The hammocks always have a nice breeze
Dangriga, to most first time visitors, seems gritty and intimidating, and indeed remains that way in the minds of many expats with years of living in an evolving 3rd world country. Well it is a little gritty, but scratch that grit and you will reveal a place steeped in culture. Gritty culture I guess, but full of the same life and emotions and cultural intermingling as any town of that size.
A few people will ask for a dollar, usually with a story of a sick baby, but they are not aggressive.
The guys near the river by the Chinese grocery, The Price is Right, offer to wash your car with the saltwater from the river for $5, and if you look the part, you may be offered a bag of weed, but that is nothing different than any Central American town that size, or any tourist driven location for that matter.
The Dangriga area, and the entire Stann Creek District, was settled by the Garifuna, and many of the descendants of those settlers, are still everywhere. Most remember life without electricity and when they made their living from the sea. Most still speak , or at least understand the language, which is African based. My staff has been teaching me some and I have been trying to learn a new phrase or two every week. I have known how to say good morning, good afternoon and good night for some time now, but the presence at the open air market in Dangriga of some nicely traditionally dressed older women who are perusing the various booths for their daily supply of cassava, plantains and sweet potatoes. The traditional Garifuna women are usually of a larger frame, walk with pride and dignity, usually wear a dress with a matching sun hat, and banter with each other robustly. These were my targets for my new greeting,k "Good morning beautiful ladies." I had practiced it for 2 weeks and actually chickened out last week. In Hopkins I am known by all. Many know I am trying to learn the language a little and forgive small mispronunciations and indeed, help to teach by correcting me or leading me into areas of language that they know I am familiar. But this, this is Dangriga, I am recognized, but not known.
I seized my opportunity when two ladies were arguing with a Spanish gentleman about his price for sweet potatoes. They would ask him how much, then in Garifuna, converse with each other into what I took to mean, from the words I recognized, that his price was less yesterday.
Having mastered a phrase that would fit wonderfully into their conversation, and aware of the shock effect of a white guy speaking Garifuna, or trying, I interrupted politely: " Aye, Abba cate ugaine, Amu cate haruga." Yes, one thing today and another thing tomorrow."
True to form, a quick moment of complete silence and an exchange of quick glances brought forth robust laughter and conversation in Garifuna with each other that of course was totally incomprehensible to me.
Calmly I smiled, "Aye," (yes) usually a yes in agreement works, but I knew I was seriously out f my league, but here it went anyway as I slowly walked away..................................
Buiti Banaafi he-eru beut.... Good morning beautiful ladies.
Exit stage right to the gleeful sounds of laughter and a beautiful language.....You'd Better Belize it.One of The Beautiful ladies in Dangriga