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Published: March 22nd 2013
Whatagwan? We're writing to you from Placencia, which is known for having the best beaches in Belize!
We arrived yesterday after spending four amazing days in Hopkins, just further North than here. On our way, we visited Belize Zoo and would have been slightly disappointed had we not seen a real-life Jaguar and Panther, which made the heat and extortionate prices worthwhile. We coped with the Chicken Buses pretty perfectly and met some lovely locals along the way who helped us on with our huge bags in through the back door. After a relatively smooth journey so far, our first impressions of Hopkins were slightly sketchy. We met the lovely local Policeman on the Bus from Dangriga who, along with the Lonely Planet, told us that hitchhiking was the norm for getting from the Junction into Hopkins (about 4 miles) so we didn't think anything of it. Unfortunately it didn't work out so well for us. It was a Sunday afternoon, so there weren't many cars passing us and the ones that did were either full or just rolled on by. It was still boiling but the sun was beginning to set and we were laiden down by three bags each. After being joined en route by a slightly bizarre man on a bike who insisted on telling us horror stories of travellers getting shot and kidnapped on this very road, we were beginning to feel a bit uneasy.
Two miles and one hour later, an old, white car packed with drunk men coming from the wrong direction for us began insisting that we get into their car, 'Hop in ladies', 'we'll make space for you baby and turn around'. After politely turning down their offer having seen the reaction of our bike-man 'protector' as well as getting some bad vibes from them, they started following us down the road and started getting slightly aggressive as to why we wouldn't join them. We were beginning to panic slightly when a big SUV pick-up truck came in the right direction and with barely asking we jumped in and slammed the door. They took us all the way to the Funky Dodo Hostel and we collapsed into the hammocks to recover.
Luckily Hopkins itself destroyed our initial impressions, with some of the friendliest and most interesting people we've met so far. Amazingly, we ended up meeting two Bristolians in the same hostel and along with three French men and two German girls, we had some great times.
Our first night was spent playing 'je n'ai jamais jamais', better known as 'I have never' with our hostel group and taking a starlit swim. Banter was flying left, right and centre, turns out that some French people are actually quite funny 😉 and it was a great start to our stay.
The next night was probably one of the best of our trip so far. We'd heard from one of the locals that there was a live Garifuna Drumming performance (which is what Hopkins is best-known for) at a local beach bar. I can honestly say that it was one of the most culturally inspiring experiences of our lives. An alternating group of about ten local boys played into the early hours and we danced the night away. We were taught by the boys themselves the Garifuna dancing and were even told that we dance like Belizeans, we'll take that thank you very much! After spending the whole evening with them, we arranged to have a drumming lesson the next day with Warren, their lead drummer. It made us realise after struggling with the most basic Punta and Garifuna rhythms how amazing they all are.
In general our days were spent on the insanely picturesque beaches, with hammocks strung between palm trees over white sand and blue seas and chilling out with our hostel friends.
On our last night we watched some more drumming and then headed to the water for another moonlit swim. This time they showed us that if you sway the water with your hands you can see Luminescence. It was beautifully surreal.
That's all for now kids, sorry if we sound a bit over-excited! We'll write again soon. Big love xxx
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