The Mennonites in Belize

Posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014

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I was with a birding group enroute to a Mayan ruin in northern Belize last year when our van passed through a Mennonite community. Belize is a Central American country bordering the Caribbean Sea, with a Mayan background.  Belizeans have chocolate skin, eat plantains and rice, wear brightly-colored clothes, and live in purple and green dwellings.  It’s a Caribbean world.

Within that laid-back and humid universe  are the fully clothed guttural-speaking conservative Mennonites, most of whom shun electricity and modern technology.  They wear identical outfits that cover the whole body, work industriously by farming, building, and engineering, and abide by their religious beliefs of the 19th century.  Stern faces, blonde, and fair-skinned, they looked like German farmers from another century.

See also: About Belize

It happened to be a Sunday and we were way out on rural gravel roads headed for Lamanai, a Mayan ruin in the jungle.  The Mennonites were also on the road, on their way to church.  We had an eye-opening look at a cultural phenomenon.  There were eight of us in this van and I noticed we were all gawking as numerous horse-drawn carriages passed by.

As we drove slowly along making room on the narrow road, our guide explained that there is a big Mennonite community in Belize that arrived in the late 1950s and early 60s from Mexico.  Originally from Prussia and before that Germany and Holland, they settled and re-settled in many parts of the world including Canada and nearby Mexico.  You can read more about their history here.  We drove by their farmsteads and had many questions.

See also: Placencia Village

Of Belizean as well as Mayan descent, our guide talked warmly about the Mennonites and praised the work they have done in Belize.  He said they have brought agriculture to his world, putting eggs and poultry on the table that they never had before.  So many vegetables they have now, he beamed.  And there was no one better, he said, for helping him fix his car and building furniture.  So dependable and honest, too.  He pointed to a farm tractor and explained:  their religion allows rubber tires on horse drawn vehicles, but gas-powered tractors or cars have to have metal wheels.

Later that day while birdwatching in Lamanai, we encountered a Mennonite group on the trail.  The men and boys walked in their own group, while the women and girls with armfuls of babies trailed behind.  Of course they stared at us as much as we stared at them.  We were sporting big cameras and binoculars, dressed in nylon and lycra, a group racially- and gender-mixed.  We all made quiet but warm gestures in passing, giving each other respectful room on the trail and nods of acknowledgment.  When they spoke amongst themselves their language sounded like German, but it is actually a combination of German and Dutch called Plautdietsch.

See also: Belize Culture

I pondered all this.  Their beliefs and values were almost completely the opposite of my own.  They razed the jungles to farm, and continue farming practices that are damaging to the environment.  They breed strictly amongst their isolated community and at high rates, with no regard to population control.  Men are superior in their world, and women are for tending the home and making more babies. But my philosophies, I realized, were beside the point.

The disparate cultures of Mayan- and German-based communities have worked together in Belize for over half a century.  Over the years they have learned to accept and respect one another.  This was the point.  We all passed in proximity on this trail, serenaded by howler monkeys and squawking toucans overhead, all of us breathing together under one tropical canopy.  If only more of the world could coordinate their differences so amicably.

Source: http://jeteliot.wordpress.com

Man Travels 100,000 Miles and Wins a Free Vacation to Belize

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014

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This afternoon, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) awarded Jack Benjamin Hyer and his future wife Rebecca Strellnauer a free Belize honeymoon vacation via Twitter. According to Mashable, a popular social media site, Jack traveled more than 28 countries to film an epic proposal video which prefaces the history of his relationship.

“He says that he knew she was the girl he would marry — or so he wrote in his travel journal four years ago, on September 30, 2010” states the article on Mashable.com.

Greece, Tanzania, China, Thailand and Vietnam were some of the countries that Jack visited the past four years all while filming short clips of him lip-syncing the song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.

Apparently the Belize Tourism Board loved the video that they extended a honeymoon invitation to the couple.

The BTB tweeted “We LOVED your proposal video (http://bit.ly/1nipdnR ). Idea: Would you walk 500 miles .. on a free honeymoon in Belize?”

@belizevacation @JackHyer ummm yes we would love to go to Belize ! Jack tweeted.

“Fast forward to their graduation day from the University of Montana and Hyer shows her the video — only to then propose to her with one of the sweetest lines: “I’ve been on many adventures … but the best adventure I’ve ever had is loving Becca” reads the article.

The couple will be married in Montana later this summer and will receive an all expense paid honeymoon to Belize courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board.

The entire exchange took over Twitter.

Watch the video Jack created here:

See also:

The Romance & Adventure Honeymoon or Anniversary Package 

The Belize Honeymoon Adventure and Sailing Package

The Moveable Feass Honeymoon Package

For more information about Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

Make Sure Your Honeymoon is in Belize this Summer

Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2014

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Yesterday the travel section of AARP.com, a popular website on the internet selected Belize as one of the world’s best honeymoon destination for 2014.

Andrea M Rotondo who wrote the article described Belize as follows:
Located in Central America, Belize is an incredibly compelling honeymoon destination for three simple reasons: its close proximity to the United States (a two-hour flight from Miami), its weather (around 84 degrees daily year-round), and the 190-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, which is easily accessible along the coast and a wildly popular spot for snorkeling and scuba trips, fishing excursions and romantic sunset cruises. Belize attracts a variety of honeymooners, from nature lovers, history buffs and diving fanatics to zip-liners, cave (river) tubers and those who simply prefer to sit on the beach at a resort with drink in hand.

Belize was the only country in Central America that made it on the list. So if you are looking for a honeymoon destination this summer, look no further.

