This is how you end up sleeping through New Years Eve in Belize

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Katie and Rose hold up their barracuda, the last two caught for the day aboard the Lucky Devil in San Pedro, Belize.
Katie and Rose hold up their barracuda, the last two caught for the day aboard the Lucky Devil in San Pedro, Belize.

With the departure on New Years Eve day of my youngest son Chris and his wife, Katie, all three of my sons have now visited us on Ambergris Caye in Belize. Ryan was the first, back around Thanksgiving 2014. Brendan, Cami and Brody were here for two wonderful weeks this summer.

My work is done here.

Now all I need do is sit back and wait for each to reach the obvious conclusion: “Man that was fun. Let’s go to Belize again!”

It will happen.

A storm rolls in fr4om the east as we were fishing on the back side of Ambergris Caye on Wednesday. It was a brief and refreshing down pour that left behind blue skies and some hungry barracuda.
A storm rolls in fr4om the east as we were fishing on the back side of Ambergris Caye on Wednesday. It was a brief and refreshing down pour that left behind blue skies and some hungry barracuda.

People always come back to Belize. It is just a thing. One visit, however long, is not enough. Especially for family.

I hope.

Chris and Katie took the long way to the island: a flight to Cancun and buses to Belize City. From there they took a bus to Belmopan and a new eco-resort called Chaya Maya Jungle Lodge from which they explored the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave and donated much blood to the local mosquito population. I was supposed to join them but health issues kept me here on the island. Again! Last year I missed out on the ATM Caves when my son Ryan visited because of a heart issue.

I promise you, ATM, some day. Some day.

Chris and Katie play on the inner-tubes at the new Palapa Bar and Grill while waiting for lunch. Great way to cool off.
Chris and Katie play on the inner-tubes at the new Palapa Bar and Grill while waiting for lunch. Great way to cool off.

We had a whirlwind two days on the island with Chris and Katie, starting with their water taxi ride here on Tuesday from Belize City, a bumpy adventure thanks to the 20-30 mph winds that have been roiling the sea. A nice lunch at Estel’s Dine by the Sea settled their stomachs. Tuesday is trivia night at Coco Loco’s Beach Bar and we did pretty well although, in trivia, there is ONLY first place. We did even better with one of Carmen’s pizzas.

Later, we dragged them up the street for Jam Night at Legends Burger House, which is still trying to regain its footing under new ownership. Fresh paint, a more-open space, remodeled bathrooms and a brand new kitchen are a great start. I assume that, in time, lots of musicians will find their way to the jam that was once the place to be on a Tuesday night.

Chip's in charge: The Lucky Devil heads for the back side of Ambergris Caye for some fishing and swimming.
Chip’s in charge: The Lucky Devil on the back side of Ambergris Caye, trolling for barracuda. Chris and Katie are on the rods at the stern, Chunky in the forefront, Ruth and Rose on the right. Chip is at the helm and Franklin is seated in the middle. Wait. Where am I?
First 'cuda of the day and by far the biggest smile goes to Chris.
First ‘cuda of the day and by far the biggest smile goes to Chris.

On Wednesday morning Rose, Katie and Chris took yoga at Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat while I ran errands. We spent the rest of the day at the not-so Secret Beach on the west side of the island. Beautiful weather, clear and clean water and a lightly populated beach — nothing but upside for this adventure. On the way home, a stop at the Truck Stop for dinner, drinks and the sunset. Now that just finished the day off superbly. Thank you, sunset. You never fail.

While Katie returned to Ak Bol the next morning for yoga and Rose returned to work, Chris and I went in search of a boat for some fishing. Chip at Palapa Tours Belize came through with one of our favorite boats, the Lucky Devil for an afternoon trip.  For $300 USD, the boat was ours for the entire afternoon. Chip would take us swimming, snorkeling, cruising, and yes, fishing.

But first there was lunch at the terrific new Palapa Bar and Grill on Wet Willie’s Dock in Boca del Rio. Same great owners, same great staff, same great island spirit —  just a new location. Chris and Katie hung out in the inner-tubes as we waited for lunch and danced around the raindrops during a brief shower.

Our friends Chunky and Ruth signed on for our cruise and by 2 p.m. Chip, with his young son Franklin, was piloting us through the mangroves to the back of the island. Reef and sea fishing re pretty much out of the question these days with the strong winds kicking up the waves.

Chunky with the first of his two barracudas!
Chunky with the first of his two barracudas!

On the west side, it is a whole other story. Calm, blue water and bluer skies. But no fish. We started out looking for snapper but they weren’t nearly as hungry as the birds snapping up our bait. So, Chip changed up the game. He but whole sardines on the hooks and began trolling the flats around a mangrove island.

It was quiet going until Ruth broke out the Fireball and moments after Chris took his first sip he had a barracuda on the line. Same thing for Chunky. Now, I’m not saying the barracuda favor Fireball one way or another, just that I wasn’t the only one noticing this coincidence ….

This was out day. Chris and Chunky each took in two barracudas. Katie hooked a good one and almost landed it before the line snapped. Then Katie and Rose almost simultaneously hooked on to barracudas. Six total at the end of the day and lots of smiles all around. Rose came in with the biggest, a 12-to-15-pounder that was nearly as long as she is tall.

All together now: Bar-ra-cu-da!
All together now: Bar-ra-cu-da!

Biggest disappointment of the day was that nobody besides Ruth and I had ever heard of the Heart song “Barracuda.”

