There’s something minuscule that loosens inside you when you hear them for the first time: the vibrations of the segunda humming in your veins as you watch the dancer — a swatch of color — bask in the cacophony that are the Garifuna drums.
Nothing prepares you for the lightness that suddenly enters your body, pooling at your feet, until you can’t help but join in the swaying of the hips, the tapping of the soles and the smile on your lips.
This is the joy of the Garifuna.
The Garifuna Drumming Tour is one that many underestimate, but quickly becomes the highlight of many travelers’ Belize vacation. The culturally saturated village of Hopkins in the southeast coast is the perfect hub to experience it. You’ll find yourself on a sandy beach with about 4 or 5 Garifuna drummers banging away rhythms that threaten to reveal your (poor) dance skills. In no time, your body will beg to join the dancer and the orbit of her flapping skirts. And more often than not, you’ll eventually be invited to show off your own drumming skills alongside the maestros. Their melodic voices will carry you through song after Garinagu song, until you’re famished for the next part of the tour: a Hudut cooking class.
The traditional Garifuna dish will destroy your palate when it comes to other seafood dishes, because after that, nothing will ever be as good. You’ll learn how to make this coconut-based fish soup entirely from scratch, down to the mashing of green plantain in an old-school giant wooden mortar + pestle. Don’t worry, that arm workout will be rewarded with a hot, spice-ridden soup that will have you learning the phrase “straight from the fiyaa haat! (Fire hearth)”
At the end of this roughly two-hour tour, your feet will be happy, your belly full and your appreciation for the Garifuna culture multiplied by tenfold.
And that’s just scratching the surface of what a cultural tour is like in Belize.
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