Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rum and sun drenched in Hopkins, Belize

NOTE: I've changed to using extra-large photos. They don't fit in the frame, but I think it's worth it.

Far from the chaos of Belize City, Hopkins is the Belize that I was looking for. We headed out of BC mid morning, having made plans to meet Kristen and Andrew in the tiny village of Hopkins, two and a half hours South by bike.
If you didn't know it was there, you would almost certainly miss it; the five mile road to the town is not paved, and doesn't look like much as you pass. Sand and rocks are not the best friends of a 900+ pound motorcycle, so the trip into town was slow going on the V-Strom. Once in town we located the Lebaha Drum center, a Garifuna drumming school and group of rental cabanas on the North end of town. I knew it was the place when we pulled up to the beach and saw this...

Lebeha had it's own palm tree lined beach, and a resident vintage Land Rover to boot! It was driven here by the first Englishmen to come to the village, who fell in love with the place and never left. Just kidding! I have no idea why there was a derelict Land Rover on this beautiful beach, but for some reason it looked just right, having come all the way from the UK to retire in this tropical paradise.

We found Jabbar, who runs the drumming school, and he showed us to the perfect cabana, complete with two queen beds, a kitchenette, a bathroom, hammocks, WI-FI and... it's own 80 foot by 80 foot beach!

Our Cabana
All of this luxury came at a price, but fortunately that price was $25USD A NIGHT!

Lebeha Drumming Center and Cabanas

We settled in, got some lunch, had a few beers, went for a swim, went back to the store and got some rum...but where were Kristen and Andrew?  That day we learned the value of having your own transportation in Central America, because our two and a half hour motorcycle ride had been a 10 hour, three bus day for them. Once they got to the cabana all was forgotten, and we headed down the beach for some dinner.

After dinner we settled in for some pineapple juice and rum drinks, went for a swim and called it a night. The next day we said goodbye to Kristen and Andrew, who were headed to Caye Caulker for some Scuba diving. Just a few minutes later Tom and Alex, two other riders we met in Tulum, pulled up. They were totally into the Hopkins scene, and headed out for more rum immediately. When you go to Hopkins (after reading this) I must recommend the current year vintage "One Barrel" Belizian rum at the "Happy Shop." It is a bit steep at $7.00USD a liter, but it is outstanding. We spent the next two (or was it three?) days hanging out around the cabana, swimming, and generally reveling in this secret paradise. Tom and Alex were on the same route, at the same leisurely pace, and in tune with our travel style, so we decided to make a team effort as long as it was convenient. The next day we realized just how great traveling with a few like-minded individuals could be...

Somehow we left, and headed back North with our new partners. It was a short ride to our next stop, San Ignacio, which was on the other side of the country. Our Belize map was the same size as any other map, but because of the tiny size of the country the scale was much bigger. After what felt like years in sweltering Mexico, it was a satisfying thing to ride all the way across a map in two hours!

Lebeha was an absolute hit, Jill had done it again!

I love Belize!

Where I should have been writing this blog, but couldn't be bothered.