This is Belize

Yes, we had no tsunami, we had no tsunami last night

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I updated a t-shirt from previous near-miss disasters. It still isn’t selling.

Well, Ambergris Caye dodged another disaster.

In 2017, two major hurricanes bypassed us for richer pickings in the rest of the Caribbean, coastal US, and Houston.

Last night, it was the threat of a tsunami, following an offshore 7.6 earthquake.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Tropic island survival kit essentials, part 2: a dog, of course

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Moppit, the philosopher wonder dog, out for a romp this morning in the Tres Cocos neighborhood on Ambergris Caye. Moppit has the uncanny ability to remember every spot where she has received a free handout, a found chicken bone or remains of bait fish, or bacon and with laser-like determination returns to each on our walk. Naturally, a walk requires much zig-zagging and sniffing and depositing of pee-mail on coconuts and tree trunks.

 

Yesterday,  I half-seriously compiled a tropical island survival kit — OK, maybe less than half-serious — and made a very obvious omission that was brought to my attention this morning while I was walking Moppit, our dog.

“A dog,” said our friend Cheryl Taylor Bowen. “You should include a dog in your survival kit.”

I looked down at Moppit.

I looked up at Cheryl. Read the rest of this entry »

Island life: A curated exhibition of nature’s early-morning artistry in Belize

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Pearls from the nightly rain still linger in the loving crevasses and folds of satiated leaves. No sun will rise to vaporize these crystalline gems on this early morn. All around us, clouds struggle to organize as shifting breezes thwart their mission — but the rain is inevitable and due in abundance.

It isn’t every morning that I get up early to walk the little Moppit, but when I do, I am always rewarded with stunning sunrises, a blissful calm, a symphony of bird calls rising to a cacophony on occasion, the occasional pod of dolphins just offshore, the blustery hustle of storm clouds moving into position, the egrets and herons vigilant in the shallows.

There is always something.

If I weren’t so lazy, I suppose, there would be even more.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ramming speed: One way to barge in on Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Backing up for a full-throttle run through the shallows and s bludgeoning impact with the landing site. That’s just how you get things done.

The early morning stillness crumbled beneath the blatting, wheezing, rumbling, cries of frustration from diesel engines as the tug helplessly shouldered the sand-banked barge laden with building supplies.

It wouldn’t budge, not one inch toward the Tabony lot landing.

Shallow waters and low tide conspired to thwart the mission. This was no storybook “I think I can” tale. This big muscular engine couldn’t. Let’s face it, rail traction is so much better than water. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes words fail when trying to describe Paradise in Belize but a picture will do

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Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how Paradise and Belize fit together. I have pages and pages of failed writing attempts. Sometimes, words aren’t what is called for. This morning, it took only one photograph with my humble iPod to make all those words moot. I will say, Paradise lasted but a moment and it felt eternal. Taken from the beach at Tres Cocos Resort in North Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’ll just step out of the picture now. Have a wonderful day.

Two dozen questions on living in Belize — and not one is answered just ‘yes’ or ‘no’

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Old-fashioned manpower is pulling fiber optic cable through the streets of San Pedro, Belize, during a very hot summer day recently.

 

The e-mail said, we have a few questions about living an expat life that we would like you to answer. And it shouldn’t take more than five minutes . . . that’s when I knew the e-mail was from an editor. No writing should take anyone more than five minutes to complete, according to every editor for which I’ve ever worked. That’s how editors think. That’s their job.

So, three hours later, this is what I came up with.

I’ve said it before, I like these questionnaires. They are lazy work for the person who sends them out, but they can prove enlightening for the person who must reach down inside and come up with some answers — about 24 of them in this case.

So, here’s the deal. I’ve been living on a tropical island for nearly four years now. It is probably about time I ask myself “Why?” Will I be here for the rest of my life? Am I slowly going insane from all the rampant beauty that surrounds me? Where can I find a cheap meal? Am I getting enough exercise? Am I drinking too much local rum? Does anyone out there know or care where I am? Hello? Hello? Knock, knock . . Read the rest of this entry »

Belize, 36 years old and still partying like a youngster

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Belize Independence Day Parade in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Celebrating 36 years of freedom.

“Our determination to keep things stable and our country free must never falter. And it is in that context that I endorse this September’s thematic call for us to ceaselessly renew our nation-building resolve. But let our patriotism be year-round, and not just a seasonal thing. Let it be a wellspring for inexhaustible optimism, for never seeing through a glass, darkly. And let it ensure that the inevitable disagreements within a democracy on the move, never become so dissonant as to upset our ultimate oneness and indivisibility. As it is on this day, on this venerated hill, so let it be always: that red and white and blue and white in the end merge to become red, blue and white.”

— Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, Independence Day 2017

Here’s some more about the prime minister’s speech.

As expected, this morning’s 10 a.m. Independence Day jump-up parade in San Pedro, Belize, began right on time: about 12:30 p.m.

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You can skip the story and go for the moral: Wear sunscreen and use your noodle

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A visual aid for my little story. The yellow and green things in this picture are called “noodles,” for obvious reasons. They are not the only kind of noodles, apparently. Always ask when someone asks you to fetch noodles.

This is an absolutely nothing story and if you want to move on with your life, that’s OK by me.

It is just that I need to put it down on paper to see if it all really happened the way I think it did.

It started on Sunday with a pool party down the road, next to Coco Loco’s Beach Bar. The party was actually a continuation of a birthday party from the day before which included a glorious day aboard the No Rush catamaran with snorkeling and good food, plenty of rum punch, great friendship and a brilliant sun over head.

I’m pretty sure it was the last one that did me in. Rookie mistake, going the whole day without sunscreen. My face looked like a two-tone bowling ball: Pale white where the bandana sat and an awful shade of burgundy from my forehead south. (Right now it looks like a badly peeling bowling ball … .) Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Nature serves up a spectacle this morning and gratitude runs amuck

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Sunrise this morning on Ambergris Caye , Belize was so worth getting up for this morning. Well, nearly every morning.

The breeze, steady as ever through the night, picked up urgency around 5:30 this morning. The time is a guess. The first water taxi hadn’t yet sped up the coast. The bell-curve thump-and-rumble of that boat is like a  morning cock’s crow to mainlanders.  Only more pleasant.

It was still too black out to see, but my wind gauge was beginning to go off the charts.

I use the rustle of the coconuts and palms posted outside my bedroom window as a reliable source of wind information. Slightly breezy and they sound like waves lapping against the beach.

In fact, I’ve learned to distinguish the lapping of waves against the rustle of fronds.  It is an art that takes time to train a keen ear. It often requires lying very still in bed, listening closely to the sounds and then opening one eye, ever so slightly, to observe the weather outside and measure it against the assumptions. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: There’s just no bad day aboard the No Rush

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Yo, ho, ho! A pirate’s life for me! And my friends. On board the No Rush on Saturday morning, Aug. 26, 2017, headed for the barrier reef and a day of snorkeling, hanging out and saying things like, “This life does not suck.” San Pedro is in the background. (Photo by Gerry Neumann, who dropped alongside us on his Hobie cat as we were under way.)

We spent all day Saturday playing “tourist” on a boat, a local favorite called the “No Rush.”

It is an older catamaran that holds about 24 people, plus crew. It is the crew that makes it a favorite, they are long-time friends to many aboard. That, and the fact that the No Rush lives up to its name. This catamaran raises sails when ever it can. Most of the newer and larger touring cats tend to motor out to the reef and back. When you sign on to No Rush you have to plan on letting the rest of life rush past you and put your faith in the winds. Read the rest of this entry »