Governor General Sir Colville Young, Belize’s head of state, was on hand at the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts in Belize City on September 15, 2016, to award 21 outstanding individuals for their contribution to Belize’s national development.
Every year, the Tribute to Belizean Patriots conveys honors to individuals in Belize, both past and present, as part of the run-up to Independence Day on September 21. Sir Colville Young was joined on stage by Diana Locke, the Director of Immigration, the Police Press Officer, Raphael Martinez, and several members of the Belize Defence Force.
Daniel “Danny” Conorquie, who was killed in the line of duty in 2014, was awarded along with 18 other individuals with Belize’s Meritorious Service Award. Conorquie, who served as a special police constable, was murdered on September 25, 2014, at the police post at the Caracol Archeological Reserve in Belize’s western Cayo District. Conorquie was honored for giving his life to defend the lives of tourists who were at the popular site.
At the Tribute to Belizean Patriots ceremony, two individuals were awarded the Order of Distinction. Benjamin Ho, the Taiwanese ambassador to Belize, and Dr. Jane Usher, matriarch of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union were awarded this prestigious honor for their long service to the country. Ambassador Ho began his career in Belize in 1994 when he served as the Senior First Secretary for the Republic of China and was later promoted to Ambassador.
Dr. Jane Usher, born in 1917, was on hand at the ceremony to accept her award for serving two consecutive terms as a local politician, a cabinet minister, and President of the Senate. Dr. Usher holds the unique distinction of being the individual who embroidered the first flag of Belize. Dr. Usher may be best known for her work in championing women’s rights, serving as the President of the National Women’s Commission. Dr. Usher founded the Holy Redeemer Credit Union in 1944 to offer affordable and accessible financing opportunities for Belizeans.
The staff and management of Chabil Mar extend their warmest congratulations to all of the Belize Patriots, and wish a wonderful and happy Independence Day to all Belizeans at home or abroad on September 21, 2016.
After several centuries of British colonial rule, Belize finally achieved full independence on September 21, 1981. Independent Belize is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and a parliamentary democracy with a proud record of high voter participation and free and fair elections.
Often described as a true melting pot, the modern-day nation of Belize is a rich blend of different cultures, including the Maya, Garifuna, Creole, and Mestizo people.
During its earliest history, Belize was briefly under the dominion of Spain but then became Britain’s only mainland colony in the area. Later emigration of Mennonites from Germany and Switzerland added to the many European influences in Belizean music, including polkas, quadrilles, schottisches, and polkas.
Primarily from the Garifuna culture, local styles feature musical instruments like drums, banjo, accordion, guitar, and a donkey’s jaw bone (played like a saw or zither). The Mestizos, immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico, brought the marimba, double bass, and drum sets.
These various influences have created a number of distinct styles of musical expression in Belize. Cumbia, related to salsa and merengue, is a popular type of music played by troupes in areas where Mestizos live. Probably the most famous musical Creole style is known as “brukdown” (breakdown), a melodic mix of calypso featuring percussion and rhythms from a donkey’s jawbone, drums and banjos. Newer forms of brukdown are called “boom and chime” and feature the use of electric guitars, congas, and bass guitars.
Two related genres of music created in Belize are known as punta and punta rock. Developed by Garifuna musicians, punta and punta rock mix traditional rhythms and dance steps from African melodies and add modern lyrics to create a style somewhat similar to reggae. Punta and punta rock were developed for parties and social events where dancing is just as important a component as the music and singing.
Probably the most iconic component of Belizean music is Garifuna drumming. Whether as an accompaniment to other instruments or played solely, Garifuna drums are traditionally made from local hardwoods covered with a skin from peccaries (a kind of wild pig) or deer. Garifuna drumming preserves the flavor and intensity of its African origins, and is often played along with “siseras”, a kind of maraca.
