This is Belize: ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’

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This video about tacos makes the point that while Belize has "fast food" you won't find a Taco Bell, McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken in the country. No franchises, mon!
This video about tacos (See it below.) makes the point that while Belize has “fast food” you won’t find a Taco Bell, McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken in the country. No franchises, mon!

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice.

Only this time, her Wonderland turns out to be Belize.

Belize is a magical rabbit hole. Once you slide down into it, you almost never want to leave.  I don’t and it has now been 2.5 years, one hurricane, three rainy seasons, two bicycles, scores of trips to the reef, more beautiful days than the imagination can grasp and more smiles from passing strangers than I ever thought possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Scoop’s scoop: Simone Biles to bring Olympic Final Five to Belize, her ‘second home’

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Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and members of 2012's team and Gabby Douglas
Bound for Belize? Left to right: Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas

Scoop got the Scoop: U.S.gymnast superstar Simone Biles will be coming to Belize after the Olympics, and possibly bringing the rest of her Final Five teammates with her.

Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop reported this early today. 

Simone’s ties to Belize are gaining notice. In her Olympic biography she notes that Belize is her favorite getaway and she loves the fishing here. Her mother is Belizean and Simone holds a Belize passport.

The New York Times sent a writer from Rio to Belize City to watch Simone’s Gold medal performance with her family and first lady of Belize, Kim Simplis Barrow.

Simone Biles is no stranger to San Pedro!

Ambergris Today carries some great photos of Simone with staff at Ramone’s Resort, where she attended her brother’s wedding  in June 2015.

As Rebecca reports, the Belize Tourism Board offered to host the Final Five after the Olympics. Simone Tweeted back: “my second home. You betta Belize we’re coming.”

You can read all bout it at San Pedro Scoop.

Relief effort begins to rebuild San Mateo homes hit by Hurricane Earl

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Pictures of homes trashed by Hurricane Earl in San Mateo.
Pictures of homes trashed by Hurricane Earl in San Mateo.

San Mateo was hit harder than we imagined by Hurricane Earl.

According to San Pedro Food Bank co-founder Brittney O’Daniel, 49 familes are affected,  in leveled or “half-destroyed” homes.

The local social activist has set a goal of $20,000 BZD to fund the cost of plywood, zinc roofing, hammers, nails and other building supplies to rebuild the homes. Read the rest of this entry »

San Pedro town ‘fathers’ deliver stern lectures to fire victims before disbursing relief funds

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Einer Salazar lectures fire victims on the importance of keeping their mouths shut before dispensing fire relief funds. Ouch.
Eiden Salazar lectures fire victims on the importance of keeping their mouths shut before dispensing fire relief funds. Ouch.

Yesterday morning I answered the San Pedro Food Bank’s call for volunteers to help sort donated clothing for distribution to Hurricane Earl victims.

By the time I got to the Lion’s Den in San Pedro, shortly after 9 a.m., the sorting process was well under way.

This is a pretty experienced group. Only a bit more than a month ago, 88 San Pedranos, businesses and property owners were left homeless by a downtown fire and the local Red Cross, Lions Club and Food Bank seemed to click together in bringing relief to fire victims. Including clothing distribution.

Now they were doing it all over again.

Fortunately, the overwhelming response to the fire left the local service groups with plenty of boxes and bags of clothing donations that never got sorted and distributed — and frankly didn’t need to. They were ready and waiting for Hurricane Earl’s victims. Which is why the Food Bank was urging only donations of non-perishable food and bedding this time. (Still needed, by the way.)

The Food Bank’s Brittney O’Daniel is spearheading an effort to raise $20,000 for lumber, zinc (roofing), nails etc. to rebuild homes of 49 families in San Mateo “half-destroyed” by Hurricane Earl. Read about it here.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, as we sorted out clothing for hurricane victims — and the many fire victims who are still trying to recover — a second gathering was taking place in the Lion’s Den.

The funds raised for the Middle Street fire victims were about to be distributed by the Red Cross, Lions Club, National Emergency Management Organization and San Pedro officials.

But not without some drama. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Earl: No. 1, Not all disasters are alike

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Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.
A photographer stops to capture the sunrise and battered but still stately dock at Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.

When almost an entire block on Middle Street in San Pedro went up in flames in June — leaving 66 people homeless and a number of businesses crippled or wiped out — the whole world responded with unconditional generosity.

Certainly the whole of Ambergris Caye did.

Scores of volunteers stepped in to help clear away debris. They didn’t ask which rubble belonged to homes and which to businesses. The amount of clothing and food donated could be calculated in tonnage and by the size of the hearts of the people on Ambergris Caye.

The San Pedro Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help

sort and distribute clothing to Hurricane Earl victims!

Report to the Lions Den, downtown San Pedro,

at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Barges and planes brought in even more aid from the mainland.

A significant amount of cash was raised in numerous and imaginative ways. Nobody designated their dollars to go to specific people or businesses.

People just gave — time, money, food, clothing, shelter.

Hurricane Earl is different.

Or it seems that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Video of flooding on Macal and Mopan rivers in San Ignacio

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Drone catches aerial view of flooding in San Ignacio Town, Bullet Tree and surrounding areas in the Cayo District from Hurricane Earl, posted by Victor Castillo.

