Hopkins Mangu (mango in Garifuna) Fest June 2nd & 3rd, 2018

Hopkins Village, located on the southern coast, is the mango capital of Belize, boasting over twenty varieties. The mangos have names such as blue, Julie, Harry, #11, thunder shock, white, ballet, black, common, belly full, apple, and well, one can go on and on recalling the many names and describing their favorites.

On June 2nd and 3rd, the friendliest village in Belize celebrates the beginning of mango season with a free two-day family-friendly festival that showcases unique culinary delights and Hopkins’ culture, music, and community spirit.

This year, the morning begins at 6am with Floyd Arana’s dory fishing contest. There are many prizes, such as most fish, most weight, biggest barracuda, and more. The unique twist? A 20% qualifier is added to each category for those that include fisherfolk under 15 years old.

While the fishermen are out, vendors make their final touches on their booth space as they are competing for “best decorated booth.” Jungle Jeanie’s by the Sea leads a yoga session for all ages and skill levels to Caribbean vibes. Jeanie has hosted yoga for decades at her place, but for this special day, she takes yoga to the masses.

The official kick off is 11am, but the live-music is already in full swing. Attendees will discover over 40 booths filled with hand-made jewelry, arts, and crafts.  Pink conch shell necklaces and matching rings, lionfish earrings, and cohune palm pendants abound. Wooden bowls and serving pieces made from local hardwoods, such as the prized rosewood, fill tables. Other woods to lookout for are the m’lady, poison, and purple heart. Hopkins has talented woodcarvers that can make custom pieces too. Brightly colored hammocks and paintings fill other stalls. Healing concoctions such as hand-made salves, lotions, and even bug bite creams can also be found. The challenge will be how to take it all back home.

Of course, mangos rule the day and there are boundless ways to showcase them in all the many food offerings. There is everything from sliced mangos sprinkled with a spicy rub, to mango chutney, mango chimole, mango smoothies, mango ice cream, mango cake, and just about anything mango! While mangos are the featured food, there is plenty of non-mango items like home-made sausages in mustard, chicken fingers, pizza, shrimp, and fish burgers. There are many vegetarian options as well, such as veggie paninis and bean and cheese Johnny cakes.  Entering Hopkins, along the road, many people will set up make shift stands to sell street tacos and panades, while the restaurants make certain to have a mango-featured menu item.

When attendees need a break from all the shopping and eating, they can shift into total relaxation mode by visiting the “spa booths” that offer massages or pedicures. While other attendees can be found on the putt-putt golf course beside the festival that features the “wonders” of Belize including the blue hole, Bocawina’s ziplines, and Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

From a distance, attendees listen to see if they have won some of the many raffle prizes given away regularly. Who doesn’t want to win a free dinner, hotel stay, or tour? There are many activities for children, whether it’s face painting or participating in the children’s story hour. Playground equipment is in the center of the festival luring children to slide and swing, while parents watch in the shade, enjoying the talented artists of Hopkins.

It’s no secret that Hopkins is home to some of the most talented artists in Belize and the world. They make it a point to return home for the Mangu Fest as they want to showcase their hometown pride at an event that pays tribute to cultural live music and those that keep it alive. Parranda, the blues music of Hopkins, is front and center and features Drumming, an important part of the Garifuna heritage.

The Saturday festival ends at 8pm, but the fun doesn’t stop. Attendees continue to go out in the community and enjoy more of the food they just got a sample of earlier. Many of the local restaurants host live music that continues into the early morning hours as people go from place to place following their favorite artists.  On Sunday, the festival starts back up with more music, food, and fun and includes awards ceremonies to announce the winners of the many activities including the Travellers cocktail contest.

The goal of the Hopkins Mangu Fest is to promote Hopkins as a tourist destination in a fashion that builds on Hopkins uniqueness and promotes cultural preservation by featuring authentic Garifuna food and music through a clean, wholesome, culinary and culturally fun festival. It also provides economic opportunities during a time that has traditionally been referred to as “maga season” or thin


*This article, by Leslie Sorrell, was first published with RideBZE and is re-printed with their permission.




Founder’s Message

Hopkins Inn was founded in the mid-nineties, just after Hopkins got electricity, by Rita and Greg Duke. It was the first western-style accommodations in Hopkins. Here is a note from them about experiencing Hopkins.

