Rose and I went for a late-afternoon bike ride on Friday.
North or South?
We almost flipped a coin to decide which direction to take. South leads us through chaotic San Pedro Town. North leads us along the beach past grand resorts, stately homes and palapa appointed piers.
W skipped the coin toss and agreed to head south.
Good Friday in San Pedro promised to be quite different from any other day in town. For one, the town is packed with people. We’d heard that every hotel room is filled and every golf cart on the island is rented out for the weekend.
Ambergris Caye is a really popular Easter weekend destination for mainland Belizeans and Spring Break tourists.
Good Friday is also a dry day on the island, and the whole country, from midnight to midnight. Nobody can sell liquor on Good Friday, except for restaurants that serve alcohol with meals.
As busy as the island is, many stores and restaurants simply close for the day, if not for the whole weekend. Easter is a time of celebration and family and Belizeans, who love to celebrate with friends and family, simply aren’t available to work.
Not that people can’t drink on Good Friday, of course.
Rose noted a group of men sipping beers in the shade of the Alcoholics Anonymous Building in Boca del Rio. Coolers seemed to be everywhere along the shore, in the backs of golf carts, beside deck chars at hotels.
People were out and about, especially in Central Park where lots of food concessions had planted their canopies and were pumping out tortillas, nachos, bacon-wrapped hotdogs, burritos, barbecue and all the fixings.
It seemed as if the end of every pier — and there are lots of piers — was surrounded by dozens of kids romping in the water. Along the shore, parents and groups were partaking in one of the favorite national past times, barbecuing.
Laughter, salt water splashing and the aroma of roasting ribs slathered in sauce arose and blended with lilting Reggae/island music into an exotic holiday perfume as we pedaled along the shore. We couldn’t stop grinning with gratitude.
This feeling of relaxed, familial celebration was present where ever we cycled.
It is quite different from the party-hearty atmosphere usually seen along the beach. And it was not to last,of course. A number of local bars and clubs promised to reopen at midnight — midnight sharp — and party hard til the sun comes up.
And that’s as much a part of San Pedro Town as anything else.
It is a fascinatingly complicated community.
And we love that.