A bit of this, a little of that and then some . . . . ice cream

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Easter Sunday morning, just as the sun is starting to arise on Ambergris Caye.
Easter Sunday morning, just as the sun is starting to rise on Ambergris Caye.

Rose was pretty adamant on Easter morning: There will be no taking of photos during Mass.

That is why you will not see pictures of the 12 burly men of San Pedro dressed as the Apostles, or the little girls of the choir in their white gowns and heels, or the many devout abuelas. 

Sunrise on Easter Sunday.
Sunrise on Easter Sunday.

In a way, I didn’t mind.

I’d gotten up at 5 a.m. to photograph the sunrise and found myself transfixed in a state somewhere between deep meditation and awe as the fledgling sun fought its way through a rough bunch of clouds for supremacy of the sky. Tooth and nail, the sun scraped its way upward, emitting glorious golden rays like those seen on the heads of saints and martyrs in Renaissance paintings.

The sun was throwing light in shades of pink and red and gold against everything and everything until it emerged supreme above the head of the last cloud, sending a wave of heat across the island that stayed with us for the rest of the day.

You’d think I’d never witnessed a sunrise before.

And, in a way, that is how it felt.

I think my life, my eyes, my breathing, my consciousness are slowing down — now that I have left my old world behind — to where I am present in the moment, filled with the mindfulness that I so often heard Thich Nhat Hanh speak of, but always found just beyond my grasp.

Watching the sun rise with no other place to go, no other person to be, no past nor present to confront — this is an unanticipated gift of Paradise. And to happen on Easter Sunday gives fresh new weight to “He is risen”

So, yeah. No pictures during Mass.

I can live with that.

* * *        * * *        * * *

Aji Tapas Bar & Restaurant  is one of the island's environmental restaurants -- no walls, sand floor, canopy of trees with firefly lights.  There's a palapa which you can scoot under and finish your meal should it rain.
Aji Tapas Bar & Restaurant is one of the island’s environmental restaurants — no walls, sand floor, canopy of trees with firefly lights. There’s a palapa which you can scoot under and finish your meal should it rain.

For breakfast, we decided to bicycle up to the Aji Tapas Bar & Restaurant, less than  a couple  miles north of our home. It is a beautiful ride up the shore past the Palapa Bar, Ak’bol Yoga Resort, the Grand Caribe and numerous stately homes and guesthouses.

Chap says h's auditioning to be the next GEICO spokesman. Something about a more edgy campaign by the insurance company ... "iguana make something of it?"
Chap says he’s auditioning to be the next GEICO spokesman. Something about a more-edgy campaign by the insurance company … “iguana make something of it?”

You won’t find a more charming or romantic setting on the island, I’m pretty sure of that. Nor do I think breakfast is its strong suit. Not pricey, not bad but not the equal of  its setting.

Still, I could have sat there under the leaf and palm cover all morning, gazing out at the blue sea and down at the friendliest little iguana I’ve ever seen and making small talk with Rose over fresh coffee.

Remarkably and from nowhere, it started to drizzle. Just a spritz but enough for us to run for cover under the palapa bar where we finished our breakfast.

* * *        * * *        * * *

I have absolutely no idea why I'm including this image, except that on the way home from  breakfast at Aji, they struck me as an especially fine collection of clouds, set off nicely by the Caribbean Sea below. Perhaps you can stare at them for a while. Tell me if you see faces, animal shapes or the profiles of famous rock musicians in them.
I have absolutely no idea why I’m including this image, except that on the way home from breakfast at Aji, they struck me as an especially fine collection of clouds, set off nicely by the Caribbean Sea below. Perhaps you can stare at them for a while. Tell me if you see faces, animal shapes or the profiles of famous rock musicians in them.

* * *        * * *        * * *

A bit of the end of a two-day beach party at Caribbean Villas in the south side of San Pedro.
A bit of the end of a two-day beach party at Caribbean Villas in the south side of San Pedro.

A very hard lesson about disappointment was learned on Sunday: Never go hunting for sand castles in the afternoon.

No need to teach this to your children. They already know it all too well.

We decided to bicycle down to a place called Caribbean Villas where a sand castle building contest was among numerous events planned for the day. Cheap beer, music and barbecue were some of the others.

Alas, by 4 p.m. the sand castles looked like they’d been thoroughly stomped into submission by the feet of little children. In fact, even as we gazed out trying to imagine the architectural wonders they might have been earlier in the day, several children walking up the beach broke away from their parents and began stomping on the already well-stomped piles of sand.

Catching air.
Catching air.

What is it with kids and stomping on sand castles?

At least the cold beer was cheap, the music was lively and the shade was welcoming. Most of the folks sitting around looked as thoroughly stomped as the sand castles. It has been a very long weekend of celebration in San Pedro.

Before leaving we spent some quality time watching this kiteboarder cut through the air.

He would skim back and forth over the water, then soar up high, flipping and rolling before sticking it with a beautiful landing. When he angled toward shore, the kiter made a sharp turn in front of some little kids, sending a high swath of spray over their heads.

