Cruising the Yucatan Peninsula

THERE was a little obvious history immediately apparent to the casual visitor to Belize City, the principal port of the minuscule Central American country of Belize (formerly British Honduras), which was the capital before it was almost totally flattened by a hurricane in 1961 and certainly not to most of my fellow passengers on what was then the biggest cruise ship in the world.

Travel with Dusty Miller

I certainly don’t belittle the major historical importance of architecturally-gifted, rebellious Mayans, an ancient people, whose breathtakingly-built pyramids — many thought to be still; hidden in dense overgrown jungle — dot Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula: and the country’s colonial history was fascinating to someone living in post-colonial Africa.

There are many references to a Baron Bliss, the unusual name of the country’s major benefactor. Baron Bliss Day is among Belize’s public holidays, there’s a Baron Bliss Memorial Lighthouse and Park, a Bliss Institute Museum and Library and many Bliss health centres around the country.

Yet Baron Bliss never actually set foot in the country…alive! (He is buried there.)
A keen fisherman and sailor, he left his wife and estates in England to roam the maritime world. Taken seriously ill with food poisoning on Trinidad, Bliss sailed his luxury yacht, Sea King to British Honduras, anchoring on the barrier reef tying to recover in the soft sea air.