Belize emerges from the darkness to celebrate birth as a nation

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Rose and I were all set last night to head down to Central Park in San Pedro Town for the launch of Independence Day celebrations — music, dance, speeches and the best fireworks in all of Belize.

Then the lights went out.

Not just our lights. All of Belize.

And probably parts of Guatemala and Mexico too.

You’ve not experienced darkness until your whole nation goes dark.

Raising the flag at midnight for Independence Day in San Pedro, Belize. (Photo from San Pedro Sun)
Raising the flag at midnight for Independence Day in San Pedro, Belize. (Photo from San Pedro Sun)

Well, wait, nearby Caye Caulker had electricity. They generate their own, apparently.

A few phone calls back and forth in the dark with our friends Marilyn and Wayne and we’d all pretty much concluded that this night was over. Marilyn and Wayne live just north of us and we were going to hitch a ride to town with them in their golf cart.

Rose and I returned to our books, hers on a Kindle, mine a hardcover, with a bicycle headlamp for light, and settled in for a quiet evening together.

Fireworks go on and a  young  country celebrates its independence. (Photo from San Pedro Sun)
Fireworks go on and a young country celebrates its independence. (Photo from San Pedro Sun)

Naturally the electricity returned shortly after we’d all made our decision.

And I clearly under-estimated the resolve of Belizeans to celebrate their 33rd year of independence. The celebration resumed and the fireworks were unleashed.

I strolled out to the end of our pier and sat by the palapa for a clear view, albeit distant, view of the fireworks. Rose got a good view of the show from our deck. And it was a brilliant show.  As a bonus I could also see the fireworks on Caye Caulker, being fired in tandem with Ambergris Caye.

Needless to say, the iPhone  photographs of the fireworks are a complete waste of time. If there is a way to successfully shoot fireworks with an iPhone I’d love to hear about it. Full moons and fireworks always look like crap on my phone. OK, maybe it is time to invest in that GoPro ….

Today is the Jump Up Parade through San Pedro. It will be a first for us but from what I’ve heard this is Mardi Gras and Fourth of July rolled into one. “Crews” in elaborate costumes, pulsing music, lively floats, and much Belikin beer and rum — and everyone in the red, white and blue of Belize.

Fireworks from the Cloisters Pier.
Fireworks from the Cloisters Pier.

Not that red, white and blue. The Belizean colors are softer than those of the U.S. In fact, they are like those in the Chicago Cubs baseball uniform. I’ve often heard it said that Chicago’s WGN, home of the Cubs, was the first — and for a while, only — cable station available in Belize and that many Belizeans, to this day, are Cubs fans.


Well, it is a great day for a parade and this year’s celebration theme is “Industrious hands, intelligent minds, together for Belize.”

We recently met a young Belizean who exemplifies this theme. Adolpho is a licensed electrician who was recommended to us by a friend when our washing machine stopped working.  I called him around noon. He arrived an hour later and had the timing switch repaired in 20 minutes with some duct tape, glue and island ingenuity.

Adolpho is also a trained plumber. At least, he has the knowledge and training to be a plumber. What he lacks is the license and to get that he needs to take the $300 plumber’s test. It is only given periodically and the last time around he lacked the cash.

He is determined to get that license — to survive on this island you can rarely afford to be a one-trick pony. People who don”t bicycle an hour to work might hold as many as two and three jobs. Industrious hands, intelligent minds for sure. You can see signs of desire, ambition and strong character everywhere here, if you chose to look for it.

Some times, it finds you.

Mayor Danny (left) during Independence Day ceremonies Saturday night.
Mayor Danny (left) during Independence Day ceremonies Saturday night. (Picture from San Pedro Sun)

Friday night, while riding in the back of a golf cart south of town, my wallet slipped out and fell to the street. I didn’t even notice.

A Belizean family stopped their cart, picked it up and raced to return it to me. As far as I am concerned, you can add Big hearts to the slogan this year.

The bad stuff can find you too. We’ve experienced that recently. But it will never win out as long as we seek out and celebrate the best of who we are “together for Belize.”

Now, time for a parade.

Here’s the word on the blackout from BEL:

Issued: September 21, 2014

BEL Restores Power Supply Following Nationwide Unplanned Power Interruption

Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) apologizes for an unplanned power interruption which impacted Independence Eve festivities nationwide on Saturday, September 20, 2014. At 8:18 p.m., Belize’s power supply was interrupted when a system trip occurred on Mexico’s 230kV line, which provides power to Belize.

Through the use of local generation sources, BEL commenced restoration of power supply to customers. Most areas in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts were restored at 9:07 p.m. via Blair Athol Power Company Limited (BAPCOL). At 9:38 p.m., Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) reconnected with BEL, which resulted in restoration to the Belize, Corozal and Orange Walk Districts. Power supply was restored to the Cayo District between 9:40 p.m. and 10:13 p.m.

CFE has since reported to BEL that the fault on their system was caused by a malfunctioning reactor.

BEL thanks customers for their patience while the Company worked to restore power supply and regrets the inconvenience caused.


2 thoughts on “Belize emerges from the darkness to celebrate birth as a nation

    Wilma Lingle said:
    September 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

    We generate our own electricity here in Englishtown just north of Monkey River Village, so we had power at our place. We got a text that power was out in Placencia and Independence, but did not realize that it was a nationwide outage. Didn’t take them long to restore, though, did it? Nice going, BTE.


    Susan said:
    September 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Glad life is getting back to normal. Was just lying in bed last night going over the days events and was thinking of you, Rose and your neighbors who suffered that horrible incident. I hope everyone is much better and that bodies, minds and spirits are healing. In my prayers…Susan


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