Conch and Estel’s– two ways we mark the change in seasons on Ambergris Caye

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Inside Estel's back in March which a pickup band of local musicians added spice to our Sunday breakfast!
Inside Estel’s back in March which a pickup band of local musicians added spice to our Sunday breakfast!

In California, we used to say the seasons were Drought, Wildfire, Rainy/Greenery, Earthquake and Glorious Sunshine. San Diego had a whole season called June Gloom, in which the fog would roll in and stay until about 11 a.m., when the morning sun would finally burn it off and the breeze would beat it back to sea.

Here on Ambergris Caye there are similarly quirky seasons. There is High Season, during which people comment on how many other people there are on the island. And Low Season, during which people miss the fast-spending crowds of High Season, the people who by their presence and injection of cash pry open the seasonal restaurants and shops, bringing them out of their relatively brief commercial hibernation.

There is also Hurricane Season, Mosquito Season, Lobster Season and Conch Season. And the ever-popular Season of Paradise, during which the weather is beautiful, the mosquitoes non-existent, the crowds are manageable, the restaurants and bars all open and prices are still in the Low Season bracket. Read the rest of this entry »

Two very different pictures of the Great Blue Hole of Belize

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OK, picture yourself on a much awaited scuba diving tour to the bottom of the famous Blue Hole in Belize -- and then this guy shows up. More than likely spoiling your whole vacation. Crazy, huh?
OK, picture yourself on a much-anticipated  scuba diving tour to the bottom of the famous Blue Hole in Belize — and then this guy shows up. More than likely spoiling your whole vacation. Crazy, huh?

I was chased by a 14-foot shark off the coast of Cape Cod in 1975, about a month before I had a chance to see that summer’s blockbuster movie, “Jaws.”

I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was to be behind the curve culturally. My head was clear of Hollywood nonsense and I was able to think calmly and rationally. And I got out of a sticky situation it with  decent story to tell.

I felt the same sense of gratitude wash over me the other night as I watched “Poseidon Rex” on Coral Cable’s Channel 18, where it seems to be running in a perpetual loop.

I’ll explain this particular form of gratitude in a minute. Read the rest of this entry »

Dumb and dumber on Ambergris Caye

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This is just the scene we encountered this afternoon as we bicycled home from a morning filled with yoga and stand-up board paddling.  The lagoon is especially high right now, thanks to rain and high tides and is spreading across the only road heading north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge. On the other hand, more birds are attracted to this lovely spot and the resident crocodile has more room to move.
This is just the scene we encountered this afternoon as we bicycled home from a morning filled with yoga and stand-up board paddling. The lagoon is especially high right now, thanks to rain and high tides and is spreading across the only road heading north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge. On the other hand, more birds are attracted to this lovely spot and the resident crocodile has more room to move.

 

One month ago I wrote a blog post titled: “I swear, the heat makes me stupid.” So what is this, I ask myself, the sequel, “Rain also makes me stupid”?

Perhaps the feeling comes from Tuesday’s Trivia Night at Coco Loco’s where I insisted with grave authority to teammates Rose Alcantara and Adam and Jackie Feldman that the tiny little atoll that the U.S. bombed the crap out of during our “We freaking love the nuclear bomb” era was called Bimini.

It is called Bikini.

Or perhaps it is the discussions about childhood Catholic guilt that Jackie and I sometimes get into that unlocks this confessional need.

Maybe I am at the point  in life where doing dumb things is sometimes more entertaining and rewarding than being safe and, um, ordinary.

In the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism we accept that life is suffering. It is inevitable, as we walk through this life, that we will sometimes step into a pile of dukkha on the sidewalk of existence. Just the way it is. Avoiding dukkha becomes its own form of suffering.

Embrace the dukkha. Celebrate the sometimes dumb things we do because we are learning to love this life we have been given. That’s all I’m saying.

(And with that I add, thank you Rose for this morning’s Cafe Americano with a double shot …..)

So, now I need your help. Which of these two things is  dumber than the other:

Exhibit A:  On Friday night, Rose and I went to a fairly new south-of-town beach bar called Island Time. The DJ was pumping out a Motown/Big Chill kind of a soundtrack, the breeze was tropical-sweet and the rum and cokes were flowing.

Pretty soon I got it into my head that I knew how to dance.

With abandon. Read the rest of this entry »

More photos from the Independence Day Jump Up Parade in San Pedro, Belize

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Happy 33rd Birthday, Belize!
Happy 33rd Birthday, Belize!

Just like the parade, the images keep on coming.

