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.”