Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hopkins Village, Then and Now

On our trip to Placencia we got off the highway and took a quick trip through Hopkins Village. It renewed in me a sense of urgency in photographing old Belize before the cruise ships and big buck tourists "discover" that Belize is a safe and friendly country and come in and spoil everything.

Change happens, kinda like shit happens, and not all change is good. We saw a lot of seafront mansions going up, in the village. The photo above, the left side was shot 2 years ago and I released it as a hand colored photo. It was across from King Cassava Bar, its since been torn down and replaced with a giftshop. The saving grace is that in 2 years, with the sea, the sun, and salt air it will look like the old place in no time. I saw a sign on a building that I found hilarious and unfortunately I didn't get a quick snap of it. It said "Real Estate & Meat Shop"

The Hummingbird Highway is one of the prettiest stretches of road in Central America. It is the road between Belmopan and Dangriga. You pass little Mayan villages, citrus and banana plantations. The road rolls around through the Maya Mountains, which is stretching it a little bit. They are not mountains in the sense that the Rockies are mountains. With much of Belize at or below sea level, they are OUR mountains, with elevations of 1000 feet.

Before Dangriga there was a detour off the highway that took us through a citrus and banana orchard and over a riverbed. I shot these photos through a dirty windshield. I figured of that big machine can make it, then we can. Bigness was getting frustrated when I asked him to slow down so I could take a picture of the river we were crossing. For some strange reason he just wanted to get over to the other side (:->) Men!

On the return trip we had a flat tire and had to stop in Roaring Creek (yes, it roars right over the banks when it rains) to get the flat fixed. We should get the frequent user discount card. We've had to fix 5 flats since November. We're averaging about one a month.


DCveR said...

You do realize that your posts about Belize makes plenty of us the urge to visit Belize, don't you? But at least from my part you can rest assured, I'm not the big bucks kind of tourist...

Carrie E. said...

About cashew nuts -- about 20 years ago, in my first trip to Belize, I tried biting open the shell on the cashew. Within minutes, my lips were blistered, burnt, oozing. It was really painful for days, and I expect I'm really lucky I didn't get an infection from it. There is some kind of chemical in the shell or skin on a cashew nut that is very strong (I think it's an acid?). What I remember is that they burn off the outer shell and in the process roast the nut.

The other thing I remember was how huge the frult is, how tiny the nut is, and how many cashew trees there must be in the world because it just didn't seem possible that a single tree could produce one little bag of nuts, so it must take millions of trees to produce all the nuts we see in the market around the world. And I wonder what happens to all the fruit? It can't all be made into cashew fruit wine...

Thanks for the photos of old Belize. I think it was about 1986 when I made the trip to Placencia. I was visiting a peace corp friend and we hitched down the hummingbird highway with a resort developer from Costa Rica who was looking at whether he could build a huge Cancun style resort down at the bottom of the peninsula. We were horrified! I'm glad it hasn't happened yet. Back then, there were so few cars in the country that you quickly knew who all the drivers were, making it feel relatively safe to hitchhike.


hobbes said...

The very small island I live on has changed alarmingly in the past 10 years. Buildings are sprouting up everywhere, tourists are flooding in. Noboday seems particularly concerned with maintaining the character of the place, though you don't have to look too far before it starts looking just like your photos. Yet.

Rainypete said...

I often feel bad for tourist destinations. The tourists bring the money, which brings about economic growth, but eventually they just develop over everything that makes it beautiful. Once the beauty is gone the tourists simply drift off to a new destination like a swarm of locusts.

Ria said...

Previous comment sadly true. I crossed the island (Jamaica) last month to visit the north coast. I was shocked to see how exclusive the all-inclusive resorts were. Completely isolated, the tourists never venture outside, or if they do, it's by chauffeured car/bus to a safe excursion spot.

Outside the resorts, there are dusty, run-down road towns.

g2g ...cooking!