The Jump Up Parade — anyone care to venture why it is called that? — is such a joyful and colorful Independence Day celebration, I couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Well, yes, I could. Read the rest of this entry »

A Belize Independence Day parade that marches to the beat of many different drummers

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Let the parade begin! The long, slow departure from the Boca del Rio staging area began promptly at 1 p.m. but as in any parade, it is the journey, not the destination that matters. (What ever that might mean in this context ...)
Let the parade begin! The long, slow departure from the Boca del Rio staging area began promptly at 1 p.m. but as in any parade, it is the journey, not the destination that matters. (What ever that might mean in this context …)

San Pedro celebrated the 33rd year of Belize independence with a good old fashioned Jump Up Parade that included a band, lots of marching groups, trucks loaded with two-story high sound systems that pumped out crazy dance beats, floats, a beauty queen, gaily decorated golf carts and children by the dozens.

The parade started promptly at 1 p.m. and don’t think that its promptness didn’t have plenty of wags wagging their tongues.

Nothing ever starts on time in Belize?

Well, this parade did. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize emerges from the darkness to celebrate birth as a nation

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belize

Rose and I were all set last night to head down to Central Park in San Pedro Town for the launch of Independence Day celebrations — music, dance, speeches and the best fireworks in all of Belize.

Then the lights went out.

Not just our lights. All of Belize.

And probably parts of Guatemala and Mexico too.

You’ve not experienced darkness until your whole nation goes dark. Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking about moving to Belize? Answer these 10 questions first

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Harvesting coconuts is such a romantic notion. Reality is that it is hard work and dangerous and for very little money. This is the reality of Belize -- all is not as it looks, though much of it looks beautiful. As this story suggests, dig deeper and be honest about your own reactions. You can make it it you Belize ...

Harvesting coconuts is such a romantic notion. Reality is that it is hard work and dangerous and for very little money. This is the reality of Belize — all is not as it looks, though much of it looks beautiful. As this story suggests, dig deeper and be honest about your own reactions. You can make it, if you Belize …

The story linked here offers 10 questions for anyone thinking about moving to Belize. (Thank you for posting it, Rebecca Coutant.)

They are good questions and the background provided for each is uncommonly honest and balanced. They are not designed to dissuade anyone from moving here.

I’ve said it a lot lately, Paradise is something found in Disney movies and fantasy tales and loaded with false promises. Real life is more interesting and challenging and ultimately more fulfilling.

So, answer these 10 questions and if you are comfortable with your answers, we’ll leave a light on for you.

Welcome!

 

Grand opening today: Yo Mama is so sweet . . . .

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Yup, a toppings bar in San Pedro. What will be next?
Yup, a toppings bar in San Pedro. What will be next? (Photo by Rose Alcantara)

Two words in combination that will get a man’s glands salivating and his imagination fired up: “toppings bar.”

Yup, the words just reach deep into the primeval core and express all that is good in the world today. An abundances of choices, a multitude of tastes, a bevy of flavors, a … a … a …

You know I’m just talking about frozen yogurt, right? Read the rest of this entry »

A night of terror and violence but Paradise isn’t lost

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Acting on information received of a Home Invasion, police visited the north side of the island at an apartment complex in the Tres Cocos area of San Pedro Town where they saw three persons with varying degrees of injuries. Douglas Kelly had a cut wound to the wrist, hand, stomach and head, Ms. Gail Neal had cut wounds over left eye and mouth and Mr. Thomas Fiorille had a cut wound to the chest and wrist. Initial investigation revealed that at 12:10 a.m. Friday Sept 12th, 68-year-old Douglas Kelly and his wife 65-year-old Gail Neal both retired Americans were inside their condo sitting in their living room watching TV when they were alerted by a noise coming from the direction of their front veranda. Upon investigation, Mr. Douglas was attacked by a tall male person of dark complexion armed with a kitchen knife. The male person then entered the building and inflicted cut wounds to both Douglas and his wife. Upon hearing noise, American citizen 40-year-old Thomas Fiorille went to investigate and he too was attacked and received cut wounds also. A struggle ensued where both Douglas and Thomas fended off the culprit who reportedly received injuries to his head. The culprit then managed to make good his escape. Nothing was reported stolen.

This is the police report. It is formal, straightforward and informative. As it should be.

If you linger on certain phrases, like “attacked with a kitchen knife,” “inflicted cut wounds” and “a struggle ensued” and let your imagination float free you can begin to gather a sense of the terror our neighbors in The Cloisters endured on Thursday night. Read the rest of this entry »

Doing stuff we haven’t done before, Part 5: Poker run

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Ride, Sally, ride: Winner of the season's last poker run in San Pedro, Sally Backalukas flashes the cash and a wining smile at the finish, Pedro's Hotel.
Ride, Sally, ride: Winner of the season’s last poker run in San Pedro, Sally Backalukas, flashes the cash and a winning smile at the finish, Pedro’s Hotel on Saturday night.

“A poker run is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, horses, or other means of transportation must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run. The event has a time limit, however the participants are not timed—winning is purely a matter of chance.”

– Wikipedia

OK, that is basically it. We don’t use snowmobiles or horses on Ambergris Caye, but under “other,” you can add golf carts. Lots and lots of golf carts.

But more on that in a moment. Read the rest of this entry »