Blog

Win Two Nights at the Inn!

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

Email us (thehopkinsinn@gmail.com) 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.

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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!

 

Hopkins Pirate Scramble

Hopkins Inn was excited in joining our friends in sponsoring the first Hopkins Pirate Scramble!

From the Belize Amateur Golf Association–(Will is the BAGA secretary):

This past Saturday was hot and that heat resulted in firm fairways and tight lies. Fortunately, the golf format was a scramble. We increased the degree of difficulty by adding pirate rules that allowed a team to take certain liberties with the ball of the other team in keeping with the saying “Pirates – We steal it, burn it, or violate it!” The pirate rules also had the effect of increasing the amount of conversation and sometimes the amount of exercise. Back at the clubhouse there were great tales of pirate mischief, a pleasant lunch, cold libations, and over $2,200 in award values donated by Hopkins Village businesses. Thank you sponsors for your generosity!

Congratulations to the winning team of Peter Allen, Peter Hughes, and Paul Martin! The full list of teams, scores, and awards are attached.

The next BAGA event will be the April monthly tournament on April 22.

Fun Facts You May Not Know

  • Belize’s wetlands are home to the fresh water Morelet’s Crocodile and the saltwater American Crocodile, that can be spotted in Sittee River and the freshwater lagoon in Hopkins.
  • Mangos are the world’s most popular fruit and Hopkins is the “mango capital” of Belize.
  • Approximately 1,000 Mayan ruins are scattered throughout Belize. Most are unexplored. Xunantunich and Caracol are some of the most impressive sights in Belize.
  • Belize’s Black Howler Monkeys are one of the top 10 loudest animals in the world.
  • Belize is the first and only country in the world to create a Jaguar nature preserve (officially titled The Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve) and it is located about 15 minutes from Hopkins.
  •  Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world. It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some of the best scuba diving on the planet.
  • Cashew trees are all over Hopkins Village and Will and I even have one! (Cashews don’t come in shells.) Instead, they grow from a fruit called the cashew apple. The fruit is edible, but the nut must be roasted to remove the toxins as it cannot. Want to see a photo of a cashew nut? Check out the Hopkins Inn Pinterest page.
  • Over 540 species of birds have been recorded in Belize. In Hopkins, we regularly spot the Jabiru stork and roseate spoonbills, just on the Hopkins Road. A little further out and we have spotted green parrots. At the inn, we have hummingbirds, brown pelicans, frigate birds, and just today, we spotted a mockingbird with her babies in their nest in our palm tree.
  • There are no fast-food chains in Belize. (That’s right, no drive through Chick-fil-A’s, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subways, etc.) And there are no “big box” stores like Walmart and Target. Will and I like that Belize is filled with locally owned “mom and pop” stores and restaurants that serve fresh food. Nothing fast here, as all food is prepared to order.

Just the Facts

Belize is physically a small country that can be traveled by car in about five hours (from north to south) as it’s only about the size of the state of Massachusetts. However, the city of Cleveland, Ohio has a larger population than Belize. Belize has Mexico to its northern border, Guatemala to its west and southern border, and the Caribbean Sea to its east.

The people of Belize are wonderfully diverse with Mestizo (Maya and Spanish descendants), Creole (European and African), Maya, Garifuna (African and Arawak’s of Caribbean), East Indians, Chinese, Maya, and the Mennonites.

Belmopan, is the country’s capital and it is considered the world’s smallest capital city. After Hurricane Hattie, in 1961, the capital was moved from Belize City inland, where Belmopan was created as a planned community. The government buildings are designed to resemble that of the Maya pyramids. The name Belmopan is derived from two rivers-Belize and Mopan.

Language:

Belize gained its independence from the British in 1981. Belize, formerly British Honduras, is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Just like the people of Belize are diverse, so are the many languages spoken in the country. I get several questions asking if I have learned Spanish yet and I re-iterate with people that everyone speaks English in Belize, just like in the U.S., and English is taught in schools.

