Oh, what a night: Test-driving a cabana at Daydreamin’ Bed & Breakfast

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Panoramic image of Daydreamin' boutique B&B and the island's newest coffee shop, Marbuck's, about one mile north of the town bridge.
Panoramic view of Daydreamin’ boutique B&B and (at left) the island’s newest coffee stop, Marbucks Coffee House, about one mile north of the Sir Barry Bowen bridge.

Having lived on Ambergris Caye for only a year, there are few building projects that we can say we were there at the birth. Building things here — even houses — takes a very long time — unless you are Ramon’s Village and you want our fire-ravaged resort to reopen by Christmas. In which case, yes, miracles do happen.

We can say with pride that we knew Daydreamin’ Bed & Breakfast when it was just a little hole in the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunset cruising off Ambergris Caye with spring breakers and a boobie

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Bob the brown boobie landed aboard the Impromptu catamaran and immediately took command, or commanded the attention of the entire boat. He never left.
Bob the brown boobie landed aboard Ecologic Diver’s sunset cruise on the Impromptu catamaran and immediately took command, or, at least, commanded the attention of the entire boat. He never left.

The boobie came out of nowhere.

First it landed on the stern of Ecologic Divers 50-foot catamaran Impromptu where it hung out briefly as if accessing the situation and finding it lacking in the proper handouts worthy of such an elegantly groomed and aloof bird.

So the boobie flew off. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from a year in Belize, like, Paradise will not make you a better plumber

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The view from our balcony. Not even bad plumbing can overshadow this.
The view from our balcony. Not even bad plumbing can overshadow this.

I recently celebrated our first anniversary in Paradise by straddling a toilet seat, trying to loosen the rusted bolts that hold the tank on to the toilet. And I was failing miserably.

No amount of WD-40, muscle-straining leverage, cursing and sweat was going to dislodge those suckers.

At least the water was shut off and the floor was no longer flooded. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding music, moments and magic in Merida

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A young schoolgirl keeps the pidgeon population happy in Parque de Santiago on Calle 72 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.
A young schoolgirl keeps the pigeon population happy in Parque de Santiago on Calle 72 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on a Friday afternoon.

The thing is, I really didn’t think I could afford the hat.

I liked it. It felt cool and comforting on my head. It sat naturally on my crown with no fussing. The roll of the brim had a slightly rakish appeal that the rest of me certainly didn’t exude.

Still, $3,200 pesos? Taxes are coming up. So is rent. And a trip or two back to the States for both Rose and me. Really, I wasn’t even sure that we should have been taking this mini-vacation to the beautiful colonial city of Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »

At the Palapa Bar, mind the gap

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The new landlord of the Palapa Bar decided to settle a rent dispute gangster-style, by ripping up the boards on the pier leading to the bar. The dispute turned out to be all in his head and the boards were quickly restored. The guy's reputation took a major hit from which he may never recover.
The new landlord of the Palapa Bar decided to settle a rent dispute Texas gangster-style, by ripping up the boards on the pier leading to the bar. The dispute turned out to be all in his head and the boards were quickly restored. The guy’s reputation took a major hit from which he may never recover.

Here on Ambergris Caye in Belize, “Mind the gap” gained special relevance over the past weekend when the landlord of the Palapa Bar & Grill removed 10 planks in the pier used to reach the iconic bar.

The man, who recently bought the property — a diminutive and abrasive Texan, kind of a very bald Yosemite Sam — claims the longtime leaseholders, Scott and Jodi Harnish, were behind in their rent.

Not so. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Carnaval time in San Pedro, Belize

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Carnaval 2015 begins in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize. Paint wars by kids and tomorrow and Tuesday, the adults, is a big part of it all.
Carnaval 2015 begins in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize. Paint wars by kids and tomorrow and Tuesday, the adults, is a big part of it all.

 

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 »

Serious question seeks fun answers: Why fly Southwest to Belize?

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Southwest Airline will be winging its way to Belize in October.
Southwest Airline will be winging its way to Belize in October.

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.

Here, sample some of these.

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.

Here’s Rebecca’s post. 

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:

Southwest Airlines ready to partner with Belize

10 routes that will lead to cheaper flights in 2015

Southwest Airlines ready for Belize

Grill of my dreams: Bring on those ribs!

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A method to the BBQ madness: six color-coded ribs for every curstorm. Pick your top three and mark them on the ballot by the color of the stick. Brilliant.
A method to the BBQ madness: six color-coded ribs for every curstorm. Pick your top three and mark them on the ballot by the color of the stick. Brilliant.

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 »

Desert island dreams become real on a Monday afternoon

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On the Sand Bar on Monday, first there were the birds . . . .
On the Sand Bar on Monday, first there were the birds . . . .

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 »