Hopkins is a small Garifuna fishing village on the coast of the Stann Creek district of Belize, south of Dangriga and north of the Placencia peninsula. This map shows where we live on Ambergris Caye (just south of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico) in relation to Stann Creek and Hopkins.
Most Belizeans who live in Hopkins were born and raised here, and there is a strong and proud tradition of making music involving drumming, dancing, and rattles. There are local crafts created in Hopkins such as wood carving, and small restaurants offering traditional Garifuna food. There are small guest houses, beach cabanas, and upscale resorts catering to tourists. There aren't any chains -- stores, restaurants, or lodging, which is typical of Belize.
But let's back up a bit -- first we gotta get there. Since we try to travel frugally, this journey took a lot longer than the mileage from Ambergris Caye to Hopkins Village would indicate. We started with the 9:50 am water taxi from Grand Caribe to San Pedro, loaded down with our backpacks and with Paisley and her gear in tow. After dropping Paisley at Pampered Paws for boarding, we had a little free time before catching the 11:30 ferry to Belize City, so we walked to Lily's Treasure Chest on the beach for a late breakfast. This is only the second time we've eaten breakfast at Lily's, but we have gotten great meals both times. Their Huevos Rancheros are the best I've had anywhere. Yum!
We had planned to take a James bus leaving about 30 minutes after we arrived at the terminal, but when we arrived, there was a G-Line bus just about to leave for Dangriga, so we hopped on that one instead. This worked out just fine. It's a long journey, stopping in the capital city of Belmopan, then continuing on the scenic Hummingbird Highway over the very pretty Maya Mountains. This is the same route we took to go south to Placencia in the winter.
This bus kept us entertained with plenty of music and even a video screen -- that was a first for us. The bus ride cost us just $10 BZD each ($5 US).
After entering the village, the bus driver took a circuitous route dropping locals all over the small Garifuna town, some right at their modest clapboard homes. What a difference from San Pedro. Hopkins has nearly all unpaved roads and very little commercialism. There were a couple of other backpacking tourists getting off at some inexpensive lodging in the north part of town as well.
Tony and Angela, proprietors of Beaches and Dreams, where we were going to be staying, had told us to have the driver let us off at Innie's Restaurant, where they would come pick us up. Innie's is a small local restaurant serving up authentic Garifuna cooking, and I was excited to try the hudut, which I'd read about beforehand. This traditional dish consists of a whole fresh red snapper cooked in a delicious homemade coconut milk broth, traditionally served with a soft green plantain dumpling for dipping.
As we were getting a drink and relaxing at our table, Tony and Angela stopped by our table to let us know they were there, but would be taking a walk and picking us up after dinner. Right after they left, two van loads of high school students and teachers rolled up. So much for our quiet dinner! Actually, they were quite well-behaved considering how many of them there were.
It was already pitch dark by the time we arrived, so we couldn't see too much of the grounds or the beautiful ocean very well, but here are a few shots of our room, the "Scarlet Macaw" (Room #3 of only five rooms at the inn). Since we weren't able to see actual Scarlet Macaws when we visited Red Bank, the many brightly colored, painted birds in this room were the next best thing!
The room was quite large and comfortable, with a decent-sized bathroom. The clothing armoire, water dispenser, and sofa were great additions, as were multiple hooks on the walls for hanging damp clothes. There was no TV nor A/C, but three fans and lots of slatted windows for ventilation kept it comfortable. The only addition that would have made it totally perfect would have been a dorm-sized fridge to keep beverages cold, but Angela kindly brought us a small cooler of ice. I drank about six glasses of ice water that night after all our travel on a warm day!
We hit the hay early as we were exhausted after our day of travel. Our reasonable low-season room rate of $75 US included breakfast cooked by Angela, so we looked forward to that in the morning before heading out to Bocawina Mayflower National Park for some hiking and bird-watching.
[To be continued...]