The award-winning luxury resort of Chabil Mar on the Placencia Peninsula is an excellent place to stay in order to experience all of the rich musical heritage of Belize. With close access to Dangriga, the culture capital of Belize, and other towns and villages with a rich heritage of Maya, Creole, and Garifuna music, Chabil Mar features well-appointed villas, a lush tropical garden, and its own gourmet restaurant featuring elegant beachfront dining, with live garifuna drummers and dancers during our Friday night beach-side grill nights (in-season), where our chefs prepare your dinner for you on open grills adjacent to the dining area, outside.
Visit our website www.chabilmarvillas.com for more information on Belize, and don’t hesitate to send us an email, or call US/CAN Toll Free: 1-866-417-2377, Local: (011-501) 523-3606, if you have questions or need help in planning a Belize vacation.
At the young age of 19, Simone Biles holds the record for winning the most gold medals in women’s gymnastics in a single Olympics. After her triumphant performance as part of the Final Five during the Rio de Janeiero Olympic Games, Biles is now on tour of the United States to promote her sport.
Biles is proud to have represented the United States, but in a recent interview with the “New York Times“, she spoke about how Belize holds a special place in her heart. Biles is an American citizen but Biles has close ties with the Central American nation via her mother, Nellie Cayetano Biles, who is from Belize. Biles told the “New York Times” that Belize is her second home, and that she tries to spend at least one week every year with her extended family there, usually during the summer.
Biles spoke fondly about both her mother’s home on the mainland and how much she loves staying at resorts in and around the town of San Pedro on the popular island of Ambergris Caye. Biles proclaimed her love for the beach and enjoying activities like swimming, snorkeling, and fishing, remarking on the incredibly clear water that makes it easy to see the colorful abundance of marine life. Biles’s extended family especially enjoy fishing, rising at 7:00 in the morning to head out in the water, each member of the family competing to see who can catch the most fish or the biggest fish.
The Placencia Peninsula
The Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize is a narrow strip of land fronting the Caribbean. Measuring 16 miles in length, it is renowned for having some of the most beautiful beaches in a country with more than 180 miles of them. At the south end of the peninsula is the picturesque village of Placencia, the unofficial capital of the area and the best place to enjoy a meal, do some shopping, or get fishing and diving equipment for a trip out to the nearby Belize Barrier Reef.
Located just a few minutes’ walk from Placencia Village is the award-winning resort of Chabil Mar. Named from a Maya term meaning “beautiful sea,” the luxury resort has its own lush tropical garden, spacious villas, and a full range of spa and massage services. The Placencia Peninsula and the Chabil Mar resort would be two great places for Biles to visit on her next trip to Belize.
Belize will be going to the Miss Universe 2017 pageant to be held next year in the Philippines. Rebecca Rath, age 22, from Dangriga was crowned as the winner of the Miss Belize pageant held at the Bliss Center in Belize City on Saturday, September 10, 2016. The talented and beautiful Miss Rath topped nine other contestants to earn the long-inactive crown.
Speaking to the press following her coronation, Rath said, “I love Belize with all of my heart, and I am proud to have represented Belize in both sports and tourism. I look forward to representing the country at the upcoming Miss Universe pageant next year.”
Rath has been an active athlete since her youth, playing volleyball since the age of 13. Rath was a member of the national junior volleyball team and also competed in beach volleyball games for Belize both at home and abroad. At age 18, Rath began working for both the Belize Tourism Industry Association and the Belize Hotel Association, earning her valuable experience both locally and abroad while representing her country.
After the pageant, Rath stated, “I’ve always done my best to represent Belize, but getting dolled up for the Miss Universe pageant was in a different league. I did my best to make sure that everything turned out perfectly, and I think it all turned out quite well the way it did. Many people think that a pageant is just about a woman’s outer beauty, but it’s actually about choosing the right woman to represent your country. I am confident that I can do a great job representing Belize.”
Rath is a previous winner of the People’s Choice, Beach Body, and Top Model awards. Rath will represent Belize at the Miss Universe finals in the Philippines in January 2017.
The staff and management of Chabil Mar wish Rebecca Rath all the best of luck in the pageant.
