One for the Road: Moon Belize

Moon has released updated editions of several Central American titles this fall. We’ve mentioned their Guatemala and Costa Rica handbooks already, and will highlight another new release today:

Joshua Berman’s Moon Belize has been nominated for Planeta’s Book of the Year award for “best place-based guidebook.” Moon has a special web-only Q & A with Josh, who has spent ten years touring and leading trips around Central America. And we’ve got some insider info from the knowledgeable author as well. Today, November 19, holds special significance for the people of Belize. In his own words, Joshua Berman tells us why:

Settlement Day – the annual reenactment of the Garinagu people’s 1823 arrival on Belizean shores – is one of the rowdiest, raging-est parties of the year in Belize. At least it is in Garinagu (also known as Garifuna) communities up and down the coast.

The biggest party, most bands, and longest drumming binges are found in Dangriga. Smaller-scale celebrations occur in Belize City, Hopkins, and Seine Bight. Festivities start on the night of the 18th, climaxing at dawn when palm be-fronded wooden dories are rowed to shore. Crowds greet the boats’ arrival with drums, dance, and alcohol and then everybody parades through town to a Church, a house party, or to the taco cart by Stann Creek Bridge.

You’ll have a difficult time finding lodging in Dangriga during the week preceding and after Settlement Day, since so many expat Garinagus from Chicago and New York book their holiday a year in advance. But you may get lucky, and if you can convive all night with the locals (as they will be doing several nights in a row), you won’t need a room anyway.

It someone hands you a shot of clear, strong-smelling liquor, it’s probably “bitters,” also called gífit. This cherished nectar of the Gods is good for what ails you: from cancer to romance. As one of Dangriga’s most famous homebrewers, Big Mac said to me from behind his counter, “It’s good for your penis, mon!”