Garifuna cultural experience

Title
An exquisite insight into the Garifuna culture
Added Date
Wednesday, 25 Apr, 2018
Information
Category:
Belizing Adventures - Culinary Tour
Summary
On Tuesday, Derrick, Nico and I headed to Hopkins for our first Garifuna Culture Culinary Tour. We were ecstatic to learn more about the Garifuna culture, especially about the food. Here is an overview of our exquisite experience at Palmento’s Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge. Let's Go Belizing!
 
Content
On Monday, Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge courteously invited us to our very first Garifuna Culture Culinary Tour. We were all very excited to get an exquisite insight into the Garifuna culture, especially the food. We quickly planned the schedule on how we were getting to Hopkins the next day. We settled on taking the bus from San Ignacio Town to Belmopan City at 5:00 a.m., hop on another bus to southern Belize, then jump off at the Hopkins junction.

As planned, we woke up early in the morning and met in San Ignacio. On our way to Belmopan, we tried to catch up on our sleep. Unfortunately for me, that was not the case. As with all of our other bus journeys, it was packed and excruciating. When we made it to Belmopan, we switched buses to go to southern Belize. I once again tried to find comfort in the seats to get some sleep. A few minutes in this bus ride, I realized that the comfort I was looking for was never going to happen on a 90 degree sitting position due to the shape of the seat. A few minutes later as we went further, I was reminded that the southern Belize roads were one of my favorites. Views after views and cloud forests after cloud forests kept me in a state of trance; and, it is what finally got me feeling comfortable. Why go sleep when you can enjoy these amazing views?

The bus made a detour to Dangriga to drop and pick up people in that area. From there we quickly got back on the road towards Hopkins. I managed to switch to a better seat, one that was adjustable. This seat was so comfortable that it only took a few minutes for me to fall asleep. Soon, we made it to the Hopkins junction where someone was waiting to give us a ride into Hopkins. After following signs and asking for directions, we finally made it to Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge.

Palmentos Grove Rooms

Surrounded by beautiful mangroves and coconut trees, we walked towards the buildings that were visible to us. On our way, Mrs. Martinez, who is the manager, greeted us and led us towards the dining room where we discussed our tour for the day. Meanwhile, as we waited for the tour, we walked around the compound taking pictures of the unique murals and artifacts.

Joining us was a couple from England. They, too, were ecstatic to learn more about the Garifuna culture. We were told that the best way to experience this tour was to put Garifuna outfits; so, we did not hesitate to grab some of the outfits that were on display and tried them on. As we did, Mrs. Martinez started to tell us the names of each piece in Garifuna. I ended up putting a Dashiki – a male shirt – and remained with the rest of the clothes that I had on that day. I immediately felt so much cooler and refreshed with my Dashiki. I waited for the rest to finish getting dressed. Once we were fully dressed and comfortable, Mr. Martinez initiated the tour with a quick introduction of himself and the cultural tour.

The Journey and History of the Garifuna

We started under a shed that displayed paintings about the history of the Garifuna and their origins. These paintings and knowledge shared from Mr. Martinez seemingly depicted the arrival and tribulations of the Journey of the Garifuna through the Caribbean and Belize. I have always enjoyed learning about the history of different cultures and how they interacted with others, so this was one that closed many gaps and questions that I had before about the Garifuna. Not only did we learn about the journey of the Garifuna, but also about the way the Garifuna lived from their initial arrival to Belize. Mr. Martinez was so descriptive with his explanations and stories that as I soon as I had a question in mind, he was already answering it without me asking.

We then moved to another shed, where we learned about the Garifuna’s spiritual practices and beliefs. There, Mr. Martinez shared with us about the “Dugu,” which is a sacred place built out of palmettos, mud, clay, and thatch by the community to worship the “master of the universe” in times of hardship. When there is a gathering and a Dugu is used, you can expect intense live drumming and dancing. This is all done for the sole purpose to seek answers and closure from their ancestors who they admired, praised, or missed. We were told that after we had lunch, we were going to also get a taste of drumming lessons about the different drum beats that are used within the culture for different purposes.

The Journey and History of the Garifuna

After learning about the history and spiritual beliefs of the Garifuna, it was now time to learn how to cook one of their signature dishes. First, we had to get the ingredients which were all found in the vicinity. One of those ingredients and one that is used is almost every Belizean dish is coconut. Mr. Martinez made it clear that in their culture, the men would get the green coconuts for drinking and women would get the dry coconuts for cooking. This had all the guys on the tour climbing a coconut tree. Thankfully, a ladder was provided which made it so much easier. We then were shown a much easier way to get the coconuts without having to climb the trees, which only required a bamboo stick with a metal hook to pull the remainder of the coconuts. We managed to get a few dry coconuts and proceeded to get them prepared for cooking.

Before we used the coconuts, we had to remove the husk of the coconut’s shell with a pointed stick in the ground. I struggled with this one I must say, considering I had done this before as a kid. Mr. Martinez was patient and shared with us the proper technique for this procedure. Soon, we had more than enough coconuts pealed to prepare our lunch, so we decided to drink from the green coconuts for a quick hydration. I must say, we were struggling a bit with the heat of the sun, but the coconut water was so refreshing!



