This week in San Pedro, Belize, our culinary gods are arthropods.
There is nothing more satisfying than a heaping plate of tender, buttery meat-laden exoskeleton. It is such a thrill to much on these giant krill.
The crustacean sensation is sweeping the entire Belize nation.
Yes, you rock, lobster.
Heck yes, it is LobsterFest.
This weeklong celebration marks the start of the lobster season and there clearly was a community feeling of anticipation building up to the start of the event this past weekend.
You know what this anticipation kind of reminds me of? And this is completely useless information unless you were a fan of the TV series “Northern Exposure.” The coming of LobsterFest is sort of a cross between the buildup to the Christmas Raven Pageant and the “Spring Break” — aka waiting for the ice to crack – episode.
I don’t mean literally – although I hear that LobsterFest II, later this month on Caye Caulker, tends to get pretty wild.
Come to think of it, there is a little of Cicely, the imaginary and remote Alaskan village, in San Pedro Town. There are strong, vivid and iconoclastic personalities here. Sometimes with just the right amount of quirkiness to fuel a whole dramedy series on TV.
Whoa. This is as crazy a digression as any that I’ve ventured into. I think I’ll take the exploration of similarities between Cicely and San Pedro off line for now.
After the power came back on Sunday afternoon, Rose and I bicycled over to Caribbean Villas for the opening LobsterFest beach party. Yeah, the power was off from 6 a.m. until about 3 p.m. as the whole island was shut down for maintenance on Father’s Day/World Cup Day/LobsterFest.
The party still went on – you don’t need electricity to serve drinks and BBQ lobster – but we decided to make the most of this quiet time and simply stay in bed with our Kindles powered on. Read and relax, just as God intended on the seventh day.
When the tell-tale hum of air conditioners and water pumps returned, we hopped on the bikes and pedaled south. Our more-experienced island friends were well into their afternoon celebrations and had consumed plenty of lobster before we got there.
Karaoke was in play under the band canopy and there was a fascinating display of twerking by a young blonde that made most everyone forget about lobster for the moment.
Unaware that Rose had ordered two lobster roll dinners for us, I wandered over to the kitchen and ordered a third dinner, which I thought we’d split. That’s why later that night at home we were still eating lobster roll. And believe me, that is no complaint.
So, a big chunk of the festival is the Lobster Crawl. Each day, participants take their “passport” to a designated restaurant or business to get stamped. There’s a daytime location and an evening restaurant which features a lobster dish or two on the menu.
If you are not into going out to dinner a lot, the Lobster Crawl is just kind of a thing that goes on until Saturday when there is a big public festival in Central Park, with music, singing, outdoor cooking and good times.
The more stamps you get, the more chances to win stuff like hotel stays, golf cart rentals, meals and drinks. Rose and I have collected a surprising number of stamps mainly because all the stops so far have coincided with our daily trips to yoga and Pilates.
Monday, for example, we stopped in at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve office/museum which has some great displays of coral reef life. I learned that a sea turtle has actually nested south of town, which I gather is unusual. Turtles usually nest well to the north of town but development, dock lighting and dubious activity near the border with Mexico may be driving the turtles to the south.
That was worth getting a stamp.
Beyond chasing lobster stamps, Rose and I have been getting ready for our trip to England for a wedding and back to the States for a couple of weeks. We’re also still exploring the possibility of moving to the south of town when our lease is up in August.
We’ve been watching the World Cup with far more interest and intensity than either of us would have ever imagined. It helps when you are surrounded by people who legitimately have invested their heart and soul into their country’s team. And a lot of countries are represented here.
I can bicycle through town during a football match and pretty much tell how the game is going because every television set is fixed on the same station, broadcasting the same game at full volume.
This week has also been consumed by the latest novel from Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo, “The Son.” While this is a police-related thriller, it does not involve Harry Hole (Hoo-lay), the brilliantly failed cop who stars in so many of his novels. Same crime-ridden Oslo, same corrupt police force, same kinds of horribly diabolical human beings – and the same kind of morally complicated scenarios that Harry Hole stumbles through.
In this one, a 30-year-old Sonny Lofthus has floated through 12 years in prison, pretty much perpetually high on heroin. In that time he has confessed to two murders and is about to take the rap for a third when he learns some significant information about the apparent suicide and corruption confession of his father, a one-time highly regarded cop.
Sonny breaks out of Oslo’s newest and most secure prison and disappears, surfacing only to take extraordinarily appropriate and gruesome revenge on the individuals who destroyed his father and his family.
Pursuing Sonny is a cop who was once his father’s best friend. He’s also being pursued by corrupt cops, government officials and mobsters – all of whom have something to fear from Sonny’s acts of vengeance.
I don’t mean to be writing a book review. It is just that Jo Nesbo is an insanely good writer and storyteller. If I don’t surface for a while, it is probably because I have gotten hooked on one of his books. Or one of Haruki Murakami’s. He has a new one coming out soon, too, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.”
Suffice to say, I’m never bored when I have Jo and Haruki to keep me company.