Find Our Roots
Feel (Y) Our Rhythms
By Lebawit Lily Girma
Bileez! It’s a name that remained shrouded in mystery for centuries, its etymology only recently confirmed to be of Maya origin. And as you begin exploring and making your way around “The Jewel”—as Belizeans call their home–you will quickly realize that this small country in the heart of Central America is, indeed, one big, colorful collage of origins.
Belize is roots. And Belize is rhythms.
It’s a small place overflowing with ancient customs, indigenous tongues, and traditions passed on from generation to generation. It’s a nation whose people are intent on preserving their ancestry, and fiery in protecting their pristine environment against the vices of the modern world. It’s a haven for diversity—a land that has welcomed settlers and migrant populations across the centuries, with seven major cultural groups enriching every corner of the country.
In Belize, roots are
The two thousand year old Maya temples you’ll climb
The incomparable living Barrier Reef, where hundreds of critters await
The caves and crevices where sacrificial relics lie
The idyllic cayes, where fishing and flip-flops are a way of life
The medicinal plants, and the furry kinkajous on your rainforest walks
The riverside Kriol communities, and the mangrove cathedrals hugging your boat
The vast reserves and jungle hikes, where you’ll conquer your fears
The sizzling tacos, and steamy johnnycakes that fill your belly on the road
The Mestizo fiestas, and the thatched-roof villages where time seems to have stopped
That sweet Belizean rum, and the spicy micheladas curing your hangovers.
As you discover more roots on your journey across the Jewel, you’ll fall into a world of vibrant sounds.
In Belize, rhythms are
The drumbeats of the Garifuna, and the swing of their punta
The beat of the steel pan, and the thump of the sambai
The song of scarlet macaws, and the croaks of the keel billed toucan
The melodic sounds of Kriol, Qeq’chi, and Chinese
The ring of the Maya marimba, and the nostalgic blues of paranda
The chilling roar of howler monkeys, and the gush of 1,000-feet waterfalls
The stealth prowl of jaguars in the night, and the squeal of manatees underwater
The mystical deer dances, and the shamans of yesteryear
The cheer of marching bands, and the joyful spirit of September carnivals
The stories shared over Sunday dinner, and that sweet, slow Caribbean pace.
Wherever you end up in the Jewel, find di roots, and you’ll feel di rhythms—ours, and yours.
That’s the real meaning of Bileez!