January 19, 2013

Maybe it was named after the buccaneer Peter Wallace.

Belize — our "History of" country today. It's a legend, that the Spanish pronunciation of "Wallace" was Ballis and hence Belize. Belize. Do you know where it is? It's crammed in between Mexico and Guatamala.

In places that today look like this...



... the Mayans flourished and then they were gone. We don't really know why. You can blame the Spanish. (Why not? They deserve it.) But Mayan civilization had collapsed by the time the Spanish got there. Then the English arrived, by shipwreck, in 1638. Squabbling between the Spanish and the English went on for a long time, and there was a lot of piracy and "indiscriminate logging."

20 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

Belize is one of the relatively few countries that has a purpose-built capital city. Belize City was the longtime capital of what was then British Honduras, but after it was heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1961 the government decided it would be more prudent to build a new capital city in a more protected inland location. The new city, known as Belmopan, became capital of the British Honduras colony in 1970 and remained as the capital when Belize became independent in 1981.

Peter

Irene said...

Now, John McAfee has put it back into the news.

Michael K said...

When I was getting divorced 25 years ago, my wife's lawyer was demanding the gross monthly income from my practice as temporary support. I told them that, if they did that, I would go to Belize.

I saw a reference to it the other day and sent her an e-mail. After about five years, we became friends again. We even have occasional "conjugal visits" from time to time.

shake-and-bake said...

Yeah, I know where it is. I've been there. The meso-American barrier reef (the second largest barrier reef on the planet) runs just off the coast, and the scuba diving is great. Also a jaguar preserve and lots of other cool things to do. F.F. Coppola owns a resort there.

edutcher said...

Actually, the Spaniards don't deserve it. Wasn't their fault the Indians had a 90% mortality for infectious diseases (Europeans are about 30%).

PS the Blonde and her best bud visited Belize City on a cruise a couple of years ago and she said you could just smell the hepatitis and pseudomonas in the air. They couldn't wait to get back on the ship.

ricpic said...

Belize was hippy central in the late '60s early '80s. Don't know about now.

Sid said...

There are some great ziplines in Belize.

Chip Ahoy said...

The mystery of the Mayans' disappearance is no mystery at all, they ran away, nor is the name for Belize a mystery either, in fact the two are related.

You see, when the Spanish first arrived and they were spotted at the Mayan outposts the Mayan soldiers positioned there mistook them for the Feds and yelled ¡POLICE!" and they all split.

And the Spanish were standing there nonplussed, "Pues ... entonces." Well then. They had only come to exchange fruit baskets.

Jeff Hall said...

I'm sure that the thousands of Maya that live in Belize, and the millions of Maya that live in Central America, wouldn't like to think of themselves as "gone".

Dante said...

I learned why the Mayans died form "Apocalypto." They had a famine and disease, and chopped off all the peasants heads to fix it.

Dante said...

Why not? They deserve it

If they didn't do it, why do they deserve the blame? Do they deserve any of the good things they did?

It's like so many Indians I meet. They hate the British. As one guy said "I go to London, and I see the wealth of India here." But, they left a relatively stagnant civilization on what appears to be a positive trend. Many more people experiencing life, high tech, railroads, a university system, dams, etc.

I don't know, it seems like the well off serfs rather being worse off peasants. Plus, they got the whole thing anyway.

Jose_K said...

he Mayans flourished and then they were gone? They went nowhere, they still live there. Their civilization declined .

Jose_K said...

asn't their fault the Indians had a 90% mortality for infectious ? True unlike the british they did not use blankets with smallpox.
Had they not come there was no infection

Michael said...

Belize City is a classic shithole and is to be avoided. Belize has nice beaches, diving and fishing and a few interesting ruins. Shortcut through Belize to the great Mayan ruin of Tikal in Guatemala. Careful to not travel there alone as the road is a favorite of bandits on the Guatemala side. Or go north and cross into Mexico near Chetumal and see their wonderful museum and tour that lovely capital of Quintana Roo. Scores of ruins close by, many of which have only been partially excavated.

Michael said...

Belize City is a classic shithole and is to be avoided. Belize has nice beaches, diving and fishing and a few interesting ruins. Shortcut through Belize to the great Mayan ruin of Tikal in Guatemala. Careful to not travel there alone as the road is a favorite of bandits on the Guatemala side. Or go north and cross into Mexico near Chetumal and see their wonderful museum and tour that lovely capital of Quintana Roo. Scores of ruins close by, many of which have only been partially excavated.

XRay said...

I got drunk with a squad of British Marines in Punta Gorda, cheap but good demon rum. Slept in a hammock for a couple of nights somewhere around Orange Walk, in a Mayans straw house that he had inherited from his grandfather. He wanted me to help him grow corn. Damn neared died from dysentery (guessing) in San Ignacio after being drunk and eating some tapas (knowing better than to) offered to me by some revolutionary who wanted to recruit my help in getting the British out of Belize. I declined his offer.

Michael said...

Many Mayan ruins, covered by thick jungle, were discoverd by men harvesting chicklet from high trees. Chewing gum thus led to finding a more extensive network of Mayan cities than known before.

kentuckyliz said...

Oh yeah, I'm sure the Spanish MEANT to take smallpox there and infect everyone. And they meant to take syphilis back to Europe and cause a major epidemic there. Tit for tat if you ask me.

Roger Zimmerman said...

We loved the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave tour in the Cayo district. You need to be in decent shape. It's about 5 hours round trip and you're walking chest deep in water for some of that. Then, there are some decently treacherous climbs, both up and down. Wear excellent shoes, and be prepared to throw them away afterward. Clearly, the liability lawyers have not made significant inroads in Belize, which is part of its charm.

The cave visuals are spectacular, and they have some allegedly protected archaeological work going on inside (including sacrificial skeletons), though I suspect at least some of this has been doctored for the tourists. If your tour guide is good, you can actually learn something about the civilization.

And, if the trip to Tikal is not your cup of tea (and the Guatemalan bandits are a legitimate concern), Caracol - in the same region - is a decent substitute. The car trip through the pine ridge (I'm not kidding!) is so cool (literally, compared to the tropics), and the site is well maintained and has some real archaeology in progress. Again, the guide is key. Not sure how to judge them ahead of time - very good English (if you don't speak Spanish) is probably a good first order indicator.

The people are extremely friendly and pro-American (we found). I'm going back.

Nichevo said...

Jose, I guess in your neck of the woods is fashionable to talk all commie, but the fact that your name is Jose means that you are the descendants of Spanish conquistadors who committed far greater atrocities on the Americas than anything the English did. A little humility would become you.