Caribbean

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 »

Come together: Pier 366 dining is a communal affair

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The display inside Pier 366 pretty much lets you know the dining experience ahead will be a memorable one.
The display inside Pier 366 Seafood House pretty much lets you know the dining experience ahead will be a memorable one.

When is a meal more than a meal? When it is a communal gathering of family and friends.

You can sit at a lovely table, with a gorgeous view, and have the best meal in the world but if there is no one around to share it with, no one to talk with as you eat, then, what’s the point?

Good food is nourishment for the body. Good companionship while eating it is nourishment for the soul.

Oh, lord, I could go on and on. These are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind while sharing a remarkable lunch with a great group of folks at the new Pier 366 Seafood House at Banyan Bay Resort on the south side of San Pedro Town, here in Belize. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize just says ‘No’ to offshore oil — again

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Just saying no. This is the current face of Belize when confronted with a surprise offshore oil exploration gambit. (Photo by Karen Brodie.)
Just saying no. This is the current face of Belize when confronted with a surprise offshore oil exploration gambit. (Photo by Karen Brodie.)

After two weeks in the States, we came home to the disturbing news that the Government of Belize has authorized oil exploration within six-tenths of a mile of the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef.

This is startling because the people of Belize spoke by referendum two years ago and rejected off-shore oil exploration. And just last year the government placed a moratorium on off-shore oil exploration and the sale of oil leases.

The barrier reef is a designated World Heritage site, meaning it merits the attention, care and protection of the entire planet. It is the longest continuous barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, extending the length of Belize and into Mexico to the north and into Guatemala and Honduras to the south.

Why the government would suddenly spring this on its own people is baffling.  Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: ‘Curiouser and curiouser!’

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This video about tacos makes the point that while Belize has "fast food" you won't find a Taco Bell, McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken in the country. No franchises, mon!
This video about tacos (See it below.) makes the point that while Belize has “fast food” you won’t find a Taco Bell, McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken in the country. No franchises, mon!

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice.

Only this time, her Wonderland turns out to be Belize.

Belize is a magical rabbit hole. Once you slide down into it, you almost never want to leave.  I don’t and it has now been 2.5 years, one hurricane, three rainy seasons, two bicycles, scores of trips to the reef, more beautiful days than the imagination can grasp and more smiles from passing strangers than I ever thought possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Earl: No. 1, Not all disasters are alike

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Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.
A photographer stops to capture the sunrise and battered but still stately dock at Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.

When almost an entire block on Middle Street in San Pedro went up in flames in June — leaving 66 people homeless and a number of businesses crippled or wiped out — the whole world responded with unconditional generosity.

Certainly the whole of Ambergris Caye did.

Scores of volunteers stepped in to help clear away debris. They didn’t ask which rubble belonged to homes and which to businesses. The amount of clothing and food donated could be calculated in tonnage and by the size of the hearts of the people on Ambergris Caye.

The San Pedro Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help

sort and distribute clothing to Hurricane Earl victims!

Report to the Lions Den, downtown San Pedro,

at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Barges and planes brought in even more aid from the mainland.

A significant amount of cash was raised in numerous and imaginative ways. Nobody designated their dollars to go to specific people or businesses.

People just gave — time, money, food, clothing, shelter.

Hurricane Earl is different.

Or it seems that way. Read the rest of this entry »

After Earl: This was the Palapa Bar

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Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Ben Popik, owner of the popular Truck Stop and Island Films, took a number of drone shots on Thursday of what remains of the once-thriving San Pedro coast line. You can see more of his images here.

This coast was, until, Wednesday night, jammed with piers and boats and businesses. Not a single dock, commercial or private, on the 24-miles island escaped Hurricane Earl unscathed.

Photos from various numerous island sources and residents:

This is Belize: We prepare, we sit and we wait . . . for Earl?

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It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up
It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up

We woke up this morning to a glorious Caribbean sunrise with swatches of blue sky amid the gauzy clouds and golden amber glow. A flat sea, still wind and barely visible reef greeted me and my cup of coffee. And mosquitoes, the most murderous panicky mosquitoes I have ever encountered here.

Tonight, I suspect,  will reveal to us one of those many variations of hell that the imaginations of god-fearing mortals have conjured through the ages.

This hell has a name and it is Earl. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Have you ever tried ‘hot mint coconut water’? My major fail.

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Island entrepreneur Jose fills his jugs with fresh coconut water. To bring them to market, the full jugs are attached to his handlebars by bits of netting he finds on the shore -- as many as 20 jugs dangle off his bicycle. And don't kid yourself -- this is hard work.
Island entrepreneur Jose fills his jugs with fresh coconut water. To bring them to market, the full jugs are attached to his handlebars by bits of netting he finds on the shore — as many as 20 jugs dangle off his bicycle. And don’t kid yourself — this is hard work.

Jose has been delivering fresh coconut water to my door for more than two years now.

Irregularly, of course.

He’ll come as often as three times a week, sometimes every other week.

Regardless, he is always out there in his uncharacteristically funky sunglasses, good weather and bad, harvesting fresh coconuts, from sunrise to well after dark. Jose is a true Belize entrepreneur. He likes being his own boss and he is rewarded for how hard he works and how well he sells. If he can fill and sell 15 gallons a day, that’s $150 BZD. Good money. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Each dancing on a different breeze

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Under less-windy conditions this pavilion is a day spa. Today, there wasn't a soul around. The silky hangings which creat a privacy wall and sun screen were twisting and turning. Each seemed to dance to a different wind. All together, captivating.
Under less-windy conditions this pavilion is a day spa. Today, there wasn’t a soul around. The silky hangings which create a privacy wall and sun screen were twisting and turning. Each seemed to dance to a different wind. All together, captivating.

 

Another walk up north, along the shore of Ambergris Caye today. Stiff breezes and high tide made some parts of the beach simply disappear.

The island feels deserted. I may have run into four or five people at most, not counting resort staffs which were raking up the turtle grass and tying down the canopies and hammocks.

This pavilion stood alone and empty, although a sign out front offers a boggling array of pleasures for the body and soul.

Each hanging cloth was dancing its own dance in the wind. Some seem to take on shapes, fleeting sculptures of intense detail, like the prostrate one on the upper right which seems to be offering up a jug of wine?

I tried to capture them all but I must go back again, when the breezes calm a bit and the dances become more balletic and less like whirling dervishes.

 

San Pedro Sunday morning: Covering ground for a good cause

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Some of the runners and walkers begin to mingle around the starting line for Sunday morning's Autism Awareness 5K in San Pedro, Belize.
Some of the runners and walkers begin to mingle around the starting line for Sunday morning’s Autism Awareness 5K in San Pedro, Belize. That is Miss Rose in a yellow top, already pumped from the 7K run she did earlier to warm up for the 5K walk with me.

This morning was the second annual Autism Awareness 5K Walk/Run in San Pedro.

Rose and I chose the walk option off the menu, out of deference for me being completely out of shape thanks to back-to-back surgeries in the past year or so. So Rose prepared for the 5K by rising early and running a 7K. I prepared by looking for my ancient running shoes, which I searched thoroughly for scorpions, lizards, spiders and other creatures who seek shelter in musty, dark places in the back of closets.

The good news is, I found none of the above.

But the shoes. Oh, the shoes! Read the rest of this entry »