The quiet has a different quality here. It is driven by the rhythm of the surf. The constant washing of the waves on the shore–not the pounding surf of California, the East Coast, but the lighter, brighter sound of smaller waves. In the mornings, just after sunrise, the waves are subdued. The birds take over, screeching, whistling, chattering. And the doves’ low calling back and forth in the canopy around us.
The sounds don’t change the fundamental nature of the quiet. We are a mile south of the village of Hopkins on the southern coast of Belize, a one hour ferry and three hour bus ride from Caye Caulker. It’s a small village with only a few shops and bars, maybe three stores. This aging resort with the flamboyant name of “Jungle Jeanie’s” stands alone on this stretch of beach. Whatever nightlife happens in Hopkins does not reach us down the coast. A little further south, several large resorts claim a half mile of shoreline, but their noise also does not register here.
We play a little, relax a lot. We zip lined in the jungle, visited Mayan ruins, kayaked, and paddle boarded. We should have snorkeled, alas. But the deck of the little cabana, pink and stilted, twenty yards from the surf, kept calling us back, luring us into naps and books and cold Belikin Beer, and occasional glasses of One Barrel rum, made in Belize. Or the chair on the beach as the sun set behind us. The frigate-birds, pelicans, sea gulls, and herons. The fish and chicken and pork and rice and beans and plantains and fry jacks and tortillas.
We walk up the surf line to Sandy Beach Restaurant, a half mile or so, where Ms Merlene, a sweet old Belizean woman, grills “Jack” fish and serves rice molded into a heart, and beans, always beans, and Belikin Beer. The hot sauce is made by the “Sandy Beach Women’s Cooperative Society, Limited,” Ms Merlene Castillo, Chair Lady. Her beautiful gap-toothed smile and colorful headscarf. We buy a bottle.
And Barbara, an old hippy, living in an ancient school bus a hundred yards off the beach among the palm and papaya trees. Her tiny shop in the front of the bus, “Sew Much Hemp,” where she sells hand-sewn hemp clothing and essential oils and natural bug repellent. The smell of citronella and fabric, her gravelly voice and leathery skin, the old dog at the door whining for a touch.
Tonight our last hurrah. A bike ride up to the village for Garifuna drumming. No matter how loud the cabana deck calls me, I’m going to hear the Garifuna drumming.
Tomorrow Belize City. Thursday home.