Carnaval 2015 begins in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize. On Sunday, Front Street, the beach and Central Park were given over to paint wars by kids. They descended on the park with bottles filled with washable paints (hopefully) and even some raw eggs.
Often banding together in teams, they waged battles on other groups, gleefully smearing each other from head to toe. They get to do it again after school tomorrow and Tuesday, starting at 3 p.m. The adults get to join in too. Read the rest of this entry »
Southwest Airlines is looking for a few good reasons to visit Belize.
The U.S. airline will begin daily flights to Belize in October, from Houston. And anyone who knows Southwest knows this airline doesn’t do anything unless it is fun. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to land on a Southwest flight when the safety speech is given by a budding stand-up comic you’ll know what I mean.
Southwest likes creative employees. Heck, it simply likes its employees (and I think they are called team members, or something like that). My friend and neighbor in San Diego for many years was a Southwest flight attendant who rose through the ranks to become a recruiter and trainer among other duties for the airline. Wayne Toups loved the airline and loved going to work every day.
Like the famous Cajun singer Wayne Toups, he was from Louisiana and he had a ball with their common name. Believe it or not, passengers would ask Wayne, handing out drinks and peanuts while clad in the khaki shorts and polo shirt uniform of Southwest, if he was the singer!
When Southwest began as a regional airline at Love Field in Dallas, the big boys — both the major airlines and their friends in Congress — did their damnedest to drive it into the ground — including a major congressman from their own state! Southwest not allowed to make direct flights to cities in other states. They had to do something weird like make a stop in another Texas city first — or something like that. They were sometimes forced to use secondary airports and land in lower tier cities.
Ultimately whatever the challenge, Southwest turned it into an advantage. And opened up the door for other short-haul carriers. It truly is the aspirational and inspirational airline.
That’s why I think they will make it in Belize.
It is the perfect pairing of two scrappy underdogs.
Does Southwest really need our help coming up with ways to lure visitors to Belize?
Probably not. It has a long history of brilliant marketing.
Just the same, reaching out and asking (a form of marketing in itself), is classic Southwest. Just as every employee of the airline is empowered to be brilliant and inventive, so is every community that it serves. Southwest employees are encouraged to come up with ideas to make the airline better. Of course, the key is to listen to those ideas and act on them. I got the impression from Wayne that that is exactly what Southwest does. It listens.
So, the airline has sent a talent scout of sorts to Belize to hunt for fresh ideas. His name is Brad Hawkins and to the best of my knowledge, no relation. Our friend (and yours) Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop met with Hawkins the other day, as did other local media.
Rebecca is taking a page from Southwest’s gameplan and turning around and asking you, the experts on Belize, for your ideas. I think you should read her post and send her your best shots.
There is one challenge. Everyone has been flogging the same 10 to 30 reasons to visit Belize for years. Basically it is blueholemayanruinscavetubingecoadventuressandybeachesreefsnorkelinggarifunadrummingjerkchickendrop. And then some.
And they are all legit.
And for people who have never heard of Belize — and they are many — those are fresh ideas. The thing is, how do you present them in a fresh new way? Southwest-Belize adventure package deals? A Belize scavenger hunt — getting stamps in your Southwest-Belize Adventure Passport gets you valuable upgrades and free trips?
A variation on the Southwest “Gotta get away?” campaign would suit Belize nicely.
Let’s face it: Cancun or Disneyland is a vacation; Belize is “getting away.”
Here are some other related posts:
The fourth annual BBQ Cookoff at Estel’s Dine by the Sea is history and 120 rib-loving customers have spoken: Rick Saager of Oregon — a frequent visitor to Ambergris Caye — is the People’s Choice among the six talented barbecue chefs.
For those of you keeping score, Rick’s ribs were the ones with the orange stick in them. There were six chefs in all. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m flat on my back in water that is just deep enough to cover my ears and muffle the sounds of friends who are happily chatting just a few feet way.
The water is a gloriously comfortable temperature. The sky above is a radiant blue with just enough fluffy bits of cloud to add interest but my eyes are closed, letting the gentle heat of the sun sink deep into the frontal lobe and warm it up like bacon.
