Garifuna Culture Activity Packages

Garifuna Culture Activity Packages

Garifuna Culture Activity Packages

Half-Day Packages

We offer a variety of flexible half-day packages, with the option to include a traditional Garifuna meal of fresh fish fillet sauteed in mildly spiced coconut milk served with mashed plantain (known as “hudut” in Garifuna). Minimum 2 people.

Select any three activities from the list below to make up your half-day package:
1:   1 hour interactive Garifuna drumming lesson
2:   1 hour interactive drum-making lesson/demonstration
3:   30 minute traditional Garifuna drum group performance featuring 4-member band
4:   1 hour traditional Garifuna dancing lesson
Cost per person:
For groups of 2-3: $125Bz (without meal); $140Bz (with meal)
For groups of 4+ people: $115Bz (without meal); $125Bz (with meal)

Half-Day Garifuna Drumming & Cooking Package

We offer a 1 hour drumming lesson, followed by approximately 2 hour cooking lesson, where you will learn how to cook the traditional Garifuna meal of hudut. You will learn how to make coconut milk from scratch, prepare and pound the green and ripe plantain, and season the coconut milk broth ready to sautee the fresh fillet fish. You will then sit down and enjoy the delicious meal you just made!
Minimum 2 people.

Cost per person:
For groups of 2-3: $140Bz
For groups of 4+ people: $125Bz

Whole-Day Garifuna Culture Packages

For those of you who really want to delve deeper into Garifuna culture and try your hands at a bit of everything, we also offer three different whole day package options.  Please note all packages are for a minimum of three people.
Option 1 (Drum-Making, Drumming & Dancing): $180Bz per person inc lunch – min. 3 people
  • 10am-12n: Drum-making lesson  (chiselling, sanding, planning logs, tightening skins, etc.)
  • 12n-1pm: Traditional “hudut” lunch with fish fillet and juice or soda
  • 1pm-2:30pm: 1 1/2 hr interactive Garifuna drumming lesson
  • 2:30-3.15pm: 45 minute group performance (4-member group)
  • 3:15 – 4pm: 45 minute dancing lesson with group accompaniment

Option 2 (Cooking, Drumming & Dancing): $200Bz per person inc. lunch – min. 3 people
  • 10am-12n: “Hudut” cooking lesson
  • 12n-1pm: Enjoy the hudut lunch you just made with some fresh juice.
  • 1pm-2:30pm: 1 1/2 hr interactive Garifuna drumming lesson
  • 2:30-3.15pm: 45 minute group performance (4-member group)
  • 3:15 – 4pm: 45 minute dancing lesson with group accompaniment

Option 3 (Garifuna Extravaganza – Cooking, Drum-Making, Drumming & Dancing): $200Bz per person inc. lunch – min. 3 people

  • 10am-12n: “Hudut” cooking lesson
  • 12n-1pm: Enjoy the hudut lunch you just made with some fresh juice.
  • 1pm-2pm:Drum-making lesson
  • 2pm-3pm: 1 hr interactive Garifuna drumming lesson
  • 3-3:30pm: 30 minute group performance (4-member group)
  • 3:30 – 4pm: 30 minute dancing lesson with group accompaniment


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Garifuna Cultural Activities in Belize

Garifuna cultural activities at Warasa appeal to a wide range of guests.   From interactive drumming, dancing or drum-making lessons, to simply sitting back and enjoying a traditional performance, we can arrange it all! You can book your activity on our Reservation page or on the individual activity pages linked below.  If you have any problems booking through our website, email us or call us on +501 632 7701.

Garifuna cultural activities

Enjoy an authentic, interactive drumming lesson as Ray sings and plays along with you.  Get stuck in with a drum-making session.   Learn the traditional and modern ways of making our drums using solid wood logs, jungle vines, deerskin.  Learn about the plants and seeds used to make our maracas.  Move your hips and learn the traditional Garifuna dances.  Learn to make the traditional Garifuna lunch of “hudut”.  Or, just sit back and enjoy a traditional meal and professional group performance.

