Drum, Dance & Dine Experience

Come and enjoy our Drum, Dance & Dine Experience with us under our beautiful thatch palapa at Warasa!

Please note: This is an activity for groups of 4 guests or more. For smaller groups, we recommend one of our other activities, such as a drumming lesson, or half-day package.

Drum, dance & dine

Enjoy a morning or evening with us at Warasa.  Your activity begins with a short history of the Garifuna history and culture.  Then we will move onto a 40 minute professional group performance followed by a 20 minute dance lesson where you will learn some of the traditional dances like paranda, punta and jonkunu.  Finally, if you wish to sample a Garifuna culinary delicacy, sit back and relax and enjoy a traditional Garifuna meal of “Hudut” – fresh fish fillet sauteed in coconut milk with mild spices and served with mashed plantain.

Prices:

    *   $25USD/ 50bzd per person for groups 4-7 people
    *   $22.40USD/ 45bzd per person for groups 8-11 people
    *   $17.50USD/ 35bzd per person for groups 12-14 people
    *   $15USD/ 30bzd per person for groups 15-22 people

To include fish fillet hudut dinner or lunch in your Drum, Dance & Dine Experience add $7.50USD/ 15bzd per person

If you are vegetarian or vegan let us know – we can adapt the meal to your needs! Please note we can also adjust for certain allegies, including shellfish, but not for general fish allergies, due to the small but real risk of cross-contamination with the cooking and serving for those that eat fish.

About Warasa Garifuna Drum School

About Warasa Garifuna Drum School

About Warasa Garifuna Drum School

About Ray

Warasa Garifuna Drum School is the dream of its founder and master drummer and teacher, Ronald Raymond McDonald.

Ronald, or Ray, learned drums by watching his family group from childhood. He is a former drummer, dancer and singer for the Belize National Dance Company. He has performed all over Belize and much of Central America.

About Ruth

Ruth is originally from Scotland and ended up moving to Belize in 2007, to volunteer for a local health charity. Originally she planned to stay for just a few months, but then she met Ray when he was playing drums at the 2008 Toledo Cacao Festival (now known as the Chocolate Festival of Belize), and the rest is history! She has continued to work in the health and development sector, and also makes Garifuna themed souvenirs and also beautiful sea glass jewellery – all available to buy from the Etsy links on this website or direct from her Etsy store!

About Warasa Garifuna Drum School

Ray is passionate about his culture, and for many years his dream was to start a drumming schoool and teach others about his culture.

With the help of his wife Ruth, Warasa (which means “our culture”), was begun in 2010.  The School has grown from borrowed drums and a rented house, to more than 20 of our own drums at our beautiful thatch palapa.

[wdi_feed id=”2″]

Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery pieces made by us from sea glass collected in Belize. 

Garifuna Cultural Activities in Belize

Garifuna cultural activities at Warasa appeal to a wide range of guests. From interactive Garifuna 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 or 628-2337 (both WhatsApp preferred).

Garifuna cultural activities

Enjoy an authentic, interactive drumming lesson as your instructor sings and plays along with you.  Or 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

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!

 

Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery pieces made by us from sea glass collected in Belize. 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery pieces made by us from sea glass collected in Belize. 

Warasa Garifuna Drum School

Authentic Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more!

Warasa Garifuna Drum School is a cultural and educational site located in the peaceful coastal town of Punta Gorda, Belize. See hand-carved instruments and family cultural artefacts. Experience all of this under our authentic traditional thatch palapa made from 100% natural and sustainable materials. You are welcome to simply look around while we explain the history of our fascinating culture, or experience an authentic, interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing, drum-making and more at Warasa Garifuna Drum School.
We offer rich educational experiences to both local and international visitors, and can accommodate school groups of up to 25 students at a time. 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 and toucans hopping around, hear sounds of howler monkeys nearby.
All of this 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 professionals.
Read about us in Lonely Planet,  Moon Belize and most other reputable guidebooks.  Also check our TripAdvisor reviews, Facebook reviews and Google+ reviews.
Warasa and the Saint Vincent Block lands
We are local family-owned and run, located in the indigenous Garifuna-owned Saint Vincent Block lands by Punta Gorda town. To learn more about the Saint Vincent Block and Garifuna lands in Toledo, you can read an interesting dissertation here.
Below are some Garifuna items and jewellery items made by us from sea glass collected in Belize.