One of the most fascinating aspects of Belize is its population, or rather the ethnic mix in such a small territory. The population of Belize is only about 300,000 in a country the size of Massachusetts but diversity is the key here.
Take a chicken bus, one of these old U.S. school buses painted blue, purple, red or any bright colour. Listen to reggae music blasting through the loudspeakers—by the end of the trip, you will know the lyrics to every Bob Marley songs, resistance is futile. Observe the people as the hail the bus on the side of the road or as they get off in the middle of nowhere. That’s Belize for you.
From Dangriga to Belize City, I took a few quick snapshots of the other passengers during the three-hour long bus ride. Funny enough, pretty much all of the ethnic groups were represented.
First, the mestizos, those of mixed European and Indigenous ancestry. This group often speaks Spanish and they take you back to Guatemala or Southern Mexico. There are also a sizable group of Maya people, who live close to the border with Mexico and the border with Guatemala.
Creoles, descendants of African slaves and British pirates, are the largest population group and often strongly identify with the Black Caribbean culture, which makes Belize so different than other countries in Latin America.
If you spot a family with blond hair, modest clothes and many children, no, you aren’t hallucinating. Belize has a small but easy-to-spot Mennonite community which is the backbone of the country’s agricultural sector.
Respect is the keyword in Belize. I found people beautiful, mostly because of their diversity and the way they interact with each other’s. And observing them makes bus rides interesting!