We then moved to the kitchen to finish drinking our coconut water, and oh, was it significantly cooler inside! Made out of only wood and thatch, this kitchen would be the place where we would spend cooking for about an hour or so. Mr. Martinez was also the chef instructing us to do this signature dish, which is called “Hudut”. Mr. Martinez first showed us how to split a coconut in half and showed us the tools we would use to separate the insides of the coconut. In the kitchen, we saw the tools used by the Garifuna in the early days from their arrival and the ones they currently use as a result of influences like the Mennonite. We then gathered the husks and other parts of the coconuts to start a fire. Mr. Martinez then threw pieces of plantain into the boiling water and moved on to prepare the other ingredients. Of course, we were all involved in the making of this dish. Eliza, who we joined with on this tour, easily surpassed all of our cooking skills, slicing her way from ingredient to ingredient, and soon after, we had a pot full of ingredients called “Chowda”, to be put over the fire.

The Journey and History of the Garifuna

Once the plantains and other ingredients slowly boiled and cooked on the fire, we sat down to chat a bit while Mr. Martinez shared with us snacks, drinks, and showed us some of the other tools used for cooking. Perhaps one of the most interesting of these was the cassava bread, which according to Mr. Martinez can be preserved for years. Though, to preserve the cassava bread much longer, they would use a basket called the “Yamid”, which is probably one of the most intricate, long lasting, and useful baskets that the Garifuna built and used. We then had a taste of a signature drink the Garifuna make called the “Huie”, which is made out of the remaining cassava that does not make it through the sieve. This was a delight!

Pounding plaintains to make Hudut at Palmentos grove

Soon after, we found ourselves pounding on plantains to complete the Hudut. This was the hardest part while preparing lunch. Everyone took turns until Mr. Martinez took over to help. He gave the final poundings to complete the Hudut.

We served, ate, and were happy humans thereafter! This meal was DELICIOUS!

We then took a few minutes to converse and do a quick recap of lunch and our plans for the rest of the afternoon.

Garifuna drumming at Plamentos grove in Hopkins

While we did this, the drums were being lined up for a quick lesson on Garifuna drumming. Soon, we were introduced to our instructor, who was friendly and enthusiastic to share his skills and musical background.

I love music, and being a musician myself, I was excited to learn a new instrument. As fun and easy it looks to play drums, we soon realized that we would need to be meticulous with instructions and have tough hands. Slowly, we all synchronized, playing on the “segundo” drums to provide the main rhythm, while our instructor played on the “primero” drum to provide sensational groove beats to our drumming, which only intensified by the second. This was truly an experience and totally worth our sore hands thereafter!

The Journey and History of the Garifuna

Once the drumming was over, we prepared to go kayaking but first, we were surprised with dessert! We were given cassava pudding and a cocktail made out mango and pineapple. Another delight for the day!

We initially had no plans to go kayaking, so we did not take extra clothes or sunscreen, but Mrs. Martinez helped us out by giving us sunscreen, clothing, and even providing us with bottled water. We soon found ourselves racing and enjoying the mangrove scenery on our Kayaks. We eventually made it to a passageway under the mangrove canopy which was once used by the locals to travel to their farmlands decades ago. We ended up struggling a bit here, but we managed to make it on the other side of the mangrove forest, where once again, we paddled as if we were in a race.

Kayaking at Palmento's grove in Hopkins, Belize

We eventually made it to the seaside, where some of us went to cool off and swim for a bit. I stayed under some shade and pondered on what an amazing day it had been at Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge! We then paddle back to where we initially started, exhausted, and sore from our kayaking trip. We could not believe we had done so much in just one day. The hospitality at Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge was amazing that we truly did not want to leave. We then remembered that we needed to take the bus back to San Ignacio, so we made our way to the bus stop and went back home.

Our trip to Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge was one for the books, and we encourage anyone that wants to experience the Garifuna culture to go on this tour. Belizing would like to give a massive thank you to Palmento Grove Cultural and Fishing Lodge for such a great time. Let’s go Belizing today and expand our learning minds!
 
Reading Time:
5minutes
Featured:
No
Attributes:
Featured White Background
Will appear featured on top
Author Name:
Luis Manzanero
Editor:
Angela Wu, Maria Mejia
Learn More
Tours/Activities
$
75
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
 (2)
Our Garifuna Cultural & Culinary Adventure Tour: offers an enriching vacation experience. As our Cultural Guests, you get the beautiful opportunity to:... more

Dress in our Garifuna Traditional handmade & uniquely designed clothing that is best for the subtropical climate for the duration of your Garifuna Experience. 

Explore the rich legacy of the Garifuna People via our Cultural Display Centres furnished with historical art pieces some of which are over 100 years old. 

