A fourth day of off and on rain. Today we moved to the town of Dangriga. Staying at the Bluefield Lodge. Dangriga is a Garifuna town. The Garifuna have an interesting history. Four tribes of Carib Indians from northern South America migrated to the Caribbean Islands in the 1300s where they encountered the Arawack Indians. The Arawaks killed all the Carib men and kept the women.
The next part of the history has two versions of how the Africans entered the area. Either they came on their own from Africa before the white Europeans came or they were brought here by the Europeans as slaves. Freed and escaped slaves (or Africans that came on their own, depending on which version of the story you believe) mingled with the Arawacks and Caribs. This mixture of Arawack, Carib and African people became what is known as the Garifuna. The four tribes of Carib Indians, the Arawaks and various African tribes had no common language and so a mixture of languages resulted in a new language called Garifuna.
The British made colonies of most of the Caribbean islands. The Garifuna either fled or were captured on all of the islands except Saint Vincent. Gorilla warfare against the British lasted almost 300 years on Saint Vincent until the Garifuna finally surrendered in the late 1700s.
The British then had to decided what to do with these people. They could keep them as slaves but that presented problems. It gave them the opportunity to continue resistance and to start trouble with the African slaves. Also, there was a language barrier. The British decided it would be better to just get rid of the Garifuna.
They moved the Garifuna to an island off the coast of Honduras. During their imprisonment and transport about half of them died. Many committed suicide.
The British left them on the Honduran island of Punta Gorda. From there they built their own boats and moved to the mainland of South America. Since then, they have spread all along the north coast of South American and Belize. They came to Belize in 1802. Today there are several Garifuna towns in southern Belize.
The Garifuna, together with the Mestizos, Creole, Maya, Mennonites and British make Belize an interesting mixture of cultures and languages. In more modern times there are also a lot of immigrants from India, China, and the United States.
In Dangriga we went to see the Garifuna museum which was very interesting. Dangriga is a fishing village and other than the museum, not much for a tourist to see here.
There are several types of schools in the Garifuna towns. There is a Garifuna culture school. Also, each major religion operates a school here. There are schools run by the Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Anglicans and probably others. Each school has its own uniform. The tan and white clothing of the boys in my photo indicate that they attend the Anglican school. The lessons at the Garifuna school are taught in the Garifuna language. All other schools teach in English.
The music of the Garifuna people consists of singing and drums. There is a drum-making business in Dangriga. At the Garifuna culture school, the children learn to play drums as part of their education. Children in the religious schools could be Garifuna or Maya or even Chinese or a variety of other backgrounds. For the Garifuna children who attend a religious school instead of the Garifuna school, there is a school that teaches drum lessons and these children go there to learn to play the drums.
Day two in Dangriga town. We spent only two days here but it was like being in a totally different country. Most of the people are black and speak the Garifuna language. Most of the adults speak a second language of which English and Spanish are the most prominent.
I walked around town taking photos. The houses range from little wooden shacks to huge mansions and everything in between.
I found that most of the stores were owned by Chinese or Maya people even though most of the population were Garifuna. There are also several Chinese restaurants. Garifuna people are fishermen and they operate the fish market.