This is Belize

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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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 »

The diversion factory called Truck Stop has come up with a corker

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Amy Knox of Wild Mango’s bites into her finisher medal at last Saturday’s “Amazing Race: San Pedro Edition.”

If you can imagine this, lots of people who live on tropical islands complain about the lack of diversion in their lives.

You hear things like:

“There are only so many spectacular sunsets that I’m going to sit through.” and “Sunrises? Do you really think I’m going to get up that early?”

“Oh look. Another flock of gloriously pink and retro roseate spoonbills feeding in the marsh. Which reminds me, what are we doing for lunch?” Read the rest of this entry »

A Scoop exclusive! My favorite San Pedro blogger peeks inside island’s hottest homes

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Our friends’ house is the first to be highlighted on a new feature on the popular San Pedro Scoop blog! (Photo by Mark Schafer)

What a delightful surprise this morning to open the latest post on San Pedro Scoop and find out it is all about my friends Mark and Deb Schaffer. Well, specifically, about the beautiful home they have built on the shore of North Ambergris Caye.

Rebecca “Scoop” Coutant is launching a new feature on her ever-expanding blog: a peek inside Ambergris Caye homes that are for sale by owner. Not quite “Househunters International” — how about “House Peekers San Pedro”? Something for the voyeur in all of us!

I’m going to jump right in and say that Scoop picked a cool one for her debut. Read the rest of this entry »

Follow little Madi as she snorkels the Belize barrier reef from end to end

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Madison Pearl Edwards is snorkeling the 190-mile Belize barrier reef to highlight the dangers of oil exploration to the country's greatest natural resource. She is 11 years old. (Photo courtesy of amergristoday.com
Madison Pearl Edwards is snorkeling the 190-mile Belize barrier reef to highlight the dangers of oil exploration to the country’s greatest natural resource. She is 11 years old. (Photo courtesy of ambergristoday.com)

Madison Pearl Edwards is about the most delightfully precocious youngster you’ll ever encounter in Belize.

I mean, it takes a lot of precociousness — and courage — to snorkel the entire 190-mile length of the Belize reef, from north to south, to publicize the dangers and absolute stupidity of off-shore oil exploration.

Even for an adult.

Madi is 11 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

Hockey in Belize? Why not? Go Buccaneers!

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San Pedro Buccaneers and Withrow Park (Toronto) Tropical Knights  come together for a group shot at the end of the tournament. Two things that I heard and liked a lot: "Wait until next year!" and "We'll bring more teams!"
San Pedro Buccaneers and Withrow Park (Toronto) Tropical Knights come together for a group shot at the end of the tournament. Two things that I heard and liked a lot: “Wait until next year!” and “We’ll bring more teams!” At San Pedro High School.

They called the tournament the inaugural Caribbean Coconut Cup and the grand prize was an artfully carved and lacquered Belizean wood-and-coconut trophy.

The program cover described it as an “International Friendly Ball Hockey Tournament.”

And it was indeed friendly — after the games. At Wayo’s or some other fine beachside drinking and socializing establishment.

During the games? Read the rest of this entry »

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

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do?

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Singer-songwriter Kelly McGuire  sits in with a gang of rowdy fans at the Dive Bar on Saturday afternoon, shortly before all the "excitement" broke out.
Singer-songwriter Kelly McGuire sits in with a gang of rowdy fans at the Dive Bar on Saturday afternoon, shortly before all the “excitement” broke out.

Saturday afternoon, the Texas-based singer Kelly McGuire was commanding the stage at the Dive Bar singing about island life, broken dreams, healing hearts, fresh hopes, sailing away and the joy of a good guitar.

We were sitting at the back of the crowd, next to the dock, where the cool breezes were floating in on the rippling blue Caribbean. Read the rest of this entry »