number one tropical destination of the new millennium, so designated
by those in the travel industry for whom monitoring such statistics
which in turn determines whether or not they will continue to
eat, all are apparently in total agreement this time around. These
self proclaimed experts all seem to agree that the location of
choice for travelers these days is unanimously the country of
why the major tour operators, travel agents and cruise line
managers are more and more looking away from the resort and
souvenir stand littered towns of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and
Cozumel. Their attention today seems focused towards the idyllic
paradise of Belize.
that kind of emphasis being placed upon the natural as well
as the man made resources of Belize, tourist support facilities
from the hotels in Placencia to the Belize Maya site at Lamanai
to the barrier reef are under constant pressure. Today the resources
for which Belize has become renown are now faced with the ever
increasing task of insuring that once the visitors arrive, they
must be entertained enough to return someday. And besides being
captivated, they must also be depended upon to return home to
recommend to their close friends and loved ones that Belize
is indeed a world class and safe destination.
the demand of the occasional as well as the seasoned travel
in a world where the Internet and the Discovery Channel allow
us all to virtually visit a place in greater detail is complicated.
The travel industry is now faced with complex challenges more
than they have been at any other time in the history of humankind.
Long before a traveler contemplates booking the air flight,
they are inundated with what might be perceived as just way
too many options.
Garifuna house with authentic household items in the Old
Belize Cultural and Historical Center
this in mind, BELIZEmagazine.com is therefore happy to report
that the Old
Belize Cultural and Historical Center appears as a bright
spot on an often cloudy horizon as it pertains to attractions
and the future of the travel industry in Belize. Optimism prevails
and so what follows is our account of an up close and personal
visit to Old Belize.
well planned tour to the latest addition to the long list of
attractions one will discover in Belize began in front of The
Great House Inn located just blocks away from downtown Belize
City. Hailing a taxicab curbside, we paid twenty Belize dollars
for the fifteen-minute drive out to the Old Belize museum.
we were there, we notified the ticket seller of our intention
of writing an article as well as our desire to meet with Mr.
Francis Woods following our tour. To say the least, we were
immediately taken back by the friendliness and professionalism
we were greeted with by our tour guide who met our party of
three within the shadows of the ticket office located at the
front of the building that houses the museum.
my seven months pregnant wife, our four and a half year old
son and I listened intently, our guide explained that Old
Belize was a concept of the Woods family. She went on to
say that it was their desire to give back to the people of Belize
as well as those newcomers to their homeland of choice a sense
of their appreciation as to what the country had given to them.
entering the doors to Old
Belize, I must honestly admit that being a writer and world
traveler to over eighty some odd countries worldwide, I was reluctant
and hesitant and somewhat skeptical as to just what lay in wait.
However, as the entrance doors closed behind my family and our
guide, I realized that Old Belize was indeed something special.
City street front with wagons from a lost era in the Old
we proceeded, we found ourselves in the heart of a tropical rainforest
complete with a flowing waterfall, lush vegetation, towering trees
and numerous butterflies. Having lived deep in the jungle down
in the Toledo District for the last year, my young son remarked
how much he felt at home. My wife, who has, how can I put it,
not a real affinity for the reptiles that we have encountered
day in and day out, swell she immediately wondered out loud, "are
there any snakes?"
and with complete assurance our guide promised my wife that although
the Woods family and the Old
Belize support staff had tried their best to capture exactly
what it feels like to be in the bush, fortunately for us all,
the wildlife was left simply to our imagination.
Rainforest with massive trees and countless butterflies like the
Blue Morpheus and machines reminding of the rubber productions
and logging industry that marked Belize's history, can be seen
at the Old Belize cultural and historical center.
the rainforest we moved into the realms of a Belize Maya village,
complete with a thatch roofed house with hammocks strung. Now
I must say that my family and I currently live within walking
distance of a true Maya village. We also have no less than five
thatched roof dwellings on the property we now call our home.
So I was really amazed at how the Old
Belize curators present the life of the Belize Maya. You really
get a true feeling as to how the Belize Maya have lived their
lives for countless centuries, how they maintain and prosper within
the confines of an often hostile natural environ.
to say that the rainforest and the Belize Maya village reenactment
at the Old
Belize museum were truly spectacular would be accurate. But
it would be an understatement to say that the Garifuna village
display was less than magnificent. For this writer can attest
to the fact that unless you have time to make your way down to
Dangriga or Barranco, the Old Belize Garifuna settlement presents
arguably the original Belizean in such a way that any visitor
will depart in complete awe of how the museum has captured the
culture. They even have traditional drums hanging stoop side to
the wood frame house, just the way you would encounter the Garifuna
households in Hopkins Village or Seine Bight.
you depart the cultural and historical musem that is exemplified
by Old Belize, each time-traveler is introduced to the logging
industry and its often downplayed importance within the context
of the history of Belize. Although many might argue that the logging
industry's influence represent a devastating and environmentally
reckless period both past and present for Belize, its importance
can not be unstated. The logging industry has allowed the country
of Belize to prosper while many of its neighbors have been embroiled
in turmoil. The industry today balances the welfare of the Belizean
people, the economy of the nation, while being a regional and
international leader in preservation and conservation of the natural
environment.The last part of the tour of Old
Belize allowed my family and me to stroll down aimlessly through
a street of Belize City the way countless travelers have done
over the ages. There are trunks and rum barrels from a time gone
by, as well as a colonial style street front with wagons from
a lost era parked along the way. Remarkably there was even a bicycle
from a long lost delivery service operated by a one M. Espat that
no doubt brings together ever so coherently, the past to the present.
Woods, Curator of the Old Belize cultural and historical
not only a travel writer but also a graduated Cultural Anthropologist,
I must say that a visit to the Old
Belize Cultural and Historical Center is well worth the
money and time. For it represents the essence of not only what
a modern day tourist attraction must achieve in order to entertain,
it also goes the distance in educating us all as to what Belize
offers, past, present, with an insight into the future of the
country by the Caribe Sea.
so in such times as we find ourselves living these days when
the importance of understanding our person as well as our neighbors
cannot be underestimated, a time when history has become easily
distorted by sound bites and cheap travel logs, this cultural
explorer is confident that Old
Belize provides a simple and uncomplicated glimpse of a
time gone by.