This is Belize: Each dancing on a different breeze

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Under less-windy conditions this pavilion is a day spa. Today, there wasn't a soul around. The silky hangings which creat a privacy wall and sun screen were twisting and turning. Each seemed to dance to a different wind. All together, captivating.
Under less-windy conditions this pavilion is a day spa. Today, there wasn’t a soul around. The silky hangings which create a privacy wall and sun screen were twisting and turning. Each seemed to dance to a different wind. All together, captivating.

 

Another walk up north, along the shore of Ambergris Caye today. Stiff breezes and high tide made some parts of the beach simply disappear.

The island feels deserted. I may have run into four or five people at most, not counting resort staffs which were raking up the turtle grass and tying down the canopies and hammocks.

This pavilion stood alone and empty, although a sign out front offers a boggling array of pleasures for the body and soul.

Each hanging cloth was dancing its own dance in the wind. Some seem to take on shapes, fleeting sculptures of intense detail, like the prostrate one on the upper right which seems to be offering up a jug of wine?

I tried to capture them all but I must go back again, when the breezes calm a bit and the dances become more balletic and less like whirling dervishes.

 

Surrounded by beauty, unable to see it? That’s life in Paradise

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On a recent walk up the coast I managed to take one "traditional" photograph that would meet with the approval of the image-conscious Belize Tourism Board. This is it. Wait til you see what else I photographed.
On a recent walk up the coast I managed to take one “traditional” photograph that would meet with the approval of the image-conscious Belize Tourism Board. This is it. Wait til you see what else I photographed.

During a recent conversation with a photographer friend, Karen Brodie, we discussed the loss of the ability to see.

Not blindness. We were talking about the thing that happens when you pass something so many times that you simply stop seeing it.

This is a real thing. Read the rest of this entry »

San Pedro Sunday morning: Covering ground for a good cause

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Some of the runners and walkers begin to mingle around the starting line for Sunday morning's Autism Awareness 5K in San Pedro, Belize.
Some of the runners and walkers begin to mingle around the starting line for Sunday morning’s Autism Awareness 5K in San Pedro, Belize. That is Miss Rose in a yellow top, already pumped from the 7K run she did earlier to warm up for the 5K walk with me.

This morning was the second annual Autism Awareness 5K Walk/Run in San Pedro.

Rose and I chose the walk option off the menu, out of deference for me being completely out of shape thanks to back-to-back surgeries in the past year or so. So Rose prepared for the 5K by rising early and running a 7K. I prepared by looking for my ancient running shoes, which I searched thoroughly for scorpions, lizards, spiders and other creatures who seek shelter in musty, dark places in the back of closets.

The good news is, I found none of the above.

But the shoes. Oh, the shoes! Read the rest of this entry »

‘Criminal Minds’ in Belize? After screening, even worse than we imagined

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Here's the proof! FBI agents on Ambergris Caye are dwarfed by the barren hillsides of the island in a scene from the "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" episode "Love Interrupted."
Here’s the proof! FBI agents on Ambergris Caye are dwarfed by the barren hillsides of the island in a scene from the “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” episode “Love Interrupted.”

On a balmy Friday night a couple dozen expats gathered beside the lagoon here on Ambergris Caye for an outdoors screening of this week’s episode of the spin-off CBS show “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.”

Since its original TV airing on Wednesday, expats and Belizeans all over this tiny country have been convulsed in paroxysms of laughter. To be honest, some have been convulsed in paroxysms of rage.

This week, the elite FBI team lead by a heavily botoxed Gary Sinese drops into Belize to find a young American honeymoon couple who have gone two days without posting anything on social media, thus raising suspicions of foul play.

Let me say this: We all know Hollywood makes stuff up. That is what they do. That is their job and we mostly appreciate it.

But, seriously? Read the rest of this entry »

“Criminal Minds” episode in Belize? It was just criminal

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"De Los Inocentes" (Left-right) Clara Seger (Alana De La Garza),Mae Jarvis (Annie Funke) and Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney), Unit Chief Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise), comprise the International Response Unit, the FBI division at the heart of the upcoming drama series, CRIMINAL MINDS: BEYOND BORDERS, which premieres Wednesday, March 16 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The IRT is tasked with solving crimes and coming to the rescue of Americans who find themselves in danger while abroad.
“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” team in action:  (Left-right) Clara Seger (Alana De La Garza), Mae Jarvis (Annie Funke) and Matt Simmons (Daniel Henney), Unit Chief Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise). They are called the  FBI International Response Unit and they prefer running around in big black SUV’s while operating discretely in foreign countries. Driving golf carts on Ambergris Caye probably would not have worked for them in last night’s non-Belize-based episode.

My first inkling that the CBS series “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” dabbles in geographic bullshit was the network press release last week that touted Wednesday’s episode “Love Interrupted” taking place on the island of Belize.

It seems an American couple honeymooning on this mythical island is abducted and the FBI’s highly specialized foreign troubleshooting and extraction team drives to Ambergris Caye from the International Airport to rescue them.

Yeah, you read that right.

Drives to Ambergris Caye. Read the rest of this entry »

I mean, who gets a whole private island for their birthday? (Hint: You’re looking at him)

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Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island -- with 20 of my best friends!
Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island — with 20 of my best friends!

Your first thought when you step off the boat and on to Blackadore Caye is “This can not be real.”

It is like a Hollywood movie set for a tropical island adventure film.

