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Mar 11, 2020

La Ruta Maya – Rich in Culture & an Income Booster for Communities

Enterprising residents along the banks of the Belize River look forward for the annual Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge to generate income. From the sale of jewellery and food to parking fees; these create opportunities for communities as the canoe paddlers make their way from the Hawkesworth Bridge to the end of the race at BelCan Bridge in Belize City.  In the following report, News Five’s Duane Moody looks at a spinoff of the race.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It was initially created twenty-three years ago with the purpose of bringing awareness to the environmental aspects of the Macal/Belize River that spans from the Twin Towns in the west to the Old Capital, Belize City. But in recent years, the Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge not only attracts athletes locally and internationally, but it bring economic benefits to communities along the river bank.


Orlando Harrison

Orlando Harrison, Vice Chairman, Planning Committee, Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge

“The history of the river, the cultural part of it, the culinary part of it so that from twenty-three years ago to today, you can see how this race has evolutionize from just being another little event to a big event that has created quite a bit of awareness, quite a bit of spectators, quite a lot of business behind the whole race.”


Annually, thousands of persons, including Belizeans at home and overseas, tune in to the canoe race. Others travel from across the country and elsewhere to follow the four-day event, as hundreds of paddlers in groups of threes make their way along the river—from the foot of the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio to the Belcan Bridge in Belize City—making daily stops along the route. While each year, the winners walk away with cash and prizes, it is also a highly anticipated event for the villages in which the races finish.

During day-two of the competition, the paddlers pass through More Tomorrow, the oldest village in the Belize with a population of about one hundred and eighty-five. For years, the chairman has been lobbying for the first leg of the race to once again finish in the village and not in Banana Bank, several miles up the river. But that has not happened. Nevertheless, private properties which sit along the stretch of the river in More Tomorrow are used to generate income for the village. Residents make money by selling food and charging a small fee for parking on their farm land.


Michael Myvett

Michael Myvett, Chairman, More Tomorrow Village

“It become a historical event now and most of the villagers them, we used to have team, but this year, we noh have no team for this year. The bwai dehn take wah lee rest. We always provide wah lee food fi di outsiders cause we know the race start early and people wah hungry. So usually we provide tamales and different kinda lee things when dehn di past through. The village council would have done its part to try and make some kind of revenue come into the village. The villagers also would have done their stalls and different things and all would have benefit—not only the council and all funds weh mi wah raise mi gwen to different projects weh mi need fi get done ina di community.”


The race has had an economic impact on Double Head Cabbage, population of eight hundred. At the least, fifteen thousand dollars is generated annually from parking fees and booth rental to entrepreneurs from the village and elsewhere.


Cora “Sally” Middleton

Cora “Sally” Middleton, Chairlady, Double Head Cabbage

“It is very beneficial to the villagers and the village council cause this is a way how the villagers make dehn lee money, cook dehn lee nice food and thing and sell it. And the village council, we charge a fee to go in and we sell Bowen and Bowen products and we get a little profit off of that.”


The event also provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the rich cultural heritage of the rural communities—from authentic Belizean cuisine using the fire hearth as well as the music and way of life.


Angie Smith-Tucker

Angie Smith-Tucker, Entrepreneur, Rancho Dolores

“When yo want di original thing, the original village, everything, dah out yah yo business today because yo wah get the full flavour of rancho and when we do it, we bring it with love.  Whatever we prepared for you, love. So when yo di eat di food, you will taste the love.”


Stephanie Talbert, Entrepreneur, Double Head Cabbage

“I di do this from it start. I love do this; I look forward fi this day.”


Stephanie Talbert

Duane Moody

“You have a diversity ina yo food. Talk to us about it.”


Stephanie Talbert

“Everything yo want, it is right here. Conchs, lobster, fish, sheep, chicken pork beef, the works.”


Belizean inspired jewellery also made a debut since the event is a perfect platform to market business.


Abigail Bood

Abigail Bood, Abby’s Jewellery Enhancement, Bermudian Landing

“For me it is not just how I think my jewellery look. For me, it is the impact that I have on other people. I realize that when someone gets something from me that they like it, they will wear it and the best way to show appreciation for something is by using it.  I’m truly thankful for the opportunity because it is from the rural area, I am from the rural area so it gets for other people to see what can come from the rural area.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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