So head for Gales point we did. It was 3pm and although we expected the road to be long and rough it couldn’t POSSIBLY take us longer than an hour to get there…could it?
Yes…it could. 4 hours later, after 30 miles of the moonscape roads we have described only too often, only this time with handmade wooden ‘narrow’ bridges, diversions and absolutely NO road signs whatsoever thrown in for good measure we eventually arrived at Gales point…in the pitch black night.
The rough guide (ROUGH) suggested there was a campsite in Gales Point so that was where we were heading for the night. As we drove into the village we were stopped by a group of men hanging out around their car playing some music and asked where we were going. We told them and they said ‘Emmit mon, he left yeas agoo! He at PG now!’…And so it began!
The group invited us to stay in their garden and to come to a party tonight. They told us to ‘jus goo up dah an park on da reet mon’ and so we set off to do just that. We got parked and stepped out of the van to be greeted by pretty much the whole village! We were quickly told we would be safe there and that they will look after their tourists and do we want our chicken fried or do we want beans and do we want beer or stout? Children held my hands while Alex was greeted by all the men with a fist punch handshake. We were again invited to the party and said we might go. Mannie was one of the men who was looking after us and he explained that there were a group of doctors in town and so they were holding a Samba.
A Samba is where the whole village get together, play the drums that they make themselves, drink beer and cashew wine and dance around the fire. One person starts the dance and they take their turn around the fire and then they tag the next person from the crowd who all gather around in a circle.
We said we would love to go. We ate our amazing fried chicken and drank our beer and got changed for the Samba.
We drove down and saw everyone gathered around a small fire. The drumming and dancing had started and the cashew wine (homebrew) was flowing. The doctors from America turned out to be a group of dentists that visit the village twice a year to offer care, advice and products to the people of Gales Point. We watched the dancing and avoided being tagged to dance ourselves, it was great to watch the whole community come together and celebrate their special visitors. We were so lucky to have gone there that very night!
We stayed a while but called it a night early about 10 as we had had a long day. we got back to our camp and laid in bed listening to the party carry on. Everyone was so friendly and eager to help us.
In the morning a local fisherman, John offered to take us out onto the river to see the Manatees, fish for tarpon or just to sail through the mangroves. Johns boat is the only one that is low enough to sail under the mangroves that grow over the rivers. We had to decline as we were rushing and of course as we are on such a tight budget but he was so lovely and we would have loved to have gone out with him.
We went into the village to say goodbye to everyone and bought a couple of trinkets from the little market stall they had set up for the doctors (who must have had sore heads from the Samba night as there was no sign of them) and got back onto the rough road South to our next stop Dangriga.
As we left we talked of how pleased we had gone to Gales Point. The people are so eager to make you feel welcome and John in particular would love to grow his business. We feel that Belize is a country that is being KEPT poor. Most of the people want to work and earn to support their families but the extortionate taxes prevent them from really earning enough money to do any more than just that. For John to advertise it would completely absorb all of his small income so he is stuck in a vicious circle. The 500 strong village recieves few visitors because of the road which is a shame, there is a bus maybe twice a week which isn’t enough for tourists to visit. The village is a stretch of road about 15 meters wide than runs out into the river and is a perfect spot to take a fishing trip.So if you ever visit Belize make sure you pay John a visit in Gales Point!