This is Belize: Looking a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined

Posted on Updated on

Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday's First Friday trash cleanup.
Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday’s First Friday trash cleanup.

Moppit and I walked to Ak’Bol and back this morning and for the first time in a long time this always beautiful walk dazzled me.

And I know why, too.

Not only is the shoreline almost completely recovered from Hurricane Earl but the beaches are as full and lush as I’ve ever seen them.

But, most noticeably, THERE IS NO TRASH TO BE SEEN. This is a rare and incredible sight because even the most charming sections of beach up here are usually littered with plastic refuse and bottles. I urge you to take a walk north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge as far as you can up the beach.

Family portrait: Some of the Grand Caribe staff and some of the neighborhood volunteers pose for a group shot at Marbuck's coffee shop after the First Friday cleanup.
Family portrait: Some of the Grand Caribe staff and some of the neighborhood volunteers pose for a group shot at Marbuck’s coffee shop after the First Friday cleanup.

Don’t delay because the trash will begin piling up soon.

Same thing along the concrete road all the way up to the Grand Caribe resort. No trash.

Of course, yesterday was the first Friday of the month and that meant First Friday Roadside and Beach Trash Cleanup. So for a few days, as happens every month thanks to an incredibly dedicated band of volunteers, the area north of the bridge looks a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined.

Like I said, don’t wait too long. Paradise is a fragile, easily cluttered, thing.

On the Tres Cocos beaches heading north. That's the Ak'Bol yoga retreat and restaurant ahead.
On the Tres Cocos beaches heading north. That’s the Ak’Bol yoga retreat and restaurant ahead.

First Friday has been a “thing” for more than a year now. It got started when some folks in the neighborhood joined up with a Christian group here on a good works mission. Together we cleaned up trash as far north as the old Palapa Bar. It just happened to be on a Friday and it just happened to be the first Friday of the month.

Could easily have been any other day of the month and we would be doing the same thing today, only not on this particular Friday.

The trash is out there all the time. Any day will do.

To be honest, I can’t always wait until the First Friday. Just before Christmas I went out to clean up the road and was joined by our neighbor and friend Shirley Schroeder Butterick. We made the area look kind of nice for the holiday. More recently I went out alone to become one with the trash on the U.S. Inauguration Day, and was joined by a local friend Rene for a while.

The beach in front of Twisted Palms boutique resort.
The beach in front of Twisted Palms boutique resort.

Honestly, I’d rather be snorkeling. Or paddling a kayak out to the reef for the morning. Most people would.

Finding ways to get excited about picking up trash gets harder every month.

I find it is best to approach each trash clean-up with no expectations. People won’t suddenly stop throwing trash out of their golf carts. Plastic won’t suddenly stop floating in the from Caribbean Sea.

This beach area fronts a vacant lot is is usually one of the most unsightly spots in Tres Cocos. Vacant lots, as you can imagine, are the worst. Not today though.
This beach area fronts a vacant lot is is usually one of the most unsightly spots in Tres Cocos. Vacant lots, as you can imagine, are the worst. Not today though.

But to enjoy a walk like today?

It is worth it.

Yesterday, Grand Caribe threw nearly 40 people into the fray. Grounds and maintenance crews handled the roadside.  Housekeeping and front office staff hit the beach. They were joined from the south by a hardy band of neighborhood volunteers and a trio from Projects Abroad.

In our first major change since the program started, we began at 8 a.m. instead of 9. I know. I know. Earth-shattering.

A little earlier was nice — weather was cool; kids walking to school could see us cleaning up; and we got to join up at the end with our colleagues from Grand Caribe who always start around 8-8:30 a.m. and work really fast!

Well, enough chatter. Here are some photos from the cleanup and a few from the beach walk today. Note the smiles all around. They are real. They are on faces of folks who are doing something good for the island.

Come join us next month, if you are in town.

