NEW ROOMS!

Finally completed the TreeTop rooms and the TreeTop deck!

No more bar, but two brand new rooms with Queen beds and private bathrooms. There is also a brand new deck where you can hang out up in the treetops- great for sunbathing or stargazing!

TreeTop Deck
TreeTop rooms 9 and 10
TreeTop room -Queen bed, private bath

ATM/Cash point issues in Hopkins

Travelers beware:
If you have a chip card, the only ATM in Hopkins (Bank of Belize) will probably not work for you. If you are coming through Dangriga, stop by the Scotia bank about two blocks from the bus terminal and stock up on cash before you get here.
In happier news, we have a credit card machine, and can take payments for your stay via MasterCard and Visa. We will have to charge a 6% fee for credit card transactions, however.

Plumbing!

Not that this will be so noticeable to guests…but the upgrades/rehabbing continue. We have now completely re-done the entire plumbing system. New pipes, new and better septic system.
Great water pressure in all showers and faucets…finally. Still no hot water…looking into a solar water heater, but those are very expensive, so it will be a while before we can do that, but it’s in the plan…
More to come!

Group accommodation and group transport in Belize

The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel, Bar & Tour operator, Belize, Central America

Group accommodation

  • Accommodation for up to 40 guests at one time.
  • dormitories and rooms with or without bathrooms.
  • free lockers
  • Free luggage storage
  • Food and drink available on site
  • Further overflow accommodation available

Group transport

  • comfortable safe transport by sea or by land anywhere in the country for up to 40 people.
  • any multi day excursion or day trip for up to 40 guests.
  • activities or events required can be organized and managed by us.
  • breakfast lunch and dinner on site or on the go.
  • We can provide guides, equipment or anything you need.
  • Transport to/from Mexico & Guatemala also available

The place

  • The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel is located in center Hopkins Village, Belize.
  • We provide budget accommodation & transport.
  • We have 40 beds in 9 rooms of varying configurations.
  • We offer great rates for groups of 10 or more.
  • On site we have a treetop bar under a Mayan thatched roof where we serve a selection of drinks as well as breakfast and bar food.
  • We offer our guests free Wi-Fi, guest kitchen, information, hammocks, books and we are 1 min walk from the beach.
  • Our front desk is open from 6am – 10pm everyday and we have 24 hour security
  • We are fully licensed and insured tour operators.

Great deals for groups

  • Great rates for group accommodation & transport in Belize and neighboring countries.
  • Detailed trip planning and event management available.
  • Please contact us and we can put together a quotation for your group travel and accommodation needs in Central America.

info@funkydodo.bz – Anna:  +501 676 DODO

Or fill out the form: 

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel, Bar & Tour operator, Belize, Central America

Belize

Similar to Costa Rica, Belize has a very stable political system and a very peaceful history. Belize is a democracy, the economy in Belize is stable and the currency is attached to the US dollar, the legal system is based on the British laws from the days of the empire, and Belize is still an member of the Commonwealth.

Currency

The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere in Belize, and the Belize dollar has been set for many years at the current rate of 2 BZ to 1 U.S.D Anything of substantial value, such as real estate, is priced in U.S. dollars. This means that prices in Belize are more stable than is the case in other countries.

Language

Everything including street signs, laws & land documents, food menus and real estate contracts are in English.  This makes Belize very attractive to English speakers as an investment, retirement, or vacation home destination. You don’t need to learn a new language, because English in the national language.  Belize is the only English speaking country in all of Central America, which make transactions and procedures easy for English speaking people.

