Thursday, April 10, 2014


There is an interesting paradox in Belize (and I’m sure many other places).  Tourists want authenticity in their travels, and so they search out new, “undiscovered” places.  But it turns out that real life mostly isn’t all that tourist-friendly, with people living their ordinary home/ work/ eat/ sleep lives on bumpy dirt roads with  no AC and nothing much to do after dark.  So slowly these little towns change, with fancier restaurants and airconditioned hotels and  lots of tours on offer.   People get jobs, and travelers are comfy, so it mostly works out well.

Hopkins is definitely a  town in transition from sleepy fishing village to tourist beach destination. I was last in Hopkins almost 10 years ago, and the bus ride from the main road into the village was one of the most horrible bumpy hour I have ever spent traveling.  Now construction is underway on a smooth, wide road and access is much easier.  

All throughout town I noticed changes--  nice new grocery stores, tons of new places to eat, tours and shops to entice tourists.  It seems Hopkins is well on it's way to becoming the new Placencia or Caye Caulker.

For now, though, it it still pretty quiet.  Tourists haven't completely taken over.  Early mornings the main road is mostly empty, with a few cars mixed with lots of bikes.

Hopkins is a Garifuna village, and I was quite charmed when I noticed school uniform for little girls is a traditional Garifuna dress.   (Here is the official Garifuna council web site for more info on this culture, and a nicely concise Wikepedia page).

The village of Hopkins is quite small- only 3 streets wide and about a 25 minute walk long.  In the picture above, I'm standing on the roof of our hotel which was on the beach.  The yellow house in the picture marks the inland border of the town.

Right now there is one primary school in the town, and no high school.  A few years ago we would get students from Hopkins all the way at Mount Carmel (about a 3 hour car ride), but now students can go to some newer high schools less then an hour away.

It was interesting to walk around, and notice all the changes.  There is a lot of contrasts, with nice new concrete hotels next to old one room wooden houses on stilts.  Hopkins won't be the same place even a few years from now.  I think the village has a good chance of keeping it's unique culture and spirit though.  New jobs from more tourism are keeping young people in the village, when before most left to go to school and get jobs.  

It's a peaceful place, and a nice place for families to travel.

Even if sand is an insult to one's person.....
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