Welcome Message from the Dukes:

You have come to a village that is unique, proud of its culture, friendly, and safe. Hopkins is perfect for relaxing, enjoying the Caribbean Sea and the beach, and for experiencing a different way of life.

Hopkins has one paved main street (well, not paved all the way anymore—that’s what happens when traffic increases). It is the center of community interaction. In the evenings villagers stroll, cycle, and drive up and down the street, to visit with friends and neighbors. Others sit on the beach enjoying a cool breeze.  (The first 66 feet of beach is public property and can be enjoyed by everyone.)

Hopkins has slowly emerged into the 21st century.  Water, electricity, phone services, and cable T.V. all came to the village in the mid to late 1990’s.  The same can be said for tourism. Visitors to the village were few and far between until relatively recently. Belize is a developing country. It means that some of the roads are still not paved and the water supply is neither reliable nor potable. Also until recently, villagers had to dispose of their trash the best way they knew how–for many that means making burn piles on the beach or in their yards.  For a few, it means throwing everything into the sea, since that was the way of their parents and their grandparents, but their garbage of organic vegetable peels and kitchen waste is of times gone by.  With the introduction and now prevalence of plastics, disposable diapers, cans and glass, it now means the beach may be littered in places with unsightly garbage.  Things are changing as a local entrepreneur started a garbage service, where garbage is hauled away weekly.  Hopefully, most of Hopkins will participate.

The people of Hopkins are friendly and always offer a greeting.  In the morning, the greeting is “good morning”, afternoon it is “good evening” and after dark it is “good night.” Belizeans are fun loving people.  They like to joke and laugh.  All Belizeans love music—usually loud music.  It is something one has to accept. Most of the time the music is turned down or off at night with the exception being holidays and special celebrations or ceremonies.

Many of the women bake or cook goodies.  After school, their children sell house-to-house. So, if a child who carries a basket or bucket asks “Do you want to buy?” he or she is usually selling fresh bread, pastries, tamales, fish ganaches, sesame bars, or other freshly made food.  They usually sell for $1-$2 Belize dollars.  It is definitely worth a try!

The people of Hopkins are called Garifuna (Garinagu in the plural). They are of Caribbean Indian and black African heritage. Their home was the island of St. Vincent in the West Indies until they were resettled to the Bay Islands off Honduras. From there, they settled along the Caribbean coast of Central America, including Belize.  They established small coastal communities where they fish and farm for their livelihood. Even today, most villagers have a small plot of land (called a “farm”) along the Hopkins Road. They usually grow food for their table and also organic oranges and grapefruits for sale to the juice factories.

The locals are proud of their heritage and their language. Hopkins is the only Garifuna settlement left in Belize where Garifuna is the main language spoken. Drumming, singing, and dancing Punta is still part of life here. Especially during holidays and special occasions, such as Settlement Day, November 19, marking the landing of the first Garinagu on the shores of southern Belize, where it is reenacted. Often drumming never ceases all night during the week leading up to the holiday. Garinagu from all over the country and from abroad converge on the settlements in the south to celebrate.  It is an interesting time to visit.

Greg’s Vistors’ Guide:

*Travel in the spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to meet and talk with the local people.

*Be aware of the feelings of other people, thus preventing what might be offensive behavior-like walking into the village in your bathing suit. Remember this especially with photography.

*Cultivate the habit of listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing.

*Realize that people in the country you are visiting often have time concepts and thought patterns different from your own—not inferior, just different.

*Discover the enrichment that comes from seeing another way of life, rather than heading for the “beach paradise” of the tourist posters.

*Cultivate the habit of asking questions instead of knowing all the answers.

*Remember you are one of hundreds of visiting tourists. Do not expect special privileges.

*If you really want everything to feel like back home, why travel?

*Spend wisely. Remember when shopping that bargains obtained are only possible because of the low wages paid to the worker.

*Make no promises to the local people unless you are certain you can fulfill them.

*Reflect daily on your experiences. Seek to deepen your understanding of “what enriches you may rob or violate others.”


Cooking here is different

Cooking in Belize is different than cooking in the U.S. For starters, one cannot just go somewhere and find whatever ingredients they imagine and cook on a whim. Red meat is not as plentiful. Turkey is rare. Instead, one buys fresh, local, ingredients and then decides what to cook. That’s how I came about creating new dishes that are different than the meals we eat in the states.