Transport

International flights to Belize are available from just about anywhere. Belize is easy to reach from the US and Canada, and now also from Europe.  Its proximity to Canada and the US make a quick travel time and there is little jet lag due to time change.  (Belize is on Central Time.) Flights to Belize depart from Charlotte, Newark, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Houston, and Toronto.  Belize has a safe and reliable bus network that runs country wide 7 days a week from sunrise until 10 pm or so. There are around 15 main bus companies with their respective names, logos and colors and you can travel the whole length of the country for under US$20.00

Nature and History

Thousands of species of trees and flowers, hundreds of kinds of birds and butterflies can be found in Belize.  It has tropical rain-forests, reefs, beaches, and mountains, hundreds of Mayan ruins, and many rivers alive with wildlife and rare flora.  From cave tubing to zip-lining, diving to sailing, snorkeling to fishing, and exploring Mayan ruins. Almost half of Belize is protected –with National Parks and Marine Reserves, including United Nations World Heritage sites such as the 27,000 acre Balcalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. Belize has the 2nd largest and most complex barrier reef in the world.  The marine activities  and water sports are often rated among the very best in the world. This ecologically diverse, unspoiled paradise is Belize, which is also one of the least densely populated countries in the western hemisphere.

Weather

The overall climate of Belize can be described as sub-tropical. Average temperature is 83oF (29oC). In winter the temperature in Belize rarely falls below 60°F (16°C), while throughout summer the mercury sits at around 86°F (30°C). Humidity is also fairly consistent at around 85 percent.

 

The Garifuna

History

The French missionary Raymond Breton, who arrived in the Lesser Antilles in 1635, and lived on Guadeloupe and Dominica until 1653, took ethnographic and linguistic notes of the native peoples of these islands, including St Vincent which he visited only briefly. According to oral history noted by the English governor William Young in 1795 Carib-speaking people of the Orinoco came to St. Vincent long before the arrival of Europeans to the New World, where they subdued the local inhabitants called Galibeis. They lived along with the Carib men. Young recorded the arrival of the African descended population as commencing with a wrecked slave ship from the Bight of Biafra in 1675. The survivors, members of the Mokko people of today’s Nigeria (now known as Ibibio), reached the small island of Bequia, where the Caribs brought them to Saint Vincent and ill-used them. When the Carib masters felt that the Africans were too independent in spirit, according to Young, they planned to kill all the male children. The Africans, learning of this plan revolted, killed as many Caribs as possible and withdrew to the mountains, where they joined with other runaways who had taken refuge there. From there they raided the Caribs continually until they had greatly reduced them in numbers.[2] There are few other accounts of the island, as it was not occupied by Europeans and visitors were rare or there unofficially, hence Young’s account is the only one of the century before he wrote to provide specific details of the origins of the Garifuna.

Britain and France both laid conflicting claims on Saint Vincent from the late seventeenth century onward. French pioneers began informally cultivating plots on the island around 1710 and in 1719 the governor of Martinique sent a force to occupy it, but was repulsed by the inhabitants. A British attempt in 1723 was also repelled.[3] In 1748, Britain and France agreed to put aside their claims and Saint Vincent was declared a neutral island, under no European sovereign.[4] Throughout this period, however, unofficial, mostly French settlement took place on the island, especially on the Leeward side.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris awarded Britain rule over Saint Vincent. After a series of Carib Wars, which were encouraged and supported by the French, and the death of their leader Satuye (Chatoyer), they surrendered to the British in 1796. The British considered the Black Caribs enemies and deported them to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras. In the process, the British separated the more African-looking Caribs from the more Amerindian-looking ones. They decided that the former were enemies who had to be deported, while the latter were merely “misled” and were allowed to remain. Five thousand Black Caribs were deported, but only about 2,500 of them survived the voyage to Roatán. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garifuna petitioned the Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland. The Spanish employed them, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

In recent history, Garifuna have thrown off their British appellation and encourage others to refer to them as Garifuna. The Garifuna population is estimated to be around 600,000 both in Central America, Yurumein (St. Vincent and The Grenadines) and the United States of America. The latter, due to heavy migration from Central America, has become the second largest hub of Garifuna people outside Central America. New York has the largest population, heavily dominated by Hondurans, Guatemalans and Belizeans. Los Angeles ranks second with Belizean Garifuna being the most populous, followed by Hondurans and Guatemalans. There is no information regarding Garifuna from Nicaragua having migrated to either the East or the West Coast of the United States. Nicaraguan Garifuna are few. They are learning the Garifuna language and acquiring the different cultural aspects.