However, unlike the U.S., many other languages are spoken in Belize and many people are bilingual. Hopkins, is a Garifuna village, so Garifuna is widely spoken as well. Typically, it is taught and passed on orally. All Garifuna in Belize speak English. There are also Maya and Creole villages, where those languages are spoken, in addition to English. But, Spanish is quite common too, but more in the other areas of Belize than in the Hopkins coast.

Time Zone:

Belize is on Central Standard Time and does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Currency:

The Belize dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar at two to one. $1US=$2BZ. The dollar is accepted everywhere.  You can use both U.S. and Belize dollars to pay for something. Cash is preferred, but more places are taking credit cards. ATM cards with no foreign transactions fees are more common than they used to be, so why not save on fees and acquire one before traveling?

Electricity:

Electricity is the same as the U.S. and Canada, so no special plugs and adapters are needed. However, many jungle lodges are “off grid” and do not appreciate energy-draining accessories, like hair dryers and straightening irons. Besides, we find most people enjoy a break from high-maintenance hair days!

Emergency Numbers:

To reach the police, dial 911.

Driving:

Belizeans drive on the right side of the road.

If you are making a left-hand turn, you should pull over to the right and put your left-hand blinker on and wait until the road is clear from both ways before making a left turn.  One should not travel the highways at night because they are no lights, reflectors, etc.

 

Budget Bites

We hear quite often that guests want to save money and stay somewhere they can cook some of their meals.

While I appreciate wanting to save money and cook, I would recommend doing that somewhere else, but not in Hopkins. Some say Hopkins is a food mecca! Enjoying the food really is part of the experience! So, not only do I suggest going out, the good news is that it is affordable to do so. Below is a list of places that may not be on your radar or in any travel books either as they are off the beaten path. Some tourists simply don’t manage to venture out to try them, but I can assure you, your taste buds will be glad that you did.

At Hopkins Inn, continental breakfast is included in the room rate. We serve breads made by local women—things like Johnny cakes, powder bun, bun, and creole bread with fresh local fruits like papaya, pineapple, molly apples, and mangos.  However, if you were not staying at the Inn, you could purchase the breads from local women, particularly at the Belfuna Women’s’ Coop for about $1-$2BZ each. You could also go to the fruit and vegetable stands as opposed to the grocery stores for fresher foods and more variety. (Hopkins has two vegetable stands.) Molly apples and star fruit are typically $1BZ each, while $1BZ gets you ten bananas!

To go out for breakfast, Tina’s has an amazing veggie omelette for $3US/$6BZ or her Belizean breakfast with fish and fried jacks is $6US/$12BZ. Tina serves breakfast all day, now!  Felicia, at Queen Bean, is known for her stuffed fry jacks (they are stuffed with eggs, bacon, and veggies) as well as her fried chicken and pancakes. Both are $5US/$10BZ each. Fry jacks are like beignets.

For lunch or just some snacks around town, Virge’s serves panandes, empanadas and such for $1-$2BZ each. La Runi Hati has small burritos for $3BZ, Cassava fries for a few dollars, and my favorite—fish fajitas for $5US/$10BZ.  Belfuna’s Women’s’ Coop usually serves just one item for lunch, a regularly featured item is stew chicken $4US/$7BZ or Hudut or fry fish for $6US/$12BZ. Melting Pot does some of the best fry fish in town, but be prepared to wait as she (as do other restaurants) prepare all food to order. There fry fish runs about $6US/$12BZ or she has a $1.50US/$3BZ chicken burrito or a burrito with cheese for $2US/$4BZ that most people are content to share.

Dinner in the village is same type of fair—stew chicken, fry fish, or cultural foods like Hudut, Bundigo, or Darassa. The best fish and chips in the village is at Windschief for $7US/$15BZ. The fish tacos there are delicious too. They have avocados on them when they are in season. An order of four tacos runs about $6US/$12BZ.

No one goes hungry in Hopkins!