Warasa and more

As well as enjoying all these activities at Warasa, you can immerse yourself even more.  Join in on Settlement Day activities in all Garifuna communities or the annual Battle of the Drums activities every November in Punta Gorda.

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Garifuna Drums

Garifuna Drums

886745_642546015806365_721270680_oGarifuna drums are made by hollowing out solid trunks of hardwood, and are hence genuine solid wood drums.  The hollow is traditionally started by burning hot coals in the centre of the trunk, but these days, unless some termites have chewed out a hollow for us, it is often started with the help of a chainsaw!

Once a rough hollow is made, a long chisel is used to chisel the log into a cylinder, and is then planed and sanded smooth.  Holes are drilled around the bottom of the cylinder for the ropes to pass through when it is time to add the skin.

Deer skin is the most commonly used skin, and it must be soaked, the hair scraped off, and then rinsed, before being cut to the correct size.  Natural vines (called teetay in Belize) are used to create two rings that fit snugly over the top of the drum cylinder: these rings are what holds the skin in place with the aid of the rope.  When they are cut from the jungle, the vines are very flexible, but they become rigid after a few hours, so the rings must be formed to the correct shape and size soon after they are cut.

The rope is one single length that is threaded through the holes around the bottom of the drum and then through the upper ring which pulls down on the skin.  The rope is tightened by turning hand-carved wooden pins, which causes the skin to be pulled taut.

The skin is still wet when it is first fixed to the drum, but the drum with its skin must then be left in the hot sun in order for it to dry.  Once it is totally dry, the top side of the skin is then sanded smooth while still on the drum.  The rope is then adjusted and the pins tightened again.

Once the skin is tight enough, the snare strings or wire are added.  For the Segunda drum, string is used to make a double snare wire; for Primero, the McDonald family like to use a few strands the wire from inside a bicycle brake wire cable, as it is strong and does not rust.  Wire produces a harder sound than string, and better suits the Primero drum than string.

The cylinder of a Garifuna drum can last decades if looked after and varnished regularly, but the skin must occasionally be replaced. Ray’s father, Mario, has had the same mahogany Segunda and Primero drums for over 40 years!

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Garifuna Music

 Garifuna music

Music is an integral part of Garifuna culture.  Garifuna music is very distinct from the other styles of music found in Central and Latin America.  The Garinagu integrate song and music into all aspects of their life.  Therefore many songs are about activities like fishing or cooking or giving advice to a loved one.

Traditional Garifuna music is based on a small number of basic rhythms.  These are Paranda, Punta, Chumba, Hungu-Hungu, Wanaragua (also known as Jonkanu), Gunjei, and Dugu.  Dugu is a sacred rhythm that is only played in the Temple.   Shakas (maracas), turtle shells, conch shell (for a horn), guitar (in Paranda) and other percussion are also commonly used.

Garifuna Musicians

Well-known traditional Garifuna musicians include Paul Nabor and Aurelio Martinez (Paranda), Andy Palacio and Adrian “Doc” Martinez.

Punta Rock is the contemporary version of the traditional Punta.  In contrast to the original music, Punta Rock bands include an electric bass guitar, a synthesized keyboard, and a drum machine.  Well-known Punta Rock musicians include Supa G, Aziatic and Lova Boy.

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Garifuna Culture

Garifuna culture unites Garinagu people in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and also those who now live in other countries including the United States.

In 2008 the Garifuna language, music and song were inscribed as part of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO (UNESCO – Intangible Heritage of the Garifuna)

Origin of the Garifuna Culture and People

Garifuna cultureIn the 18th century slave ships from western Africa became shipwrecked near the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean.  Several hundreds of slaves that escaped and made it to shore settled on the island.  Already living there at that time were Carib and Arawak Amerindians (originally from South America). The African settlers intermarried with the inhabitants of Saint Vincent.  This created a new ethnic group that became known as the Garinagu (in the past also know as the Black Caribs).  The culture of the African settlers combined with the language and culture of the Carib and Arawak into this new “Garifuna” culture.