Language

Garifuna is an Arawakan language spoken in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua by the Garifuna people. Their language is primarily derived from Arawak and Carib, with English, French and Spanish to a lesser degree. One interesting feature of Garifuna is a vocabulary split between terms used only by men and terms used only by women. This does not however affect the entire vocabulary but when it does, the terms used by men generally come from Carib and those used by women come from Arawak.

Almost all Garifuna are bilingual or polylingual, speaking the official languages of the countries they inhabit such as Spanish, Kriol and English most commonly as a first language.

Religion

Today, the majority of Garifuna are officially Catholic but there are some that are following other religions. However, it is syncretized with traditional beliefs held well before their conversion to the Catholic faith. A shaman known as a buyei is the head of all Garifuna traditional practices. The religion has some similar qualities to the voodoo rituals performed by other tribes derived from Africa. Mystical practices and participation in the Dugu orders are also widespread among Garifuna. Some individuals from Sein Bight and Dangriga, Belize have claimed to have seen feats of levitation.

There is also a Rastafarian minority, primarily living in Dangriga, Belize City, Belize, and in Livingston, Guatemala. There are also Garifuna who practice Islam.

Culture

In 2001 UNESCO proclaimed the language, dance and music of the Garifuna as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Belize. In 2005 the First Garifuna Summit was held in Corn Island, Nicaragua with the participation of the government of other Central American countries.

Food

There is a wide variety of Garifuna dishes, including the more commonly known ereba (cassava bread) made from grated cassava, garlic, yucca, and salt. This is done in an ancient and time-consuming process involving a long, snake-like woven basket (ruguma) which strains the cassava of its juice. It is then dried overnight and later sieved through flat rounded baskets (hibise) to form flour that is baked into pancakes on a large iron griddle. Ereba is eaten with fish, hudut (pounded plantains) or alone with gravy (lasusu). Others include: bundiga (a plantain lasusu), mazapan, and bimecacule (sticky sweet rice).

Music

Garifuna music is quite different from the rest of Central America. The most famous form is punta. Its associated musical style, which has the dancers move their hips in a circular motion. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre’s biggest stars.

Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include: hungu-hungu, combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman, gunjai, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, punta rock, teremuna ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. Punta is the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and at parties and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are a circular dance in a three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadaguman, men’s work songs, chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta.

Drums play a very important role in Garifuna music. There are primarily two types of drums used: the primero (tenor drum) and the segunda (bass drum). These drums are typically made of hollowed-out hardwood such as mahogany or mayflower, with the skins coming from the peccary (wild bush pig), deer, or sheep.

Also used in combination with the drums are the sisera. These shakers are made from the dried fruit of the gourd tree, filled with seeds, then fitted with hardwood handles.

Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project.

In contemporary Belize there has been a resurgence of Garifuna music, popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores, & Adrian Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from traditional Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern sounds. Described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda. One great example is Andy Palacio’s album Watina, and Umalali: The Garifuna Women’s Project, both released on the Belizean record label Stonetree Records.

In the Garifuna culture, there is another dance called Dugu. This dance is a ritual done for a death in the family to pay their respect to their loved ones. In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

Gender relations

Gender roles within the Garifuna communities are significantly defined by the job opportunities available to everyone. The Garifuna people have relied on farming for a steady income in the past, but much of this land was taken by fruit companies in the 20th century. These companies were welcomed at first because the production helped bring an income to the local communities, but as business declined these large companies sold the land and it has become inhabited by mestizo farmers. Since this time the Garifuna people have been forced to travel and find jobs with foreign companies. The Garifuna people mainly rely on export businesses for steady jobs; however, women are highly discriminated against and are usually unable to get these jobs. Men generally work for foreign-owned companies collecting timber and chicle to be exported, or work as fishermen.

Garifuna people live in a matrilocal society, but the women are forced to rely on men for a steady income in order to support their families, because the few jobs that are available, housework and selling homemade goods, do not create enough of an income to survive on. Although women have power within their homes, they rely heavily on the income of their husbands.

