A Very Merry Belizean Christmas to you all!

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With holiday love from Bob Hawkins and Rose Alcantara in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
With holiday love from Bob Hawkins and Rose Alcantara in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

 

In 2010, Rose and I spent Christmas with friends in their village Los Barriles, a quiet and endearing little fishing town on the Baja Peninsula, about 40 Km north of the go-go party town of Cabo San Lucas. It was my first Christmas away from family and the United States, but hardly the first for Rose, a well-traveled soul of the World.

It was a terrific holiday with our ex-pat friends Kim and Rick and their friends, and importantly, my first real exposure to an ex-pat life. Not that we were even remotely considering such a dramatic change in our own lives.

We had a surprise visitor on Christmas Eve — no not that one. His name is Robert F. Gannon.

Long ago, Bob took off from San Diego in “Lucky Lady,” a Cessna 182, and began flying around the world.  And now 10 years later — after three trips around the globe, numerous adventures, mishaps, a massive collection of new friends and profound acts of luck and good fortune — Bob was ready to come home. In a stroke of good luck on my part, I was assigned to hunt him down and interview him before he reached his home airport in El Cajon, a dusty city east of San Diego, now flying in his “Lucky Lady Too.”

Around Thanksgiving, I found Bob on a layover in Mexico and we had a terrific conversation. He planned to hang out in Mexico until January, then make his triumphant return.

Globe-trotting pilot Bob Gannon in front of his home away from home, Lucky Lady Too, somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, if I recall correctly.
Globe-trotting pilot Bob Gannon in front of his home away from home, Lucky Lady Too, somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, if I recall correctly.

As you can imagine of anyone who travels the world, Bob is a first-rate raconteur who makes lifelong friends as easily as others breath air. I easily succumbed to his charm, his wit and his tales of adventure.

A few days after the story ran, we spoke again. I impulsively mentioned to Bob that we would be in Mexico, too,  for Christmas and if he wasn’t doing anything to come join us. Seeing as we were in the same country and all.

To my surprise, Bob said he’d be happy to join us.

And sure enough, on Christmas Eve day he landed on the tiny little rolling tar strip just north of Los Barriles and hitched a ride into town, arms laden with bottles of wine.

Needless to say, at dinner that night at Rick and Kim’s, Bob mesmerized a global audience of ex-pats with his good cheer and stirring tales of landing on dirt strips in Africa, high altitude fields in the Himalayas, and crossing the Pacific in what was basically a full gas tank with wings.

When Bob heard that I had proposed to Rose earlier that day — a most-clumsy, inarticulate and unimaginative proposal as ever there was one by an alleged writer — he took to the floor and proposed, to wild applause,  that we get married the very next day. Did I mention how impulsive people like Bob can be?

“What is there to prevent you from getting married?” he asked with a gleam in his eye and a glass of red wine upraised in his hand.

With no good answer for Bob, we still didn’t get married the that day.

After that night, Bob returned to his hotel and somehow managed to invite every soul in Los Barriles down to the airport for a ride in his plane. By the time we got there, the line was filled with local parents and kids. Bob took off, flew around the town and landed over and over, until everyone at the strip had been given a ride. Most of those kids had never dreamed of ever flying in a plane and the looks on their faces said it all when they landed.

Rose and me after our wedding with all our kids, Ryan, Cami, Brendan,Jon, Caira, Chris, Katie and Quinn in Los Barriles, Mexico.
Rose and me after our wedding with all our kids, Ryan, Cami, Brendan, Jon, Caira, Chris, Katie and Quinn in Los Barriles, Mexico.

The wedding finally took place in Los Barriles, but not until February 12, 2012,  with 40 family members and friends present. Sadly, Bob was not among them.

True to his word,  he did come home after 10 years — but true to his nature, Bob Gannon couldn’t stay grounded. He took off again and I like to imagine that he is still hopping from dirt road to airport to open field somewhere around the world.

Merry Christmas, Bob Gannon, where every you may be. I know that you are making the life of those around you on this day as merry and bright as any they have ever had.

Keep flying, old friend. And thank you for helping make our own dreams soar.

And Happy Holidays to you, our dear readers and newest friends. May you all have a wonderful 2015, in which your answer to the question “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” will be “Why, just today!”

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11 thoughts on “A Very Merry Belizean Christmas to you all!

    Susan Watts said:
    December 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    Bruce Krietsch said:
    December 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    ENJOYED YOUR BLOG. MET YOU AT LEGENDS COUPLE MONTHS AGO. INTEND TO BE DOWN THERE SOON. MAYBE SEMI PERMANENTLY. YOU AND REBECCA KEEP ME UP TO SPEED ON WHAT’S HAPPENING DOWN THERE…. THANKS BRUCE.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      December 24, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Hey Bruce! Good to hear. Legends has been making steady upgrades under its new owner … but not so much to spoil its rustic charm! Great musicians playing, as always. Merry Christmas.

      Like

    Julia Smith said:
    December 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Always love reading your blogs Bob. Enjoy your Christmas and may all of your wishes come true. Julia

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      December 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      And the very same and best to you, Julia!
      Happy sailing, strong winds at your back!

      Like

    Bb said:
    December 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Spent several winters there years ago windsurfing. Camped in my van north of town on the beach . Spent a lot of time in a bar in town ,can’t remember the name and took care of a house just north. Good memories…
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      December 24, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      Los Barriles is one of the greatest places on earth to windsurf! You must have had a blast!
      Merry Christmas, Bb!

      Like

    Tammy said:
    December 27, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    😊

    Liked by 1 person

    maureen said:
    January 6, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Hi Robert, I am a friend of Julia’s actually Mike Stirlings sister. I am wanting to house sit in Belize to check out the area for future retirement. I was wondering if you knew of a site for House/pet sitting or some type of expat community blog where I could post an ad.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 7, 2015 at 5:15 am

      Hi Maureen,
      I don’t know of a specific site for house-sitting but you might try the message board for Ambergris Caye, if this is where you are interested in staying: http://ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/

      Actually, if you do a Google search for “house sitting in Belize” some services and forums do come up. I can’t vouch for any of them, however.

      All other major ex-pat areas — San Ignacio, Corozal, Placencia — have their own forums which you should be easily able to find.

      This site has a list of media from all over the country if you hope to branch out: http://belizenews.com/

      I have seen an occasional house-sitting ad in the local weekly paper, too: The San Pedro Sun, but I have no idea how effective it might be.

      You could also send your contact information to me (robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com) with an idea of when you plan on coming. Right now, it is the High Season and that means just about everything that can be rented out is booked well into April or June.

      Certainly spending time here before choosing to move is the right idea. Renting in the off season, especially a six-month or one-year rental, is an economical option, too.

      Happy hunting. Hope this helps some.

      Bob

      Like

        maureen said:
        January 7, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        Hi Bob, Thank you for the info, I am definately following up on it. If you hear or see of anything I would be a responsible and loving pet/house sitter. I would like to come between Feb-June and am fairly flexible with short notice.
        Thanks again, Maureen (email mafstill@aol.com)

        Like

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