A Walk in the Past –  Part 1
September 23, 2019

A Walk in the Past –  Part 2

This was a good place to continue the story, part 1 was the beginning of the lodge, the people and the inside of the Lodge.  Part 2, outside.

The grounds around the Belize River Lodge also have a lot of history.  We still have a few mahogany and logwood trees on the property, remnants from when logging was prevalent in Belize, however, these trees are now majestic and stately trees.  Logwood and Mahogany were the main goods cut and shipped out of Belize to England.  The Lodge sits on a property that was part of the Olde Belize River traffic and the location where the Lodge now sits was called “poor man’s rest”.  “Poor man’s rest” was a high spot on the river that if night caught travellers, they could pull up and camp out for the night.  In the 80’s, we found old rounded bottom milk bottles and so much more from the days gone by.

Before there were highways and roads, the Belize Olde River and Haulover Creek were travelled daily by the people of Belize.  People would travel in dug-outs, called a dory, to travel from their village to Belize to carry their fruits and vegetables for sale at the market and to take them home with their supplies from Belize City.  The other means of transportation on the Olde Belize River were boats that resembled the boat that Humphry Bogart used in the movie “The African Queen”.  It had an inboard engine and its own unique sound of “putt, putt, putt” that you could hear from a distance.  One of these boats was still in existence when we came out to the lodge.

Another memorable event of living on the river was miles and miles of mahogany chained together coming down the river passing the Lodge.

Pen & Ink of PitPans on the riverbank

The logs would bump together making a resounding “boom, boom” that could be heard for miles.  There would be men walking across the logs making certain everything was going well.  Originally these logs would go out the mouth of the river or through the Haulover Creek to meet and load them on their ships who would then transport the logs to England.  When Mike and I purchased the Lodge in 1986, the logs float down to the saw mill at Gabourel’s Bank, down the bend from the Lodge, where lumber was sold within Belize and aboard.  The tied logs would take up most of the width of the river, so only a single boat could pass.

Most of the lumber used to build the Lodge and it’s furniture came from mahogany logs that passed “Poor Man’s Rest” on the way to Gabourel’s Saw Mill.  The Lodge owns unique pieces of figured mahogany that were made into tables, chairs, end tables, lamps and many more items.  One of our “claim to fames” are the three mahogany tables 48”x70” of solid mahogany gracing the dining room; there are no joinings in the width of mahogany slabs.  When sitting for breakfast or anytime, take a close look at the dining room tables, they are beautiful and impressive.  For a historic note, it is said that the

mahogany tree from which these tables were cut, if it was lying on its side, the tree would have been approximately 5 feet in diameter, almost my height without my heels.

There are reminders all over the Lodge of the “days that came before”.

loading Mahogany for Export

  • Frances A. Barothy’s gravesite
  • The old rounded bottom milk bottle
  • Elizabeth Barothy’s bookshelf and few remaining books
  • The support posts on the Guest House are made from “hand hewn” lumber made by Vic’s workers as they carved out the posts from a mahogany tree. Unfortunately, when we got the lodge in 1986, these posts were already painted, but if you look closely, the porch of Rooms 1 & 2, the support posts are rough cut, these were the original “hand hewn” mahogany posts.  The support posts inside Rooms 1 and 2 are covered with finished mahogany panelling.
  • After the flooding of 2008, when we raised the Guest House (building to the left), we realized that the downstairs rooms are slightly lower (1” or 2” only) than the upstairs rooms. The Guest House was originally a one story building and when good Ole Vic needed more rooms, he finished the downstairs – poured a cement rings and built up his walls and filled in.  Needless to say, we have a much sturdier foundation now.
  • The mahogany walls have stressed marks made by the workers building the lodge as they hammered away to drive the nails into the hard wood.
  • A carving of young Vic’s initials is engraved in the wall near the front door by the dining room.

There are so many reminders of the immense work it took to build the lodge.  Many photographs were saved from the beginning of the Lodge.  A palm covered guest register has names and dates starting from Cuba and continued for the years the Barothys were in Belize and we still keep a guest registry to date.  For years, this guest register has been a favourite of the sons and grandsons whose fathers fished with the lodge.  Many have enjoyed spending time looking for their grandfather or dad’s signature, the date and the people he fished with.  Still hanging to this day in our office is the original sign of the Registered Office of Barothy Caribbean Lodge, Inc.

Sometimes, it is easier to tear down and build with cement, however, Mike & I have always felt that what the Barothy’s started so many years ago should be saved, protected and kept in pristine condition.  Karen and Debbie in the office and our ladies and gentlemen who work with us have learnt the value of the history of the Lodge and how to care for it and we hope that our present guests and those to visit in the future will continue to enjoy our rich history when fishing, touring &/or birding with us, here at Belize River Lodge.  We hope you have enjoyed our little walk down memory lane and that it will make you take another look with different glasses when you come to visit our Historical Belize River Lodge on the beautiful banks of the Olde Belize River.

Warm regards,
Marguerite Miles