“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share. ”
– Lady Bird Johnson
The Heart of Garifuna
Although commonly referred to as Garifuna, the people are known as Garinagu, while the language and the culture is Garifuna. The story of the Garinangu is an epic story spanning continents and the seas, beginning nearly 500 years ago in the 17th Century on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.
In 1635, two Spanish ships carrying Nigerian slaves, was caught up and floundering on the seas before sinking just off the coast of the island of St. Vincent. Survivors of the wreck swam towards shore and found shelter within the existing Carib Indian settlements. These survivors became a part of the communities that had taken them in and over the next two and a half centuries the Carib Indians and the Nigerians inter-mixed, inter-married and eventually fused to form a single culture known as Black Carib, or Garinagu.
In the late 1700’s, as European politics increased in influence through the Caribbean, wars were increasingly fought over land and trade routes. With St. Vincent being declared a free state and under rule of no country, French nationals settled on the island and formed strong bonds with the Garinagu inhabitants. With strained relations between France and England, when St Vincent was awared to the British, battles were fought harder and all cumulated in a final battle on June 10th 1796. The French and their Garinagu allies, that the British no longer trusted, were forced to leave St. Vincent, and they started the long journey in search of a new home.
Over the next few years, the Garinagu travelled throughout the Caribbean, settling in Honduras, before leaving as war raged on. According to tradition, led by Alejo Beni, the Garinagu first landed in Belize, then known as British Honduras, on November 19th 1802, in what is known as modern day Dangriga. The Garinagu settled and have prospered in Belize, with many Garifuna communities still found throughout Southern Belize.
Each year, November 19th is a day to celebrate and rejoice in finally finding a place to settle and continue traditions, grow families and to prosper.
Evan, affectionately known around the dive team as “Groovy”, is one of Hamanasi’s newest snorkeling guides. A certified Belize Tour Guide, Evan joined the Hamanasi marine team in March 2014, bringin his big smile and even bigger personality with him. Coming from Hopkins village, Evan, as well as his friends, has a passion for diving and removing the dreaded lionfish from our reefs…..as well as a nice cold afternoon beer.
Over the last year Evan has made a real impact on the marine team, dedicating his time to furthering his dive training, completing his rescue diver earlier this year, and is now just days away from becoming a certified PADI Divemaster.
Festival of Cultures
On November 19th each year, Hopkins and Belize as a whole celebrates in great style, Garifuna Settlement day. One of the amazing things about Belize as a country, is the melting pot of so many different cultures that make up its citizens.
This November, in honor of this historic cultural day, Hamanasi Green Team wanted to share with our guests a showcase of Belize’s cultures, to give our guests more of an incite to daily living, historical traditions and delicious cuisine of the Maya, Mestizo, Garifuna, East Indian and Creole.
Even with a little bit of rain making an appearance, many Hamanasi guests came to the festivities and got the chance to meet the Green Team, and to ask them questions about their cultures, sample some fresh made delights and have an all around enjoyable afternoon.
A Taste of Garifuna
For anyone who has eaten at Hamanasi’s Singanga restaurant, it is hard to find anything negative to say about the delightful flavors that come out of the kitchen. We are lucky enough to work with a group of extremely talented chefs, who combine rich traditional cooking, with modern twists.
This month, chefs Jane and Marcia attended the first ‘Taste of Garifuna’ cooking competition, at the annual Battle of the Drums in Punta Gorda Town. Set to take on competitors from Belcampo Resort, Aasha’s Kitchen, Jaguar Reef Lodge, Laru Beya Resort and Walucos Restaurant, Jane and Marcia put together a menu of Mata Baruru, pan seared lionfish topped with callaloo, cooked in coconut oil and served with vegetables in a coconut milk gravy, a Gurantu drink of green banana, rum and fevergrass, also known as lemon grass, and a dessert of cassava crème brule. All of the dishes presented showcased a variety of locally grown and organic produce, as well as supporting sustainable choices by using fresh caught lionfish, an invasive species to the reefs of the Caribbean.
After an extremely long day of planning, driving and cooking, Jane and Marcia’s hard work was rewarded as they were awarded many prizes by the strong group of judges for their menu, including the overall Grand Prize. Hamanasi is proud to have both ladies as part of our strong restaurant team, and congratulates them both for everything they put forward.