and play, and from white men they swim away. As soon as we run out of food, the sea creatures instantly disappear, meanwhile, shark feeding has begun from the neighboring boat – brown “logs” in the water are again plentiful, let’s go and we swim. Watching the sharks from the boat is very interesting and entertaining, but to swim with them in the same water at a distance of 5 meters is a completely different experience. The atavistic sense of danger and fear immediately makes itself felt. The mind you understand that the sharks seem to be safe, but their size and fury when sharing food inspires great fear – my daughter got scared very quickly and returned to the boat, I swam a little more. One intrepid guy swam up close to the sharks and tries to get in between them and pet them, he is immediately yelled, “watch your fingers!” The feeling after swimming with sharks – it’s a shock, delight, euphoria, it must be experienced at least once in your life.
Now on the shore, we must wander around the island, the more so that there is something to see: the characteristic pretty houses form straight streets – almost all are restaurants and stores. An artificial Christmas tree stands under the blazing sun on the waterfront, and a real Big Ben is nearby, only about ten times smaller.
Around the world step by step
Belize is a small state located on the northeastern coast of Central America. Before 1973 Belize was known as British Honduras (a former British colony that gained independence in 1981). The country is extremely popular among tourists around the world. Belize is an amazing tropical country with rich flora and fauna, friendly climate and warm, clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Belize – British Honduras
Belmopan is the young capital of Belize and its administrative center, with modern urban architecture and natural attractions. Construction began in 1970, after Hurricane Hatti had left Belize City, the former capital of Belize, in tatters. Belmopan is among the smallest capitals in the world. The city is so small that you can get around it on foot, literally in a few minutes. Located on the Belize River, in the southeastern part of the peninsula, the capital is surrounded by humid rainforests.
The flag of Belize – a rectangular cloth of blue color with an aspect ratio of 2:3, the top and bottom framed by narrow stripes of red. The blue color symbolizes the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, which washes the shores of the state. The red color – the blood of the patriotic fighters, spilled in the struggle for the independence of Belize . In the center of the flag is the national emblem of the country.
For all the flags of the world, see here.
The Belize coat of arms is a circle framed by twenty-five leaves. Inside the circle there is a shield divided into three parts, the shield-holders, a red tree and a green base with the Belize motto. The mahogany tree symbolizes the richness of the country’s forests, which play an important role in the economy of the country. Two shield-holders (mestizo and mulatto) holding an axe and an oar – representatives of the local population. The shield depicts an oar, axes of various configurations, and a saw. At the bottom of the shield depicts a sailing ship – a symbol of maritime trade, with which mahogany from Belize was exported by sea to Britain. At the bottom of the coat of arms is the national motto, “Under the shadow of prosperity.”
For all the flags of the world, see here.
The national currency of Belize is the Belize dollar (Belize dollar), equal to 100 cents. The currency is denoted by letters ( BZ$, BZD ). Coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 cents and one dollar and bills of $2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 are in circulation. The U.S. dollar is legal tender in Belize.
Belize on the world map
Belize is a small country in Central America, bordered in the north by Mexico and in the west by Guatemala, with its east coast bathed by the Caribbean Sea. The total area of Belize is 22,966 km2. Geographically, the country is a coastal strip with a fairly large number of lagoons, surrounded by reef islands.
In the north and central part is a lowland wetland plain with dense tropical forests, occupying more than 50% of Belize, as well as an area of low mountains in the south. The largest and most important river in the country is the navigable Belize River, which runs from the border with Guatemala to the Caribbean Sea.
Things to see in Belize
Belize sights are green islands, nature reserves, beautiful coral reefs, ancient Mayan cities, unique terrestrial and underwater caves.