When my husband Will and I moved to Hopkins, we rarely had pasta as one of our meals together. I was surprised when he announced, after doing a little research, we needed to add more carbohydrates to our diets. I didn’t have a “go to” dish to whip up so I began searching for something other than the standard spaghetti and meatball type of dishes. I was also looking for dish that could multi-task as an entree or side dish and taste good warm or cold. (So, if I took it to a pot luck, I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping it warm.)  We have many more pot-luck get togethers than we did in the states, so I am always on the look-out for a dish that works well to share with neighbors.

I add chicken because there is always chicken available in Belize, so I usually have some shredded in the fridge. But the chicken can be omitted for vegetarians or as an alternative to the usual pasta salads side dishes.

Ginger noodles with chicken in peanut butter sauce (Makes 8 meals)


1 cup natural peanut butter

6 TBSP rice vinegar

6TBSP soy sauce

4 tsp fresh ginger, grated

Blend the above sauce ingredients in blender


3 cups shredded chicken

1 16ou box of spaghetti

1 cucumber-sliced very thinly

2-3 green, red, and yellow peppers-chop in thin slices

1 carrot-chopped into match-stick size pieces or sliced thinly

1 zucchini-chopped into match-stick size pieces

4 TBSP chopped peanuts


Directions: Cook spaghetti according to directions. While it is cooking, combine first four ingredients and mix in blender until smooth and creamy. Chop all the veggies.  When pasta is done, strain, and return to pot. Add all ingredients (chicken-veggie mixture) to the spaghetti, including the peanut butter sauce from the blender. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts before serving.

*This recipe was originally posted in Shoots Alive blog.

Grocery Shopping

What’s the deal with the grocery stores in Belize?

In the book “Belize, not for me,” the author describes the poor condition of our country’s Chinese owned grocery stores and complains of the expensive food. I laughed and read it out loud to my husband, Will, and he was as amused as me. This is funny to us because we do not get most of our food at the grocery stores, like we did when we lived in the U.S. If you have an extended vacation here, we suggest you shop like a local too, instead of going to the Chinese stores.

So, where do we get our food?

Hopkins is a fishing village, so here, we eat a lot of fish. When we see the frigatebirds circling, we know the fisherman have landed with their catches. We go over to the fisherman’s shack and purchase a fish of our choice for $2.50US/$5BZ a pound or $5US/$10BZ for filet. For produce, we go to the fruit and vegetable stands or the markets in the larger towns. They also carry locally made coconut oil, honey, plantain and cassava chips. (Doritos, Cheetos, and potato chips are all imported from the U.S. and are expensive, but plantain and cassava chips are locally made and sell for $1BZ/.50US.)

We choose not to buy our meats from the grocery stores either as we do not find them to be reliable in storing food. Instead, people purchase directly from the trucks. (You do not have to be a business to purchase directly for the trucks of places like Caribbean Chicken or Western Dairies.) In addition, there are many local producers that come weekly to sell their products.

In Hopkins, Thursday is the “delivery” day and they delivery to the Inn. Joan and Walter sell us our chicken and eggs for the week. Another fella comes and sells pork and beef. And another one delivers specialty products, like beet relish, pickled peppers, and chocolate. We purchase bread and pastries from local women and they run about $1BZ/.50US per loaf/pastry.

Sometimes, tourist think they are saving money by picking up things like luncheon meat, bread, and chips at the grocery store, but, these are some of the more expensive food items because they are not made here in Belize. Imported foods are more expensive. The bread is made in Belize, but many times it sits on the shelf and quickly molds. Purchasing bread locally or asking a restaurant to make them a few tortillas to use as wraps are better options. Picking up “fast food” is also cheaper than grocery store shopping. Burritos run $2US/$4BZ burrito and panades, tacos, or sambutes that sell for a$1-$2BZ and three makes a good amount for a meal.

In Belize, many times simply eating out at a local restaurant is cheaper than trying to get all the ingredients at the grocery and spending long hours in the kitchen. Stew chicken, rice and beans sells for $8BZ/$4US and there are no dishes to wash!




Win Two Nights at the Inn!

We’re having a contest! Winner receives two nights at Hopkins Inn!

Email us ( your photos of Hopkins! What are we looking for? Sunsets, moon rises, photo of you and the Inn, or Hopkins through the years…that je ne sais quoi photo will win! By entering, we have permission to use your photos on our Facebook page. Winner will be announced on Facebook and by email July 1, 2017. Dates must be mutually agreed upon.

