My name is Ruth Alice McDonald, and as my name might suggest, I’m of Scottish origins. The interesting part, is that the only reason I’m now called McDonald, is because I married a 6ft 2″ Belizean Garifuna drummer called Ronald Raymond McDonald.
And that is what this blog is about – my experiences living in Belize since 2007, living life to my own drumbeat with my very own Garifuna drummer.
My husband Ray is a huge advocate for his Garifuna culture, and in 2009, we formed a fledgling Garifuna drum school in Punta Gorda town, Belize, providing lessons for locals and visitors. We started off borrowing his dad’s two drums and doing lessons for the occasional backpacker that found us in our spare bedroom in our little rented house. We saved up and Ray helped his uncle and dad make two more drums. Then four more drums. Then a lovely local guest house called Hickatee Cottages saw the sign I painted outside our house, and started hiring Ray to do weekly lessons with their guests. Then, the big breakthrough: we got a grant from the Belize Tourism Board Sustainable Tourism Project, and with that, we moved house and drum school to a beautiful new venue on the edge of town. We have a lovely 20x30ft thatch, over 20 drums, lots of maracas, tshirts, miniature drums and other souvenirs, and business is slowly growing. If you want to know more about this venture, called “Warasa” (which means “our culture” in Garifuna), please visit our web page, or give us a call.
If you really want to know more about me…prior to Belize, I grew up mostly in the small rural village of Gartmore, near Loch Lomond, between Stirling and Glasgow in central Scotland. I studied a BSc in Astrophysics in cold and windy but beautiful Edinburgh, did a couple boring of jobs in Edinburgh, ran away and taught English in South Korea for a year, travelled around SE Asia, got a nice temporary job in London for a couple of years, and then came here to gain experience in international development. Along the way, I met my husband (playing drums of course). I volunteered at a small local NGO called Cornerstone Foundation in San Ignacio for four months, then I volunteered for two years at BCVI (Belize Council for the Visually Impaired) here in Punta Gorda town. I then got my first “proper job” here in Belize, coordinating a primary teacher training project in the “banana belt” villages, then I moved to Ministry of Health, and there I still am.