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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Orange Walk, Belize

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Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

There wasn't much to keep us in Corozal, and when we woke up early in the morning to head on into Orange Walk, healthy sea breezes wafted through our hotel room. When the breezes became stronger and blew through the banana palms right outside our window, it sounded just like rain falling.

 

Corozal and Orange Walk are very close

We walked to the bus station just down the street from our hotel, but before we got there, we stopped at the local bakery and bought some travel food. A tropical favorite in the Yucatan is a jalapeno and pepperoni "sandwich" with sugar on top.

Waiting with our gear at the bus station, we took the 8:45 a.m. bus and paid $4BZD each for the 29 miles to Orange Walk Town. It was an easy ride.

 

Another simple town with clapboard buildings

As usual, we met up with some locals on the bus ride. This family was very gracious and since we didn't know where our hotel was located, they walked us there. However, on the way we found another hotel and decided to try that one instead. A quick look at their rooms and price schedule, and it was an easy decision to change our minds.

What a deal!

Not only was it cheaper than the prices quoted to us by our other choice, we had excellent Wifi in the room, and a decent breakfast is offered in the mornings for guests. With air conditioning and a small refrigerator, it is easily one of the best rooms we have ever had in Belize.

Coincidentally, it was also one of the smallest!

 

Deciding on which piece of chicken we wanted for lunch

With the excellent hot water in our shower and Wifi connection in our room, we cleaned up after the dusty ride to Orange Walk and caught up on some internet work. Then we strolled the town looking for some late lunch eats.

We planned to go to a recommended restaurant across town, but came across this local BBQ at the park. Grilled chicken, coleslaw, potato salad and a HUGE tortilla, this lunch set us back a whole $7.50BZD per person, just under $4USD.

 

Delicious BBQ

The tortilla for this meal covered the whole container.

Sitting on a park bench, we enjoyed the activities of the afternoon. Some music played from a CD player at one end of the park, children played with sticks and balls at another. Women had their embroidery out while keeping an eye on their kids, a couple of well behaved (!!) stray dogs watched us eat, and people strolled on through. A very easy going, kicked back place.

 

More clapboard buildings, not a lot of traffic

Orange Walk Town has a long and knotty history dating back to 2500 B.C. The earliest residents were Maya who cleared the forests and used an advanced type of agriculture which included raised, irrigated fields. But around 925 A.D., the Maya civilization collapsed for reasons that are still debated.

The Maya continued to live their simple lives here but things changed when the Spanish arrived in the 1500's.

 

Buying bananas on the street

The Spanish attempted to conquer the city of Chetumal on the other side of the bay which is now Mexico, and Maya from all around came down to defend their territory. These attacks by the Spanish and the defense by the Maya lasted for 20 years.

And, the uneasy peace afterwards did not last forever.

 

Small restaurants, little snack stores of today

In the mid 1600's British logwood cutters arrived and raided any villages they came across. They tried to enslave the indigenous peoples, but the Maya moved to the interior to places where neither the British nor the Spanish had control.

 

Gambling houses, slot machines, lottery ticket businesses are owned by the Chinese

The New River flows through Orange Walk, and during the late 1600's and early 1700's this was a highway to the sea used by traders and loggers.

The city of Orange Walk probably began as one of these riverside logging camps since logwood was abundant in this area. Some of these early settlers made villages of thatched houses and small farms. It was these British settlers who named their village after a plantation of orange trees.

 

A Belizean street vendor selling hot meat pies

There were 25 years of trouble for the people of Orange Walk between the years of 1847 and 1872. The War of the Castes raged throughout the Yucatan to the north and the angry disturbance came closer and closer to the small colony. Refugees flooded across the border and with them came news of advancing warriors.

The border settlements were thrown into a panic.

 

 

A closer look at the hot meat pies, a common light meal in Belize

In 1872, Orange Walk was a small town of about 1,200 people made up of Creole woodcutters, Mestizo small farmers and storekeepers and an upper class of English managers and government officials.

September 1, 1872 began as an ordinary Sunday morning for the people of Orange Walk with the early morning spent having breakfast and leisurely preparing for the day's activities. Residents had learned to live with the rumors of attacks coming from Chetumal, and no one expected this day to be any different.

However, on Saturday, the day before, more than 150 men crossed the Rio Hondo and were headed right for Orange Walk.

 

Belize is known for their high quality rum

The peace of the morning was shattered by the screams of the attackers and the frightening noise of their rifles. The people of Orange Walk knew right away what was happening, but they weren't very well prepared.

 

Caribbean Rum, the best rum offered in town

Wealthy residents had strong houses, guns and ammunition, but the poorer inhabitants grabbed what they could and headed on into the bush. Women and children escaped by paddling small boats across the river and walking through the wilderness area to San Estevan.

 

The People's Store, a large grocery in town celebrating 50 years of business

Maya warriors had been increasingly frustrated by their inability to drive the English soldiers out so they lit a fire, thinking the fire would soon spread to the barracks and force the soldiers out of their stronghold. Unfortunately, this plan backfired with the fire quickly burning out but not before it exposed the hiding place of the warriors.

Burning and looting took place, the Indians kidnapped the District Magistrate and flogged him in the public square.

 

Tiny businesses and small houses in Orange Walk

By 1881, Orange Walk was established as a separate district from Corozal. The population had been rising for several years and more and more Yucatecans moved into the area changing the nature of the town.

 

Local restaurant fare advertised on sandwich boards

Merchants of Orange Walk were often Spanish, English or Confederate Americans. Logging workers were and still are, largely Creole. Farmers tend to be mostly Mestizo or Maya in background.

 

Beautiful mural painted inside a favorite local restaurant

Before the construction of the paved road from Orange Walk to Belize City in 1925, the New River provided the main means of communication with the outside world. Overland travel on horseback was difficult and slow. River travel wasn't much faster as most boats had to be paddled or rowed.

 

Here you see Maya and Yucantaneca influence side by side

The invention of the steamboat brought faster river travel. These ships carried passengers and mail along with supplies like kegs of butter, and barrels of pork and pigtails. They also transported 100 lb. sacks of brown sugar, alligator skins and lucrative tobacco leaves bound into bundles.

 

Another Belizean Chicken-with-rice-and-beans meal. The fried plantain is a good contrast flavor

With the new road to Belize City built, it was only a matter of time before the steamers became the stuff of history and were replaced by truck transport.

 

Open air vegetable stand

Life in Orange Walk is much calmer and more modern today. Well, if you can call these small open air shops modern. But it reflects the tropical life and you will find stalls like this all over the southern latitudes.

 

A little Belizean humor doesn't hurt!

No matter where you travel a sense of humor is always welcome. If one looks to be offended by a different culture, then for certain you will find it.

 

The simple Town Hall

Orange Walk is still like a large neighborhood. It seemed that most everyone knew most everyone else. Ask directions for a restaurant, a store, where to find a boat tour to the Maya ruins of Lamanai and someone will easily direct you where to go. It is a friendly, easy-go town.

Next we take you to some Maya ruins just off the New River. The 30 minute boat ride was every bit as worthy as the ruins themselves.

For more stories and photos of  Belize click here

Some of the information for this piece on Orange Walk came from the book, History of Orange Walk Town by Charles Emond.

About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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