Wednesday, February 8, 2012

John and Diane walking downtown Hopkins - really!

February 2-4, 2012

NOTE: Since I changed the blog format to dynamic views, be sure to double-click on the image or verbiage to get the full story. You can also change the views yourself to the others that are available.


After a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast, we left Tranquility Lodge for Hopkins, a small Garifuna beach town one and a half hours north (we had briefly stopped there on our way south).  

After going to the hotel we had reservations at (and finding out that they had switched our accommodations from a large, upper floor, double suite ocean view place to a depressingly small set of rooms with a pool view), we bailed and found a far superior hotel right on the ocean for half the price! We were thrilled.

View from the upper deck of hotel room

Since the weather wasn't cooperating, set our sights on rum drinks and food. We had dinner at an authentic Garifuna restaurant. Our host, Stanley, told us about locally made bitters and asked if we wanted to a sample. Being wine makers, we were very curious. After having the tasty and authentic Garifuna cuisine, Stanley brought us a small plastic bottle of the bitters. It tasted earthy and herbaceous and definitely definitely contained copious amounts of alcohol. Stanley told us if we were interested we could find out more about the bitter from the guy who made it - he lived in town.

Miss Bertie's Library in Hopkins

The next day we stopped by the store that Stanley had told us of and looked for a tall black fellow - he's the one that purportedly made the potion. We spotted our man and asked if he was the one who made the bitters. He nodded. At first he didn't seem interested in talking. But soon he warmed to us and began telling us how it was made. It was definitely not the typical bitters we know as the ingredient in making drinks such as a Manhattan. The main ingredient of this bitters was derived from the root of a plant found deep in the jungle. The root is ground into a powder which is then used to prepare a strong herbal tea. 

The final step in making the bitters is to add alcohol. Rum, gin, vodka or brandy is added to the tea to make the elixir potent - perhaps 30-35% alcohol. Our conclusion was that it would make a poor substitute for what we know as bitters. I'm pretty sure one wouldn't want to add this to a Manhattan. But, we did find out that one of its main uses was to make a man strong (a.k.a. a cure for erectile dysfunction). Apparently, it’s the generic jungle version of Viagra. Love potion number nine!!!

The following day we walked around town and met an American woman  who had come to check out Hopkins ten years ago and decided to stay and create a bakery (we can attest to her baking skills). Later that evening we had a superb dinner at Chef Rob’s (a Dutch chef who I chatted with in Dutch for a few minutes).

An exquisite dinner at Chef Rob's

The baker showing off her freshly baked muffins.

If it hadn't been for the rough and windy weather, Hopkins would have been a really superb experience. As it was, we left with a favorable impression of the small town, but we wished we could have had a few hours at the pool or on the beach with some sun.

Don't you love the color scheme?

The following day we headed north towards Belize City, to turn in our rental car and get on the water taxi to La Isla Bonita (a.k.a. San Pedro, Ambergris).      

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