Today was Belize's Independence Day, 30 years to be exact. This was a HUGE holiday and cause for celebration here, and we were delighted to be a part of it. We walked into San Pedro town to take in the parade, which began at around 2 pm. The roads were absolutely deserted prior to the parade start, because it seemed that nearly everyone in town was either IN the parade or AT the parade, so the golf carts were mostly all parked, and all we saw on the way there were locals walking to the parade, like us. Since today was a national holiday, there were no dump trucks or other commercial vehicles around. What a pleasure!
Walking to town on a hot day without much breeze
Front Street, where food was being cooked and sold. The smoke way down the road was from chicken being grilled.
Emily on Front Street
Middle Street, normally very busy, was a ghost town
Other direction of Middle Street
Once we got to town, we staked out a spot on Back Street, where the parade began. We watched the entire parade from here, and it was such a great time. I've never seen so many smiling faces, dancing bodies, bright colors, or enthusiasm anywhere. The sirens, drums, and music were loud, but it was well worth taxing our eardrums a bit to be a a part of the fun. Barry took a zillion pictures and said it was the best parade he'd ever seen. I concur!
After the end of the parade went by, we started walking back to our condo, only to realize that the parade had now wrapped around to the Boca del Rio beach road, our route home, so we got to see much of it again! It was a hot and sunny day, so the marchers didn't seem quite so fresh by this point, but there was still plenty of cheer in the air. We were delighted to see one of the cooks, Cherette (I hope I have spelled this right), from Grand Caribe all decked out in a very fancy purple butterfly costume, dancing and marching in the parade. She saw me before I recognized her, and gave me such a friendly wave. Living on a small island is a neat experience as you actually see people you know when you're out and about!
Here's a slideshow of the parade photos Barry took. I think you'll agree that the colors are incredibly vivid. He did a great job at capturing the experience!
On the way back, we decided to stop in at the Palapa Bar, just a hop, skip, and a jump south of Grand Caribe, for some liquid refreshment, as we were hot and tired. This proved to be a great decision, as a bunch of people arrived soon after us to liven up the atmosphere, and we soon found ourselves enjoying conversation with an interesting young British woman, who was on "holiday" with her boyfriend for five months! They had started in Mexico and were going to wind their way through Central America, then South America, followed by New Zealand and Australia. What a tour! She said that they had scrimped and saved and worked extra hours for quite a while to save for this long trip, which is the type of thing that is rarely done by US citizens. She was planning to work in Australia for six months before returning home to England after that. Very cool!
Interestingly too, one of the workers at the Palapa knew of us and that we'd been on the island for 3-4 weeks, even though this was our first time stopping in since we moved here in late August. Word really gets around on a small island! Here's a photo he took of us there:
It's hard to tell from this photo, but this palapa is out over the ocean - such a lovely setting!
Palapa Bar -- an Ambergris Caye tradition