Although men can be away at work for large amounts of time they still believe that there is a strong connection between men and their newborn sons. Garifunas believe that a baby boy and his father have a special bond, and they are attached spiritually. It is important for a son’s father to take care of him, which means that he must give up some of his duties in order to spend time with his child. During this time women gain more responsibility and authority within the household.
The Garifuna culture is greatly affected by the economic atmosphere surrounding the community. This makes the communities extremely susceptible to outside influence. Many worry that the area will become extremely commercialized since there are few economic opportunities within the area.

Belize barrier reef

The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters (1,000 ft) offshore in the north and 40 kilometers (25 mi) in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 kilometers (186 mi) long section of the 900 kilometers (560 mi) long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya up to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef. It is Belize’s top tourist destination popular for scuba diving and snorkeling and attracting almost half of its 260,000 visitors, and vital to its fishing industry.

Charles Darwin described it as “the most remarkable reef in the West Indies” in 1842.

Species

The Belize Barrier Reef is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, one of the most diverse ecosystems of the world:

  • 70 hard coral species
  • 36 soft coral species
  • 500 species of fish
  • hundreds of invertebrate species

With 90% of the reef still needing to be researched, it is estimated that only 10% of all species have been discovered

Environmental protection

A large portion of the reef is protected by the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, which includes seven marine reserves, 450 cays, and three atolls. It totals 960 km² (370 miles²) in area, including:

  • Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve
  • Great Blue Hole
  • Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve
  • Cays include: Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, Caye Chapel, St. George’s Caye, English Caye, Rendezvous Caye, Gladden Caye, Ranguana Caye, Long Caye, Maho Caye, Blackbird Caye, Three Coner Caye, Northern Caye, Sandbore Caye.

Because of its exceptional natural beauty, significant on-going ecological and biological processes, and the fact that it contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity (criteria VII, IX, and X), the Reserve System has been designated as a World Heritage Site since 1996.

Despite these protective measures, the reef is under threat from oceanic pollution as well as uncontrolled tourism, shipping, and fishing. The main threats are considered to be hurricanes along with global warming and the resulting increase in ocean temperatures, which cause coral bleaching. It is claimed by scientists that over 40% of Belize’s coral reef has been damaged since 1998.

The Belize Barrier Reef has been affected by two mass-bleaching events. The first mass bleaching occurred in 1995, with an estimated mortality of 10 percent of coral colonies, according to a report by the Coastal Zone Management Institute in Belize. In 1997 and 1998, a second mass-bleaching event occurred, coinciding with devastation effected by hurricane Mitch. Biologists observed a 48 percent reduction in live coral cover across the Belize reef system.

Usually, it is hard to distinguish whether the reason for coral bleaching is human activities or natural reasons such as storms or bacterial fluctuations. But in the case of the Belize Barrier Reef, many factors which make the distinction difficult don’t apply. Human population in this area is much more sparse than the corresponding areas near other coral reefs, so the human activity and pollution are much lower compared to other coral reefs and the Belize reef system is in a much more enclosed area.

When coral bleaching occurs, a large part of the coral dies, and the remaining part of the ecosystem begins the process of repairing the damage. But the chances of recovery is low, as corals that are bleached become much more vulnerable to disease. Disease often kills more corals than the bleaching event itself. With continuous bleaching, the coral reef will have little to no chance of recovery.

Backpacking Belize

Folks traveling through Latin America will always find Belize to be an interesting place to visit as there are so many unique factors about the country as well as a wealth of history, culture and natural wonders. Belize has an excellent backpackers trail to be explored with hostels and budget accommodation in all areas of the country and a network of cool old school buses to take you around the country.

Belize has the worlds 2nd biggest barrier reef in the which stretches over 1000 km from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula down to Belize. UNESCO made the reef a world heritage site in the mid 90’s and the reef is a world class diving spot and attracts people from all over the world to come and snorkel and scuba in the warm blue waters.

Sandy-Island-Clear-Water-Wallpaper-Belize 1393974_541029885972949_1645311747_n (1)

Along the coast of Belize there are dozens of islands called Cays which vary from many uninhabitable patches of mangrove that any large wave will wash clear over, to larger cays with small residential and commercial developments and white sand with palm trees. Then there are 2 big Cays called Caye Calker and Ambergris Caye where there is motorized transport and a few short roads.

