For so many people, Belize means so many things. For me, this land means love.I spent my fundamental childhood and adolescent years away from Belize, residing in Los Angeles(LA), California, and while I loved it, I always yearned for something more.
I longed to climb mango trees, breathe in the fresh mountain air of the Cayo hills, eat Granny’s Sunday dinna, and go take a swim da riva!
Many families migrate to the “States” and somehow in the grind of everyday life, lose sight of their heritage, whether Belizean, Mexican, Jamaican, Haitian and the list goes on. But I certainly could not say the same for myself.
While I did get to travel and see a lot of what the West Coast of America had to offer, I grew up surrounded by family and friends, and pretty much in a Belizean community that still held on to their Belizean roots. And for that I am ever grateful as I never lost my Belizean identity and sense of pride.
Weekdays of course saw everyone at either school or work, but the weekends? Oh how everyone longed for the weekends!
Saturdays and Sundays would mean feast and fun! The Belizean families in the neighbourhood would pack up the family and head for a weekend barbeque at either the lake or a fellow neighbour’s home…while many were related, the community was so close that even the ones that weren’t still became “cuzzo.” This brought together families that originated from just about every district in Belize, only now in America we were one big Belizean family.
There would be reggae or Punta music on the sound system, chicken and links on the grill, a game of “feech” (dominoes) slamming on the table, and the best part was always the RICE AND BEANS on the stove, followed by the bread pudding for dessert. On special occasions, someone would have a relative visiting from Belize and we’d get a taste of tamales, stewed craboo or supa, One Barrel Rum, Marie Sharp pepper sauce or Dutch Cheese (While not quite Belizean, surely a Belizean all-time favorite). Belizeans often invited their American friends at these gatherings, and how easy was it for them to fall in love with the culture, food and people of Belize.
We (the children of immigrant parents) would all listen in amazement and fall in love with a Jewel that many of us had yet to know, as the adults cracked old Kriol jokes, and shared tales of “back home.” On summer breaks, if you were lucky, you got a chance to visit Belize, and experience first-hand everything you longed for by simply hearing these weekend tales.
My first two trips back home had me giddy with joy, as I explored my tiny village, re-connected with family members, and ate all the local fruits and goodies I’d only been allowed on those special occasions in LA. We strolled around to the different little village shops, and that sense of love from everyone was something I’ll always remember, although I left as a baby, everyone remembered the little “baby girl.” Quite the home coming. After visiting home, I knew that I had to be back…the warm smiles, the lush greenery, horseback riding, family and all that Belizean love…..Oh yea, I’d be back and I’d appreciate and explore as much of my homeland as I could.
Today, I’m happy to say that that’s exactly what I’m doing. I live in paradise (Ambergris Caye), and as a travel writer for My Beautiful Belize Travel Guide, I’ve been afforded the opportunities to travel the Belize and experience what she offers, and the best part- I get to share them with you, our readers abroad and at home.