Like many inland waterways in Belize, Progresso Lagoon served as a busy highway for merchants during the height of Mayan dominance in the region. An inland waterway located 12km from the Caribbean Sea in the Corozal District, Progresso functioned as a convenient military look out and post. A more relaxed atmosphere has replaced the energetic trade of yesteryear, but visitors still flock to this region to enjoy the tranquil lagoon waters and its tremendous ecological diversity.
Progresso Lagoon from Progresso Village
Progresso village lies along the western side of Progresso Lagoon. This sleepy village of mainly Spanish and Mestizo inhabitants contains two parks and a single church. Wooden houses with stone bridges jutting into the water line a portion of the lagoon side and large mayflower trees provide cover for horses feeding on the surrounding low-cut grasses.
The long, wide lagoon provides excellent beachside picnicking. For a small fee, you can use a beach called INO's at the near end of Progresso Village.
Within the lagoon itself sits an ancient Maya hub locally referred to as Caye Coco. This postclassic monumental center is likely to be the colonial Maya site of Chanlacan, capital of Chetumal after the fall of Santa Rita and seat of the 1547 rebellion against Spanish Bacalar. Recent excavations at Caye Coco have uncovered buried residential platforms, courtyards, and cemeteries.
Excavating on island in Progresso Lagoon
As researchers piece together the history of this important waterway, the demographics of the region have shifted to reflect the district's recent cultural transformation. Mennonite settlements now dot the area and bring to the region a renewed sense of cultural diversity. The nearby Mennonite settlement of Little Belize caters to some of the more traditional Mennonites who still hold true to the belief that modern machinery contaminates their faith. The Mennonites of Little Belize still refrain from using modern farm equipment and drive horse-drawn buggies.
Cenote and fisherman near Little Belize
Visitors can access Progresso Lagoon through Orange Walk Town. After crossing the bridge in Orange Walk Town, drive another 8 km and you will meet San Estevan Village. Follow the pavement down George Price Street and continue as it turns right. After another 14 km and you will reach Progresso Lagoon. A ferry across the New River also leads guests to Progresso Village and Lagoon. The ferry disembarks five and a half miles from the village. Inquire in Progresso about the best way to access Little Belize.
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