Our first night in our new home and it rained.
Thunderous, pummeling, buckets of rain. For, maybe, fifteen minutes. Maybe half an hour.
I honestly don’t know. But it was long enough to come pouring in through the windows in the two bathrooms. They were wide open to aid cross ventilation of the tropic breeze which blows in a constant ocean-to-lagoon direction.
I can’t imagine when we’ll need the air conditioning as long as the breeze continues. This place ventilates like a Louisiana shotgun cottage. Keep the doors and windows open and the breeze blows through, steady as a freight train.
We moved into Reef Village yesterday afternoon with the aid of John East and his golf cart. John and I rode with the bags and Rose pedaled her bike ahead of us. It took one trip — and one hike up the three flights of stairs to get everything into the condo.
Say, we really did travel light.
We’re just a stone’s throw south of John and Rose East, the great friends with whom we have been staying since arriving in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye – when was it? – Tuesday? Monday?
They have been so incredibly generous to Rose and me, with a place to live as we hunted for our own and with great advice, support and friendship. We look forward to returning the many favors as we grow island roots.
As for Reef Village, it seems to have been around for a while. It is currently going through a rebirth of sorts, a familiar occurrence here in which the condo owners – unhappy with deteriorating conditions, rising assessments and lower rental income – organize a coup and bring in new management.
That’s probably a pretty familiar scenario where ever the condo trend has begun to hit middle age.
During the tempestuous legal wrangling, some things have gone to seed. Like the island that sits in the center of the lagoon. There is a restaurant and swimming pool, both of which have been closed since the ownership struggles began. That’s left poor Omar with his open-air bar, solid WiFi signal and very few patrons.
God, how he misses the pool and restaurant that drove tourists onto his bar stools.
His wife, who used to work in the restaurant, opened up a little deli/diner this week, just below the bridge on Middle Street. It is called Abuella’s (Grandmother’s) and is quickly gaining a reputation for its johnnycakes, Key Lime pie and other treats.
It is doing really well, says Omar, flashing a huge smile. His first since we sat down at the bar for some Belikin beers and WiFi.
Right now, Reef Village’s less-contested parts are abuzz with workers, adding fresh coats of paint to the three-story buildings, filling craters in the roads with crushed rock, landscaping and generally adding primp and prime to the place.
From the road, I wouldn’t call Reef Village paradise pretty, Caribbean charming or island quaint. There are two rows of these white blocky buildings. They look like they were designed by a very severe and angry German architect, perhaps a dropout from the Bauhaus School.
The first row faces the heavily traveled dirt road and the ocean, a pretty good thing if you are second or third floor, I imagine. A lot of dusting, closed doors and air conditioning if you are on the ground floor.
Our row of buildings wraps around the lagoon and faces west, toward the mainland.
There are also about 40 pastel-colored houses creating an arc around the lagoon. Most are single level and some may be duplexes. The all have nice decks and glass doors facing on to the lagoon. Beyond them is the larger lagoon with its mangrove islands and crocodiles. On the distant shore of the island I can see what looks like large condo/resort projects under construction. The only access to them, I’m told, is by boat.
If I lean out to my left, I can see the back of the island’s only theater, which never seems to be open. Just beyond is the island’s only bridge, over which golf carts and taxis pay a toll. Most days you can see a nice gentleman on the bridge sweeping it.
That’s a real island touch.
We walked up the road to a place called Legend for some burgers last night. We were there on Wednesday night when they have a blues-rock jam and the place was packed. Very good music, excellent burgers and only one waiter whose ability to serve – though energetic — was stretched to the max.
Last night we were almost the only people there and the waiter, Rudy, greeted us with “Hi, welcome back!” That seems to be a Belizean trait. The first time you are a customer. The second time you invariably get a “welcome, back.” Come often enough and you become a friend.
While the outside of our building may lack island character, the inside is another story.
Our condo has a 30-foot porch with chairs and a short couch and three sets of glass doors opening on to it. I already gravitated to the porch for a couple of hours this morning.
We got the second bedroom and bathroom we weren’t expecting and a spacious kitchen, dining room for eight, living room/media/library area and a portable wine cellar.
The owners, from Southern California, have decorated the place with very nice local art and furniture and have apparently never rented it out before. It was strictly for family and well taken care of.
And we shall do the same. This is home for the next six months and Rose and I are both so thrilled to begin our island adventure!