At Chabil Mar we offer a number of unique and romantic all inclusive Belize honeymoon packages to choose from such as:

The Romance & Adventure Honeymoon or Anniversary Package 

The Belize Honeymoon Adventure and Sailing Package

The Moveable Feass Honeymoon Package

It is interesting to note that last year in December 2013, Belize got ranked among Google’s most searched honeymoon spot.

For more information about our Belize honeymoon packages, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

The Best Maya Temple Sites to Visit in Belize

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Archaeologists affirm that Belize was once the center of the Maya civilization because of the country’s varied flora and fauna and abundance of marine life which was favorable to the growth of the population.

Between 250 AD to 900 AD for example, over one million Maya people lived in present day Belize, and today a treasure trove of sacred caves, beautiful palaces and ball courts can be found throughout Belize.

Here are the top must-see Maya temple sites in Belize:

Xunantunich Maya Temples

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In Maya dialect, Xunantunich means “Stone Woman” or “Maiden of the Rock” and this archeaological site is an impressive and magnificent Maya temple that is located outside San Ignacio in the Cayo District. During the Classic period (300-900 AD), Xunantunich was a major ceremonial center and home to 25 temples and palaces.

See also: 12 Incredible Belize Vacation Photos

The largest structure is El Castillo which rises 130 feet from the Plaza floor and provides a breathtaking panorama of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River Valley.

Note: Xunantunich is one of the most visited Maya temple sites in Belize and can be reached by ferry between 8am to 5pm.

Ancient Maya City of Caracol

caracol maya city belize

Caracol is the largest Maya City in Belize and is located on the western edge of the Maya Mountains deep within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.

The site was discovered in 1938 by loggers and holds the tallest man made structure “Canaa” or “Sky Place” at 140 feet.

Read also: 20 Amazing Facts about Belize

Archaeologists estimate that at its highest peak, Caracol was home to 150,000 people. Caracol is 2.5 hours drive from San Ignacio Town and is open from 8am to 5pm.

Cahal Pech Maya Ruins

cahal-pech maya site

Located outside of San Ignacio Town, Cahal Pech sits on the crest of a steep hill on the west bank of the Macal River and was first settled sometime around 1200 B.C. and abandoned around 800 -900 A.D.

Cahal Pech means “place of the ticks” and is made up of 34 structures with the tallest being about 25 meters in height and is one of the oldest sites in western Belize.

The site can be visited daily from 8am to 5pm.

Altun Ha

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Located 31 miles out of Belize City, Altun Ha meaning “rock stone water” was an ancient Maya city that dates back to 200 B.C. At its peak, over 10,000 people inhabited the area with around 3000 individuals living in the central core of the city.

Altun Ha is comprised of two main plazas and 13 structures including the Temple of Sun God.

Read also: The Ancient Maya of Belize

The area where the site is located is rich with a vast array of flora and fauna and is open from 8am to 5pm every day.

Lamanai

lamanai belize maya ruins site

Lamanai meaning “submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya was occupied as early as the 16 century BC and is located in the Orange Walk District of Belize.

The archaeological site is surrounded by dense rainforest overlooking the new river lagoon and its temples are known for its elegant architecture.
The site opens from 8am to 5pm everyday and the best way to travel to the location is by means of water taxi up the river since an abundance of birds, iguanas and even crocodiles can be spotted on the river banks.

Another way to reach Lamanai is via the dirt road which is approximately 28 miles and runs from Orange Walk through several villages including San Felipe and Shipyard.

For more information about things to see and do in Belize, feel free to chat with our Concierge at: concierge@chabilmarvillas.com or contact our Reservations Manager at: reservations@chabilmarvillas.com. Or perhaps you would like to call toll free from the US or Canada: 1-866-417-2377.

Chabil Mar Resort in Placencia Belize Earns Fodor’s Choice Award

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Chabil Mar Resort in Placencia Belize Earns Fodor’s Choice Award

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BELIZE, May 19, 2014 —  Fodor’s Travel, one of the world’s leading providers of travel information has bestowed the prestigious “Fodor’s Choice Award” for the best hotel in southern Belize to Chabil Mar, the only guest exclusive resort in Placencia Belize. The award recognizes Chabil Mar as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value.

Chabil Mar means “beautiful sea” in Ket’chi Maya and is located along the 26-mile-long beautiful Placencia Peninsula in southern Belize. The luxury resort sits between an indigenous Garinagu settlement and the former Creole fishing village of Placencia.

The editors and experts of Fodor’s have been selecting only the top fifteen percent of their listed properties and activities as Fodor’s Choice award recipients since 1988. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveler’s time, only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation.

Speaking about the Fodors Choice Award, Larry France, Marketing Manager of Chabil Mar said that he and his team are delighted and thrilled to see Chabil Mar listed once again on the Fodor’s list as one of the best resorts in Placencia and Southern Belize. “The superb service from our staff definitely played an instrumental role in obtaining this recognition”, he added.

For more than 75 years Fodor’s has presented travelers with the very top recommendations from hidden-away restaurants to can’t-miss museums, to make sure they’re making the most of their travels.

Written by a vast team of global correspondents, Fodor’s provides travelers with engagingly written, locally reported, and absolutely indispensable travel guidance.

Chabil Mar is a luxury, boutique resort that appeals to the discerning traveler looking to combine adventure and cultural experience with stylish, upscale and guest exclusive accommodations in Placencia Village, Belize. The resort is comprised of 19 spacious villas and 1 honeymoon suite, free Wi-Fi, a bar, an outdoor restaurant with great food and views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea, two outdoor pools, 400 feet of private beach, a pier for swimming and reserved dining and a fleet of kayaks and bikes.