Get to uplift your spirit with the enchanting paintings of Isiah Nicholas as you explore our Spiritual Centre. We are blessed to house his largest art collection depicting a varying aspect of the Garifuna Cultural inclusive of the historical journey of our Garifuna People, our spirituality, music, and many of our indigenous art forms, all displayed in their rich & vibrant colors.

Learn about the many magical & beneficial properties of coconut trees & coconuts and the art of traditional coconut harvesting, husking, grating & milk extraction. 

Master the heat in our traditional kitchen preparing a Garifuna meal over an open fire-heart. Your great reward will be the labor of your culinary love - Delicious HUDUT which is our coconut base chuddar/ broth flavored with fresh herbs & sea fish of the day with pounded plantains & well flavourful seasoned fried fish; or any other Garifuna Dish of choice based on dietary preference!

Culminate your Garifuna Cultural & Culinary Tour with sensational drum rolls learning the basic techniques of Garifuna drumming & Music & revitalizing your souls ultimately earning your delicious cultural dessert by way of participating in 45 minutes mesmerizing drum session.
$
100
-
$
200
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Traditional Early Morning Fishing: Southern Belize provides easy access to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef, one of the largest and most impressive coral reefs in the world.Some ... moreof the offshore deep-water species that you are more likely to catch on a fishing tour: Blue Marlin or White Marlin Sailfish Tuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Kingfish, and Sharks, while in the shore, these species abound: Barracuda, Kingfish, Cero, Spanish Mackerel, Groupers, Dog snappers, Mutton snappers, Cubera snappers, Yellowtail Snapper, Bonito, Bar and Horse Eye Jacks, and Rainbow Runners.Fishing in Belize is a unique experience due to the fact the the Belize Barrier Reef is home to a plethora of tropical fishesOn this fishing and snorkeling tour, your professional guide will bring you to amazing fishing spots where you will be able to reel in tasty specimens from a sustainable fishing method.
$
25
-
$
50
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Master the movement of your body induced by the pulsating rhythm of the Garifna drum beats.
$
25
-
$
50
/ Person
Departs From:
Hopkins
Fascinated by the pulsating rhythms of the Garifuna Drums. We are pleased to share in the fulfillment of your quest to learn to play the drums and become a member of our drummers club. ... moreGuests are taught the different Garifuna Rhythms and some folkloric songs.
$
85
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
Provider:
MAYA & MENNONITE CULTURAL VILLAGE TOUR Barton Creek Mennonites There are approximately 10,000 Mennonites living in Belize. Although originally of European descent and heritage, ... moremany Mennonite children and their parents have been born and raised in Belize, creating a unique blend of culture and spirituality. The Mennonites are much like the Amish, living a humble and religiously pious lifestyle. The Mennonites of Belize are peaceful, hardworking people and the more remote communities like Barton Creek retain a very traditional and simple way of life, relying on their knowledge and strength to farm and survive in the jungle with few modern amenities. Belizean Mennonites speak a dialect of German as well as the local languages or English, Kriol, and Spanish.

The communities are very conservative and the women wear bonnets and long dresses, while the men wear denim overalls and wide brim hats. The men may wear traditional suspenders and dark trousers. They use horse-drawn buggies for transportation and till their farm fields with horses. In the most remote communities, they still use horses to drive their sawmills.

The Mennonites of Barton Creek are very restrictive with their use of machinery and they produce many agricultural crops without any modern machinery. They are highly productive people and they produce honey, milk, eggs, poultry, beans, and other staple crops. Often confused with the Amish, the Mennonites are actually their own distinct religious group with strict Christian principals and their own language. They have many traditions and practices that date back hundreds of years, including arranged marriages. Come to explore this fascinating and reserved culture on a trip through the jungle and back in time to how things were before cell phones, cars, iPods, and even before electricity. San Antonio’s Womens Group Located on the road to the Mountain Pine Ridge, the village of San Antonio was named after St. Anthony of Padua when a Spanish Priest who visited regularly from the town of Benque Viejo del Carmen brought a statue of St. Anthony to the Village. The statue can be seen in the Catholic Church near the Village Square. Prior to the name change, San Antonio was known in the local Yucatec Maya dialect as “Osh Multun Kakab” which translates to “Three Mound Virgin Forest”. Today villagers simply refer to their village as “Tanah,” which is the Mayan term for “our home.”

This is a beautiful and productive community with various cultural activities throughout the year, especially in the months of June and December. June 13 marks St. Anthony Day and villagers celebrate for 13 days with traditional Mayan music, foods, such as tamales, and festivities. This is mainly an agricultural community and the local residents grow crops such as peanuts, corn, squash, and beans, much like their ancestors. There are currently three Women’s Groups in San Antonio. One group operates the community bakery, the other specializes in pottery, local jewelry, and embroidery, and the most recent group is making hammocks, embroidery, and clothing. Tour this lovely village and get a firsthand look at living Mayan culture. Local Mayan lunch included with your tour.
$
90
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
The package deal can be arranged, including: Altun Ha, Baboon Sanctuary and Lamanai.
0 reviews   0 comments
Overall
How useful was this blog post?