By Naturalight Productions
Friday night Happy Hour has become de rigueur amongst denizens of Belize City. It is observed religiously at bars citywide. Happy Hour is lively, friendly, fun and your best opportunity to mosey up to a bar and say hello to Belizeans. There are a good number of great bars in the city, but for the purposes of this postcard, I'll limit myself to a recent romp.
I was vested with the task of arranging a birthday party for a friend who for obvious reasons shall remain nameless. The group wanted something different, but hey, Belize City is a small town of 70,000 and nothing is much different from week to week. Then it flashed. Why not have a mobile Happy Hour birthday party!
At our first stop we were greeted by chords from the Hugo Band's stroll along the memorable eighties in rock, signaling that Happy Hour had struck up in the Radisson Fort George courtyard overlooking the Caribbean. Guests mingled under Radisson's thatched palapa bar and we time traveled with each beat, savoring the sounds between nods and knowing glances, communicating past escapades. A few bocas (appetizers) later, we were off to the Wet Lizard.
The bar in front was thick with friends and acquaintances but the action was concentrated on the south verandah which overlooks the Belize River. Great view of the Southern Foreshore on the opposing bank, nice breeze, stars were out. Lobster fritters, garnaches, nachos. Some table hopping. Exit Wet Lizard.
From rolled down the windows we vigorously greeted EVERYONE, on the streets. Well, I'll tell you, people just looked, laughed and hollered back.
Enter the Bellevue Hotel. The reggae was zingy and the dance floor was steaming, contrasted by the smoothness of wine sampled on the deck of the pool. The night was really started to take off now.
Rings a cell phone. A what? Where? When? To stay or not to stay ─ that became the question. In the end democracy ruled with a majority voting for Paradise 21, jazz concert in progress. But on the way we were side tracked by the pulsating rhythm of merengue beckoning from the windows of the Copa Cabana.
After making our way through the pool room, we made a beeline for the dance floor with a short stop for a refill. Front, back, kick, step, step, front back. Onto salsa, throw in some bachata, mix with vallenato and the party was on. But in the ever present spirit of restlessness, somebody had to mention the Best Western Belize Biltmore Hotel. And we were once again on the road.
One for the road─.
The steel band was jamming, glasses were clanking and a large and lively crowd had congregated at the poolside bar. More friends and acquaintances. More bocas. More table hopping. Was a beautiful night. I was about ready to call it a night but my friends weren't, so I stuck around for a bit. More rounds were served amidst laughter and new friendships were formed above the raucous of voices, interrupted only by the decisive voice of our designated driver:
The escapade ended at the lighthouse. Standing at the mouth of the Belize River as it merges with the Caribbean Sea the Baron Bliss lighthouse marks the final resting place of Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, a wealthy paraplegic English sailor who left several million in trust for Belize even though he never set foot on Belizean soil (but that's another story). Also known as the 'Fort point' this is a notorious meeting place for young lovers (a popular folk song goes, "when you meet dem young gal coming down from Fort, dey midi wap pa Baron Bliss grave".) Ok, so it's also a great place for late night revelers to to soak up the alcohol with Belize's version of fast food « greasy bag fried chicken from Chinese merchants, and watch the sunrise. I guess Happy Hour lasted a bit longer than we expected.
Special Thanks to:
Best Western Belize Biltmore Hotel
Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina
Images Courtesy of: