This is Belize

I mean, who gets a whole private island for their birthday? (Hint: You’re looking at him)

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Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island -- with 20 of my best friends!
Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island — with 20 of my best friends!

Your first thought when you step off the boat and on to Blackadore Caye is “This can not be real.”

It is like a Hollywood movie set for a tropical island adventure film.

The coconut trees seem too perfectly spaced to be real. The ground beneath them too perfectly swept clean. The sand too white. The water on either side of this long, narrow caye shimmers in variants of teal, turquoise and aquamarine. The dry, cool wind sweeps so sweetly upon the skin, not a drop of perspiration survives. The cloud-dappled sky is a dreamy blue — azure color #007FFF, if you are into replicating sky colors from an RGB color wheel. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Watching the newest ‘Star Wars’ beneath the stars — and beside the lagoon

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Lights, camera, roll 'em! The sun sets and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" begins at the Truck Stop, San Pedro, Belize.
Lights, camera, roll ’em! The sun sets and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” begins at the Truck Stop, San Pedro, Belize. That’s the fire pit in the foreground, used on Sundays to roast a pig or two and sometimes to toast marshmallows. The decking around it makes a great platform for viewing the Wednesday night movies.

There is something just so incalculably joyful about watching the Millennium Falcon speed through the universe in “Star Wars The Force Awakens” then tilting your head ever so slightly upward to count the real stars in the heavens.

Yes, the stars — and “Star Wars” — really were out last night on Ambergris Caye in Belize.

Outside, that is. Read the rest of this entry »

You are wrong, Jeffrey. Travel makes you a better person.

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Believe it or not, moving out of your Mom's basement and following the road less-traveled around the world will make you a better person. And that is worth something.
Believe it or not, moving out of your Mom’s basement and following the road less-traveled around the world will make you a better person. And that is worth something.

Let us pause for a moment and allow a wave of compassion wash over us for Jeffrey Grey.

The self-defined millennial recently wrote a piece for the blog “Thought Catalog” titled, “Why Your Obsession with Travel Means You’re Living a Mediocre Life.”

I’m sure we can all deduce what we need to know about Jeffrey from the title, and it is puzzling and sad, but let’s hear some more from the author: Read the rest of this entry »

Drink more Belikin, fight potholes: A cap-ital idea

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To you, this may seem like trash in the road butthse bottle caps my very well be the answer to arresting erosion and preventing potholes on San Pedro's unpaved streets.
To you, this may seem like trash in the road but these bottle caps my very well be the answer to arresting erosion and preventing potholes on San Pedro’s unpaved streets.

Ambergris Caye is famous for many things. Among the most famous, its pothole-filled streets.

It is just the nature of island living. We are sitting on a fluid pile of sand, silt and rock that shifts and seeps and moves with the wind and the rain. Especially the rain.

So, it is not unusual to see a town truck drop crushed rock on a badly pocked stretch of road, only to have the craters back in a matter of days.

Which brings me to the absolutely brilliant idea I had this morning as I walked along Boca Del Rio. While grappling with sun stroke.

This could be a fully realized section of bottle cap infused roadway in San Pedro, in which interlocked caps are securing the road and providing a colorful traction for bald tires. But it isn't. It is just a picture off the Internet.
This could be a fully realized section of bottlecap infused roadway in San Pedro, in which interlocked caps are securing the road and providing a colorful traction for bald tires. But it isn’t. It is just a picture off the Internet.

Just kidding. No sunstroke. But really, it is a brilliant idea.

In a word: bottlecaps. (Spellcheck tells me bottlecaps is two words. Not in my blog, Spellcheck. Back off, or I’ll break you up into “spell” and “check.”)

Bear with me.

While walking, I noticed an especially flat section of the road. Believe me, when you see a flat section of an unpaved road in the midst of undulations, crevices and craters then it behooves you to investigate.

For whatever reason — and I think the number of nearby bars has something to do with it — bottlecaps galore are embedded into the road. Mostly Belikin, of course.

My theory is that the serrated edge of the caps provides an interlocking effect that retards the the erosion of the roads. The more caps slammed into the soil, the greater the surface cohesion.

The beautiful thing is there is an infinite supply of bottlecaps, as we drink a lot of beer here. Almost all of it Belikin.

And we’re lucky: The public seems attuned to tossing their caps on the ground already. We just have to get people to aim for the road. The constant traffic of golf carts, taxi vans and pickup trucks will do the rest.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. And the sunstroke is making me dizzy.

Just think about it. Since you are going to toss your bottlecaps on the ground anyway, toss them where they will do the most good.

Next week: How used Styrofoam cups, plates and containers can be turned into the home of your dreams . . .

This is Belize: A murder in Paradise

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The murder on January 14 of Chicago online news producer Anne Swaney, 39, in western Belize,  has triggered a huge wave of concern, outrage and interest around the world, as well as here in Belize.

Swaney worked for ABC7 in Chicago and was a talented young woman with a most-promising life and career ahead of her. She was vacationing at Nabitunich Resort, an eco-resort just outside of Benque Viejo Town. The resort is not far from the very porous Guatemala border, on the Mopan River.

Early reports speculated that Swaney had been sexually assaulted but the recent autopsy report says this is not so.

Police know she had some sort of friendship with a staff member at the resort, formed during a previous visit. They have questioned the employee who last saw her alive. They know she gave up a spot on a trail ride because of a shortage of horses and instead walked down to a dock to practice yoga. Read the rest of this entry »

The Central American yogurt oracle has some bad news, Charger fans

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It is a sign from above . . .
It is a sign from above . . . above the cheese and butter section at Super Buy market in San Pedro, Belize.

