On Monday, Ms Candi got a call asking if a few of our students would like to participate in a memorial at Flowers Bank. I asked what that meant and she said it meant that she and I and a few students would need to be on the bus at 5:30 am. Of course I said, “Sure, why not?”
I don’t know if our 5 students learned anything, but I did. We picked up a few other people (adults) on the way out of town and drove out the northern highway. We turned toward Burrell Boom and before we got to the baboon sanctuary we turned off the paved road onto a gravel road. A few miles later we picked up the chairman of the village and proceeded to a small memorial park.
At the park we heard the story. In the early days, England colonized Belize for its logwood and then its mahogany. Purple and black dyes were made from the logwood. When chemical dyes were created then the mahogany was imported from Belize for fine furniture. Flowers Bank is a village where the logs were gathered before being floated down the river.
We gathered around the marker and heard the story of the vote. On June 1, 1797 (hence the memorial trip on June 1) there was vote in Belize town (the current Belize City). The Spanish had gathered in the Yucatan and threatened to invade Belize. The vote was to decide whether to evacuate or to stay and defend. The vote was 51 to evacuate and 65 to defend, the defenders won by 14 votes. By coincidence 14 people from Flowers Bank and other villages along the river, who had the property holdings and wealth required to be able to cast a vote, had paddled their dories down to the city to take part in the historic vote. Those 14 are commemorated here. The plaque mentions that Raybon and Robertson were white. All the rest were black.
The rest of the story is that the Spanish were defeated in the battle of St Georges Caye and Belize remained under English rule.
The marker is on the edge of the Belize river. The photo below is much different from the seaside photos you usually see from me but quite as beautiful.
Following the commemoration, we gathered in the community center to share a little food.
After the formal gathering the village chairman shared with me, “When we were young we would paddle across the river there and then walk and ride horses over that way for a long ways, most of a day.” He paused and smiled, “All to go see girlfriends.”
I smiled too and said, “And worth every minute.”
Then we headed back to the city just in time to take the first group to computer lab at 9:00.