On this most recent trip to Belize, my husband and I brought our two daughters and a boyfriend (one of my daughter’s -- not mine or my husband’s). We were all on our way out of town, leaving the village of Hopkins on the way to the bustling city of Dangriga. The younger crowd was hungry (they’re always hungry or thirsty or both) so we decided to stop at Maggie’s Fast Food.
Maggie’s is nestled in the sand, surrounded by new plantings of bananas and palmettos and coconut palms and bright colored exotic leafy plants whose names I do not know. This tiny restaurant, painted in soft blue and yellow stripes, is their livelihood and their home, consisting of a small inside eating area, a deck as large as the building, a kitchen and in the back, I assume, a place to sleep.
We entered the building and were greeted by a pleasant Garifuna woman, Maggie, I presumed, and her four-year-old child. After ordering three burritos and an order of tostados, I asked the little girl, “What’s your name?” She slipped shyly behind the wall and would not answer. We stepped outside to the sandy yard to wait, and sat down at the widest, largest picnic table I have ever seen. We all sat on the same side except for Emily, who isn’t terrible large, almost flipping the thing on top of us. We smartly redistributed our weight and waited.
The little girl began to play with us through the screen of the door. First she was a dog. “Bark! Bark!” She jumped behind the screen. Then a cat. “Meow!” Then a terribly frightening roar. “A jaguar!” I guessed. “Dinosaur!” she cried. We laughed, she tore at the small hole in the screen with her dinosaur claws. We screamed in horror. This went on for quite awhile. The tear in the screen got considerably larger.
No Coke, so we drank red Fanta, which was syrupy sweet and turned our tongues an odd shade of pink. We swatted at the bugs. We took some pictures. I got bored and wandered around the estate, checking out the bananas and other vegetation. The little girl grew braver. Casey (the boyfriend) coaxed her outside with coins. We told him this was wrong, but she accepted the coins, and they played catch with a small coconut.
More time passed. “I guess Maggie had to kill a chicken,” Paul said. I nodded and wandered up the road. I decided to check out the hemp place I’d been meaning to check out for years. Sarah followed. We entered the brightly colored old school bus. “Sew Much Hemp,” was painted on both sides.
A white woman with long thick dread locks, sold us her hemp bug repellant. The bus was her business and her home. She claimed the bus still ran, but I hadn’t seen it move in years. She’d traveled all over Central and South America in her bus promoting hemp. The virtues of hemp, she extolled, ranged from necklaces to decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. She complained that the Belizean government, in cahoots with the U.S., forbid the growing of hemp. I’m not sure where she secured the ingredients for her creams, but I have never noticed a shortage of hemp-type products in Belize.
Suddenly, lo and behold, Paul was driving down the long dirt road to the hemp place! Over forty-five minutes later and our fast food was done! We scrambled into the truck with our hemp cream in our greasy little hands, the truck filled with the lovely odor of Maggie’s Fast Food, and made our way over the bumpy dirt roads towards the highway that would lead us to Dangriga.