Reviews and Media

Below are some of the many reviews and media coverage in blogs, websites and magazines that have featured Ray and Warasa!

TripAdvisor Reviews

CNN article “7 ways for travelers to Belize to enjoy Garifuna culture”

The Stevenson Family Blog:

That afternoon we pedaled out to Warasa, where the boys had a drum lesson with Garifuna drummer Ronald Raymod MacDonald (he goes by Ray). The boys were a bit intimidated by Ray, but he was such a patient and kind teacher that eventually they warmed up to him and really started getting in to the lesson. It was fun watching them get the feel of the sometimes tricky rhythms that characterize Garifuna drumming.”

Travel to Nature website (translated from the original German):

“If you want to get to know the colorful and fun-loving culture of Garifuna, this is the place for you!
The founder of the local Drum School, Ronald Raymond McDonald (yes, that’s right!), And his mother welcomed us warmly. They asked us directly for a set table under a palapa – a roof covered with palm leaves. The traditional food, which included a soup with coconut milk and fresh fish, was absolutely delicious! Just the right strengthening before the following program. Ronald and his father showed us how to make their drums by hand today. If you liked, you could try it yourself. During the subsequent drum lessons, we learned various rhythms of the Garifuna songs. And who had experience in it, could prove this here. Everyone who felt like having two left hands made sure there was enough entertainment! Of course, we also learned a lot about the history of Garifuna. As a grand finale, we danced traditional Garifuna dances.”

Island Expeditions website:

“The Warasa Drum School in Punta Gorda offers interactive lessons in traditional Garifuna drumming, dancing and drum-making.  It’s a hands on opportunity for travelers to experience Garifuna drumming and explore the unique culture whilst having fun.”

German website “Magizin Forum” (translated from the original German):

“Tam-tam, tam, short, short, long – the first rhythm our teacher is playing for us is easy. Without much effort, we beat, like him, on the taut deer skins of our bass drums. “Is everything okay?”, asks Ray during the round, then he laughs and really starts playing – our hands are to beat on the upper half, then on the lower half of the drum in rapid succession. I count strongly along, while Ray keeps me in time. “Don’t think such a lot, close your eyes, let the rhythm guide you,”.  The instructor, whose full name is Ronald Raymond McDonald, encourages me, wearing a casually knotted headscarf and faded jeans on his athletic body.  Again he sets off, tam-tam, tata-tam-tam. My colleagues at the class and I are not keeping up with our hands. But eventually it works – we drum, we sweat.”

Travel Dudes Blog:

“Ronald Raymond McDonald (no, really – the fast food chain is non existent in Belize, hence the parents’ lack of concern at choosing such a name), Garifuna drummer extraordinaire, taught us how to play a simple punta beat on the Segunda, or bass drum, used to keep the steady beat of the music, whilst he pummeled away at the Primera drum, a smaller, higher pitched instrument, played faster (and with far more skill) over the top. It’s harder than it looks, and as soon as my beat was steady enough to have accompaniment, it was all I could do to not start slapping the drum to the same rapid beat of my tutor.  The class was great fun though, and Ray really is an amazing drummer and very patient teacher.”

From the Chinese Traveler Luxe website – translated from the original Chinese:

“To pass on and promote Garifuna drums, Ronald Raymond McDonald, a former Belize national dance troupe, founded the Warasa Drumming School, the most famous drum school in Toledo, where he teaches drumming, drum making and providing Garifuna cultural experience….The drums, Ronald’s singing and laughter, the beaming faces under the thatch…the happy atmosphere infected everyone. “Garifuna drums feed my soul and are imprinted in my flesh and blood,” Ronald said. “This is a heartfelt voice, “singing from the heart” is the spirit of Garifuna drumming.”

Eco Clubs Blog:

“Drumming is just one of the tangible elements of the Garifuna culture, and the local Warasa Drum school is aptly named – “warasa” meaning “our culture” in the Garifuna language.  Warasa Drum School was founded in 2010 by Ronald Raymond McDonald, and his wife, Ruth. Ruth originally hails from Scotland, and she reminisces that a few weeks after they first met Ray shared his dream with her of opening a Garifuna drumming centre – not only to teach drumming, but also how to make drums, and to share the Garifuna culture with others. With both of them working and saving hard to build their house at the Garifuna reserve they struggled to see how this vision could become a reality but, deciding they had to start somewhere, spent a weekend designing a sign, putting paint to plywood, and erecting the finished product outside their rented house. The sign did its job, piquing interest, and Ray began teaching four local children. He was also engaged by a PG guesthouse to provide weekly drumming lessons for their guests, and interest quickly spread to include performances and lessons at a number of lodges throughout the District. Ray is an engaging character and a very patient and skilled teacher.”

The Blog of our friend Jess who volunteered with us for a week

Lonely Planet entry

Miss Goodwin in Belize blog:

“Today, our first full day in PG, we took a drumming class with a man named Ronald McDonald (no joke!). He and his father are part of the Garifuna culture, and the drum school, Warasa, works to preserve it. It was a great class and we all learned a lot and had fun!”

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.

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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.