“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
– pg. 88, Nineteen Eighty-four, by George Orwell, Harcourt Brace, 1949.
The villages that you see along the George Price (Western) Highway when you are reaching Belmopan and going on to San Ignacio/Santa Elena are generally built along the banks of the Belize Old River, or near to it.
The most historic of these villages, but one you won’t see along the highway today, is More Tomorrow. It was established in 1793, five years before the Battle of St. George’s Caye. You have to go 6 to 8 miles north from the area between Beaver Dam and Cotton Tree to reach More Tomorrow. The new road in to More Tomorrow was named for Ibrahim Abdullah (formerly Charles X “Justice” Eagan, Belize’s first Muslim in the modern era and a founding officer of UBAD in 1969), and you meet that on your right just after you cross the Beaver Dam bridge going west. The old More Tomorrow road leads from Cotton Tree north to the banks of the Belize Old River. There was also a road you could take through Never Delay. This road to More Tomorrow was longer than the Cotton Tree road, but it was a higher road, and was used when the river was in flood. (Beaver Dam is around Mile 40; Cotton Tree is around Mile 42; and Never Delay is around Mile 44.)
There was a time when the Western road (which has become the George Price Highway) actually passed through More Tomorrow. We know this because the older people will tell you that the historic Holy Saturday Crosscountry bicycle race (first ridden in 1928) once went over Tannish Creek in More Tomorrow on its way to Cayo and back to Belize City.
The history of the settlement of Belize involves, at foundation, the history of pirates who became woodcutters. The pirates took refuge from the law by coming off the deep blue through the break in the Barrier Reef at English Caye (12 miles southeast of Belize City), and then hiding amidst the shoals, reefs, and cayes inside the Reef. They found vital fresh water at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, which is where the settlement of Belize began three and a half centuries ago, let’s say.
The “law” in these waters used to be Spanish law in the 1500s, after Columbus, Cortes, Alvarado, Pizarro, and others conquered the Indigenous natives. The first pirates around here were English, and they were working for Queen Elizabeth I of England. Some English pirates began attacking both Spanish and English shipping, and so the “law” they were running from, also then became English. (As a point of chronological reference, let’s point out that Queen Elizabeth I, who sponsored Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh, and other so-called privateers [which is a nicer word for “pirates”], died in 1603, and the English seized Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. Belize was supposedly “settled” in 1638.)
The transition of pirates into woodcutters first involved the “Baymen” going north and west inland from the Haulover Creek settlement to cut logwood, which was very valuable as a dye for English and European cloth. When logwood began to lose its value because of the introduction of synthetic dyes, mahogany, the king of hardwoods, became the thing. (Later, there came chicle.) We are not sure how the woodcutters moved north, because there is no inland waterway from the Haulover Creek settlement to Gallon Jug, say. But we know that they moved west in boats along the route of the Belize Old River. And, as they moved further and further west, going deeper and deeper into the rain forest, the aforementioned villages were established. Georgeville, which is just a few miles outside of San Ignacio/Santa Elena, is one of these villages.
The Belizeans who established these villages and began raising families in the nineteenth century were strong, daring, pioneer Belizeans. Soft Belizeans, as well as the big contractors and the merchant class, stayed in Belize Town as much as they could, or they relaxed at St. George’s Caye. The people from the village banks of the Belize Old River were thought of as “Cayo people,” and we knew them as “country people,” brave people.
This was where Danny Conorquie came from – Georgeville, perhaps the most macho of the Cayo villages. There is a difference between a hero and ordinary men. Most ordinary men prefer to be live cowards rather than dead heroes. But, there is a special class of men, a minority of men, who react heroically to danger. Such men have no reverse gear. Such men are not university professors. Their code is the code of the warrior.
Danny Conorquie was in danger at Caracol in late September of 2014. That danger turned out to be deadly danger. It was well known that the Belizean Special Constables there were in danger. It does not appear that it ever occurred to Danny Conorquie to act any differently from how he did. He was a Belizean on Belizean territory and guarding Belizean property and people who were the guests of Belize. Danny did his job. He was killed in the line of duty by Guatemalan invaders. He died as a hero. He died for Belize.
We like the words of Dr. John Morris, the Director of the Institute of Archeology on Thursday, July 23, 2015, the day before the Government of Belize officially opened a $100,000 conservation post at Caracol, “complete with 12 rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, communication towers, and other facilities, to serve as a permanent base for 12 Belize Defence Force (BDF) officers who have been deployed to the area since Conorquie’s broad daylight murder.” Dr. Morris said to this newspaper’s Adele Ramos, “We have to ensure we don’t let Danny die in vain. Something positive has come out of it.”
Power to the people. Remember Danny. Fight for Belize.