And here is a small list of attractions, which should be paid attention to when making a tour plan to Belize:
- Ambergris Caye
- Lamanai Architectural and Historical Complex
- Altun Ha Architectural and Historical Complex
- Kahal Pech Architectural and Historical Complexes
- Belize Barrier Reef
- Belize Zoo
- Big Blue Hole
- Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve
- Gladden-Spit Marine Reserve
- Coxcombe National Park Preserve
- Baboon National Park Preserve
- El Castillo Pyramid in Schoonantunich
- Queyo ruins
- Xunantunich ruins
- Shunantunich ruins
- Aktun-Tunichil-Muknal Cave
- Green Hills Butterfly Farm
- Half Moon Cay
Major Cities of Belize
- Belize City
- San Ignacio
- Belmopan (capital of Belize)
- San Pedro
- Orange Walk
- Benque Viejo del Carmen
- Punta Gorda
The climate of Belize is tropical trade winds, with high humidity (85%) and stable annual temperatures (around +26 ° C). Daytime summer temperatures reach +30 ° C … +31 ° C, nighttime temperatures are +21 ° C … +23 ° C degrees. In winter time air temperature during the day fluctuates between + 25 °С … + 27 °С, and at night it decreases to +17 °С … +19 °С degrees. From June to November is rainy season. At this time of year there are torrential rains, often accompanied by exiled tropical storms, and most of the rain falls. The north of Belize receives about 1,000 mm of rainfall annually, while the south receives four times that amount.
The population of Belize is 372,095 (as of February 2017). Ethnically Belize is diverse: 48.4% are mestizos, 24.7% are creoles, 10.8% are legendary Mayans, 7.5% are Garifos (descendants of African and Caribbean Indians.), and 8.6% are natives of Europe, the United States, and the Middle East (mostly Lebanese and Syrians). The average life expectancy in the country is 71 – 72 years.
English is the official language of Belize, but is not the most widely spoken. Since the population of Belize is multi-ethnic, the number of languages is slightly more than one. Creole is the most widely spoken language, spoken by 70% of the population, followed by Spanish, spoken by 42% of the population. In some areas the Maya-Mopan, Maya Kekchi and Garifuna are spoken. 2/3 of the total population of Belize speak two or even three languages.
Religion in Belize is as diverse as ethnicity and language: 49.3% are Catholics, 31% are Protestants, 9% are Atheists, 3.5% are Baptists, 3.5% are Methodists, and 3.7% are other religions.
National Holidays of Belize
- January 1 – New Year
- March 9 – Baron Bliss Day (British nobleman and philanthropist)
- March-April – Easter
- May 1 – Labor Day
- May 24 – Commonwealth of Nations Day
- September 10 – Public holiday (Battle of St. George’s Key)
- September 21 – Independence Day
- October 12 – Columbus Day
- November 19 – Garifuna Day
- December 25-26 – Christmas Day
Here’s a little list of the most common souvenirs that tourists usually bring from Belize:
- Belizean rum One Barrel and Prestige
- bamboo products
- Marie Sharp’s hot sauces
- Carpets and lace
- Jade masks
- musical instruments
- straw souvenirs and wooden figurines
- ritual masks
- Silver and gold jewelry
“No nail, no rod” or customs regulations
Belize Customs regulations allow you to bring in and take out foreign currency in unlimited quantities, but not more than 100 Belizean dollars.
Rules of Importation
Tourists over the age of 18 are allowed to bring into Belize duty free 0.5 liters of spirits (above 22%) and 2 liters – less than 22%; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, perfumes and toiletries – one bottle. It is prohibited to bring drugs, weapons, antiques (without the permission of the relevant local authorities).
Rules of export
It is forbidden to export from Belize drugs, weapons, antiques without special documents of the competent local authorities, corals and items made of untreated coral, seashells, and shells of turtles.
What about outlets?
The voltage of the electrical network in Belize is 110 V rarely 220 V , at a frequency of 60 Hz. Outlets are of three types: A, B and G .
Phone Code and Domain Name of Belize
Country Code: +501 First-level domain name: .bz
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