Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Joy of Kriol Christmas in Belize!

It’s the ending of the rainy season and the beginning of the Christmas cheer and season.  In the western world there´s building snowmen and Christmas trees, in Judaism its Hanukkah, for Hinduism its Diwali (Festival of Lights), in Belize its Kriol Christmas with the Bram and Brokdown. Despite the cultural differences in “Christmas” beliefs and traditions the common denominator is the spirit of love, of caring, of giving.  A time when we rekindle our humanity, strengthen our resolve to change our ways and maybe even the world.  But most undeniably is the warmth of love at Christmas time.  Kriol Christmas is also about spreading joy and happiness, unity and harmony in the community. Central to Christmas is family and friends.

Now just like Christmas carols are to Christmas, Brokdown is to Kriol Christmas – there is no Bram without Brokdown!   Bram is people dancing in the streets from one house to the next spreading the cheer by singing, dancing and playing music at each house. Traditionally, bramming occurred in Belize City (old Belize Town) and in the villages along the Belize River Valley; and later as the country embraced the Christian Christmas traditions & customs, the traditional Christmas relegated to the countryside.  The essenetial ingredient to Bram is the  pulsating rhythms from harmonizing a variety of instruments such as the fork and grater similar to the guira found in Merengue music, the two-sided Gombay drum reminiscent of the double-headed African dun dun drum, accordion, mouth organ (harmonica), banjo, the donkey jawbone , the gourd shakka (maracas or rattle) and anything else that could make good musical sounds and could be heard loud and clear.  At every house stop during the Bram a table is laid out with delightfully home-made cashew and blackberry wines and traditional Kriol Christmas foods & delights.   Bram is celebrated in Gales Point, Belize between the 24 & 26 December. 

So while most present day Belizeans adhere to the European and North American Christmas traditions of decorating Christmas trees, hanging lights outside their homes, exchanging greeting cards and baking fruitcakes, they also look forward to the traditions they grew up with.  The true Belizean Christmas cannot be without a sip or two of country wines, picking up a fork and grater and singing traditional "Brokdown" songs like "Good Morning Miss Lady," and other favorites from the Ole Time Creole Christmas "Bram"? The Garifuna  Jonkunu on Christmas day,  the Maya Deer Dance or the re-enactment of Mary and Joseph looking for an inn as part of "Las Posadas"   -  this is Belizean Christmas time.

Whatever ethnic group we may consider ourselves to be, we all agree that Christmas is a time for friends and family.  Yes, there is a frenzy of baking, searching for fresh ingredients for holiday meals, and stocking up of rum and running down the coca-cola trucks circling the neighborhoods to load up on cases of soft drinks. 

This year as we sit back sipping down the cashew, blackberry homemade wines, lets toast that we take this time to  “Brokdown” the barriers to keeping an open mind, and tolerance and respect for all cultures and traditions.  As we dance along to the oldie-but-goodie tunes of “Good Maning Ms. Lady” or shake our bones to the drumbeat in the Punta rock, let us take a moment to appreciate our families, love ones, neighors and give thanks for all that we have.   The Bram is about community and unity and that simplicity that comes from being positive and accepting and kind to our neighbors, being kind and caring citizens of our community, family and the world.  

It is in these days of such political, environmental and societal trials and tribulations that we should perhaps remember that Christmas time is a time to return to our roots and perhaps resurface with stronger passions to effect change for a better self, community, country and a better world.  Although Christmas celebrations are defined by dates on the yearly calendar, we should defy the tendency to forget the Christmas spirit that would help us never forget that kindness, light, positivity, transparency, respect and tolerance – should be the real brukdown tune in our heads and hearts throughout the year.

Splash Dive Center would like to wish you all a merry Christmas Holidays may it be filled with joy and may you spend it with family and friends. 

Maya 2012: The Apocalypse or the New Era of higher Consciousness and Unity?

