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While Punta Gorda is not a big city with lots of nightlife, if you are in town for a few days, there are some wonderful cultural attractions, especially for travlers from the Western Hemisphere who may not have experienced small town life in Central America.
Toledo Cacao Festival
An annual Festival celebrating the District and its historical and modern links with cacao (or cocoa as many know it). The Festival is held over the Commonwealth Day holiday weekend (18th to 20th May), and opens with a wine and chocolate evening, includes tours to the local cacao plantations which supply the beans for Green & Black's "Maya Gold" chocolate, as well as a local craft fair and local music - Toledo is home to a surprising number of famous musicians, including Andy Palacio, Paul Nabor, Leila Vernon, and Florencio Mes. For more information, visit the Festival website at ToledoChocolate.com
~ Check out the "market" on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mayans from local villages bring vegetables, fruits, and local handiwork to the docks to sell to Belizeans, travelers, and ex-patriots. If you are in the small central park next to the Belize Bank, just head east with the Belize Bank on your left. You can't miss the dock areas and sellers. Anytime from 6am-11am. Get there early if you would like the best produce or products.
~Go stay in a Mayan village for a night or two. You can inquire at the market, or just north of the market on the right hand side, find a Mayan cultural center and inquire there. If you'd like to do this on "the cheap" just hop on a bus (old American school bus style) pay your small fee and catch a ride out to the villages. San Antonio is a short ride away to the west, and has both traditional style thatched roof homes, and cement homes. There is a hotel or two in the village and you can negotiate a price for one or two nights stay. Inquire about various things to see or do. For the adventurous who only want to stay a day, you can return and hitch a ride back from San Antonio. Just stand by the main road and raise your hand straight up in the air. It's best to look for newer model trucks and government vehicles, or those with families. It's recommended not to hitch on your own. Be prepared to sit in the truck bed or on the edge. Negotiate your stopping point. This is usually free, but if you'd like to offer a few bucks for gas, it is appreciated. This is a common form of travel and is relatively safe. When you arrive at your destination, just tap the side of the vehicle to get out.
~Arrange to go fishing with a small outfitter. This is truly an arrangement you'll need to make on your own. The market is the best place to arrange this. You may want to look for conch shells too. This is "good eating." Inquire about anyone going fishing to see if you can go line fishing with them. Make sure to check out the boat that will be used.
~Use Punta Gorda as a jump-off point for Lubaantun, and Livingston Guatemala. Lubaantun is a Mayan ruin that is in the process of being excavated. You can arrange an "official tour" with an outfitter for a good sum of money, or you can hop on a local village bus heading toward San Antonio. Ask them to drop you off at the junction for Lubaantun. Then, it's a short hike in from the highway to the ruin. Livingston, Guatamala is a real cultural experience. It's a chance to see the local Garifuna people living in more cultural surroundings. It's a beautiful area near the Sarstoon river and you could do a trip up the river too. Make sure to brush up on your Spanish, however, there are enough English speakers in Livingston that you should be able to get by.
~Inquire about local pagents, celebrations and dances. There's almost always a cultural pagent (talent show), celebration or at least a dance or Kareoke contest going on, most Friday and Saturday nights. Wailuco's comes to mind, as it is on the Caribbean at one-mile beach (just north of PG) but there are many others. Ask a local! They know best.
~Arrange a Garifuna drumming lesson. Punta Gorda is originally a Garifuna fishing town, and if you are lucky you will here Garifuna drumming on a Friday or Saturday night...if you are impressed by the speed of those hands on the drum, then you can now try your own hands at a Garifuna drumming lesson through one of the town's best drummers, a young man named Ronald Raymond McDonald...ask for him at Immigration or ask for him at his house on the corner of West St and Cemetery Lane.