I have to walk into my local supermarket in San Pedro, Belize, to find the answer to a question that is tearing up my friends back in San Diego: Will the Chargers be moving to Los Angeles?

And there it was, the answer. Right in the dairy section.

Yogurt containers were screaming it out to me:”L.A.! L.A.!” — or, more like “LALA” — but you can see where this is headed.

Yogurt never lies.

The dairy section also confirmed the long-standing rumor that the Oakland Raiders will also moving back to Los Angeles and that the Raiders and Chargers will indeed be sharing a shelf . . . erm . . . a stadium.

Further, the expiration date on these containers is Feb. 16, 2016. I can only say, watch for a significant announcement on that day from the NFL.

Why is there a San Francisco 49ers yogurt container lurking on the edge of this oracle? I can only surmise that it is San Francisco’s compulsive need to be at the center of every discussion in California, whether its presence is relevant or not.

You can almost see the 49ers yogurt container with its flashy gold label screaming “Me! Me! This is a story about me!”

It isn’t 49ers Yogurt, so shut up.

Just the same. I bought the 49ers container.

Why?

Because I love my wife and she is a native San Franciscan and she loves the 49ers. (I’m not a complete fool.)

You may notice that the 49ers container is sweetened yogurt, which we never buy. But there is no way in hell that anything with a Raiders emblem on it is coming into my house — even if it is a  container full of sugar-free yogurt.

I know what your are thinking right now: Why is the Chargers container full of PEACH yogurt?

I can only say this: Did you watch them play this year?

Have fun in LALA, Chargers.

And Raiders.

Shut up, 49ers. No one is talking to you.

I want to move to Belize, what do I need to know . . .

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Life in "paradise" isn't always sunshine and blue water. Sometimes, like last week, a storm hovers around the edges and the water takes on  a spectacular emerald sheen. And the rain, when it comes, is life quenching.
Life in “paradise” isn’t always sunshine and blue water. Sometimes, like last week, a storm hovers around the edges and the water takes on a spectacular emerald sheen. And the rain, when it comes, is life quenching.

Found this question on a Belize expat site to be absolutely adorable: “I am seriously wanting to make the move by the end of the year…what do I need to know?…”

It took me back to those very early days when we crossed that invisible line, too. “We’re going to make the move. My, god, I don’t know a thing about Belize!”

What do you need to know? Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Chew on this ‘Shark Tank’

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Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle . . .
Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle . . .

For a fleeting moment as I drove east on Caribena Street in San Pedro, Belize, I had a blinding flashback to an old lost friend, Monkey Bob.

Some of you may remember our earliest travel companion in Belize. He went where we went and never complained. Until he mysteriously disappeared without so much as a “See ya!”

Looking at this sad excuse for a primate, I could almost see an older, disheveled , more-alcoholic Monkey Bob behind those blood-shot eyes.

But no. It was not our Bob.

Read the rest of this entry »

The darkness draws us close: Merry Christmas

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Seriously, nothing to do with Christmas. But don't you love the festive color?
Seriously, nothing to do with Christmas. But don’t you love the festive color?

Some people say it is a holiday tradition, but for whatever reason, the power went out all over Ambergris Caye on Christmas Eve, around 6:30 p.m. I say it was that one last set of lights added to that one last house somewhere on the island that blew the circuits.

Anyhow, the island was blacked out.

Mostly.

Generators are very popular accessories. Even San Pedro Town has two giant trailer generators that kick in and keep the downtown lit.

Rose and I were up at Marbucks Coffee House which has its own generator. It kicked in quickly and the holiday cheer and goodwill went on undiminished.

I broke away from our gathering of friends and took a walk down to the old Palapa Bar, now dark and forlorn even when there is electricity. A walk out to the end of the pier confirmed that we were living on one dark island for the moment, save for that gloriously bright and round moon.

Maybe not such a terrible thing, I thought.

What’s the phrase? “Darkness draws us close.”

It strips away the shiny objects, the twinkling lights, the loud noise, the TV specials, the video games, the social media and for a couple of hours we are left with one thing only — those who are closest to us, the ones who mean the most … and that bright shiny moon.

In the darkness we reach out to each other, we hold tight and laugh and light some candles and realize there is nothing more to fear from the dark than a delayed dinner.

I understand that blinding snowstorms often achieve the same thing.

Well, for some Christmas — or other holiday — in the near future, I wish for you a region-wide two-hour power outage when the ones you love most are closest to you.

Merry Christmas from San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

This is Belize: When is a dog not a dog?

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Rodney and Miss Pearl told the parrot story at Coco Loco's earlier this week.
Rodney and Miss Pearl told the parrot story at Coco Loco’s earlier this week.

My friends Rodney and Wayo were enjoying a quiet night at Wayo’s eponymously named beach bar in the Boca del Rio neighborhood of San Pedro, Belize. Typical off-season night. Nobody else around.

Except for Rodney’s little dog, Miss Pearl.

Miss Pearl is like an appendage to Rodney, himself a burly good old boy from Texas. If Miss Pearl isn’t sitting quietly at his feet, the Jack Russell Terrier is perched contentedly on his shoulder. Where Rodney goes, Miss Pearl goes.

“I think we should go club hopping,” mused Wayo, while closing up his bar.

So Rodney, Wayo and Miss Pearl piled into Rodney’s golf cart and headed into town.

Naturally, after stops like the Latino Club, they ended up at the biggest nightclub in town, Jaguar’s across from Central Park. Read the rest of this entry »