Conflict with European Settlers

In the late 18th century French and British settlers in the islands fought for control over Saint Vincent.  The Garinagu population sided with the French.  However the British won, and forced the Garinagu population to the island of Balliceux.  Many thousands died on the journey across the Caribbean and on Balliceux.  Those that survived continued their journey and ultimately settled along the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize.

Garifuna Settlement Day

Every year on 19th November Belizeans celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of one of the largest groups of Garifuna people to the shores of Belize in 1802.  This day is called Garifuna Settlement Day, or sometimes simply as “Yurumein”.  Yurumein is the Garifuna name for Saint Vincent, the island where several Spanish slave ships were wrecked in the 17th century.   This eventually led to the emergence of the Garifuna people and culture.

Garifuna Culture and Language

The Garifuna language belongs to the Arawakan group of languages and has survived centuries of discrimination and linguistic domination. It is rich in tales (úraga) originally recited during wakes or large gatherings.  The Garifuna language has also adopted words from the other nationalities that are involved in their history.  This includes French, Spanish and English.

If you ask a Garifuna person to count from one to twenty, you will soon recognize the French influence.  The Garifuna words for window, sheep, and cheese are also examples of the French influence.  Many Garifuna people’s surnames are traditional Spanish names, such as Martinez and Bermudez.  Others are Spanish, such as Augustin and Franzua.

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Warasa Garifuna Drum School

 

Experience authentic, interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more at Warasa Garifuna Drum School.  Visit us in the peaceful coastal town of Punta Gorda.
Learn about the rich history and culture of the Garifuna while learning the different traditional drumbeats and dances that influence music throughout Belize and Central America.
Enjoy our spacious traditional thatch drum school in the heart of the Garifuna community.  Surround yourself with lush vegetation, see parakeets flocking around, hear sounds of howler monkeys nearby.
All just a 20 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride or quick taxi ride away.
We share the Garifuna culture with locals and visitors which helps to preserve the culture for generations to come.  We welcome guests of all ages and backgrounds.  Don’t worry if you’ve never done any kind of drumming before or if you think you can’t dance.  We welcome those with no rhythm, two left hands, two left feet, and of course those who consider themselves professionals.
Read about us in Lonely Planet,  Moon Belize and most other reputable guidebooks.  Also check our TripAdvisor reviews, Facebook reviews and Google+ reviews.

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Belize time – I’ll do it right now….

Since moving to Belize, if I need something done urgently, and someone tells me they’ll do it “right now”, I get an uncanny sinking feeling in my stomach.  In Belize time, “right now” can be roughly translated as meaning “at some indefinite, potentially distant time in the future”.  It certainly doesn’t mean “now”.

The time in Belize is -6 hours GMT.  But “Belize time” is a far more subjective and fuzzy concept.  Work begins on time (unless it is raining, in which case if you don’t have a car, then it is perfectly acceptable at many workplaces to not show up until the rain stops).  Meetings begin 15-30 minutes late.  Parades, weddings and other big events start one or two hours after the “official” start time.

My own wedding had an “official” written start time of 3pm.  So, at 2.55pm, my dad arrived at our house to drive me to the wedding venue.  I was wrapped in a towel, with wet hair, in the middle of sticking on my false nails.  I’d forgotten to tell my dad about Belize time.

While the official start time ticked on by, Ray’s extended family whisked around frantically finalising the wedding arrangements.  Dresses were being sewed, hair braided and beaded, lamb stewed, chicken barbequed, tortillas baked and drum skins tightened.

Belize time

Platting of palm leaf arch…1 hour before “official” start time.

But by 4.30pm, spot on for Belize time, everything was ready, and down the aisle we walked to the beat of drums, shake of shakas, and the sound of Ray’s dad singing.

Walking down the aisle

Organising things here is as different as imaginable from the micro-managed, minute-by-minute “story-boarded” events that I used to be involved in when I worked in London.  But the amazing thing is, it always works out in the end, albeit to Belize time.

