Sunday, November 27, 2016

11-25 to 11-27-2016 Settlement Day in Livingston, Guatemala

Guatemala's Garifuna Settlement Day is the week after Belize's, and Livingston is a Garifuna village there where they have
a celebration for the event. Friends Trevor and Tracey were going with Trevor's band, but Trevor told us about another
organized trip from Hopkins, so we decided to go. As it turned out, Trevor, Tracey and the band never made it to Livingston,
but we had other friends that went on our trip. Here Cara is waiting with Dorla and Dhalia while the boat ride was confirmed.

Waiting at the Punta Gorda boat dock for everyone to arrive and load up onto the boat (pictured at right). Now, normally it is a
45 minute boat ride from Punta Gorda to Livingston, but this particular boat ride truly gave us the "three hour tour". The boat
was definitely overloaded with people and bags, but some said that one of the two motors wasn't working. Whatever the
reason, the boat was unable to get up on plane, so we went pitifully slowly. And it rained for most of the boat ride, so we had
to huddle under tarps they gave us, though many of us still got wet.

We finally arrived and checked into our home for the next two nights, called African Place Hotel.

The view from one end of the shared balcony

One of the buildings near us that housed more hotel rooms.

Our shared balcony, complete with a barbell for working out - lol! We failed to take a picture
of our room, which was basic but fine. Some people complained, though, because there were
shared bathrooms. Our building, with 9 hotel rooms, had 1 women's toilet, 1 women's shower,
1 men's toilet, and 1 men's shower. It's less than ideal conditions, for sure, but we figured we
could deal with it for 2 nights.

After settling into our rooms everyone went out to explore. It rained all night, though, so many people had to stop and find rain
gear. Dorla found a bright yellow raincoat, perfect to go with the Garifuna colors of yellow, white and black.

Friday night was supposed to be the big music night, but it rained all night long, which kind of put a damper on things. Plus, Trevor's band and other musicians didn't make it to Livingston. So, we largely hung out with our frieds under one big tent near the hotel where there was music, but sadly not live music. Cara did walk with the ladies to the beach area where stuff was supposed to be going on, but nothing was happening. We went to bed about 1 am (early by Garifuna standards), but everyone else managed to stay up all night and find enough stuff to do.

The next day was still rainy off and on, but we went out exploring. Above a beach was this statue of the founder of the village.

The beach below looked a little wet, so we didn't bother going down.

We saw a pig roaming wild through the street, and it wasn't the first one we had seen.

We went down to a different beach area, where stuff was supposed to but didn't happen the night before, and wandered around
there for a bit.

We noticed another statue on a small island in the sea.

We walked back to the main street and found the woman on this truck handing out free food to the people on the street. It was
wrapped in a banana leaf like a tamale, but it was probably a Garifuna dish made with mashed plantains or something. We
had already eaten at this point, though, so we didn't take one.

A little further we saw a parade getting ready to start.

The people in Livingston were very friendly to us, and we felt perfectly safe walking around, but the armaments on all the
houses in the village seem to tell a different story.

Another parade going by..

This is the same truck that had been giving out free food.

We walked down the big hill to where all the boats land and depart.

There was a nice big park there, and under this pavilion some sort of raffle was going on.

Near the park we ran into a new friend, Barry, and walked around with him, his sister and friend.

In our wanderings we came across two adorable little girls in their traditional Garifuna dresses, and Barry wanted to take
their picture.

One girl ran instantly crying to her mother's side, and the other just wasn't so sure about this guy and what he was doing.

Barry couldn't help but laugh about it.

We were also trying to find out where Mohobub was supposed to give a concert at 5 pm.

We were directed to a hilltop venue that everyone was calling a "museum".

We don't know about the museum part, but it was a very cool building.

Things were only just setting up, and we got great seats. Unfortunately, we sat around waiting for quite a while (about two
hours). In that time we had run back into town for drinks and a dinner snack, then returned, having thought we surely missed
everything, but realizing we had missed nothing. Eventually, Barry got tired of waiting and left.

