Happy Birthday, Belize! Only 35 and still celebrating like a youngster!

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Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.

To me this picture says everything you need to know about Belize on Independence Day. The country is young, vibrant, ambitious — you’d have to be to wear a rig this bountiful on a day this hot!  It is no accident that this costume reflects the natural blues and greens of the foliage and Caribbean Sea in the background.

San Pedro’s Jump Up parade completely lacks the gravitas of nations with long histories of war and loss. The country’s one significant battle for independence is celebrated on Sept. 10, The Battle for St. George’s Caye, and even that seems to be receding into the realm of legend.

The 21st is given over to celebrating the people of Belize with sensuous dance, loud music, outrageously stunning costumes and a joviality that just shouts “Damn! It is good to be in Belize!”

Mystic Mas marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Mystic Mas marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.

This is my third parade and it never gets old — much like Belize.

The parade assembles along Boca del Rio, on the waterfront, where a few breezes keep everyone in high spirits. This year it was all to begin early — assemble at 9 a.m., begin marching at 10 a.m.

Well, that didn’t happen. At 9:30 Boca del Rio was practically deserted.

Feeling foolish for being on time, I retreated to the shade of Wayo’s Beach Bar and nursed one of Brandon’s chilled and spicy Bloody Mary drinks. Or maybe two. Suddenly around 11 a.m. the Boca sprang to life. Towers of speakers on the back of trucks began pumping out Jump Up beats and brightly costumed marchers were suddenly everywhere, scrambling for formation, cross-pollinating this mad rainbow of themes and coloration as they searched for their units.

It takes dedication to march in this torrid tropical heat. But as the marchers and dancers and jump-upers headed off they were fresh, filled with hope and laughter and ready for what was on down the road — just like Belize.

Here’s a sampling of it all.

Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
AIDS Commission marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
AIDS Commission marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
AIDS Commission marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
AIDS Commission marchers: Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.

 

Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Yep, it's hot out there.... Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Yep, it’s hot out there…. Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Members of the San Pedro Town Council handed out candy to kids along the parade route.
Members of the San Pedro Town Council handed out candy to kids along the parade route.
Miss San Pedro 2016 Marisha Thompson adds a touch of glamour to  the Independence Day Parade.
Miss San Pedro 2016 Marisha Thompson adds a touch of glamour to the Independence Day Parade.
The newly crowned Miss San Pedro 2016 Marisha Thompson in the Independence Day Parade.
The newly crowned Miss San Pedro 2016 Marisha Thompson just after the Independence Day Parade, in Central Park.
One of the day's highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids -- and some adults -- scramble to gather it up.
One of the day’s highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids — and some adults — scramble to gather it up.
One of the day's highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids -- and some adults -- scramble to gather it up.
One of the day’s highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids — and some adults — scramble to gather it up.
One of the day's highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids -- and some adults -- scramble to gather it up.
One of the day’s highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids — and some adults — scramble to gather it up.
One of the day's highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids -- and some adults -- scramble to gather it up.
One of the day’s highlights for the kids, the Flying Pinata. A helicopter drops candy on Central Park as the kids — and some adults — scramble to gather it up.
Some costumes were so big they came with their own set of wheels. Maneuvering through the street took some patience -- and the help of bystanders.
Some costumes were so big they came with their own set of wheels. Maneuvering through the street took some patience — and the help of bystanders.
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5 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Belize! Only 35 and still celebrating like a youngster!

    […] to see the first of two posts by Bound for Belize Blog – Happy Birthday, Belize! Only 35 and still celebrating like a youngster! In this posy you will find great parade pics and some cool crowd […]

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    Lou Lloyd-Zannini said:
    September 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    This is a great commentary on the people of Belize. Now, for a moment let’s talk a government that has discouraged me from retiring there, buying property there, building my home on property that according to the Central Bank I don’t own without their permission there, and won’t let me open a bank account there. Belize is on a drunken binge of stupidity, and it’s costing them money. Lots of money. And they can ill afford it. They lost hundreds of thousands this summer just with me. How much more have they driven away?

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      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      September 23, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Lou, I can’t begin to explain or understand your issues with Belize, but I’m pretty sure that anyone who paints an entire nation with a statement like “Belize is on a drunken binge of stupidity” probably ought to live elsewhere.

      I know many people who have been able to achieve all the things which you say you have been denied by Belize. And I know some who have butted heads with the country, put on the tired old Ugly American show, grew frustrated because it is not like the U.S. and eventually moved on.

      That said, getting stuff done as an immigrant here is not easy. The marketing people do say one thing and the people who handle the paperwork act in quite another. Have they driven lots of people away? Probably. But I see immigrants from other countries including the U.S. settling in, putting down roots and doing just fine.

      I don’t know what triggered your issues but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “a drunken binge of stupidity” on the part of Belizeans. I’m sorry things didn’t go well for you.

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        Lou said:
        September 25, 2016 at 2:29 pm

        Bob, please read me in context. My first words were “This is a great commentary on the people of Belize. Now let’s talk for a moment about a government…” I love the people of Belize. It’s why I bought property there, and why I want to retire there. But the government is discouraging both.

        Within the past six months, they’ve decided to enforce a 2003 law that requires permission from the Central Bank of Belize for all real-estate transactions. Without it, you cannot open bank accounts or draw building permits. Talk with your local banker, and see how it’s going for them. Ours was frustrated beyond words because it’s costing them business. While you’re at it, see how easy it has not become to get your money out of the international banks. Again, the government has stepped in, and though Belize is heralded as an offshore financial center, the reports from everyone indicate that moving your dollars out of Belize is difficult and can take up to a month to accomplish.

        Belize has also modified the QRP recently. While advertising from early in 2016 encourages folks to retire in Belize on the QRP, to start a business and employ Belizeans, I was informed by the Ministry of Tourism (which regulates the QRP) that I cannot make a dime in Belize and qualify for QRP. I can’t even be a partner in a non-Belizean company that owns a rental property and go QRP.

        That’s what provoked my comments concerning a “drunken binge of stupidity.” And I know that in a few months, when the financial impact starts hitting home in a country that can’t afford to lose money, things will once again change, and they’ll re-interpret the statutes and life will go on. But the Belizean people deserve better, and I hope that they get it quickly.

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    emilys72016 said:
    September 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Amazing photos, Bob. It seems that the parade costumes get fancier and larger every year. I was amazed by them when we lived there and continue to be impressed with the ingenuity of the San Pedranos who manage to fashion stunning costumes like these, especially with few stores on the island. I love how proud they are to be Belizean and how much they love their country! Thanks for sharing!

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