Celebrating Sleep-in Sunday on Ambergris Caye

Posted on Updated on

This is the view from the Ak'bol resort's restaurant, where we had breakfast last Sunday. The palapa at the end of the pier is used for yoga. A great thing to watch as you eat coconut French toast.
This is the view from the Ak’bol resort’s restaurant, where we had breakfast last Sunday. The palapa at the end of the pier is used for yoga. A great thing to watch as you eat coconut French toast.

Welcome to Sleep-In Sunday!

It is nearly 10 a.m. and I am drinking only my first cup of coffee for the day.

Sleep-In Sunday is a variation on Exploration Sunday, during which Rose and I get on our bikes and discover new places and spaces here on Ambergris Caye.

There are mainly two options for exploration:

  1. You can go north.
  2. You can go south.

Two weeks ago we went south, to the Marco Gonzalez Mayan Ruins, where we learned about mosquitoes, snakes and very large spiders. And the importance of adequate hydration and Cutter’s bug spray.

Last Sunday we decided it was time for something a little different: We went north.

Let’s start with breakfast, a wonderful place to begin any journey of discovery.

We stopped at the yoga resort Ak’bol  on the way up the beach path, partially because we’d been told the coconut French toast is out of this world. Two slabs of bread encrusted in sweet coconut crumbs and egg? Yeah, pretty much out of this world.

So were the salbutes with egg and shredded cabbage on top, a staple in the Belizean diet. (Note to self: Create the Salbute-Fry Jack Diet for people who are comfortable with their own bodies…). Rose had those. But of course we shared.

This becoming a pattern in our dining experience: Rose will order from the savory/healthy list and I will order sweet/carnivorous/oh-my-god-that’s-so-fattening — plus dessert. Invariably, a portion of her meal will end up on my plate and a piece of mine sidles over to her’s.

Win-win. I get all the calories and carbs and Rose has a clear conscience.

So, I sat there munching on cane syrup-drenched coconut pancakes as a crowd of yoga-thin types walked down to the dock for their morning  session under the big palapa. Didn’t feel guilty at all. Just too busy enjoying the French toast and coffee.

There were a lot of yoga people. I expected the palapa to sink into the sea under all that weight. Then I realized: Yoga people don’t have all that weight. Time for more French toast and coffee, and a few bites of salbute and eggs.

This was the beginning of our Sunday ride up the coast. Our goal: To go where these two bikes had never gone before. That meant, of course, some places where the beach path had been wiped out … or grown too sandy to ride … or was filled with plastic litter from cruise ships.

Spoiler alert: Mission accomplished.

This time we got as far north as Canary Cove Resort, 5.5 miles up from San Pedro Town.  This was actually farther than we’d planned. The guys at Rojo Beach Bar, around Mile 4 were still setting up. We had about an hour to kill, so we pedaled on.

Our plan, loosely, was to spend the afternoon at Rojo, enjoying the cool pool waters, the comfortable lounges facing the sea, a cold beer or two and perhaps a late afternoon lunch before heading back down the coast.

Rose, wise woman that she is, brought her Kindle to read as she relaxed. I did not. And this isn’t the part of the world where you can pick up someone’s discarded Sunday New York Times to peruse.

Fortunately there were many distractions to keep me amused.

There is Forrest the hip-hop cockatiel  who roosts in the rafters  above the bar. Forrest puts on a show —  he bobs his head in time with the music, he flies on to the shoulders of the bar guys and sometimes he hassles the patrons. Mostly he keeps the iPhone cameras clicking away with his adorableness.

Meet Forrest, the absurdly adorable cockatiel at the Rojo Beach Bar, who will dance for you, shamelessly grandstand on the rafters above the bar and sometimes harass pizza-eating patrons for crumbs.
Meet Forrest, the absurdly adorable cockatiel at the Rojo Beach Bar, who will dance for you, shamelessly grandstand on the rafters above the bar and sometimes harass pizza-eating patrons for crumbs.

I could have watched Forrest for hours except that my attention was drawn to an oceanic drama unfolding just off the coast. A barge with earth-moving equipment aboard was stuck on a sandbank and its mighty little tugboat was struggling to pull it off.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. We were pulling for this little tug with its sandbar-bound barge.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. We were pulling for this little tug with its sandbar-bound barge.

With other male patrons seated at the bar, we poured out our best manly speculation on the best way to free the barge. They went something like this:

  1. Wait for high tide.
  2. I think it is high tide.
  3. Oh.
  4. Why doesn’t he try pushing it off, instead of pulling with a rope?
  5. I don’t want to be there when that rope snaps.
  6. I think the tug is trying to churn out a channel. You know, like people stuck in snow do.
  7. Huh?
  8. I think we’re gonna need  bigger boat.

I seriously thought of writing down our most helpful suggestions and swimming out to the sandbar with them. But that tow rope really looked like it was ready to snap.

After a few hours — where does the time go? — and completely without our help, the tug spun the barge away from shore, toward the open sea and pulled it back to San Pedro.

