Sunday, March 15, 2020

3-14-2020 Hopkins Kite Festival & The Garifuna Collective Concert

We always love going to the Hopkins Kite Festival. The kites entered into the competition are all supposed to be homemade.
Some people make their kites beforehand, while others make their kites in the morning at the event.

There were lots of kites being flown all day long by children and adults.

We also spent time hanging out with friends. Our friend Pam (at right) made this colorful triangular kite from straws, string
and a broken umbrella. It flew well and she won first place in the adult competition. It looked store bought while it was
flying, so she had to bring it down for the judges to verify that it was indeed homemade.

After naps and dinner we went to an all night concert at Miss Tracey's Guest House, which is the guest house, music studio
and concert venue run by our friends Trevor and Tracey. The first band was Trevor's band called Zero Tolerance - we failed
to get a photo of them. Here is the main attraction, The Garifuna Collective, who is known and tours internationally. They
played twice that evening - early for the elders who couldn't stay late, and again at about 3 am. If you have never heard them,
look them up - they are awesome!

Next was the World Culture Band, which was started by a local musician who had traveled the world and assembled this
band along the way. They were really nice.

It was a smaller crowd than normal because the Covid-19 scare was just hitting Belize, and that kept a lot of people away.

Those who did come out all had a great time.

A band from the Cayo District called Mile 41 played nice reggae music. We enjoyed all the music, and we lasted until about
3:30 or 4 am and then had to call it quits. This was basically the last event we were able to go to before social distancing
began for everyone.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

3-8-2020 Women In Art Festival

On a Sunday afternoon Cara went with several friends to the Women In Art Festival at the Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery in
Dangriga. This year's celebration (for International Women's Day) was dedicated to the late Garifuna musician Semiona

We learned about Ms.Semiona Valerio from relatives and heard some of her songs.

We heard very moving poetry from another artist.

Several local artisans had set up tables selling their wares. One woman was selling hair care products made from sustainably
farmed seaweed. Others were selling environmentally friendly cleaning products, hand made jewelry, homemade baked
goods, cassava bread, sahou (a yummy cassava drink), other cassava products, and more.

The woman who read the poem was also selling African inspired clothing and bags. Another woman offered a free short
session of chair yoga. 

An intense, blustery rain came and went several times during the event. Sadly, that likely kept many people from coming to
this nice event.

A ribbon was cut from the door, and we were allowed to enter the gallery. No photos were allowed inside, but there were
beautiful paintings, locally made jams and such, T-shirts, bags, books, music CDs, and incredible needlework pieces that
looked like paintings.

This wonderfully painted building is the art and music studio.

Monday, March 2, 2020

3-2-2020 Farm Tour with Family

Our last big day with Eric's family took us out to the Cayo District, so along the way we stopped for breakfast at Cafe Casita
del Amor on the Hummingbird Highway. We have driven by this place many times, but never stopped in, even though it
looks intriguing.

Cute interior. Looks okay. I guess we'll try it.

The house cat sat with us (and begged food) while we ate. Everyone liked their food (omelets and smoothie), so it was a win.

Eric's step-father, John, grew up on a farm, so he wanted to see what farming was like in Belize. Our friend, Gilly, works on
a farm (mostly sugarcane, corn and soybeans) in the Cayo District (in western Belize), and he was happy to give us a tour. 

One machine is harvesting the sugarcane, and the other two vehicles go along beside to catch the good stuff.

Those little vehicles then dump their loads of good stuff in bigger collection trucks that then go to the sugar mill.

The sugarcane harvester.

John and Paul rode along with Gilly as we toured the farm, so they likely learned tons more. We learned that sugarcane has
to grow for a year before it is harvested. We also learned that the corn they grow all goes to Guatemala, though the soybeans
are used in Belize. 

Just some of the big farm equipment.

This one is Belizean made to be able to go through the muckiest of areas without getting stuck.

The sugar mill.

After the farm tour we drove to nearby Spanish Lookout, the big Mennonite community, and drove around a bit before
stopping for lunch at Sisters Diner, which a friend had recommended.

It's a cute place and the food was good.

Spanish Lookout is full of green, perfectly manicured lawns, because that's how the Mennonites roll.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

3-1-2020 Snorkeling, Beach Walk and Blues Music with Family

Some of Eric's family (mother, step-father and uncle) were visiting, and they wanted to do a snorkel trip, so we went out
with Happy Go Luckie Tours for ahalf day trip. It was rainy and chilly on our way out, but that didn't dampen our spirits. At
our first stop Cara went snorkeling 
with Eric's mother Nancy and Uncle Paul. We saw the usual beautiful coral and fish, as
well as a couple of stingrays, one of 
which we saw bury itself in the sand. 

Just when we got back in the boat Cara spotted a big turtle swimming by the boat. In fact, it was a huge Loggerhead turtle!
Cara and Paul jumped back in to watch the curious turtle, who hung out by our boat checking us out for several minutes. It
was quite the experience! Sadly, we didn't get any really good pictures of it.

At the second stop we all went in the water, though it was much less eventful. Hard to compete with a Loggerhead sighting!

After going home and taking showers we all went for our usual Sunday beach walk.

We met up with several other friends along the way. Here we are at Driftwood Pizza Shack.

Next we stopped at Queen Bean Restaurant.

Then we headed up to Hopkins Beach Club.

It turned out to be a beautiful day, thankfully.

Eric and his mother, Nancy.

Our last stop was Rhum Shack at Hopkins Bay Resort for the best pina coladas.

That evening we went to Jalapeno's BBQ & Grill for dinner and some awesome blues music.

In the center are Steev Inglish (aka Mr. Downchild) and Kasimira Vogel - they are Blues Meets Girl. They were backed up
by Trevor Wall on bass (at far right), and another great guitar player whose name we unfortunately did not catch.

It was the last time they were going to play in Hopkins for a while, so we were happy to be able to see them again. Eric's
family loved them as well. It was a full and tiring, yet excellent day!