Belize is a remarkable country that is rich in culture and history and some history only a few know about. Mike and I have were both born in Belize and after a short time in the USA, we returned to Belize and have lived here for most of our lives. We have enjoyed the beauty that Belize has to offer and raised our children to appreciate the same whether in the jungle or at sea. This week we got together with family, for my birthday, and the discussion came up about the history of Belize River Lodge and thought that we would like to share some of it with you.
Did you know that Belize River Lodge is the oldest resort and fishing lodge in Belize? And has been in continuous service since 1959/60?
Did you know that it was built by Vic and Elizabeth Barothy in 1958? And there are still Barothy’s family in Belize, who also happen to be my step-grandchilden (Elizabeth, Melanie & Rebecca) and great grandchildren (Chase, Zac, Andy, Gavin, Anastasia & Lucas).
Did you know that Vic Barothy’s mother still rests on this property? Mrs. Frances A. Barothy is buried past the bungalo (building far right) under the Zericote tree, surrounded by Ixora bushes.
Did you know that the most well-known guides you hear about got their start in fishing here at the lodge on the Olde Belize River? Names such as Andrewin, Eiley, Leslie and Westby all got their start under Vic’s tutelage. Mike and I have continued training guides that are well known in Belize and abroad.
Did you know that live aboard fishing and diving started with the legendary Vic Barothy? When Vic Sr. & Betty left Cuba, they brought their two motherships, the “Vickie” & the “Tarpon”. They started building their lodge on the Belize Olde River in British Honduras while running their live-aboard operation. After Hurricane Hattie in 1961, the live-aboard operation continued as they got the lodge back in operational order.
Mike and Marguerite continued with the live-aboard, the M.V. Cristina and M.V. Blue Yonder, operation until 2012, after taking on the Long Caye Outpost in 2011. In the years prior to 2012, the live-aboards were remaining mainly in the Central Belize area due to fishing congestion farther south, north and east and as the Outpost took off and the same well-trained staff and guides support the Lodge, the Outpost and the live-aboards, so the live-aboard operation was retired.
I could go on and on with more “did you knows” but I wanted to share more about what actually happened along with fishing in this area of Central Belize.
Barothy’s Lodge, which today continues as Belize River Lodge, has been a training ground or school for many Belizean families. The Lodge has provided jobs by training and educating men, their sons and grandsons in the art of spin and fly fishing, techniques of guiding, boats safety, conservation and so much more. The Lodge has been a school to many men and women who have gone on to be tour guides to Mayan sites, birding who share their love of Belize. The Lodge has trained sons, daughters and wives of guides along with young mothers or young girls interested in learning about cooking, making & decorating cakes and pastries, and an education in housekeeping and waiting tables. While learning the technique of guiding and being in the “service industry”, the most important lesson in this learning process that we teach is ~ our guests always come first, because without guests there is no tourism, no lodge and no jobs. We are so proud of the many men and women who gained an education at Belize River Lodge, those who have remained with us and also those who have gone on to be independent professional guides, chefs and upstanding members of their communities.
We realize that because of what has been accomplished in the past, it has brought us to where we are today.
However, we must take a pause to see exactly why we say Historical Belize River Lodge. Besides the things that have been done to keep the lodge going forward there are so many things that come together to make it historical. Belize River Lodge has been maintained in its original state for over 59 years.
I hope you enjoyed the history tour, part 1, of our historic Belize River Lodge. When I started writing this, I didn’t realize it would end up this long, so have broken the story into two parts. Look out for part 2, next week.