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.

Street Food

Along the highways of Belize, it is common to see people selling food. In Silk Grass, a village just 6 miles from Hopkins, they typically sell boiled corn on the cob and dunkunu, a roasted corn and spice mixture steamed in corn husks. Other places, coconut oil and coconut water are sold. Many times, if there is a large speed bump going through a village, people will stand beside it to advertise their various food products.

Tamales are a popular item to be sold on the street. In Belize have chicken bones in them. Bones are considered the most flavorful part of the meal. The chicken foot is thought by many to be a special treat. If you want a tamale without any bones, just ask if they have one “gringo-style.”

In Hopkins, Mrs. Castillo, may sit outside the Happy Grocery store and sells cassava pudding and Johnny cakes. While Jim takes to the streets selling conch fritters, when in season or his special sauce “Hopkins Heat.” It’s his home-made version of Marie Sharp’s pepper sauce.

After school, many children are tasked with going out in the village to sell whatever their family baked that day. Treats like banana cake, pumpkin cake, and creole bread are common. One can also find meat paddies, a favorite of mine, like an empanada. Sometime snacks like fish panandes or tamales are sold. If someone on their bike asks you “do you want to buy?” say “yes!” These treats, sold out of a 5-gallon bucket they carry, usually sell for about $1-$2Belze dollars each, so it’s a great way to economically sample different foods.

Shopping for Food

How much do things cost in Hopkins? It depends. Do you want to live exactly the way you did or do you want to incorporate local-living into your lifestyle? If you’re set in your ways, in reality, things could cost more than you anticipated.

Will and I live in many ways like locals, meaning we purchase local foods and drinks, rather than imported ones. We eat plantain and cassava chips instead of Doritos and Cheetos. If you go to the fruit and vegetable stand and buy tropical fruits grown in Belize, like mangos, pineapples, and bananas its much less expensive than if you purchase imported strawberries, blueberries, and carrots in a bag. (Berries are not grown in Belize.) While we have an abundance of carrots, peeled and packaged carrots are not processed in Belize, so those are imported from the states making them expensive.

Will and I also supplement our foods with our garden and trees. We have three different kinds of guava trees and a mango tree that we get our fruit from, saving us from purchasing those items. We also grow many herbs like basil, mint, and thyme.

Here’s the difference in going to the vegetable stand and buying local verses imported items.

Our bill (in Belize dollars):                                             Another person in lines:

10 bananas-$1                                                                   imported strawberries-$12

Pineapple-$3                                                                     imported baby carrots in a bag-8

Starfruit-$1                                                                         pineapple-$3

4 limes-$1                                                                           imported cranberries-$14

1lb of green peppers-$2                                                bunch of mint-$5

2lbs of tomatoes-$6                                                        bunch of basil-$4

Large Avocado-$3                                                            imported mushrooms-$6

2 bunches of cilantro-$1                                                bag of Doritos-$9

Cassava chips-$1

Total-$19BZ                                                                        Total-$61BZ

We buy our fish direct from the fishermen when they come in and they charge $5BZ per pound, and you pick your fish. Meaning there is no price difference for a hog fish, grouper, snapper, or barracuda. We have fresh eggs and chicken delivered to us weekly. While chicken would not be my protein of choice, I prefer eating what is easy-to-source, fresh, and tastes good. Therefore, I have eaten more chicken in the past few years than in my entire life. I am a red meat girl, so when see lamb or good beef, we purchase it. Turkey appears impossible to find, but it is a favorite of mine too.

When we go out, we tend to frequent local restaurants in the village that have better priced menu than the resort-style spots, or restaurants located in the resort-area.

In a village restaurant:                                                                   Resort/North American-style:

Fish with sides-$12-$15BZ                                                            Fish with sides-$24-$44

Stew Chicken with sides-$8BZ                                                     Chicken-$15-$25

Burrito-$3-$4                                                                                     Burrito-$10-$20

Burger-$4-$10                                                                                   Burger-$15-$25

The same price gaps exist with drinks, including alcohol. Drink the local rum and drinks are significantly cheaper than imported spirits like bourbon or scotch. Buying the locally-made Marie Sharp’s fruit punch is a better value than Gatorade. If you’re interested in drinking and eating Belizean products, cost is relatively inexpensive. But things can be surprisingly expensive if you want to live in Belize, but eat and drink the products from somewhere else.