Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, the country of Belize is one of multi-ethnicity. Its residents are comprised of an exclusive mixture of Mayan, Kriol, Mestizos, Garifuna and Mennonites, with some Lebanese, English, Spanish, Chinese, and Eastern Indian thrown in for good measure.
English is the official language of Belize, although it is adjoined to Mexico on its northern border and Guatemala on the western edge. Thus, it seems to share more commonalities with the neighboring Caribbean islanders. However near the coastal regions one is inclined to hear an intriguing, modified version of English spoken by the locals, known as Creole. As well, it is not uncommon to come across other languages such as Lebanese, Arabic, Mayan, German and Chinese.
One striking feature of Belize is that it has managed to remain beautifully underdeveloped so as to allow Mother Nature to continue along her innate path. Biologists and environmentalists alike have become enamored with the eco-friendly culture of Belize. In fact, there are only two paved roadways in the entire country! Obviously, getting around is neither easy nor convenient, but the lack of highways and interstates make for some memorable adventures. Similar to most far-flung destinations the prices of hotels, meals, souvenirs and other various and sundry items are higher, but that is to be expected.
Roman Catholicism is the predominant faith in Belize, but due to the growing British presence Protestants maintain a close second. The indigenous Maya and Garifuna people practice a mystical synthesis of Christianity and shamanism.
Shake your Siseras
The music of Belize is the result of combined Maya, Creole, Garifuna and Mestizos persuasions. Garifuna music has become wildly popular in recent years due to the modernization of the traditional ÂpuntaÂ sound which is now known as Âpunta rock.Â Traditionally this music was played on mahogany or mayflower wood drums with animal hide in tandem with maraca-type instruments called Âsiseras.Â
WhatÂs for Supper?
Food-wise, Belize does not have a cuisine unique unto itself. Similar to neighboring countries beans and rice are a staple in their diets. Many of the regional dishes are easily recognizable as there is a distinctive Caribbean flavor due to the plantains, coconut milk and spicy peppers that are included in their recipes. However, Belize does offer some zesty Creole dishes, as well as English corned beef, and fried paca (small rodent), which is quite the delicacy in the Mayan microcosm. A traditional Mayan meal usually consists of a young pig that has been roasted to perfection in a subterranean chamber.