Anyone who has read The Orchid Thief knows black orchids don’t actually exist. However, in Belize, there is an orchid that is almost black. The Black Orchid is Belize’s national flower and one of the few orchids that bloom all year. The orchid’s petals start out a deep purple, darkening to navy blue as the plant matures. If the sun hits the orchid just right, it can truly look black. A word of warning though, don’t pick the Black Orchid! The flowers are heavily protected by law, and yes, that includes brides who want the national flower in their hair or wedding bouquet.
For more on Belize’s 300 different kinds of orchids…http://biological-diversity.info/native_orchids.htm or read “Native Orchids of Belize” by I. Mcleish.
I fell in love with it before I knew what it was: an old, dilapidated building with a huge porch and views of the Caribbean Sea in Belize City. Clearly, the property has been abandoned and neglected for some time. The roof sags, windows are boarded, and plants have taken over. I had a daydream about buying the place and fixing it up. I asked my guide about it, on the off chance he would know the history.
“Oh, that’s the old U.S. Embassy – too much hurricane damage, the government sold it to a private owner in 2006.”
US Embassy before Hurricane Damage
The building was constructed in 1866, in New England, and shipped down to Belize for use as a private home. In 1981 the US government bought it and used the property as the Embassy until 2006, the very last wooden US embassy building in the world. Today, the new US embassy, which resembles a compound, sits in Belmopan.
And the old building with all the hurricane damage, history and charm? It was torn down yesterday.
Today, I ran into the US Ambassador up in Orange Walk. He had chartered a private fishing boat for himself and his visiting nephew. He didn’t seem interested in answering questions about old embassies.