We are now only a couple weeks away from the year 2012, the year that some claim will bring about drastic changes in our way of life. Dire changes, some believe, will be in the form of an apocalypse while others believe will usher in a new era in our evolutionary human development in which we achieve higher levels of self awareness and overall spirituality.  While no one really knows what happens next, we do know definitively that the acclaimed doomsday of December 21, 2012 marks the end of a cyclical long count period (every 5,125 years) in the Mayan Calendar and initiates a new one – the summer solstice. Despite the controversy of the prophecies, Belizeans can be proud of the rich cultural heritage that the Mayas have contributed to Belize’s history and the Mundo Maya. Belize is indeed proud of being the heartland of the astoundingly advanced Mayan civilization.

Mayan sites excavations and continuous discoveries are showing that Lamanai, the last site to be occupied by the Mayas, has been occupied for more than 3000 years from 1500 B.C to the late 18th century. Even today when archeologists rewrite Mayan history with each new discovery, never cease to be increasingly impressed with their depth of sophistication and breadth of knowledge. A few eminent examples are: the mayas were among the first to use the concept of zero; their calculation of the moon cycle with astounding precision centuries before our scientists; their development and use of medicinal plants laid the foundation of pharmacology today. In about 500 A.D, it is believed that more than one million Mayas inhabited Belize. More than 35 significant sites across the country have been uncovered while much more is still believed to lie beneath the earth in the dense topography of Belize’s rainforest. Significant sites of tremendous historical importance include Altun Ha (Stone Water), Cerros (Hills), Xunantunich (Maiden of the Rock), Cahal Pech (Place of Ticks), Nim Li Punit (Big Hat), Lubaantun (Place of the Fallen Stones), Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulcher) and Caracol (Snail) – the supreme Mayan City of the Classic Period with a population of two thirds the entire current population of all Belize. The Mayas are truly an advanced society and Belize proudly distinguishes itself as the epicenter of this advanced culture that continues to intrigue scientists and even spiritual seekers with their sense of mysticism and spirituality.
Copyright: SplashDiveShop


Culturally speaking, the Mayas believed that time, as well as he universe, is circular and cyclical. They also believe that cosmic configurations can reveal the most profound levels of our consciousness as humans and that the universe is alive and sacred confirmed through the varied and diverse manifestations of four key elements - the earth, water, sun and air. They believed that all people, animals, and elements on earth are closely related and united in one entity that allows each component to be, live, share, communicate and interact with each other as living entities both creators and re-creators of life. Some Mayan belief claims that human beings, along with planet earth, are now vulnerable due to the many ecologically unsustainable alterations to the planet that threatens the delicate balance of nature that sustains life. It is this negligence and failure of humans to recognize their interconnectivity with all else on earth and to maintain their supportive role in relation to mother earth that will unleash the apocalypse. This, some believe, will be towards the detriment of the human race.
Conversely, some believe that the prophecies of Maya 2012 are more in relation to another evolutionary process in our human development and social transformations where by the mind will become awakened and realize the purpose of our existence and hence the purpose of life. In responding to some prediction that 2012 signals the end of the world, Mayan Ambassador Cirilio Perez Oxlaj recently shared the following interview:

What do you expect to happen on December 2012?

It is the belief of the Mayan people that we will be entering a period associated with a change of sun (summer solstice), not in 2012 but in 40 to 50 years. During this time, there will be an end to diseases, plagues, droughts, tornados and devastating hurricanes that are now occurring.

Why do you think that the end of humankind has been associated with this date?

This will not be the end of the world but merely a change of sun. Neither is this serious since it has occurred before. Of greater concern is the contamination of the environment, nuclear bombs, the movement of petroleum, mineral exploitation, the use of plastic material and other substances that are harmful to the environment.

Altun Ha
CopyRight: SplashDive

What is your evaluation of the significant campaigns launched on this topic?

These campaigns have largely commercialized the concept of Maya 2012. They are derailing the Mayan calendar because nothing will happen on December 2012.

What does this new cycle means for you?

We welcome the New Year, so that we start to significant and meaningful change. There will no longer be discrimination, prejudice or racism among one another.