Belize, the perfect destination for a surf and turf vacation
The gentle rhythms of the turquoise waters and the sun-kissed beaches of the Caribbean have long made the region a popular choice for vacationers. Belize, a tiny Central American nation with hundreds of offshore islands and more than 180 miles of coastline, offers visitors not only the chance to enjoy an authentic Caribbean experience but also marvel at exotic wildlife, pristine rainforests, and mighty waterfalls on the mainland.
Whether you’re the intrepid traveler eager for an adventure, a family looking for a fun and educational experience, or a romantic at heart looking for the ultimate getaway, Belize has it all. With diving spots rated as the best in the world by famed marine biologist Jacques Cousteau, tropical islands that are ideal spots for playing castaway for a day, and beautifully green jungles teeming with life, Belize has an ideal combination of land and sea attractions for an unforgettable vacation.
The Belize Barrier Reef
As part of the Mesoamerican Reef system, the second-largest in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef stretches for hundreds of miles. Coral reefs constitute less than 1% of the ocean’s volume but play home to more than 25% of all marine life, the hardened exoskeletons of the living coral serving as a shelter for fish and mammals, a place to feed, and a place to pursue prey. Thanks to the transparent waters of the Caribbean and a bright white sandy sea floor, the Belize Barrier Reef is a world-famous destination for snorkeling and scuba diving who come to marvel at the rainbow kaleidoscope of underwater flora and fauna that make their home amongst the coral.
Rainforests and Jungles in Belize
On the mainland, centuries of careful preservation have blessed Belize with pristine rainforests that have never been logged and natural jungles teeming with wildlife, rare flowers like orchids, and brightly-colored tropical birds. More than a third of Belize’s mainland is either a protected nature reserve or park, giving visitors the chance to enjoy unparalleled horseback riding, hiking, and other activities like sailing through the canopy on a zip line. The forests and jungles of Belize are home to some of its most iconic animals, including tapirs (the national animal), monkeys, and jaguars.
Maya Ruins and Ceremonial Caves in Belize
Thousands of years ago, the mighty Maya civilization dominated most of Central America. The heart of this empire was Belize, lying along the Maya’s most important trade routes, a land where ancient architects constructed impressive pyramids, massive stone temples, and large engineering projects carved out of the jungle. For reasons still unknown to archeologists, this civilization collapsed around 500 years ago, and the Maya abandoned their once-mighty cities.
Today, these ruins are amongst the most popular visitor attractions in Belize. Rediscovered in the last 100 years, sites like Xunantunich, Caracol, and Tikal (just over the border in Guatemala) still retain the power to astonish with their sheer scale, artistry, and beauty. Other popular attractions include sacred caves like Actun Tunichil Muknal, once used by the Maya to perform human sacrifices in an attempt to please their capricious gods.
Belize Surf and Turf Vacation Packages
Chabil Mar offers visitors comprehensive vacation packages to experience the best land and sea destinations in Belize, including:
- Swimsuits and Hiking Boots – Enjoy a 7-night trip that includes a sojourn to the eco-tourism center of the west where you can marvel at butterflies, explore Xunantunich Mayan Ruins, and two full days of snorkeling on the reef.
- Rainforests and Reefs – Stay in a tree-top villa in the middle of a pristine jungle combined with two days of snorkeling and walks along the beach in this 7-day exclusive package.
- Mystical Rainforest and Sandy Toes – Explore Caracol, ride down a river passing through a series of subterranean caves, plumb the depths of the sacred ATM cave, and enjoy a full day of snorkeling with this lovely 7-day vacation package.
- Sanctuary of the 9 Maya Gods – Enjoy a spectacular 7-night vacation that combines the best of Belize and Guatemala. At the five-star Bolontiku Hotel Boutique on the edge of Lake Peten Itza in Guatemala, you’ll enjoy a slice of paradise in between trips to Ixpanpajul and Yaxha National Parks plus a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal.
With an ideal combination of exciting and beautiful destinations on both land and sea, it’s no wonder that Belize has become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean.
Contact our Reservations Manager for more information on our Belize surf and turf vacations.
Toll Free: US/CAN: 1-866-417-2377