Extended Visit

Off to Belize for a month this summer ... that's when we have time off. Our plan is to find up to four areas to stay for up to a week each.... south and central Belize. Not interested in Belize City or Ambergris Cay... too touristy for us.

We want to explore ... using these places as a base. We hope to get a sense of where we might buy vacation property and retire in a few years. We want to meet people ... locals, and expats. Shop in the markets, cook our meals and frequent local restaurants and pubs ... no clubs. We want to check out local schools, churches and businesses. We are moderately active people so some beach time and touristy activities are good too.

We are exploring VRBO, flights and have made enquiries about car rentals. So now general advice is welcome ...  but mostly we are looking for recommendations. We are not foolhardy, risktakers ... so looking for relatively safe places.

So far we are leaning towards San Ignacio and Dangriga. We hope to find out more about the Garifundy (So???) People and their culture too.

So let us know where we should go ...

You might also check out areas around Hopkins & Placencia. I'm personally not a huge Dangriga fan but that's just personal bias.

I agree. Dangriga is cool, but it takes some getting used to. If you are interested in Garifuna culture, I would recommend Hopkins and Punta Gorda. Placencia is also nice. It's a Kriol village.

Can you give a newbie three things ... we would need to get used to?

Not sure if you mean 3 things you need to get used to in Belize or Dangriga  :unsure  but I’ll take a swing at both. Keep in mind that just because these are things I think you might have to get used to, it doesn’t necessarily make them bad.  :)

it is a bigger town that is pretty densely packed. While that is good in that you have stores, churches, schools and doctors in walking distance. It is also noisier, dirtier and just more crowded than other places you could choose.

I feel like I’m always on a scavenger hunt. I may go to several places to find what I’m looking for and I usually don’t find everything on my list. But I just ask people for help or advice on where I might find something or if they’re willing to order something in specific. It’s an adventure.  I also feel like people in my community are nicer to each other because we kinda have to depend on each other. That said, I find that many of my interactions with people take longer than I’m used to back in the states. You might compliment someone on the flowers in their yard and then find yourself getting the scoop on medicinal plants or trees you shouldn’t touch. And the roads can be pretty awful depending where you go. We don’t drive on the left or the right you just try to avoid the potholes.  ;)

Having just now come back from a several day adventure in Cayo district, shopping/buying/searching for things on our list, I love the term scavenger hunt as it really describes our trip!

I'll go the Keri Me Home route and hit both topics.

Belize: Trash, slow pace (this has positive and challenging ramifications since everything, including bureaucracy and legal procedures (like house buying) take forever), and road conditions. The scavenger hunt bit is definitely an honorable mention, though.

Dangriga: the energy (not sure how to describe it, but it's a very intense place with loud, high energy), crowded, and parts are dirty.

Dangriga will be more of a city Garifuna experience
I would suggest you consider staying in Hopkins and have a rental vehicle to use to visit Dangriga.
We enjoy visiting Dangriga, but have a villa in Hopkins. Hopkins is having some growing pains--having been a relatively unknown 1400 people village with 2 miles of ocean for many years & is now dealing with easier access by all due to a newly paved road to it.

Placencia is also a recommendation for a place to stay if you would like more of a tourism feeling, but still maintain a friendly and safe vibe. Hopkins has Garifuna, but not an extensive night life. You can also see the rare sight of bioluminescence in Hopkins.   Both  places will get you out to snorkel...takes about 30 minutes by boat, but there are 4 or 5  places that take you out daily or to see the Mayan ruins.
Hiking is plentiful too, there is the Jaguar Preserve between Placencia & Hopkins. I just find Dangriga is grittier than the other two spots. It is where we go to get supplies or local fruit/vegetable at the stands.

If you are interested in renting a 2br/2bth furnished rental across the street from the ocean in Hopkins this summer, lmk

Belize:   In general, there are no huge grocery stores,  frequently the grocery is owned by someone who is Chinese. It will not have a huge selection of protein and it will be frozen, The fresh meet will come into town by a truck 1x to 2 x  a week, as will vegetables.  Local vendors will set up stands to sell bananas, mangos, tomatoes, etc. You will not find lettuce very accessible here.

The dirt roads kick up a lot of dust on dry days, you will have a film on your skin if the windows are open, but the air is fresher and the beauty of the land is breathtaking. Life is not as stress filled, the simple pleasures are seen as integral to your day,   watching the parakeets fly by in the morning, seeing the sun rise over the ocean, hearing the waves rhythmically roll in/out at night when you are falling asleep, seeing hummingbirds in the flowers as you sit on your veranda and pour a cup of french pressed coffee, ( w/ canned evaporated milk--one of the difficulties) Time just isn't rushing along here either, that is a good thing & a bad thing...depending on what you are looking for that day--my furniture arrives late,   but it is all hand made of mahogany... beautiful and who really cares it is a few days late.

Hope this gives you a feel for the atmosphere

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