Peter Singfield in Maya ruins in Northern Belize, 1978
I spent a lot of time in the Bush -- and to the North of
Belize -- Bush means lot's of ruins.
I took my own picture -- set it on timer. As usual -- I was totally alone
on these treks and adventures. Who needs a guide -- eh??
I have a tale somewhere in archives about a long walk I did alone in the
deep bush back then popping in at a most surprising place where most
surprising things were occuring -- freaking everyone totally out --
So much so there was serious discussions about killing me right there and
then -- on the spot.
My only tool was always a trusty machete!!
not for self defense -- but for chopping one's way through -- and -- great
for a little digging to.
Self defense in those days was best accomplished through polite discussion
-- which everyone here then "respected" --
I came down from Canada first time in 1978 -- Flew Montreal to Miami -- Miami to Merida -- Merida to
Chetumal -- then Taxi to the border.
Before leaving I found out -- in Canada -- about Bill's place -- and phoned
Toronto to verify -- and once landed in Belize -- hired a Taxi to take me
Man -- Consejo Shores was some place back then!!
As I had reached the border after sunset -- I never saw much of Belize --
until I woke the Next Morning in Consejo -- so it was quite the first
After two days there I started traveling the country -- spending then a
total of three months in Belize -- met many people -- had many adventures
-- but never got to the Cayes --
I met at Bill's a traveling insurance salesman -- and his mission was to go
to the Carter Ranch up just past Augustine Pine Ridge -- West of Orange
Walk -- as it was dry season (I landed in April left in June) we made it no
problems. But roads were very minimal then -- believe that if anything!!
I had an enjoyable visit with the Carters -- being as guests were so rare
and news even more so -- people tended to over react and supply a bounty of
hospitality when visitors from afar showed their faces.
After that -- back to Orange Walk -- then by Bus to Belize City.
Spent a few days in Belize city -- which were wonderful!! But I was running
near to broke --
While passing through Orange Walk on returning from Carter ranch I met
Albert Burns -- and he presented me to his Auntie -- who he lived with --
Mrs Tia Marchand -- house keeper of Dr. George -- who had passed away some
years earlier -- leaving her the "New Hope Ranch" which was then situated
about 1/2 mile or so West of Orange Walk Town "Center" -- on the same Road
to the Carter Ranch and points beyond (ending at Blue Creek Mennonite
Miss Tony invited me to visit with her for an extended period -- but I had
this urge to press on and see Belize City -- the HUB of Belize.
Thus I took my last coppers and bought a bus ticket back to OW -- and
walked the 3/4 mile of so under a blazing hot sun to the New Hope and Miss
She was happy to see me and invited me in for dinner -- and I ended up
staying there for 2 plus months.
During which time Miss Toni fell in love with me -- much to Albert's
chargrin -- as in the end she tempted me to stay by offering me the Ranch
-- more or less.
Well -- that is another story for another day --
Miss Tony -- around 65 years of age then -- treated me like a king during
my stay -- the food -- the care -- was incredible -- better than I had ever
enjoyed before -- it was very hard to leave -- but I had so many serious
obligations to tend to in Canada -- there could be no avoiding the returning.
During my stay at the New Hope I ranged far and wide through all of
Northern Belize -- the great ruins -- the Mennonite colonies -- Corozal --
Consejo again --
I put in a lot of working time helping around the ranch as well -- fixing
tractors -- loading logs and delivering those to the saw mill in shipyard.
Much much walking through bush --
Many jobs -- met many people -- Joe Laskott had just seriously started his
saw mill enterprise then -- I ended up traveling to their major wood cut at
Water Bank -- near the Lamanai ruins -- with his brother Tony -- met the
father -- who was an old trader --
Anyway -- I was very extremely impressed with how great a place Belize was!!
Oh -- my reason for this venturing to Belize.
I was operating a lumber business in Quebec Canada at the time and was
selling large amounts of prime Maple Lumber to an agent from Japan -- the
latest craze there being bowling -- and hard maple flooring was what they
wanted for bowling alleys.
My brother had been to BH in the late 60's and had returned talking about
all the Mahogany --
I mentioned BH Mahogany to the agent in conversation one day and his eyes
went real round -- so I came to Belize to investigate -- ergo all my inland
The visit to Belize City was important in regards to shipping facilities.
As it turned out -- Mahogany Supply in Belize was already on the wane --
and then -- the recession of `1978 hit -- and the lumber industry went "poof"
There you go -- a quick over view -- but really --
I could write a huge book an the events of that visit -- in Belize --
Spring of 1978.
EG -- I met George Price in person -- at Belmopan -- and we had a long
visit and chatting session - -which I am sure he remembered for years after.
I went with Albert for the ride as he had to register some property and you
needed go to Belmopan.
When we got to the GOB buildings -- they were practically deserted -- very
little bureaucracy in Colonial time.
The man at the lands officer was sick -- Albert enquired at another office
-- that person directed us to a 3rd office -- there an older gentleman told
Albert he would go get the forms -- etc - -and do the paper work.
During that period -- for a few hours -- we all had a nice visit.
As we left the building -- Albert asks me -- do you know who that was??
No -- I replied
That was George Price our MP --
Well -- knock me over with a feather -- eh??
Every where I went I worked -- did some manual labor -- if driving a
tractor load of logs to Shipyard -- I sweated with all of them unloading
the logs -- then loading the lumber from the last delivery.
When we traveled to Belmopan -- we had two flats on Albert's old Ford car
-- I change them both.
In those days cars traveled with three of more spare tires.
While visiting with Joe Laskott -- I fixed some problem he had on his small
bulldozer - -ergo the invite to his Lumber Camp.
Etc -- ETC -- all about --
You get to know a country and it's people much better when you
travel poor and are willing and able to do some hard work -- at least in
Belize -- and in those times.
I know that -- I could have come to Belize Rich -- but even in those times
I had my so strange ways.
I returned with honest appraisals of the potentials of Mahogany harvesting
in Belize - -as a result!!
Being way to insignificant a "prey" for those few Brown Nose Sharks that
circles Belize even way back "when" --
I know people like Bill Wildman -- Emory King (lately passed on -- rest his
soul) also worked their ways through Belize.
And many other "foreigners" that adopted Belize that I met over the many
years here now -- like Frank Redmond. Lou Thomas -- oh -- a long list --
but still -- in over all percentages compared to those that have tried to
adopt Belize -- maybe but 1% -- if not less!!
That among the European Barbarian Blooded clans -- the Chinese and the
Hindu have a much higher success rate -- and of course -- all our local
Ergo -- I talk from experience in regards to the changes that have occured
in our little Country Belize -- and can well regret all that has been lost
-- and for what??
Try to not forget this ---
Photo by Peter Singfield
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