This interview with the great Mayan leader provides insight that 2012 is more about hope, world peace and unity. It is an opportunity for deeper reflection and the consideration of future direction. Maya 2012 provides a timeless warning from the ancient past that today we should also be better stewards of the environment which we as humans are privileged to enjoy.  In celebration of Mayan heritage, Belize has a full year’s program highlighting Mayan Culture that includes, lectures, festivals, ceremonies, a collection of commemorative stamps of each site and a wide range of Maya 2012 packages. A special highlight, between December 21 and 23 (2012), is the participation of more than two hundred and fifty spiritual leaders of the Mopan, Q’eqchi and Yucatec Maya in an ancient ceremony to welcome the new calendar. In commemorating Maya 2012 and the envisioned new beginning, Splash Dive Center joins other service providers with special 2012 packages for those wishing to experience and immerse themselves in the ancient past of the Mystical Maya.

As the Maya 2012 year evolves stay tune for more Maya 2012 insights to come and for more from Splash Dive Shop who will be offering special Maya 2012 Tours this coming year. Splash Dive Shop has also launch their new Maya 2012 Logo which will be use during next year. Where will you be when the world starts anew? For more information contact us by Clicking Here.

Splash Dive Shop
c/o Patricia Ramirez
Placencia Village, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America
Phone: 501-523-3058, 501-523-3080 or 620-6649

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Belize Peace Corp Volunteers.

Natalie Macias, Shaz Davison, Warren Garbutt (Instructor) & Michelle Thompson.
Splash had the privilege of working with three wonderful Peace Corp Volunteers, who wanted to get their open water certification. We want to congratulate Natalie Macias, Shaz Davison & Michelle Thompson.

Learning to assemble the diving gear BCD, Dive tank, and regulator and checkin the BCD

Shaz having a great time being underwater.

Again congrats guys on doing this... we are ever so happy you choose Splash Dive Center. 
We hope to see you all very soon, and we look forward to our next Earth Day event, with you and maybe other volunteers joining in to lend a helping hand.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Splash Dive Center grounds has its own little flora & fauna.

The term "flora" comes from Latin language Flora, the goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility in Roman mythology. The corresponding term for animal life is fauna.

Photo by: James Cleeve Westby - Yellow Bell
Everyday I sit back and enjoy the beauty of our garden that surround our center. We have so many different types of plants and flowers. My favourite are the hibiscus plants at least that what I think we call them... there are so many colors, We have a yellow bell, a pink bell and of course the red bell, which the cinnamon humming birds seem to like very much. I love that they zoom in and out from my window next to my desk. Hovering over the flower drinking it sweet nectar.

Photo was taken by: James Cleeve Westby - Cinnamon Humming Bird

Then there is the somewhat red, with highlight of orange and yellow, a family to the birds of paradise plant. So beautiful. It blends in with the sunset every evening. I can see little lizard in and out of the tall stems, especially the geckos. They are so cute playing and running about, and catching flies with the long tongue. Its amazing what you will see if you stand there long enough and watch with patient eyes.

Photo by: James Cleeve Westby

And every now and then you will see and iguana pop out from no where, and take a sun bath on our dock. As if this say this is my spot so get over it. (laughing to my self). 

Its so nice to the see the life that all around the garden at our center, and as it grow I am sure we will see a hole lot more. The relaxing ambiance is soothing. the four palapas are great for sitting down and just let time roll by. Taking it all in, its our very own little flora & fauna.

Photo by: James Cleeve Westby

Photo by: James Cleeve Westby

Photo by: James Cleeve Westby
Photo by: James Cleeve Westby

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Spotlight on Dianni's Guesthouse in Placencia

Dianni's Guesthouse Placencia Village
Every now and then we like to put a spot light on folks we work with in Placencia, and today that Business is no other than Dianni’s Guesthouse.
Dianni’s Guest House is located on the southern shores of the Placencia Peninsula, which offers visitors to Placencia quiet, comfortable, affordable accommodations with spacious verandas overlooking lush gardens.
Inside the guest house you will find everything you need for your overnight visit, long weekend, or extended stay.
Dianni’s is located within minutes’ walk to local restaurants, stores and other amenities. Our guest house is the perfect place to stay for any visitors looking for affordable, quiet, safe and relaxing environment while in Placencia.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Patience, Team Work and Determination.

