Barranco Community in Belize

Barranco is one of those places you will never hear anyone say they visited during their time in Belize.  Lets face it, there’s nothing there.  But, what you will find there is the true, unspoilt cultural identity of a Garifuna village.

With barely 130 residents, Barranco is one of the smallest villages in Belize, and possibly one of the remotest one.  It is the southern most village in the country, located an hour and half away from Punta Gorda, and only eight miles away from Guatemala.

Barranco still holds the real character of a Garifuna village settled in the mid 1800s.  There are no restaurants, no hotels or guesthouses, and only one very small convenience store owned by a local resident (not Chinese like all the other convenience stores in Belize).

Everyone knows everyone, and everyone is related in one way or another, literally.

The village is really small, so it is very easy to walk its dirt roads and meet-and-greet the locals as they attend their daily business.  This is the best way to get see the village as you get to know it through their stories, experiences, and perspective.  These are a few of the residents I met.

Barranco Community in Belize
Alvin Laredo is one of the young leaders of the community. He guided me through the village and told me about the Garifuna oral history. As the former head of the village council, he helped build the new elementary school, which also serves as a hurricane shelter.
Barranco Community in Belize
Fabian Ramos is a drum maker and an expert preparing Hudut. He is Alvin’s uncle.
Barranco Community in Belize
Amanda Ramos, Fabian’s wife, is the multitasking lady of the village. She is a doll maker, arts and crafts expert, singer, and medicine woman. Her traditional Garifuna dolls are beautifully crafted and she still makes them the way she did decades ago… all by hand.
Barranco Community in Belize
Ezekiel Makin is one of the few residents of his generation currently living in the village. Barranco’s residents are either young kids or elders. When kids reach middle school they need to either leave the village to go to school in Punta Gorda or endure the long bus ride everyday. Adults also leave the village since there are no works there, except cutting grass (seriously).
Barranco Community in Belize
Fermin Casimiro, A.K.A. Ramadandi, is the village’s “clown”… if I may say. He has the biggest personality, an overflowing friendliness, and is always cracking jokes. He is “the guy with the money”, as he jokingly says.
Barranco Community in Belize
Auntie Pawi Nolberto is one of the elders of the village. She’s seen everything and knows everything about the village. She’s the godmother of many of the residents she helped bring to this world. She jokingly says I’m part of her family since my name is the same as her last name. Who knows?
Barranco Community in Belize
This is the grave of the great singer, Andy Palacio. He is Barranco’s most famous resident and the global ambassador of the Garifuna culture. He is buried in Barranco’s humble cemetery. Of course I didn’t “meet” him, but his legacy still lives not only in Barranco but in all Garinagu communities in all Belize and Central America.
Barranco Community in Belize
While not human, this house is a physical face of the community and part of the character of Barranco. This is the oldest existing house in the village as it is the only “surviving” building that was built before Hurricane Hattie in 1961 – a hurricane that devastated all Belize, including Barranco.

It is possible to visit Barranco by taking the 12:00pm bus from Punta Gorda on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  It costs $ 5 Belize Dollars and it is a 1:30 hour ride, at least.  Since there are no guesthouses in Barranco, once you get there you can ask around for a place to stay and many of the friendly residents will offer an extra room or couch in their house.  In addition, the owner of the only store (in the center of the village) does have some extra space on top of the store he can rent for the night.  The return bus to Punta Gorda is on those same days at 6:00am.

Yes, this is a very improvised visit and very off the beaten path, but very much worth doing.  For a less improvised visit, it is possible to go to Barranco with an organized tour with TIDE Tours.

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19 Comments

  1. Thanks for the beautiful write up and the picture. I am also Baranguna aka from Barranco. You did not get to the second store. The store owner is Ms Angie Nicholas. A picture of the museum and of the post office would have been appropriate also. I love it though!

    1. Oh wow! I must have missed the second store while I was there! Shame… I believe i have pictures of those two buildings too but I tried to focus this post more in the people and cultural character of Barranco. But, it is a great suggestion that I can apply to a future post. 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing. My grand father Fellowmeno Lorenzo grew up in Barranco. My mom spent her Summer’s there since they lived in PG. One day I hope to visit Barranco to meet my family. Still can’t believe Andy P is gone. Danced in his first music video RIP Andy.

    1. Hi Carlotta –

      Thanks for sharing about your grandfather! I highly recommend you to go there as you’ll see the place where your grandfather grew up almost as it used to look decades ago. Barranco is so small, there hasn’t been much development there, which makes it even more interesting for you (I think), from the point of view of family history.

  3. I would love to visit. I grew up in the city& spent most of my summers in Dangriga on Magoon street or in Crooked Tree. My uncle took me to SO many little villages I’m not even sure where we visited. I love the Garinagu culture. It’s rich, beautiful & full of life. Can’t wait to visit one day.

  4. Beautiful Village in the country of Belize, my home town Barranco, where I grew up and what made me who I am today.

  5. I too is from Barranco, migrated to the northern part of the country, then settled in one the greatest city in the U. S. Barranco as I can remember growing up, was a rich and vibrant village. At one point the village was so self sufficient that it was able to supply part of country with rice, pineapple, banana, and many fruits. I guess, because of its remoteness and it’s indigenous population the government did not see it fit to develop.

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