Us with Mohobub Flores, the Belizean musician we had come to see.

When everyone had been waiting, two little girls had gotten used to playing in the faux rock
feature in the center of the stage, and one stayed on playing while the first artists came out and
started singing. 

The first group didn't get to play very long before the power went out all throughout the village. Apparently they didn't have a
generator here, because lights never came back on. We left without Mohobub getting to play. We wandered around town,
where a few places had generators, and thus had lights. We did find a few places to hang out, and one place with good live
drumming, but the power outage seemed to really put a damper on things. The ladies didn't feel safe walking around at night
without all the lighting, so most people turned in early. Many people thought that the power was turned off intentionally to
hamper the Garifuna celebration. We hate to think that, and it's hard for us to imagine that, because in the U.S. if someone
had done that it would have been discovered, and that person would have been fired, fined and/or sued. However, we don't
really know about how things go down here.

Sunday morning aftermath at one of the big tents where we hung out. It was a muddy mess.

The night before tents like these had women cooking big meals along the back, and tables out front for guests. Now it was the
dogs' turn to find food there.

Goodbye Livingston and Guatemala!.....Goodbye Livingston and Guatemala!.....Uh, goodbye Livingston and Guatemala!.....
Yes, we took the same boat back, and the problem wasn't fixed, so we were all set for another three hour tour. Thankfully it
wasn't raining. Also thankfully, another boat from that company came back for some of us after having already dropped off
passengers. That saved us about an hour and a half.

We arrived safely back in Punta Gorda, Belize, then headed home to Hopkins, having made new friends, and having had a
wonderful time despite the rain and power issues.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

11-24-2016 Thanksgiving Potluck

This year we went to a Thanksgiving potluck along with several friends. Turkey was provided,
and here one of two turkeys is being carved.

The party was hosted by Cindy and Joe at Caribbean Shores Bed & Breakfast. (Cindy has her back to the camera here.)

Some people watched or periodically checked in on football.

Most people hung out and socialized on the lovely covered deck area.

It used to be a public bar, but now this area is just for guests to use.

There was quite a spread of food, and amazingly, without coordinating, nobody duplicated dishes.

Everything was delicious, and there were plenty of nice vegetarian options for Cara.

There were a lot of people for dinner, but the venue was perfect, and it was a great night.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

11-20-2016 Sunday Beach Walk & Erosion Check

Sunday we did our usual beach walk. Not sure what this ground covering plant is, but it's pretty
and makes for a nice photo.

We ventured north of Driftwood Beach Bar & Pizza Shack to check on the current status of the beach erosion. Along the way
we passed the ruins of the former North Beach Bar. It was before our time in Hopkins, so we've just watched it crumble and
fall, and eventually everything got scavenged and/or cleaned up.

We went up to Hopkins Bay Resort, which has been blamed for some beach erosion issues in Hopkins. In an effort to maintain
their beach, at the south end of their property they had built a groin wall (like a jetty wall) sticking out into the sea. Of course,
this just caused scouring right behind the wall, eating away at the beach south of the resort. Now the groin wall is mostly
gone, but the effects are not.

South of the resort, having already lost a lot of beach, and hoping to not lose more (or they will lose cabanas), Kismet Inn
decided to build a seawall for protection. When they built the seawall it was right at the edge of the beach, but waves were
not breaking on it.

Now, looking north to the Kismet Inn seawall from the property directly south of it, you can see that more beach has been lost
because waves are breaking on the seawall. In addition, the existence of the seawall has caused scouring and more loss of
beach to the property south of it, which is a bar/restaurant/cabana rentals called Weiga (pronounced way-guh). We spoke with
the owner at length about the beach erosion issue, and how each individual effort simply passes the problem down the line,
and how there needs to be an organized effort from everyone on the beach to remedy the issue.

We had a drink and a snack at the newly opened Weiga, then we hung out up in the little
"crow's nest" at the very top of the palapa.

Looking down from the top - it doesn't look all that high, but we're basically up on the third
story of the building at this point.

The view from the "crow's nest" (our term - not sure what they called it).