There is a lot that Splash Dive Center does in and around Placencia Village but to name one that is close to Patty’s heart and to Splash Dive Instructor Team is the Juniors Club. Patty founded the Splash Kids Club, which helps kids from the local community to get certified as PADI Junior Open Water divers. “Not only does this help the kids enjoy the rewards of scuba diving, but it gets them started on a potential career as a local guide or PADI Instructor, and more importantly educates them about the importance of long term environmental conservation and even better as the classes are free.” says Patty.

So with that said Splash Dive Center is very proud to congratulate and announce its first Dive Master Graduates, Norman & Edwin Leslie. They are the first graduates of the Junior Club and are now Certified Dive Master.  Their Patience, along with team work of the instructors and their determination they did it.  The Instructors (Mark Castillo, Sean Faux, and Warren Garbutt) were very pleased with the outcome of they’re performance.

Norman, (Proud Momma) Jodie, and Edwin Leslie
Norman and Edwin started off in 2005, when they were just in Standard 5, attending St. John’s Memorial Primary School; doing the PADI Junior Open Water. After graduating in 2006 the boy moved to Florida, Miami Dade County, where they started High School. Returning home for summer vacation in 2007, they continued with their Advance Open Water Certification, and in 2009 they finished off with their Emergency Frist Response & their Rescue Diver Certification… Both boys did not want to stop there they had to top that by taking it to the next level, in diving and becoming a Dive Master, getting certified this year in August. If you look at the time frame and wonder why the years gaps in between certification, the boys used this times to practice their skills, and make up their dives, before advancing on to the next stage. This is good practice.

Mrs. Jodie Leslie, is proud momma of both boys, and was with them every step of the way, lending her helping hand. She could not be more proud of the boys. When I asked her for a message for the boys or what she thinks of them for becoming dive masters she said… “I am very proud of my boys and thankful to Patty for giving them this unique opportunity for keeping them in tuned with what they like doing and that’s being on the sea. The boys took a spark to diving and realizing that diving and snorkeling is a part of the living environment in Placencia. I am so proud of them for taking it to the next level. I have always encouraged my boys to do their best at what they do and I can see them as future guides and dive instruction in Placencia or anywhere in the world.”

Norman & Edwin Leslie
Splash encourages all young teenagers to join the Juniors Club. They can choose to do the classes during the school year on Saturdays or during the summer on their free time. Teenager must come in with a parent and sit down with Patty to discuss class & time frame and parent must give their consent allowing their child to take the classes. For more information on the Juniors Club give us a call at 523-3080 or 523-3058, or e-mail Patty at

Splash would also like to thank the sponsors for making the Juniors Club a success, without your financial support we would not be able to give these kids a chance.

Welcome to Splash Dive Center & Destinatin Management Company

Splash Dive Center is located in the sleepy yet vibrant community of Placencia Village on the pristine peninsula of southern Belize. Since 2000, Splash Dive Center has grown from a small operation focusing on scuba instruction, to a community driven PADI resort facility that not only provides dive and snorkeling packages, instruction courses and inland tours but a host of full fledge services that makes the dive center today a successful destination management company.
Our team of Belize specialists stands ready to offer all guests a complete package of all your travel logistics and needs in country from entering into the airport to returning to the airport and beyond for a lifetime experience comparable to no other. Splash Dive Center Destination Management Company has an established network of relationships with key operators and service providers throughout Belize and offers the following services:

1. Hotel booking for accommodations of preferred choice to suit a wide range of budgets or conveniences.
2. Airport or any country entry point coiffeur services to your destination and between destinations.
3. Booking of any aquatic, inland tours or special requests at any destination or point of interest in country.
4. Professional consultation and arrangements for the maximum experience of best available and affordable tours, activities, events, restaurants, shops or any special interest across all destinations at any time of the year.
5. Connections and further travel arrangements to specific destinations in Mexico or Guatemala.
The local team of destination experts at Splash Dive Center is able to offer its customers specially tailored packages that meets and/or exceeds their Belize travel expectations for the ultimate Belize experience!