 

Heredia’s take on the damage from Hurricane Earl . . . and more (updated)

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wwww
Before and after shots of San Pedro’s waterfront from Bryce Jon Peterson, manager of the newly named Island Tackle Bar & Grill. That’s the former Tackle Box, in the foreground of the picture. Island Tackle’s grand opening was delayed by Hurricane Earl and now must be delayed again for repairs.

* * * * *      * * * * *      * * * * *

As many as 400 San Pedro residents sought refuge in the town’s three shelters during the Category 1 hurricane Earl, Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. told Channel 7 News Belize.
The minister, who also serves as San Pedro’s NEMO chairman, added that there were “about 6 homes that were totally destroyed and another 3 or 4 that were extensively damaged.”

Heredia told Channel 7 that the “obvious” damage was seaside where  “practically 90% of the piers are either gone or extensively damaged. The dive shops, likewise, I would believe that it’s only two or three that are standing, but not in a very good shape also. Beach erosion was terrible over here.”

7News also reports that some northern resorts, including Costa Blue, X’tan Ha and Saphire Beach have closed temporarily for repairs.

 

Ministry of Agriculture puts Earl losses at $100 million

Earl’s toll on Belize’s economy is over $100 million, Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, told Amandala today.

“What we have right now indicates $100 million worth of damage, because when we factor in the main affected subsectors – bananas, corn, and vegetables—corn, as I had said, was in the region of $49 million worth of losses, bananas will probably be within the region of about $40 million, and the rest takes us over $100 million in damages,” Alpuche said.

Read more here.

Tropic Air offers 50% off domestic fares through August 14

Tropic Air has responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Earl by cutting airfares in half because ” it was important to us that we make sure people can get where they need to go quickly in order to rebuild,” said John Greif III, president of the regional airline.

The offer will last through Aug. 14 and includes flights to all Belize destinations, except Belize International Airport.

“The task of rebuilding has already started in earnest, and we are eager to support this effort,” according to a Tropic Air press statement.

“We needed to do our part,”  added Greif.

The discount can be applied to travel booked online at tropicair.com using promotional code: D50AUG. Tickets can also be booked at any of Tropic Air terminal or through the reservations department at 226-2012/2626 or reservations@tropicair.com

Tropic Air travels within Belize to Belize City Municipal, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Corozal, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda and San Pedro.

At last, a view of damages from up north

San Pedro Scoop Blogger Rebecca Coutant has posted a report and pictures of Hurricane Earl’s damage, starting at X’tan Ha Resort and traveling to points south.

As we feared, the damage up north mirrors what we have experienced in San Pedro.

“X’tan Ha Resort, her dock, dive shop, bar and beach took a beating,” reports Rebecca. Additionally, where possible, she has added “before” photos of some of the damaged docks, palapas and resort properties.

As a bonus, Rebecca was able to photograph the swollen rivers on the mainland when she flew home from San Ignacio. She had been evacuated from the Chiquibil Forest Natural Reserve ahead of the hurricane, but was forced to sit out the storm in San Ignacio.

Don’t miss her latest post, The Power of the Surge, here.

Turtleman's House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.
Turtleman’s House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.

An Ambergris Caye classic lost to the storm: Turtleman’s House

Rosemary Ingram Smith reports that on North Ambergris Caye, the Turtleman’s House — an over-the-water cabin that was the subject of many paintings and photographs over the decades — was lost to Hurricane Earl.

“Having a structure over the water in a hurricane area means that you have to accept the loss when it occurs,” she notes.

For the post on the Turtleman’s House and more background, see Rosemary’s Facebook post here.

 

 

Hurricane Earl forces water taxis to shift to alternate piers . . . and more

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San Pedro Express Water Taxi is operating off the municipal pier for the time being.
San Pedro Express Water Taxi is operating off the municipal pier for the time being.

On Friday, the police and Coast Guard were reportedly chasing San Pedro Express Water Taxi — one of our lifelines to Caye Caulker and Belize City — off the Municipal Pier in front of Central Park, San Pedro.

Today the water taxi had a canopy set up with benches from the old dock. Boats were pulling in and out of the pier slips, horns blaring.

Business as usual.

Even the schedule is back to normal, according to taxi staff on the pier. Read the rest of this entry »

After Earl: Trying to recall what was where, and is no more

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Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.
Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.

Earl left a mess along the seacoast of Ambergris Caye.

You probably already know that.

Mercifully it seemed uninterested in the rest of this long and narrow island.

But the coast…. It moved down the coast at 75-plus miles an hour and shaved off nearly every pier, like a razor carving bristles off a man’s jaw. Read the rest of this entry »

After Earl: This was the Palapa Bar

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Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Ben Popik, owner of the popular Truck Stop and Island Films, took a number of drone shots on Thursday of what remains of the once-thriving San Pedro coast line. You can see more of his images here.

This coast was, until, Wednesday night, jammed with piers and boats and businesses. Not a single dock, commercial or private, on the 24-miles island escaped Hurricane Earl unscathed.

Photos from various numerous island sources and residents: