In Belize, November is the Month of…

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on November 06, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

Belize has a history and population that is rich in diversity. Within Belize, there are eight distinct ethnic groups that each bring their own history, language, and culture. One of these groups is the Garifuna people who primarily inhabit the Caribbean coastal communities of Belize.

In Belize, November = month of the Garifunas.

In Belize, November is the Month of…Garifunas beginning the Garifuna Settlement celebrations by canoeing into Ambergris Caye. Photo credit: Tony Rath

History of the Garifunas in Belize

By Betsy Rosenlund

Early History

The history of the Garifuna people began over 400 years ago when South American Carib Indians migrated up to the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. The primary goal of this migration was for the Carib Indians to conquer the Arawak Indians, who were the original inhabitants of the island.

Later, in 1635, two Spanish ships carrying West and Central African slaves from Africa to the West Indies ran ashore in St. Vincent. Those that survived stayed in St. Vincent and lived among the Carib Indians. For nearly 2 centuries, the Carib Indians and descendants of African slaves intermarried and created what is now known as the Garifuna ethnic group, or Black Carib. 

In 1660, the British granted the Garifuna people “perpetual possession” of the island of St. Vincent, however, less than a decade later, the British broke this treaty and reclaimed the island of St. Vincent. Because of their prominence on the island and their successful fishing and farming practices, the British saw the Garifuna as a threat to their colonial mission and began to exile the nearly 5,000 Garifuna people to the island of Roatán, off the coast of Honduras. From Roatán, the Garifuna began to migrate to the mainland of Honduras and continued to spread out along the Caribbean coast to Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The first Garifuna people arrived in Belize on November 19, 1802, in the town of Dangriga, which is considered to be the spiritual capital of the Belizean Garifuna people.

Garifunas in Modern Day Belize

Today, the Garifuna people are a thriving population in the country of Belize. Having successfully preserved much of their cultural heritage, the Garifuna language, dance, and music were declared to be a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2001 by UNESCO. Music and dance are central to the Garifuna culture, with a heavy focus on drumming. Traditional Garifuna has also evolved into a more modern version called Punta and the even more modern, “Punta Rock,” which incorporates traditional drumming with modern lyrics and instruments. In addition to the music, dance is an integral part of the Garifuna culture, stemming from its West African origins.  Popular forms of Garifuna dance include Punta, Chumba, Hungu Hungu, and Jankunu. Each type of dance tells a different story of the Garifuna people’s history. 

Another important part of the Garifuna culture is the food. Garifuna cuisine is rich in flavor and most commonly consists of fish, cassava, coconut, and plantains. The most common part of a Garifuna meal is hudut, which is mashed plantain or yam, usually served alongside sere, which is a coconut-based fish stew served with cassava bread.

In Belize, November is the Month of…Dancers atop Caye Financial Centre for an ECI Development Shareholder Event.

Experience Garifuna Culture in San Pedro

If you have ever attended Grand Baymen’s “Taste of the Caye” event, you’ve likely gotten to see and hear dances and songs performed by the Charikanari Dance Group, led by Ms. Julia Martinez. Attendees to the culinary events have been able to enjoy delights from San Pedro’s Garifuna restaurant, Black & White, including sere, coconut sweets, cassava bread, and more, as well as the opportunity to chat with the dancers, musicians, and restaurant owner. 

Planning a trip to Belize this fall? Visit Grand Baymen in November and join us for the next Taste of the Caye event on November 15, at the Belize Marriott Residences Sales Office.

Experience Garifuna culture up close and personally.

In Belize, November is the Month of…Dancers from the ECI Event overlooking the future Marriott Residences & Resort site.

Can’t Make Belize? Join Us in Dallas

Can’t make it to the upcoming Taste of the Caye in Belize?  Join global experts and expats (including me!) in Dallas for the upcoming conference this December 1 & 2.  

Get the Info You Can’t Find OnlineConsumer Resource Guide

At the Escape Artist Conference 2018, you’ll meet with leading authorities in international living, law, real estate, tax, global investing, and banking. They’ve read your requests and are prepared to answer all of your questions. This is the kind of insight only available if you attend the conference! Websites and magazines can be helpful in sparking an interest in overseas living, but nothing beats talking with those who have actually done it – and done it successfully! At our conference, you’ll get the kind of personal attention and engagement only found through dialogue, and that only happens if you come to Dallas for the Escape Artist Conference.

Our experts and columnists have decades of experience living, working, investing, and traveling extensively throughout the world. They are prepared to tell you everything they know. If you are even remotely considering taking the leap towards living internationally, the Escape Artist Conference is an invaluable experience you must attend.

The conference will span two full days and provide you with all of the answers to the questions that you asked us! During your time in Dallas, you will be able to meet the Escape Artist team, have your questions answered, sit in on expat panels, and meet other individuals looking to learn more about living abroad.


To sweeten the deal, I asked Dan Wilhelm for a special discount to this event for our loyal readers. With some arm-twisting, he agreed to $200 OFF!  All you need to do is take a look through the information here, and when you’re ready to register, use code: EAC200.  

See you in Belize, and then Dallas!

This article was published in the Escape Artist Weekly Newsletter on November 06, 2018. If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.

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