We took the filets and steaks down to The Office, a popular bar and restaurant on the lagoon side of San Pedro where the kitchen crew turned it into cerviche, fried strips and broiled steaks with slaw and french fries. Quite a feast.

The next morning, Chris, Katie and I made a mad dash down to The Baker so Chris could pick up some of Emily’s delicious British sausage rolls and cinnamon rolls for the trip to Cancun. We’d stopped in the day before that those rolls were weighing heavily on his taste buds.

And like that they were gone, a quick flight to Corozal and the ADO bus from Chetumal to Cancun.

We packed a lot into two day.

I know, because I fell asleep around 5 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 2016.

Sunset on the western side of Ambergris Caye, Belize, as we head for home on Wednesday. This image was shot through the lens of my polaroid sunglasses but it actually captures what was happening and how we were feeling at that moment!
Sunset on the western side of Ambergris Caye, Belize, as we head for home on Wednesday. This image was shot through the lens of my polaroid sunglasses but it actually captures what was happening and how we were feeling at that moment!
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8 thoughts on “This is how you end up sleeping through New Years Eve in Belize

    Emily Smith said:
    January 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    I can’t believe I’m in such good company — not only have I heard the song “Barracuda”, I used to own the LP it was on. Great post and good fishing!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

      I, too, have enjoyed their music and fierce independence in the rock world. Back in the day when CD-ROM was pretender to the media throne, somebody came up with a highly interactive Heart disk. It was crammed full of everything related to the band and — Wow! — kind of buggy. Frankly I could never get it to work on my computer. In the early days, content developers never seemed to care that the processing power of the typical home computer was about a decade behind their vision….
      At the launch party, I got to hang out with Ann and Nancy Wilson, in my role as a newspaper consumer technology writer and former rock critic. It was awkward and they were very cautious when around media, probably for good reasons. Still, they did a small private acoustic concert for us and it was incredible.

      Like

    Susan said:
    January 1, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    So great that your son Chris and his wife Katie could visit even for a couple of days. But my big question is HOW ARE YOU?! Is everything OK and do you think it’s just the excitement and expectation of your family coming down that gets your heart in a twitter? I hope you are 100% now and that indeed your kids will decide that they just can’t stay away too long. Fish look great and the meal sounded even better! Happy New Years!

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 2, 2016 at 7:55 am

      Thanks, Susan. Their visit was extremely special for us. My dream is for grandson Brody (and any future grandchildren) to some day spend parts of his summer with us. We promise to send him back tanned, barefoot and speaking Kriol!

      Like

    Kevin Croak said:
    January 2, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Hope you are well and Happy New Year! Tatyana and I were down in November and ate ate the Palapa Bar and Grill probably just before the move according to the owners. Too bad it had to turn out that way.
    We spend the day off our cruise ship, with Drew from morning matters and his friend Eden. They took us on a tour of the Caye because we are looking to retire there in 3-5 years. Any need for a winery in San Pedro? lol. Anyway, love your blog. Stay well.
    Kevin and Tatyana
    Fishers, Indiana

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      January 2, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Hi Kevin,
      The Palapa Bar and Grill didn’t want to move but really had no choice. The new landlord so poisoned the waters around them that staying was impossible. That said, they have landed beautifully in possibly the only other true over-the-water palapa bar on the island. It has twice the square footage, is closer to the town center and expands their possibilities enormously. On an extremely busy night recently, owner Scott mused with a smile, “I might have to double our staff!” Not a bad challenge.
      The old Palapa is reportedly open but how it will fare, I just don’t know. People who don’t know how badly the landlord treated Scott and Jodie may go and it will likely attract visitors to the island. Maybe really nice people will take over the lease and remove all the bad karma surrounding it. I sort of hope so but I hate the thought that part of every dollar spent is going into the pocket of the despicable cretin who owns the place.
      But that is just my opinion.
      What a great tour you must have had. How did you hook up with them?
      A winery, eh? Beyond the very small size of the country I think there is a strong climatological reason that we don’t see vineyards in Belize. On there other hand, there are some good wine shops on the island — Wine de Vine and Premium Wines, in particular. There is a new wine bar, Stella’s Smile, north of the bridge and nearby Marbucks has long held its popular Thursday night Wine Down. On Friday evenings, Wine de Vine offers specially priced wines, and is a popular expat gathering site.
      The currently closed Rondezvous Restaurant and Winery boasted its own label stock but I don’t know if they cultivated their own vines or even how it tasted. I should think pretty strong if their grapes were grown in this tropical climate?
      If someone could figure out how to bring down the cost of duty on foreign wines to Belize, they would face a grateful nation. California wines are as much as three times the cost in the States.
      Well, expand a bit on your thoughts! Wine is a popular topic of discussion and consumption here!
      And thanks for reading.

      Like

        Kevin Croak said:
        January 2, 2016 at 1:13 pm

        Robert, on the subject of wine. Maybe the import of juice would be cheaper and offset the cost of the wine if fermented locally like we do here. I will investigate the possible opportunity.
        On the subject of the Rondezvous Restaurant and Winery??? Now you have peaked my interest. Is it for sale or lease? Why is it closed? Can you get me any information on it’s situation?
        you can email me off blog at info@harmonywinery.com.

        There may be hope!!!

        Kevin

        Like

    Welcome to the Jungle? – I Am Ladyhawk said:
    January 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

    […] The lodge was on the bank of the Belize river which was lined with towering lush trees, howling monkeys, and sounds of birds that I didn’t even know existed. It was straight of the jungle book. Chris and I we were going to stay here for two days before heading to San Pedro to visit family. […]

    Like

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