Two thoughts are floating through my brain:
1. This is a Monday afternoon. Incredible.
2. If I stay like this long enough, can I grow gills through my ears and never have to get up? Read the rest of this entry »
No sooner did saltwater-veined Texas singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker blow town than another popular salt-water singer-songwriter from Texas strode in to take his place, Kelly McGuire.
(UPDATE: Link to more and better pictures added to bottom of this post. Check ‘em out, ya’ll!)
The pattern is similar. Texan McGuire will be showing up at venues around town to sing some of the popular stuff from his Belieze-inspired songbook, like “A Boat in Belize, ” “Daddys & Daughters,” “King of the Island,” “Blame It On Buffett,” and “Girls of the Island.”
Wednesday afternoon was given over to celebrating McGuire’s birthday at the perfect haunt, The Palapa Bar, about a half-mile north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge (if you believe the signs).
It was just one of those days, you know? When the sun melted the searing white sand into fine crystal glass beads that the natives picked up and made into bracelets to sell to the tourists.
Yeah, it was that kind of hot.
So hot you saw your breath, only it was steam.
So hot, the iguanas were complaining. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Belizean Groundhog Day!
Yes, this is the Belizean groundhog! After a long night of partying at local island bars, people by the thousands politely waited at sunrise along the shore’s rip-rap walls. As the sun peeked over the horizon, spreading warmth and good cheer, scores of iguanas began to climb tentatively out of their burrows and face the sunlight.
Not coincidentally, Sunday marked the end of iguana hunting season in Belize — true story. The newly emboldened iguanas, breathing a little easier on MOnday, but still irritated at being called “Bamboo Chicken” by hunters, are none-the-less ready to make a statement.
On Monday, the public remained remarkably restrained, behind the yellow tape barrier. Many of them were sleeping off the night of dancing and rum punch in the sand. A few sold T-shirts and plastic iguanas on a stick, made especially for the day and hundreds more sold the usual jewelry and woven wallets and bags. Some, mostly tourists, had their faces painted like iguanas and a few even wore full-body iguana costumes and practiced the cool shark moves they saw during Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Half-time Extravaganza the night before.
As is tradition — but for no known reason — dozens of men dressed up as female iguanas, although gender isn’t important when looking for a signal from the lizards about the island’s future.
Local tradition say that if the iguanas come out of their burrows and see cameras in their face, we will have six more months of happy tourism and a plentiful supply of rum punch and Belikin beer … Oh yes, and lots of sunshine, clear blue-green water and cooling breezes.
If the iguanas come to the surface and begin chasing people, shouting garbled obscenities and biting small children on their toes, we’re in deep trouble, and you might consider visiting relatives in the U.S. until this thing blows over.
And if the iguanas come out in top hat and tails, singing an astoundingly well-choreographed version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the crowd goes wild because it knows that the sorgassum will disappear, taking with it all pieces of plastic from the shore, leaving behind those mythical pristine white sand beaches we’ve all heard so much about.
Mind you there are hundreds upon hundreds of iguanas inhabiting the shoreline and it is not unusual for the message to vary from colony to colony. To avoid confusion, the town council every year hires members of its own political party to position themselves every hundred yards or so and record what they observe.
The council then takes the average of all of this data and declares a single unified message from the iguanas. It is no small coincidence that Iguana/Groundhog Day takes place one month before public elections.
One little known fact, every year for nearly a decade, Bill Murray has flown to Ambergris Caye to act as master of ceremonies. Every year around 3 a.m. he wanders over to Back Street and disappears for several days, each time returning with yet another tiny iguana tattoo on an obscure part of his body. He is always deeply apologetic and nobody seems to mind.
With or without him, the future is foretold.
Our iguana/groundhog never fails us.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 71,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.
This morning I learned about the day the red apples drifted up on the shore of Ambergris Caye.
It was in the days before island people had the ability to can and preserve food.
They were fresh, red, sweet and juicy apples and they came in like a red tide. There were so many of them that people grew sick of eating them and fed them to their dogs, recalls Angel Nunez. Read the rest of this entry »