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Holger is a management consultant turned volunteer. He loves to take pictures, run around in the sun, dive and he has never met a beer in his life he didn't like.
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September is a month of celebration in Belize with carnivals and parades every weekend. After we attended the official start of the celebrations on St. George’s Caye, survived the carnival on September 3rd (barely thanks to the heat), skipped the St. George’s Caye Citizens’ Day Parade, helped out at the Belize City Expo (Kerstin), this time around we went to Orange Walk Town for the celebration of Independence.
Belize was a British colony (by choice after seeking British support in order not to be overrun by Guatemala, amongst others) that was granted independence on September 21, 1981 (by choice, without really solving the problem with the Guatemalans who are still feared to overrun Belize to this date).
Since then, 21 September is a public holiday with fairs and parties on September 20, huge fireworks at midnight as the countries birthday begins and parades and parties all day on the 21st. The original party when independence was granted is epic – and since it is only 30 years ago, you meet a lot of Belizeans who remember it as if it was last year:
My fathers brother had died a few days before the 21st. They buried him on that day in the mawnin, but even that did not keep this woman right here from dancing in the streets. No, sir. It was independence and this Miss B. right here was dancin’ all day and all night, even as they carried the coffin past me, I was dancin’ into independence until the sun come up again!
We left Belize City and headed towards Orange Walk Town in the north of the country. A colleague of mine had invited us up and volunteered to show us around. Orange Walk Town (just OW to most) has a reputation for very nice parades and parties as well as being considerably safer than Belize City (which isn’t that hard, admittedly). This turned out to be a good move, as we heard of a lot of expats who simply spent the celebrations sitting at home as they couldn’t find a taxi to take them (and more importantly: take them home) – which means that you’re grounded.
After a shower at the hotel, a relaxing dinner and a bit of a walk we met up with our friend at a local club. Shortly before midnight we headed out towards the town hall to look at the midnights’ fireworks. Thought the video most likely won’t do them justice, these were the biggest fireworks I have ever seen (counting all the Frankfurt and Bad Homburg fireworks of my childhood!).
After the fireworks, we had some more hot dogs and beers and walked around the fair grounds – seeing that the Guatemalans who had been in Belize City just the weekend before were now up here with their rides. With support of the just right alcohol level, we decided to do what we hadn’t dared to do the weekend before: We got into the Ferris Wheel.
Don’t worry that we speak German in the video – it’s all cursing and swearing anyways.
Most everything after this is a blur, but we got up early the next morning (around half past noon) and had a healthy breakfast (Kerstin: 3 Mexican Tacos, Holger: 4 Guatemalan Hot Dogs) before the Independence Day Parade.
OW’s reputation for great parades did not disappoint us. I still find the sight of child soldiers (or any kind of marching children setup) eerie and I still find 6 year old girls doing erotic dance moves weird. This time we stood about where the parade started (as opposed to the Belize City parade where we stood right at the end) and got to see enthusiastic dancers celebrating the Birthday of their Country.
Around 5:10 we rushed tot he bus terminal to catch a bus. We got it on time – to sit in it for boiling 45 minutes while it was stuck in the parade traffic. Still, we made it back to Belize City in one piece (well, two), happy to have spent this Birthday in OW.