Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr.php on line 58

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr.php on line 66

Deprecated: Function ereg() is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr.php on line 56

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr.php(83) : runtime-created function on line 1

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr.php(88) : runtime-created function on line 1

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/flickr/widget.php on line 67
Celebrating Dangriga Settlement Day in Belize « MAD Blog
Strict Standards: Non-static method TanTanFlickrDisplayJQueryLightboxBox::headTags() should not be called statically in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/templates/photoalbum-resources.php(231) : runtime-created function on line 1

Celebrating Dangriga Settlement Day in Belize

[ED: John Jacob Sims has traveled extensively documenting Pre-Columbian sites in Central America. He is a building inspector in San Francisco. For related reading, check out Lowery’s post on defining ‘African.’]

First, a little history – during the 1600’s, groups of escaped and shipwrecked African slaves made their way to St Vincent Island, an island of the Lesser Antilles, the islands that form eastern side of the Caribbean Sea. They mixed with the indigenous Caribs and Arawaks and the Garinagu (that’s plural for Garifuna) were born. They developed a unique language, culture and ritual. Drumming and dance had a central place in the culture.

When the British took possession of the island in 1773, the Garifuna resisted successfully for awhile. In 1796, when they finally gave in, the Brits loaded about 4500 into boats, shipped them around the Caribbean (it wasn’t a pleasure cruise, that’s for sure) and finally unceremoniously dumped the 1500 survivors on the shores of Honduras. They have been good farmers because they did well and multiplied and the growing population spread out along the sparsely inhabited Caribbean coast north into Guatemala and southern Belize.

On Nov 19, 1832, 200 Garifuna arrived in Dangriga, Belize, in boats from Honduras and stayed put. This day is now celebrated as the Dangriga Settlement Day. It is a public holiday in Belize and they make a good time of it in Dangriga. They recreate the landing (you know, like the Landing at Plymouth Rock except the people are mixed African and Indigenous people in small boats) and have all sorts of ceremonies, parades, speeches, etc. And of course, they drum (this is the home of Punta Rock), dance and party.

Dangriga (pop. 10400) is a pretty funky, way down home kind of place (like most of Belize). I had a room in a small hotel in town that was on the water and across the street from a large greensward with a bandstand. The Bonefish Hotel is simple, nice, clean. I had a view of the sea and the park from my window, the staff was friendly and the hot water gets to there within minutes. Perfect.

My first morning, I saw some boats and people milling around in the park so I dressed quickly, grabbed my camera and dashed out to see what was up. What was up was a practice run of the landing recreation. I got some photos of them launching and going out to sea and went to breakfast in a restaurant by the mouth of the river that bisects the town. Waiting for my order, I heard the sounds of drumming outside. And there they were, the three boats coming up the river from the sea, everybody aboard, singing and drumming and having a good old time.

I spent the rest of the day driving round trip to two Mayans Ruins about 100 miles south of Dangriga. It was evening when I got back and the drummers and bands were playing on the sidewalks all over town. All very nice with lots of good vibes. Lots of white folks – tourists from the US and Europe – mingling about with the locals and everyone and everything was pretty cool.

The next morning, the DAY, I looked out my window and the square was empty. What the hell… I just assumed that would be where the recreation would be after seeing the practice the morning before. I had not seen any published or posted schedule of events so I was pretty much at a loss. It was still pretty early so I went to breakfast. The restaurant was swarming and the food took an hour at least. I figured that with this many people here the ceremonies hadn’t started. After eating I crossed the river to the north side of town and met a procession coming my way. It was then I found out the recreation of the landing and the church service had already occurred!! Damn…blew that.

Well, anyway, the celebration did reconvene at the park across from my hotel. The Belize Defense Force with marching band was out in force and paraded with somewhat military precision; some very important local politicos and church leaders made the usually speeches and prayers (and cautioned everyone not to drink and smoke toooo much) and everyone milled around and enjoyed the sun, the sea and just being there. Then everyone went over the main street and watched the parade of bands, dancers, strutters and marchers, floats and open trucks with drummers and musicians from all over Belize. All in all, great fun and people watching and photo ops.

That evening, the sounds of drums and punta rock were heard all over town and there was much revelry, which I did not partake in very much since I’m an OG and go to bed early. But I was there in spirits as went to sleep with the sounds of many drums from the distance in my ears.

John Sims 12/29/09

 
 
  • Chandelir Apple ..

    Omg! That is so interesting! I love you blog! I just went to Belize and its so true! I can’t wait to see you! Bye bye birdy!


Strict Standards: Non-static method TanTanFlickrDisplayBase::footer() should not be called statically in /home2/madmuse/public_html/wp-content/plugins/tantan-flickr/templates/photoalbum-resources.php(232) : runtime-created function on line 1