The origins of the Garifuna you meet today stem from 1675 when a boat carrying hundreds of African slaves was shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. They joined the Carib Indians there to exterminate the Europeans and for a while lived together in harmony, even intermarrying among them and eventually making there way across the Caribbean to Belize.
This incredible experience starts with the very important task of picking your own traditional clothing, getting you in the mood to work and learn. The head of this community at Palmento Cove, Uwahnie Martinez, will then give you an overview of the fascinating history of the Garifuna, from their origins on the African Slave ships to their modern day lobster festivals in Belize. You then start climbing in order to pick your very own coconuts. Pick well as you and the coconut will need to work together over the coming hours. Learn how to husk the coconuts by hand before cutting and drinking their delicious milk.
As you move into the traditional kitchen your first and rather laborious job will be to grate your coconut ready to be used as an ingredient for your delicious Hudut meal. Throughout the cooking experience, Ms. Uwahnie will instruct you as well as providing stories and information about the Garifuna people. Once the meal is finished, you get to eat on traditional plates as well as your friend the coconut shell all washed down with some natural juice. To end it all off you will get down to the serious business of Garifuna drumming. Taught by a local musician, you will of course become experts in the traditional rhythms of this warm and peaceful culture.
Palmento Grove is home to this Garifuna Immersion project. Found in the norhtern part of Hopkins, this center is integral to keeping the Garifuna traditions, including cooking, clothing, dance and music alive. Not only is this experience supporting the center, it is also supporting the local musicians and artists that are hired as part of your immersion day.