Posted by: Tori Wong | 26th Jan, 2010

Weekend in Hopkins Village!

Over the weekend I went on a trip to the coast with 5 other international students and Ms. Rhondine, who we have come to discover is equal parts international student coordinator, best friend, supermom, and wonderwoman. We drove about 2 hours from San Ignacio to Dangriga, where we stopped for lunch at Pelican Beach, a beautiful resort right on the ocean complete with white sand, hammocks, a boardwalk over the clearest ocean water I’ve ever seen, and chocolate ice cream! yum! After lunch we hopped back into “little green” (yeah, we named our bus) and got a nice workout from holding onto the seats, windows, walls, and other passengers as the bus jerked and bounced down the narrow road into Hopkins Village, spitting up orange dirt onto everything within a 15 foot radius.

When I wasn’t turning my knuckles white with pressure, my bus buddy (Ted, a local Galen student heading back home to Hopkins for the weekend) was able to point out that most of the land surrounding Hopkins Village was used primarily for agriculture (the biggest crops in Belize are bananas, citrus, and sugar). We even passed a very American-looking citrus processing plant that Ted told me was the “most industrial building” in Belize. Outside the factory were 5 open semi-trucks filled to the top with oranges.

Once we made it to Hopkins, we took a “tour” of the village, which consisted of a one-lane road with small shacks, houses and a few scattered bars and coffee shops on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. About halfway down the bumpy road, I noticed that there were thick pieces of rope every couple hundred feet, put down to create “speed bumps.” I was struck by the sheer undevelopment of the costal village, and realized that if property half as beautiful as Hopkins was in the states, it would have been developed with monster beach houses, swimming pools and resorts long ago.

All the direct oceanfront property is public, even though there were some houses and small inns built on the ocean side of the road, and as a result, it sometimes seemed like we were swimming in someone’s front yard…but everyone was always really friendly and incredibly inviting. The only guy in our group even met a guy on a run and ended up getting a private tour of the lagoon and the seeing “best view in the whole village.” I specified that he was the only guy in the group because all the girls later agreed that no matter how friendly the village was, we would never have been able to just jump in a stranger’s canoe and still feel safe. Must be nice to be a boy 😛

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5am to see the ocean sunrise, and it was nothing short of amazing! I don’t care what anyone says: sun rises are 100x better than sun sets. I had my feet in the water (so warm!) when a dolphin swam right past me and into the rising sun. I love Belize.

Hopkins Sunrise

Then I found America. I was taking a bike ride down the coast (feeling like I was training for the x-games because of all the little hills and bumps in the road), and rode less than 10 minutes before I ran into huge multi-level spas and resorts with $56 meals and people whose only job was to rake the sand into designs around the palm trees. A little further down, I came to a 10-ft coral colored wall that I later found is going to be the edge of a gated community of summer beach houses. The only problem? The property of the proposed development is home to some of the tallest mangrove trees in the world. The people who are building these huge homes (that will most likely just sit on the coast for the majority of the year) are not Belizean, they’re not even from Central America. They’re wealthy American developers who see the beautiful undeveloped coast of Belize as a gold mine of real estate, instead of realizing that the real beauty is in what they’re destroying to build unnecessarily large houses.

Stepping off my soapbox now. And signing off from an amazing weekend. Enjoy this wonderful last week of January! I love you all so much!


Also, here are some more pictures from my trip to Dangriga and Hopkins:

DSCN7543Ms. Rhondine, Galen’s international student coordinator on our bike ride through Hopkins.


No lie, this grasshopper was literally 5 inches long. That is a medium sized dog. Holy Cow.

drumming!Learning how to play Garifuna Drums in Hopkins! I have the Segunda (bass drum), and Alison is playing the Primero  (tenor drum). Spar was a good teacher, and also runs a scuba touring company! Totally coming back to go scuba diving with him!

DSCN7548Though I am absolutely opposed to ripping up the tallest mangrove trees in the world to build huge resorts, the people were really friendly, and it was beautiful. There’s still a way to do this sustainably.


Sooo…I’m going to move in with you. K? Be there tomorrow!

ugh, that makes me SO mad about the mangrove trees!! part of the reason belize is so beautiful is BECAUSE it’s not developed like the OBX, for example. isn’t that true of most naturally beautiful places in the world?

on a sort of related note, have you ever read anything by Aldo Leopold? he’s definitely my favorite environmental author and he has an incredible book called “a sand county almanac” where he includes an essay about his “land ethic”…essentially he believes that land has rights too.

Laura! I LOVE Aldo Leopold! I read parts of A Sand Country Almanac last semester for pollution planning, and I will never understand why more people haven’t figured out that ethics is applicable to every interaction. ESPECIALLY the relationship between humans and the earth.

It’s so frustrating to be here, see it happening, and feel so powerless to stop it. It is so incredibly pure all over Belize, and it kills me to realize that it’s just a matter of time before developers take over every inch of the coast and the mountains. UGH!

that is all i have to say. looks like you’re having an awesome experience! i’m writing you a letter TODAY so get excited!

Beautiful pictures. I would blow this one of the dock and chairs up and it would be a mural on my whole wall! I could be there with you then:) All your pics are great and look SO FUN.
So much better than our 16 plus inches of snow with more on the way tonight, possibly at least 6-12. Your missing the BIG one in DC.
Be safe on your adventures.
love you. Marilyn