Here in the home of Adventure Romance, the managers and staff at Chaa Creek would be seriously remiss in not wishing lovers around the world a Happy Belize St Valentine’s Day.
It has been said that if love was looking for a home, it would surely be Belize, where beautiful bouquets of bright flowers grow on nearly every tree, where smiles abound, couples walk hand in hand, Spanish, the language of love is spoken alongside English and, importantly for any proper Valentine’s, chocolate was invented and widely enjoyed – whether by Belize’s many Maya people who still love Xocoatl in its original form as a spicy, foamy drink, or in its it more recent and usually sweet incarnations.
And today love is most certainly in the air as Belizean school kids make cards and exchange Valentines along with the more grown up office workers, hospitality staff, tradespeople, constables, clerks, doctors, nurses, sailors, butchers, bakers and even the odd candlestick maker.
Ah yes, we love Valentine’s Day in Belize.
There are several St Valentine legends to choose from, and we always preferred the more accepted version that has the Roman Emperor Claudius II refusing to let young men marry because he thought it would inhibit their devotion to his army. However, one romantically inclined priest, our Valentine, secretly performed wedding ceremonies for young lovers, and for this he was arrested and jailed.
Just before being executed, Valentine wrote a note to the jailors’ blind daughter (after, some believe, he cured her blindness) and signed it, “From your Valentine,” thus creating the very first Valentine’s Day Card and kicking off a tradition that still persists.
Whether you believe it or not, it’s a great story.
We’re on much firmer ground with Valentine’s Day in Belize when we say that for thousands of years, our home grown cacao has been delighting lovers and pretty much all Maya people throughout most of their long rich history. When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived further up north, Hernando Cortés recorded that the great Aztec ruler Montezuma would drink cupsful of steamy chocolatl before entering his harem, and chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac was born.
It may be a long way from steamy goblets of spicy Xocoatl, to beautifully wrapped bon-bons in heart shaped boxes, but it goes to show some things never change…
So from the land where maybe not love but certainly chocolate was invented, we wish our fellow romantics the world over a very happy St Valentine’s Day from all of us here at Chaa Creek, where today, like every day, we put the Heart into the Heartland of the Maya.