Clearly a well-practiced routine which the kids fully expected to be part of the kiter’s repertoire.

Damn, this looks like fun.

How many distinct elements in this picture can you find that simply scream "Beautiful, Belize!"? Sorry no prizes will be awarded at this time but if you are in town, I understand thousands of Belikin beer cozies, Carib beer T-shirts were given away. Perhaps you can find one ....
How many distinct elements in this picture can you find that simply scream “Beautiful, Belize!”? Sorry no prizes will be awarded at this time but if you are in town, I understand thousands of Belikin beer cozies, Carib beer T-shirts were given away. Perhaps you can find one ….

* * *        * * *        * * *

On the way home, up a still very crowded beach, we had the good fortune to come in at the tail end of a — sorry about that — bikini contest.

The final four contestants were in the last desperate moments of bumping, teasing and titillating the lads. Tip: Let your sunglasses fall off your head. Then slowly, very slowly, reach down  from your waist, back to the crowd, to pick them up. Also, very important: Turn and wink at the front row of drooling fools while still bent over.

Mind you, I picked all this knowledge up in less than the two minutes remaining in the contest.

It was enough to put the young lady from Idaho over the top. It also enabled the MC to toss in a couple of potato jokes, though he squandered the opportunity, I thought.

Most notable about this whole scenario was that one of the young ladies popped off the stage with a 12-pack of beer (her prize) in one hand and gave me a high-five with the other.

Not a beer. Just a high-five.

Why, I don’t know.

As in church, I declined to take pictures. With my darling Rose on the bike next to me, I didn’t need to be told this time.

I’m no fool.

Not a complete one, anyway.

So, after this vignette, who can guess where we went for ice cream? I had a mango cone. Rose had coconut. The most popular flavor among locals, the owner told us, is soursop.

Next time, for sure.

Here’s a hint:

If you said DandE Ice Cream on Middle Street, you are correct. Finally. Three times I've stopped there and three times it has been closed. Two, beacuse they are always closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and one for an emergency.  Worth being persistent, I say. Yum.
If you said DandE Ice Cream on Middle Street, you are correct. Finally. Three times I’ve stopped there and three times it has been closed. Two, beacuse they are always closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and one for an emergency. Worth being persistent, I say. Yum.

 

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7 thoughts on “A bit of this, a little of that and then some . . . . ice cream

    Susan Moore said:
    April 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Good for Rose…no pictures during mass. But, wow, you wrote a wonderful and compelling story of your Easter Sunday, and the pictures were beautiful. Thank you!

    Like

    Susan Moore said:
    April 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Oh! San Pedro Catholic Church has a Facebook page and there are lots of pictures…even pictures of the hefty apostles.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      April 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks for reminding me, Susan. I added a link to the story. In a brawl, I want those apostles on my side!

      Like

    James Simon said:
    April 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Robert: we really enjoy your blog and photos. I am wondering if, as you guys settle in, you might address some of the more fundamental practical issues about re-locating to Belize and in particular ambergris caye There are a ton of ‘how to’ sites but I am interested the real details of everyday life and affordability from someone actually there and relatively new to the experience. What are the real expenses of living down there they way you two have framed it? food, housing, fun, insurance, etc. And also how it will be living there in the off season/summer in terms of comfort, heat, etc. sorry if you have already posted on this stuff I may have missed it.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      April 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks for such a thoughtful message, James and “M.” Here and there I have touched on the realities of living in Belize, but as you probably surmised, it is not a subject that I have tackled head on. As a newcomer I am leery of making rookie errors. As a former newspaper writer I am constantly pounding down the urge to make assumptions or sweeping generalizations.

      I can say this: Belize is a far more complicated and interesting country than either of us imagined.

      For example, Ambergris Caye is every bit as beautiful as I have portrayed it in pictures and words. And it is also dirty, noisy, chaotic, crowded (at times) and dangerous (at times). The newness of it all and the beauty that exists are what have mostly preoccupied us in the mere two months that we have been here.

      But, believe me, I have no desire to write about only the times when I have a very tasty ice cream cone.

      As we grow more comfortable and familiar with our new home, I do want to write much more about day-to-day experience. For example, Rose has been tracking our expenses and when we build up a decent database we will write more about these sorts of things.

      Again, thanks for your encouragement and stay tuned!

      Like

    Cara said:
    January 5, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    “…You’d think I’d never witnessed a sunrise before.
    And, in a way, that is how it felt.
    I think my life, my eyes, my breathing, my consciousness are slowing down — now that I have left my old world behind — to where I am present in the moment, filled with the mindfulness that I so often heard Thich Nhat Hanh speak of, but always found just beyond my grasp.”….

    Exactly how I’ve always felt, just took me 40 years to figure it out that I need the ocean breeze and the sand and the sun and the palm trees to achieve that, it’s where I am meant to be, it’s where I belong. Thank you for putting that into such beautiful words.

    Like

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