Belize (formerly British Honduras) is a country located on the north eastern coast of Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language. Belize is bordered to the north by Mexico, south and west by Guatemala, and to the east by the Caribbean Sea. Belize’s mainland is about 290 km long and 110 km wide.
The Belize Barrier Reef is a series of coral reefs straddling the coast of Belize, roughly 300 meters offshore in the north and 40 km in the south within the country limits. The Belize Barrier Reef is a 300 km long section of the 900 km long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, which is continuous from Cancún on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula through the Riviera Maya down to Honduras making it one of the largest coral reef systems in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
With 22,960 km2 of land and a population of only 333,200 people, Belize possesses the lowest population density in Central America. Belize’s abundance of terrestrial and marine species and its diversity of ecosystems give it a key place within the globally significant Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
Belize is culturally unique among its Central American neighbours; it is the only nation in the region with a British colonial heritage. As a part of the Western Caribbean Zone, however, it also shares a common heritage with the Caribbean portions of other Central American countries. In general, Belize is considered to be a Central American nation with strong ties to both the Caribbean and Latin America.
What can I say about Belize? Belize is home for me. My living situation is a little unique. I was born and raised in Ontario, my mailing address is PEI but I tend to reside in Ontario as of lately, but I consider my home Belize. Whenever I am in Canada I am only visiting and waiting and hoping for the quickest chance to get home. My first visit to Belize was in 1997.
My home is in the Village of Scotland Halfmoon which is part of the Community Baboon Sanctuary. I have had my home there since 2002. My home is a small section of a 50 acre farm where a local Belizean and a Canadian couple also live. We live down a very secluded dirt road that is usually impassable by most vehicles for parts of the year. Most of the small village lives at the main intersection of our road and we live at the far end of our road on the Belize River.
My ride through Belize will take me directly home. I suspect I will take some down time to recoup from the thousands of kilometers I had ridden to get home. When it is time to continue I will ride south to Punta Gorda and catch a boat into Southern Guatemala. I so look forward to riding home.
Community Baboon Sanctuary – The Community Baboon Sanctuary is a pioneering project in voluntary grassroots conservation. The goal is to sustain the habitat of the Black Howler Monkey (called ‘baboon’ in the local Kriol dialect) while promoting the economic development of the participating communities. The result has been an innovative project in sustainable ecotourism that protects the habitat for the endangered Black Howler Monkey and other species while offering a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the rainforest and witness Black Howler Monkeys in the wild.
Over 200 private landowners in seven villages, stretching over 20 square miles, have voluntarily pledged to conserve their land for the protection of the Black Howler Monkey habitat. Many of these landowners benefit directly from the Sanctuary thanks to ecotourism. Many more benefit indirectly through the educational programs. Moreover, the population of the Black Howler Monkey in the Sanctuary has risen to over 2,000 monkeys.
I think it is safe to say that the area has one of the highest concentrations of Black Howler Monkeys in Central America. They are very common around the farm and can be seen outside my bedroom window regularly. This is my home.
Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary – Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is recognized as the world’s first and only preserve dedicated to the jaguar. The sanctuary is home to all 5 of Belize’s cats: Jaguar, Puma, Margay, Jaguarundi, and Ocelot. It is estimated that over 80 resident Jaguars are in the area. Belize’s national animal, the endangered Baird’s Tapir also inhabits the Basin and over 290 different species of birds have been recorded. This “one of a kind” reserve was established in 1990 as a result of jaguar studies conducted in the area by Alan Rabinowitz. Alan Rabinowitz later wrote a book about this experiences and living life in Belize called – Jaguar: One Man’s Struggle to Establish the First Jaguar Preserve. This is one of my all-time favourite books.
In my time in Belize I have seen a Puma and a Jaguarundi. But all 5 cats have been spotted at our farm regularly.