Yesterday’s cleanup was dedicated to the memory of San Pedro community activist Felix Ayuso who was found dead in his home Thursday.  Felix was planning on bringing about eight volunteers to our Friday cleanup campaign. His death is a dark reminder that the whole idea of Paradise is largely an illusion.

Paradise is what people choose to make it. Rest in peace, Felix.

#islandlove

 

MORE PICTURES OF OUR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS:

img_2746

Shirley Schroeder Butterick is our logistics person -- with help from husband, Ed, she ferrys water and supplies to volunteers up and down the line then transfers all the filled bags to the drop-off center.
Shirley Schroeder Butterick is our logistics person — with help from husband, Ed, she ferrys water and supplies to volunteers up and down the line then transfers all the filled bags to the drop-off center.

img_2752 img_2753 img_2760 img_2762-1

Staff from Grand Caribe arrive fresh off the beach-side cleanup.
Staff from Grand Caribe arrive fresh off the beach-side cleanup.
Our volunteers from Projects Abroad!
Our volunteers from Projects Abroad!
Marlene and Silvia at Marbucks, the end of the line for all volunteers. They put out ice water and coffee and fresh-baked cookies for all!
Marlene and Silvia at Marbucks, the end of the line for all volunteers. They put out ice water and coffee and fresh-baked cookies for all!

img_2775 img_2776 img_2779 img_2783

 




Advertisements

6 thoughts on “This is Belize: Looking a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined

    Julia S Smith said:
    February 4, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I think I will be there for the first Friday of March! I’ll come help!

    Like

    Yahoo said:
    February 4, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Robert

    Congrats to all for the nice clean up.

    Tim

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

    Cathy Slattery said:
    February 5, 2017 at 4:47 am

    I have been following you for a while and haven’t seen you do an article on recycling in San Pedro. You have a great audience of people that would actually use the service.

    Like

      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      February 5, 2017 at 5:38 am

      Not much to write about. Leave your Bowen & Bowen glass beer and soda bottles (Belikin & Fanta) on the side of the road and somebody will pick them up and collect a few coins for the effort. Ideally B&B would create a recycling program for the thousands of plastic water bottles and bags that it sends out into the universe, but it hasn’t and probably won’t.

      There is no deposit on bottles from any other beverage distributor and no financial incentive to recycle Styrofoam or plastic.

      The country as a whole is into the first year of a centralized sanitary landfill operation with six or seven transfer stations around the country. Trash is supposed to be separated into bios and recyclables at the transfer stations. Do not know how that is going, since the Mexican company with the contract for transferring trash recently abandoned ship.

      There is no law requiring separation of recyclables at origination — home/business — and no bins to make such a thing possible.

      This doesn’t mean something won’t happen. The centralized landfill and transfer stations are the foundation that makes recycling possible. Again, I think the financial incentive is lacking.

      Like

        Cathy Slattery said:
        February 6, 2017 at 4:01 am

        I have been following you for a while and haven’t seen you do an article on recycling in San Pedro. You have a great audience of people that would actually use the service.

        I recently moved my household goods here from the US and had vast quantities of cardboard and bubble wrap which I could not bare to see go to the landfill. After some research I found there is a place near the barge which will take it. I called Alejandra Castillo at 662 8567 of Belize Recycling and made an appointment to drop off those items. In Belize City they offer to buy it, but here it was not offered nor did I ask. I just wanted to know it wasn’t going into trash.

        Like

    Jeff Drew said:
    February 5, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I grew up in Vermont, one of the prettiest places in the lower 48. Everyone littered. Then the 5 cent bottle bill passed and the state began doing public service messages to discourage littering. Schools joined in as well. And a law was passed to penalize litterbugs. Within a few years the culture had changed dramatically and persists today. I enjoyed the trash pick ups and it felt good, but more needs to be done to change the prevailing mindset. How about the town fathers pass a law making it illegal to toss trash with the penalty of a day spent picking up trash for each violation? Robert, please make this happen!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s