The sky was cloudy and calm this morningâ€”no fierce sun, no pounding rains, so I decided to take Shanti (and Mama Tay and her Mama Louise) on a boat ride.
It’s about 90 minutes by boat through labyrinthine lagoons, rivers, and mangrove-lined tunnels to reach one of the more unique and remote spots I have visited in Belize. Gales Point was founded by escaped slaves several hundred years ago and today remains one of the more isolated Creole villages in the country. About 400 people live on this insanely narrow peninsula, surrounded on three sides by a watery manatee reserve. Though difficult to reach, a few hearty visitors make it to Gales Point each year, where there are all of three businesses that are of interest to tourists: Manatee Lodge, Methoâ€™s Coconut Campgrounds & Stone Bass Hideout (home of the legendary Creole drummer Emmeth Young, pictured below with his wife, Jill), and Gentle’s Cool Spot.
The village is still recovering the worst flood in its entire history, which occurred less than a month ago when the lagoon rose and washed over the entire peninsula. Pictured to the right is Emmeth and Jill’s “Sugar Shack,” a small smoothie and art bar, whose stilts weren’t quite high enough to protect it from the floods. Emmeth’s drums stayed safe though, since his one-room music and drum-making school is raised higher above the ground.
Mr. & Mrs. Gentle were sweet as can be, serving us homemade cashew wine while we asked them questions about the village and the recent flood. Meanwhile, Shanti and grandma stayed back at Manatee Lodge, enjoying a breezy room.
We made it back to Belize City without getting rained on and with one crocodile spotting, a medium-sized Morelet, sunning on the bank. We had enough time for some quick sight-seeing in Belize City and for a taste of the JamBel Jerk Pit’s famous conch fritters (complete with guerilla diaper-changing on the outdoor patio).
The best part about traveling with an infant in Belize? Free babysitting at every restaurant! Two nights in a row, the waitress brought our food, then automatically reached for Shanti, who disappeared inside the restaurant to shower everyone with smiles and giggles. Outside, Tay, Louise, and I ate and listened with pride to the sweet sound of Shanti-inspired Belizean belly laughter.
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