It’s Unbelizeable! People, Driving, and Other Stuff

As we crossed the border from Mexico into Belize, we were greeted with English and the country’s beloved pun, “You won’t Belize it.” What is it that you won’t Belize, exactly? For starters, the unique populations entrenched in their own customs and cultures are reflected through language, food, and music. All this amidst the natural beauty of a tropical jungle on the Caribbean ocean. It’s quite the country, albeit small.


1. Garifuna – in the 1600’s, 2 Spanish slave ships accidentally sank in the middle of the ocean and the slaves all yelled hurrah! and swam to the island of St. Vincent where they made babies with the Caribbean-Indians on the island. Things were going great until the British invaded the island to take it over for sugarcane production and deported them to Honduras. Their history is one of intermixing and perpetual displacement, but their culture continues to fight for survival. They’ve been recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

2. Kriols – began as slaves mixing with masters, and then mixed with everyone else including West Indians, East Indians, Jamaicans, etc. Many are Rastafarians; One love baby.

3. Mennonites – of German descent. We saw some horse and buggies. These guys are devout and make exceptional dairy products.

4. Mestizos – Spanish and Mayan mix

5. Spanish

6. Chinese – brought over primarily for indentured servitude in the mid-19th (sugarcane production) and early 20th centuries

7. Mayan

8. Other – to include E. Indians, Middle Eastern, Etc.

9. Present-day transplants (ex-pats) and foreign investors

As a Caribbean Rasta said to us, “There is no racial tension here man. We just hang out with our own. The problem is not a race problem, but a poor problem.” And as much as I kept looking for tension, I didn’t see much of it although Belize has been attributed with the 4th highest documented murder rate of countries in the world. The murders are mostly due to gang activity in the South side of Belize City while the rest of the country seemed safe and peaceful.


1.English – It’s the country’s official language although it doesn’t mean everyone speaks it. We asked directions to a man in the countryside in both English and Spanish, receiving a Kriol answer we couldn’t understand.

2. Kriol – the unofficial language of Belize. You aren’t Belizean until you speak Kriol, which is English-based but mixed with African dialects and some Spanish.

Ex: Weh di go aan means what’s up.

A lottery billboard said, “Mek mi rich.”

And this sign was at Rio on Pools:

Betta no litta!

3. Spanish, because duh, they’re surrounded.

4. Garifuna

5. German, Mayan, and languages of foreign transplants


Belize had GREAT FOOD. It didn’t matter if it was Mexican, Garifuna, Belizean, Chinese, even American. Their food standards were high and they won in all departments. No bad meals were had here.

1.Benny’s Kitchen, San Ignacio

Breakfast at Bennie's
Breakfast with handmade flour tortillas
Pibil Pork (slow cooked underground) and fried fish
Pibil Pork (slow cooked underground) and fried fish

2. Loggerheads Pub & Grille, Flores. This place was a gem, giving me the best burger I’ve had in YEARS. The pub is run by an ex-pat Canadian


Hand pressed burger with home-made pickles and smoked bacon
Hand pressed burger with home-made pickles and smoked bacon

3. Chinese food actually had black bean paste!

4. And much more, but I was hungry and too busy savoring it. (No pictures for you.)


Driving in Belize was as comfortable as driving in its cousin countries, America and European countries.

There were liberal amounts of road signs, although street signs were not as prevalent.

1. They used gallons and MPH (miles per hour) here. The rest was in the metric system, just like the UK. I’m going out on a limb here and assuming it’s because Belize was formerly British Honduras.

2. The roads were relatively well paved compared to Northern Mexico, but there were many potholes. Driving was sometimes like playing frogger. Except with tires. And axles that could break.

3. Main highways generally had no markings, painted lines, reflectors, or side rails. It was just me and a paved road with dirt shoulders.

4. There are so many hummingbirds in this country, they named a highway after them (Hummingbird Highway).


5. Sometimes you’ll be driving along and just around the corner is a 1-lane bridge. First come, first served.


6. Speed bumps were present at the entrance and exit of every town. At least there were signs for them.


7. They used landmarks for directions. Everything seemed like it was in relation to the police station.


1. You know how most people are not morning people and hate to wake up early to go to work? Also, sometimes you finish your work for the day but you have to stay “clocked in” because The Man says so? What if we all just woke up a little later and stopped working when there was no more work? Well, Belize took that and ran with it. The stores open later and close when they want. Because who NEEDS anything if we all just agree to sleep in? Good job Belize for getting what’s really important in life.

2. The Chinese own just about all of the grocery/convenience stores. They’re also the only restaurants open on Sundays. It’s very interesting to watch a Chinese man speak Kriol.

3. The dogs are well cared for, mange-free, and super friendly.

4. Typical house in Belize:

Typical Belizean house
Typical Belizean house

5. Wildlife everywhere

Frog in the city, outside our hostel
Frog in the city, outside our hostel
Geckos everywhere, of course
Geckos everywhere, of course

Although 80% of the Pine forest at Mountain Pine Ridge was devastated by the pine beetle. Their natural resources program needs some help.

6. The landscape changed as soon as we entered country to include secondary rain forest.

7. The unofficial national drink of Belize is the Panty Rippa. Coconut rum with pineapple juice, yum!

8. Belize is about 150% more expensive than its neighboring countries, which is why we left after 11 days.

9. Seafood is a way of life.

Kids crabbing off a pier in Flores, Belize
Kids crabbing off a pier in Flores, Belize

10. Belizeans really get into voting. Political paraphernalia hung from city centers, homes, street lights, restaurants, and hotels.

UDP - center-right party
UDP – center-right party
PUP - center-left party
PUP – center-left party

People went in droves to the voting booths. Processions of trucks and semi-trucks volunteered to bring people. The day after elections, everyone had a blue index finger from giving their print to vote.

11. They had a lot of above-ground cemeteries.


12. This is Bert, the coconut man.

Bert the Coconut Man
Bert the Coconut Man, San Ignacio

He made this:


He could also weave bottle holders out of palm fronds.


Overall, Belize was a beautiful country extremely rich with culture. I wish we’d made a friend to teach us some Kriol. It had a little bit of everything including nature, culture, biology, wildlife, outdoor adventure etc. And you could do it all with a spectacular view, rum drink in hand, laying in a hammock, and listening to Caribbean beats! It might have been a little, dare I say, unbelizeable.

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