Entries are already coming in! Check out our Facebook page to see some of the entries.

Real Estate in Hopkins & Mennonite Homes

We get many people that inquire about real estate in Hopkins. It varies widely, but so you have some type of guestimate, typically, beach lots that are 60×120 in the village run about $175,000US/$350,000BZ. Recently, a beach lot just sold for $180,000US/$360,000BZ though! Just one lot back, seaside, is about $125,000US/$250,000BZ. Across main street, non-seaside, there is a large range of $50,000-$75,000US/$100,000-$150,000BZ. Back lots run about $5,000US/$10,000BZ.

Mennonites are the largest home-builders in Belize and as a result many people choose to put a Mennonite house, the Belize version of a mobile home, on their land. (These are wooden homes.) Many people choose to make it their permanent home, while others plan on living in it temporarily while building a larger concrete home on their property, to avoid renting. When the building process is complete, they either sale the Mennonite home, pulling it off the lot, or use it as a guest house for visitors. Some even choose to rent it out to tourists.

Currently, I am aware of three Mennonite home builders, all in Spanish Lookout: Linda Vista, Plett’s, and Tobar. Homes not built by Mennonites are usually referred to as stick homes. The Mennonites have different size homes they build, with the largest being 20×40–because that is the biggest their truck can hold. However, they can put two homes together, in an “L” shape or build on site if a larger home is desired.

The Mennonites build homes in Spanish Lookout and then put them on a truck, that lifts the home over the one lane bridges. The truck also lifts the home if one wants it off the ground. The highest the truck can go is nine feet, so that is as high as they can put a home on stilts. (Homes are put on stilts here, not for flooding as many think, but for better breezes.) But it is not required to have a home lifted-up in the air, as it can remain low to the ground as well. (It is more economical the lower it is to the ground.)

My husband, Will and I, had a Mennonite home brought to our first property.  We designed it as a 20×20 studio. It was exciting watching them come down the street and raise the house. We just got a frame because Will wanted to do the plumbing and finish out himself. He worked with local Hopkins builders to put up the bathroom walls and a storage room underneath the stairs. Will did the bathroom tiling himself. Meanwhile, we had the kitchen countertops and bathroom vanity furniture custom-designed to fit the home.

The woods are beautiful–Salmwood, Jobillo, Rosewood, Granadillo, and many other hard woods that are common names in Belize, but not often heard of to others. Mahogany, while beautiful, is considered the “pine of Belize” as it is the most common and economical. The other hard woods are considered more prized.

We thought our little home would be temporary to later move it off, but we liked the way it turned out so much, we kept it!

Our Mennonite home cost about $20,000US/$40,000BZ.

The Story of Our Little Library

After experiencing success in the corporate world, Bertie Lee Murphy, affectionately called “Miss Bertie” joined the Peace Corp at age 70, where she was tasked as a literacy volunteer assigned to Hopkins, Belize.

When Bertie arrived in Hopkins, she noticed there was not a school library or a community one. Since there was no physical building, Miss Bertie set up a “mobile” library system of some donated books and passed out library cards. Books were loaned on a weekly system. Fortunately, the old pre-school classroom was converted to the library and books becan filling the shelves and many other benefits of a “store front.” In her blog “Bertie in Belize” she shares of her surprise at being able to establish a library in Hopkins, with over 1500 books, in just 11 months.

Miss Bertie died the following year, in 2008. Lacking lacking volunteers to run the newly-created library, it closed. Thankfully, it re-opened in 2011 and has flourished since. Books continue to be donated. Shelves continue to be added, and there has even been an expansion of the building. The library received electricity in recent years, and now has fans and some donated computers.

Miss Bertie’s Hopkins Community Library became part of the Belize National Library Service, in 2011 as well, ensuring its continuation for the Hopkins community even if the availability of local volunteers disappears. There is no government funding, except to provide for one part-time librarian. All funds for book maintenance, building repairs, building book shelves, and bills are raised by the community.

After school programs are daily, where children read and do their homework. There are science days, art activities, and Friday “game days.” However, puzzles and learning games are hard to find in Belize and typically expensive. Children’s library cards are free. Adults are $2.50US/$5BZ, and anyone is welcome to be a member of Miss Bertie’s Library. Tourists included.

Miss Bertie’s has a bi-annual yard sale to raise funds, as well as a few smaller events throughout the year. Donations of books, pencils, games, and money are welcomed!