The obvious admission of defeat caused great sorrow among we seasoned observers and called for another round of Belikin beers.

Then just as a tropical form of ennui was setting in a whole fleet of little boats sailed into view. It was the Sunday sailing school from one or the other of the two clubs in San Pedro. Like little ducklings trailing behind the mothership, the boats followed a motorboat into shore, just above the Rojo.

With a constant breeze, and a protective barrier reef to the east, sailing up and down the coast must be like flying on air.
With a constant breeze, and a protective barrier reef to the east, sailing up and down the coast must be like flying on air.

The kids jumped ashore, secured their skiffs then launched themselves into the brilliant green-blue waters off a nearby pier. Some returned to their boats and tacking and practiced coming about in the the large cove created by two widely spaced piers.

God that looked like fun.

Rose cools off in the Rojo Beach Bar's pool as one of the local dog mascots looks on from a lounge.
Rose cools off in the Rojo Beach Bar’s pool as one of the local dog mascots looks on from a lounge.

In between these events there was much to do:

  1. Wade in the pool
  2. Doze in the shade at the edge of the pool.
  3. Pet one of several mascot dogs arrayed around the pool.
  4. People watch and for extra credit, try to guess which state they are from. Texans are the most obvious. They invariably have clothing (like cowboy hats), jewelry, accents or tattoos that scream Lone Star state. New Yorkers — the city — remain in subway mode, avoiding direct eye contact and conversation. New Jerseyites are either very pale or searingly red and complain/boast about how much they had to drink the night before. Californians (like me) are amazed by everything they see.
  5. Eat food.

That last one was the best. We’d heard Rojo’s menu was among the best on the island. We didn’t go there to test out the claim but I have to say, it was … what’s the word I’m seeking? … delicious.

We started with a spicy hummus and pita bread and finished with a late lunch. Guess who had the kale salad and who ordered the plate of pork bao buns. Of course we shared!

You’d think that after such an action-packed, food-and-beverage-filled afternoon that the trip home would be exhausting. I briefly flirted with the idea of hailing a water taxi to transport us and our bikes to a pier near our home.

So glad we didn’t.

As we slowly cycled south on the coastal beach trail, we were hailed from the pool of a spectacular house, just off the edge of the path, mere feet from the Caribbean Sea.
It was our new friends, Greg and Rhonda from Texas. We’d met them Friday night at a Wine de Vine happy hour in San Pedro Town. They shared their table with us.
You might like their story. Two years ago they flew into San Pedro, took a trip with a Realtor up north of town to look at a beachfront lot and within 48-hours they were Belize land owners.
They drew up house plans in consultation with a local architect and hired a contractor. In almost no time at all — by island standards — they had a beautiful house and pool.
As they face the ocean, there is a small resort to their right, and a vacant house to their left. They call the resort and have meals delivered if they don’t feel like cooking.
While we were visiting Greg hailed Bruce, a young entrepreneur in a Celtics ballcap, who set up a coconut stand with a big cooler and machete on the edge of the property. It was his first day and Bruce was doing very well. He chopped open a chilled coconut and bought it over to the pool, so Rose and I could have  refreshing beverage before resuming our trip.
Other island entrepreneurs pedaled by with fresh fruit and even homemade caramel popcorn, which was delicious.
To put it mildly, we were dazzled by Greg and Rhonda’s good fortune and beautiful setting. But there was something else that dazzled me, they treat everyone they meet graciously, island native and expat alike. They spoke with a near-parental pride about  Bruce’s success that day and most warmly about the many islanders with whom they share relationships.
Sure, Greg and Rhonda offered us hospitality on the hot ride home but I got a lot more — a lesson in how to live on a small island with a diverse population — approach every relationship with respect, curiosity, sensitivity, empathy, appreciation, graciousness and generosity.
These are the lights that will guide you toward good people and keep you  off the shoals.
And now, it time for breakfast … or lunch if you are a stickler for watching the clock.
My, god, where does the time go?
Weather report: Windy and sublime. That's it. This image is from the town beach and park near the San Pedro bridge in Boca del Rio neighborhood.
Weather report: Windy and sublime. That’s it. This image is from the town beach and park near the San Pedro bridge in Boca del Rio neighborhood.

 

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Celebrating Sleep-in Sunday on Ambergris Caye

    Karen Kelly said:
    March 30, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    So glad you are enjoying your new home! Great adventures.

    Like

    Kathy said:
    March 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Love your blog, and hope to run into you when we move down full time this fall…love that your respecting the island time and people and share such wonderful adventures! We will be down for a couple weeks in June to check out our rental and meet few people we have come to already call friends! Enjoy paradise!

    Like

    Kathy Chavis said:
    March 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I will have to have an order of the crazy good Coconut French toast in June. Beautiful photos showed my husband as I asked if anyone could ever grow tired of looking at the Caribbean waters. Not us.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      March 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Can’t stop thinking about the coconut french toast! Except tonight when Rose made grilled pork chops with baked apple slices, mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage — an un-Belizean dinner but oh so good!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s