Ak’Bol’s yoga temple of tranquility is back . . . and so is Moppit!

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The gateway to Ak'Bol's palapa studio out on the water. You could not ask for a more beautiful setting in which to practice yoga. The palapa looks bigger and more open than the original, and maybe a little farther off-shore. Beautifully done!
The gateway to Ak’Bol’s palapa studio out on the water. You could not ask for a more beautiful setting in which to practice yoga. The palapa looks bigger and more open than the original, and maybe a little farther off-shore. Beautifully done!

I took Moppit for a walk — sprint, actually — up the beach to Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat and Eco Resort this morning. And wow! The over-the-water studio looks magnificent! A temple of tranquility.
Two of my favorite places on the water were decimated by Hurricane Earl — the Palapa Bar and Ak’Bol.
Now both are back! Kirsten Miglio and her husband Dale have been patiently rebuilding and now Kirsten will teach her first yoga session under the new palapa on Sunday!

Here are some photos of our walk toward Ak’Bol on a glorious Saturday morning: Read the rest of this entry »

Wild Mango’s chef-owner is back in Victoria House kitchen

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Victoria House, one of the most beautiful resorts on Ambergris Caye.
Victoria House, one of the most beautiful resorts on Ambergris Caye.

Why is Amy Knox of the popular San Pedro restaurant  Wild Mango’s walking around in a Victoria House T-shirt you ask?

It is more than sentimentality.

Amy first made her mark on Ambergris Caye as chef at Victoria House with a celebrated cuisine that drew fans to what then seemed like the southern extreme of civilization. And like any inventive chef she eventually struck out on her own with the downtown San Pedro bistro, Wild Mango’s. Read the rest of this entry »

Screw you, Earl, the Palapa Bar is back and better than ever

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Panorama of the new Palapa Bar from the west side, facing east.
Panorama of the new Palapa Bar from the west side, facing east.

Hurricane Earl destroyed a lot of livelihoods when it ran down the coast of Ambergris Caye, here in Belize, tearing out piers like stubble on the end of a razor.

At least temporarily.

So many docks have been rebuilt, so many businesses were quickly up and running again within days of the terrible storm.

But none has been more anticipated and welcomed back from its watery grave than the Palapa Bar & Grill on Boca del Rio.

That happened on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

Game day TV blackout got real on Ambergris Caye during Game 7 of the World Series

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Me "watching" the end of Game 7 of the World Series during a total island power outage.
Me “watching” the end of Game 7 of the World Series during a total island power outage.

The national baseball team of the country of Belize is the Chicago Cubs.

This is no bandwagon country. Belize has been Cubs Country since the 1980’s when cable television was first introduced here.

The story, which is solidly embraced by everyone, is that the first channel to be re-broadcast here was WGN, home of the Cubs and I believe, the Chicago Bulls, also a local fan favorite.

For years, these were the only professional sports teams available to the country, which gained its independence from Britain in 1981 and still carries the image of the queen on its paper money. The Cubs gained a real foothold in the imagination of Belizeans. It was underdogs rooting for underdogs. Read the rest of this entry »

Cheap flights? Southwest proves to be no bargain once you land in Houston

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Airline inconveniences fade away when you are with the most important thing in your life -- family. Clockwise from upper left: Ryand and fiance Larisa; grandson Brody with his helicopter; Brody and me, mugging for the camera; bottom, from left: Brendan & Cami, Chris & Katie, Brody & Grizzly.
Airline inconveniences fade away when you are with the most important thing in your life — family. Clockwise from upper left: Ryan and his fiance, Larisa; grandson Brody with his helicopter; Brody and me, mugging for the camera; bottom, from left: Brendan & Cami, Chris & Katie, Brody & Grizzly in Truckee.

When is a bargain not a bargain?

Probably when it is a low-priced, round-trip, Southwest Airlines ticket from Belize to Houston.

We’ve all seen them since Southwest began flying into Belize a year ago. I was among the cheerleaders since Southwest’s aggressive pricing (initially, at least) often forces the big carriers to drop prices. Win-win!

My wife, Rose, recently snagged a too-good-to-be-true ticket to Houston. She has a son in Oklahoma whom she hadn’t seen since we moved to Belize nearly three years ago. She also has a daughter in Arizona and, not coincidentally, a friend had organized a weeklong yoga retreat in Sedona for early October.

So she jumped on the Southwest sale. And offered to get me one, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize just says ‘No’ to offshore oil — again

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Just saying no. This is the current face of Belize when confronted with a surprise offshore oil exploration gambit. (Photo by Karen Brodie.)
Just saying no. This is the current face of Belize when confronted with a surprise offshore oil exploration gambit. (Photo by Karen Brodie.)