I have been a very busy bee recently, and for that reason, my next blog entry will be along right now….

www.warasadrumschool.com

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He-He-Hey! Sucking Teeth & Pointing Lips

I’ve lived in a few different countries in my life, and in each one, I have learned the specific cultural gestures and sounds that are used to communicate on a daily basis. In South Korea, people would make a “hol” honking like sound when surprised or shocked, and would beckon people with their arms held out full stretch, palms down, frantically flapping their fingers (doing it palm-up is highly insulting, as that is how you beckon a dog).

In Belize, Garifuna people have the Garifuna laugh, which phonetically goes something like “he-he-he-ey!” – the final “he-ey” being louder and higher pitched than the rest. They also have a habit of pointing at people with a slight upwards nod of the head and sticking out their lower lip. Sucking your teeth to make a squelchy kind of reversed hiss is the Belizean sound of annoyance or impatience. I try and think of what some typically Scottish non-verbal communications are, but I guess they are so deeply ingrained in me that I can’t identify them – feel free to enlighten me!

 

http://www.warasadrumschool.com

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Belizean Blue Crab Syndrome

Coming out for the annual rain dance

I will most probably always be considered an outsider in Belize, but I think that is the case in almost any country you emigrate to where you stick out either due to your accent, skin colour, background or otherwise. And there are definitely many things that I still don’t know about or don’t understand about Belizean culture. One of them is something known as Blue Crab Syndrome.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Belizean wildlife, at the start of every rainy season, thousands of giant (up to 10 inches including claw span) blue crabs emerge from the mud of the jungle/ditch/back yard to do a celebratory rain dance before the rains dry and they go into hibernation again. Of course, many Belizeans like a good crab soup, and so crabs are often caught and stuck in a bucket ready for the stew pot.

Blue crabs ready for the stew pot

Not surprisingly, the crabs don’t care too much for buckets or stew pots, and try to climb out, but none of them make it, as they all step and stumble over each other and pull each other back down. I don’t know if it is due to colonialism’s divide & conquer phenomenon, or a side-effect of being such a small country, but sadly, it is all too common for Belizeans to hamper and sometimes actively sabotage their neighbours’ attempts to better themselves. Sometimes it even goes as far as burning down houses or businesses, but more commonly involves spreading malicious rumours and the like. Thankfully Ray is generally well liked in PG, so we haven’t suffered anything too detrimental as yet, but I am always disappointed when Belizean owned local businesses fail to support what we are trying to do. We haven’t asked anyone for money, just for a good word and general advice, but it’s not always as forthcoming as we’d like. Ironically, it is the expat-owned businesses that support the venture more. Of course there are many locals that totally support what we are trying to do, and I hope that continues and spreads so that Warasa isn’t another victim of Blue Crab Syndrome.

http://www.warasadrumschool.com

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Even if she’s green, she’s still your auntie

A few months ago, Ray and I were at his uncle’s house watching (me) and helping (Ray) make a drum.  I was perched on the edge of another future drum.  Ray’s dad Mario was also there.  Everyone was taking a few minutes rest from the hot Belizean sun.  A little boy came running into the yard, and then stopped in his tracks when he saw me.  He looked at me suspiciously, then hovered in the corner for a minute or two.  He then plucked up some courage, and said

“Uncle, I wahn ask you somting”.

Ray responded “Well ask me den”.

“It’s a secret”.

“Well come tell me in my ear den”.  The little boy whispered in Ray’s ear.

Ray roared out “Who dat white gyal? She da me wife, she yo auntie, hear?!”.

The little boy looked mortified at having his secret question blurted out, but recovered, and then looked confused while he continued to look sidelong at me: “She cahn be my auntie”.

Ray: “Oh really?  Why cahn she be yo auntie?”.

“Cos she white”

At which point, Ray’s dad jumped in and said,

“Boy!  Even if she green, she still yo auntie, hear!”

http://www.warasadrumschool.com

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