Easter fast approaches in Belize, and with it comes temperatures hurtling steadily to the high nineties, pre-made baskets in every grocery store, and of course, a sense of something renewing in the air.
And why wouldn’t it be? As the country’s longest public and bank holiday, Easter time in Belize delves deep into the Catholicism most folks in Belize practice. Travelers get a front-row seat to the pageantry that happens after having ash smeared across our foreheads 40 days ago. Some of it solemn affairs, peppered with bouts of creativity, while others are unadulterated festivities with little to no inhibition.
Rebirth is a concept braided into the cultural fabric this time of year. It’s in the flowers: budding, blooming, and bright in our closest approximation of spring. It’s in the smell of baking bread down the street, where someone’s father has decided once again to take up the challenge of baking hot cross buns for Easter Sunday. (The cross will never take, despite his best efforts, but the bread is good anyway, and it is a transgression easily forgiven).
Most of all, it is in us.
Because, for some, Easter is about multicolored plastic eggs with candy hidden along windowsills and for others, it’s about church in the definition of a Sunday best and for someone else it’s taking that Good Friday to Easter Monday off from work and school to catch up with a book that it’s taken a while to get to.
But mostly, Easter in Belize is about family. A family whose bond is ready to be strengthened from spending time together exploring their own country during the long weekend – minus on Good Friday. (Because if grandma has taught us anything, it’s to never go swimming on a Good Friday.)
Travelers can jot down a recommendation or two from some of that exploration. Like witnessing Benque Viejo’s vivid Stations of the Cross procession on Good Friday, complete with a Jesus actor fervently displaying agony and pride. (You’d think the scenes were lifted straight out of the gospels.) Or perhaps they’ve stumbled upon the tiny town’s most kaleidoscopic tradition, decorating the streets with sawdust carpets, known as Alfombras De Acerrin.
And while we might shove our way to the front of the crowd at the Holy Saturday cycling race or root for our favorite horse at the top of our lungs at Burrell Boom’s Easter Monday horse race, there are subtler ways to indulge in the stilling moments Easter has given us.
Pockets of peace amongst the reef and rainforest
There are more ways than one for the curious traveler to make the most of Easter weekend in Belize. With the springtime sun letting its presence be known loud and clear, most of us seek refuge in cooling waters primed for swimming. For wayward nature-lovers, the Rainforest Lodge at Sleeping Giant serves as an oasis amidst searing Easter temperatures. The on-site pool refuses to be ignored, and we couldn’t even if we tried. We find ourselves fighting the urge to remain in The Nest alongside the river all weekend. Only to be courted by the luscious hiking trails snaking throughout the Sleeping Giant estate.
Less than 50 miles away, the same battle at The Lodge at Jaguar Reef begins: to lounge in our suite’s private plunge pool all of Easter Sunday? Or get gentle indented rope marks on our skin from napping on the net at Big Dock Bar? The thing is, if Easter has taught us anything, it’s that rejoice comes in more than form.
At both destinations, indulge in a specially curated menu where the flavors will transport you to a Belizean’s childhood. Choices are endless, and not a single one of them is the wrong one.
So this Easter, whether you bask in the cocooning broadleaves at the Rainforest Lodge at Sleeping Giant, or obtain tan marks on the beach at the Lodge at Jaguar Reef, remember Easter is about renewal and awakening. You’d be smart to chase both in Belize.