After two weeks in the States, we came home to the disturbing news that the Government of Belize has authorized oil exploration within six-tenths of a mile of the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef.

This is startling because the people of Belize spoke by referendum two years ago and rejected off-shore oil exploration. And just last year the government placed a moratorium on off-shore oil exploration and the sale of oil leases.

The barrier reef is a designated World Heritage site, meaning it merits the attention, care and protection of the entire planet. It is the longest continuous barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, extending the length of Belize and into Mexico to the north and into Guatemala and Honduras to the south.

Why the government would suddenly spring this on its own people is baffling.  Read the rest of this entry »

Independence Day II: Chalk! Chalk! Chalk!

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My favorite photo of the day. Who is this woman who walks into the heart of the chalk fling thing in a white dress and pearls. She is so serene, so of and yet not of the mayhem around her. Who is this woman?
My favorite photo of the day. Who is this woman who walks into the heart of the chalk fling thing in a white dress and pearls. She is so serene, so of and yet not of the mayhem around her. Who is this woman?

Last year, the San Pedro Town Council raised the bar on Independence Day with the introduction of the Flying Pinata — a candy drop from a hovering helicopter — and the chalk fling thing.

The chalk fling thing is a variation on the paint thing that marks the Carnival time leading up to Lent. Kids run around Central Park and specific blocks of downtown smearing each other with water soluble paints (hopefully washable). Adults even get a chance to join in because — well, it’s fun. Why leave all the fun stuff up to the kids???

You can see remnants of the paint days all over town in the form of handprints and paint smears on walls.

With chalk, you get the bright colors and frenzied rush that  comes with dusting up everyone around you in electric pink and green and yellow clouds. Staffers toss the packets of chalk into the crowd and you basically become the color of the person next to you who opens the packet and flings it into the air. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Birthday, Belize! Only 35 and still celebrating like a youngster!

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Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.
Belize Independence Day Parade, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize, celebrating the 35th year as an independent nation.

To me this picture says everything you need to know about Belize on Independence Day. The country is young, vibrant, ambitious — you’d have to be to wear a rig this bountiful on a day this hot!  It is no accident that this costume reflects the natural blues and greens of the foliage and Caribbean Sea in the background.

San Pedro’s Jump Up parade completely lacks the gravitas of nations with long histories of war and loss. The country’s one significant battle for independence is celebrated on Sept. 10, The Battle for St. George’s Caye, and even that seems to be receding into the realm of legend.

The 21st is given over to celebrating the people of Belize with sensuous dance, loud music, outrageously stunning costumes and a joviality that just shouts “Damn! It is good to be in Belize!” Read the rest of this entry »

Rescuing the wildlife of Belize, one animal at a time

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These are all animals rescued by Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic. They need your help to grow their facilities and rescue more such animals.
These are all animals rescued by Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic. They need your help to grow their facilities and rescue more such animals.

One of the stories you hear about often in Belize is the steady advance of civilization into the jungles and forested lands and even the low scrub savannas, and the devastating impact this has on wildlife.

The assault on wildlife habitat comes from many sides: the voracious real estate appetite of big agriculture, the clumsy slash-and-burn of illegal farmers and lumber thieves from Guatemala, the steadily outward encroachment of suburban development or the devastating indifference of poachers. Read the rest of this entry »

Ambergris Caye: This rolled in this afternoon

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This cloud formation suddenly arose from the east, over downtown San Pedro this afternoon, Tuesday Aug. 30, 2016.
This cloud formation suddenly arose from the east, over downtown San Pedro this afternoon, Tuesday Aug. 30, 2016. There was a crazy splurge of color at the top of this cloud, reds, yellows and ambers, spurting out like lava from the top of the cone. Sadly, it didn’t show up in this picture…..

Today started out like many another day recently — no breeze and hot, hot, hot.

I know, because I was riding around on my bicycle this afternoon, searching for empty 100-pound flour and rice sacks to use as sandbags. Just a little post-Hurricane Earl recovery project at the Cloisters, where we live. Thank you, Island City. You came through!

I was drenched. And thirsty.

What better time to stop at the newly opened Island Tackle Bar and Grill for a refreshing beer before pedaling home. Island Tackle is the former Tacklebox, an over the water bar of some stature that had been closed down for two years. It was set for a grand opening, the day Earl landed its sucker punch.

It is open now and my longtime pal Rudy was behind the bar,

As I sat on the deck looking out to the reef, a remarkably chilly breeze swept in from behind me. I turned around and saw this. Read the rest of this entry »