Within Belize mainland you will feel the true vibe of Belizean culture and discover the different communities and cultures and  their way of living, for me this is the most rewarding part of the country to spend some time. IMG_3816

There are the Garifuna people who are decedents of West African and Central African people and who represent a minority of the population. There are then Mayans, Creoles, Mennonites, and the majority of the country is of Latin / Hispanic decent. All theses races of course have a language that goes with it. The Garifuna language is written and taught in Schools, the Mayans have an ancient language called “kutchi”, the Mennonites have a dialect derived from their German ancestors and the Creole dialect is basically a very simplified English which takes a lot of intonation and body language to be understood as about half of the dictionary was just removed :) Then of course in most of the country you will be able to communicate in Spanish no problem.

Belize has many Mayan archaeological sites to see Including Caracol, Cerros, Lamanai, Actun Tunichil Muknal, Xunantunich and loads and loads more, many of which yet remain to be uncovered. In the Mayflower Nature Reserve Close the The Funky Dodo Backpackers Hostel there are uncovered Mayan Ruins to be seen.

DSCF1267

The public transport system in Belize is an experience on its own. Each bus company has it’s own colors and logos and they all will blast out music as you go down the road Almost all of the buses are old school buses decommissioned from various counties in the USA and driven down here. Compared with a lot of Central American countries the buses are in relatively good condition and the roads are not too dangerous simply due to the fact that the country is sparsely populated.  Having said all that, I can almost promise that you will have at least one white knuckle ride on a bus with the driver carelessly overtaking on a blind corner with a precipice on one side whilst doing 60 miles an hour. But that is just normal in Central America.

Belize Only has 4 main roads in the whole country and a majority of the smaller roads are dusty dirt roads with slow moving ancient vehicles creaking over the bumps and rocks. Besides Belize city there is very little in the way of traffic and only in the city center will you experience a traffic jam of sorts. For the most part you have road to yourself besides the odd vehicle coming the other way and the highways are in good enough condition for the most part. In the rainy season those dusty dirt roads become wet & muddy and vast areas of the country are prone to flooding.

On the road you will see herds of cattle and Mennonites in horse and cart. You will see old farm trucks belching out black smoke slowly going up a steep hill carrying 30 or 40 farm workers packed tightly in the back. There are women riding along on motorcycles with a teenager hanging off the saddle, a toddler in front of her and heavy bags of groceries hanging from the handlebars causing the bike to sway along the side of the road. Small wooden houses up to 24 feet wide are often transported in one piece right across the country and it is not unusual to see a house coming down the road with no escort forcing all the oncoming vehicles out of the way.

IMG_0140

Speed bumps have various utilities in Belize, as well as slowing down traffic and pedestrian crossings they also serve as vending spots for local people who will offer a variety of goods such as corn on the cob, tamales, coconut water, cashew nuts, juices, fruits and more. They are also key hitch hiking spots. A huge amount of the population of the country gets around from hoping on and off the back of pick up trucks and  therefore the bump provides a safe practical spot for both driver and passenger. The bumps are also used to pass and overtake slow moving vehicles. It is perfectly common to overtake a truck on a speed bump. The Police will not stop you for doing so. Not such a good factor for the pedestrians crossing though…

Hopkins Village can be cut off from the world during heavy down pours or storms. Or at least it could be as now thanks to the EU we are getting a new road and bridges built which will vastly improve the access to the village.

Belize is a place where you are truly away from the modern world, a place that feels somewhat “undiscovered”. None of the famous brands or names that are found all over the world chucked upon us by large corporations can be seen.

The whole country ‘s population is that of a small city in Europe where I come from and in the surrounding areas where I have now lived for 4 years there are many familiar faces that you see when out and about. People know you and remember you as there is not a crowd of hundreds of thousands coming by all the time. You are not a number, you don’t scan a bar-code to bring up your information, you know the name of the lady who answers the phone at the power company and the name of your neighbors dad. Formalities are very informal and ID is only requested occasionally…..