The coconut trees seem too perfectly spaced to be real. The ground beneath them too perfectly swept clean. The sand too white. The water on either side of this long, narrow caye shimmers in variants of teal, turquoise and aquamarine. The dry, cool wind sweeps so sweetly upon the skin, not a drop of perspiration survives. The cloud-dappled sky is a dreamy blue — azure color #007FFF, if you are into replicating sky colors from an RGB color wheel. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Watching the newest ‘Star Wars’ beneath the stars — and beside the lagoon

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Lights, camera, roll 'em! The sun sets and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" begins at the Truck Stop, San Pedro, Belize.
Lights, camera, roll ’em! The sun sets and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” begins at the Truck Stop, San Pedro, Belize. That’s the fire pit in the foreground, used on Sundays to roast a pig or two and sometimes to toast marshmallows. The decking around it makes a great platform for viewing the Wednesday night movies.

There is something just so incalculably joyful about watching the Millennium Falcon speed through the universe in “Star Wars The Force Awakens” then tilting your head ever so slightly upward to count the real stars in the heavens.

Yes, the stars — and “Star Wars” — really were out last night on Ambergris Caye in Belize.

Outside, that is. Read the rest of this entry »

You are wrong, Jeffrey. Travel makes you a better person.

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Believe it or not, moving out of your Mom's basement and following the road less-traveled around the world will make you a better person. And that is worth something.
Believe it or not, moving out of your Mom’s basement and following the road less-traveled around the world will make you a better person. And that is worth something.

Let us pause for a moment and allow a wave of compassion wash over us for Jeffrey Grey.

The self-defined millennial recently wrote a piece for the blog “Thought Catalog” titled, “Why Your Obsession with Travel Means You’re Living a Mediocre Life.”

I’m sure we can all deduce what we need to know about Jeffrey from the title, and it is puzzling and sad, but let’s hear some more from the author: Read the rest of this entry »

Drink more Belikin, fight potholes: A cap-ital idea

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To you, this may seem like trash in the road butthse bottle caps my very well be the answer to arresting erosion and preventing potholes on San Pedro's unpaved streets.
To you, this may seem like trash in the road but these bottle caps my very well be the answer to arresting erosion and preventing potholes on San Pedro’s unpaved streets.

Ambergris Caye is famous for many things. Among the most famous, its pothole-filled streets.

It is just the nature of island living. We are sitting on a fluid pile of sand, silt and rock that shifts and seeps and moves with the wind and the rain. Especially the rain.

So, it is not unusual to see a town truck drop crushed rock on a badly pocked stretch of road, only to have the craters back in a matter of days.

Which brings me to the absolutely brilliant idea I had this morning as I walked along Boca Del Rio. While grappling with sun stroke.

This could be a fully realized section of bottle cap infused roadway in San Pedro, in which interlocked caps are securing the road and providing a colorful traction for bald tires. But it isn't. It is just a picture off the Internet.
This could be a fully realized section of bottlecap infused roadway in San Pedro, in which interlocked caps are securing the road and providing a colorful traction for bald tires. But it isn’t. It is just a picture off the Internet.

Just kidding. No sunstroke. But really, it is a brilliant idea.

In a word: bottlecaps. (Spellcheck tells me bottlecaps is two words. Not in my blog, Spellcheck. Back off, or I’ll break you up into “spell” and “check.”)

Bear with me.

While walking, I noticed an especially flat section of the road. Believe me, when you see a flat section of an unpaved road in the midst of undulations, crevices and craters then it behooves you to investigate.

For whatever reason — and I think the number of nearby bars has something to do with it — bottlecaps galore are embedded into the road. Mostly Belikin, of course.

My theory is that the serrated edge of the caps provides an interlocking effect that retards the the erosion of the roads. The more caps slammed into the soil, the greater the surface cohesion.

The beautiful thing is there is an infinite supply of bottlecaps, as we drink a lot of beer here. Almost all of it Belikin.

And we’re lucky: The public seems attuned to tossing their caps on the ground already. We just have to get people to aim for the road. The constant traffic of golf carts, taxi vans and pickup trucks will do the rest.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. And the sunstroke is making me dizzy.

Just think about it. Since you are going to toss your bottlecaps on the ground anyway, toss them where they will do the most good.

Next week: How used Styrofoam cups, plates and containers can be turned into the home of your dreams . . .

Portraits: The story of San Pedro women in 62 powerful chapters

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San Pedro Photographer Karen Brodie and her mother-in-law May Lowe. Her monthlong exhibition, "Women of San Pedro" opens Thursday, March 10, 7 p.m. at the San Pedro House of Culture.
San Pedro Photographer Karen Brodie and her mother-in-law May Lowe. Her monthlong exhibition, “Celebrating the Women of San Pedro” opens Thursday, March 10, 7 p.m. at the San Pedro House of Culture. Karen’s own essay and insights on the exhibit can be read below. (All photos by Karen Brodie)

In the two-and-a-half years that photographer Karen Brodie has lived in San Pedro, Belize, she has taken a lot of pictures.

If you have attended any local events — like Garifuna Settlement Day, the Mothers Day celebration, Seniors Appreciation Day at the Lions Club, the Costa Maya Festival — then you have seen her prowling the edges with her camera, snapping away.

More often than not, she is looking for interesting faces — proud faces, happy faces, strong faces, quiet faces, old faces, young faces — faces that tell a story without speaking a word. So, yes, she has quite a collection.

So, you’d think that when Mito Paz, director of the San Pedro House of Culture, asked Karen to produce a show of her portraits of local women to celebrate National Women’s Month, she would say something like, “Sure! Piece of cake!” or “Easy peasy!”

But that wouldn’t be Karen. Read the rest of this entry »