Cayes and Islands

When you’ve got to get away, go Belize

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A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy's sits on the end of the dock.  If you are looking at his and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.
A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy’s sits on the end of the dock. If you are looking at this picture and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.

I don’t know if this is a trend or merely a reflection of the relentless winter that has left so much of the US in the freezer but in two days we met two people who spontaneously booked the next flight to Belize.

One fled Chicago and the other Massachusetts, both on two days’ notice.

I see a new Belize Tourism Board campaign in the works: When you’ve got to get away, go Belize. Read the rest of this entry »

Carnaval in San Pedro: Hit me with your best shot

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On the beach at Central Park in San Pedro Town. Let the painting begin!
On the beach at Central Park in San Pedro Town. Let the painting begin!

One of the rules of Carnaval in San Pedro Town, Belize is “Respect the tourists, unless they want to participate.”

And if they do ….

Well, it looks like they are in for some kind of crazy fun.

Just wear some really old clothes. Read the rest of this entry »

A rainy day in Paradise

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It has been raining all day in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, drowning out some Independence Month celebrations in the town square and dampening most everyone’s enthusiasm for being out and about.

These are some photos taken today, Sept. 10 as Rose and I tried to move among the raindrops. Today is a national holiday in Belize  to commemorate the Battle for St. George’s Caye  in which the Spanish were defeated by the British, civilian loggers known as Baymen, and slaves in 1798.

These guys were just wrapping up a successful morning of fishing when we cam along the shore of San Pedro.
These guys were just wrapping up a successful morning of fishing when we came along the shore of San Pedro.
Here's the view from inside Fido's, a popular bar and restaurant along the San Pedro beach.
Here’s the view from inside Fido’s, a popular bar and restaurant along the San Pedro beach.
Today, Sept. 10, is a national holiday in Belize and, rain or no rain, kids and water must mix,along the San Pedro shore.
Today, Sept. 10, is a national holiday in Belize and, rain or no rain, kids and water must mix, along the San Pedro shore.
You'd hardly know it was a national holiday in Belize as the rain kept all but a few golf cart drivers and taxis off the streets of San Pedro today, Sept. 10, 2013.
You’d hardly know it was a national holiday in Belize as the rain kept all but a few golf cart drivers and taxis off the streets of San Pedro today, Sept. 10, 2013.
Tuesday night there was lots of noise coming from  Carlo & Earnie’s Runway Bar and Grill, next to the airport. We stepped in out of the rain to see that the US was playing Mexico in a World Cup qualifying game. There at the bar were our friends John and Rose East who are building a house on Ambergris Caye, on the north side of San Pedro. We had an unplanned and delightful evening of soccer and companionship. If we move to San Pedro, John and Rose will be a big reason why. OH, and the US won 2-0! The bars is a favorite of locals and it sounded as if most were cheering for the US. Except the bartender above whom I am told bet heavily on Mexico to win, as you can tell by the look on his face.
Tuesday night there was lots of noise coming from Carlo & Earnie’s Runway Bar and Grill, next to the airport. We stepped in out of the rain to see that the US was playing Mexico in a World Cup qualifying game. There at the bar were our friends John and Rose East who are building a house on Ambergris Caye, on the north side of San Pedro. We had an unplanned and delightful evening of soccer and companionship. If we move to San Pedro, John and Rose will be a big reason why. Oh, and the US won 2-0! The bars is a favorite of locals and it sounded as if most were cheering for the US. Except the bartender above whom I am told bet heavily on Mexico to win, as you can tell by the look on his face.

My friend John East has a blog about the construction of his home and he sometimes writes commentary on life out and about in San Pedro. It is called “Belize – Building A New Life.” Check it out!

Working in the ‘office’ today – Belize-style

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Looking back at the Blue Tang Inn this morning just before our walk down the beach to yoga class for Rose.
Looking back at the Blue Tang Inn this morning just before our walk down the beach to yoga class for Rose.

This morning we walked down the beach to the Exotic Caye Resort so Rose could attend a yoga class. A nice breeze kept the temperature cool and activity on the island seems to be picking up with the weekend.

As luck would have it, there is the Melt Cafe downstairs from the studio with a very strong WiFi signal.

So I ordered up some WiFi, fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and a bagel.

My "office" this morning, an outside table at the Melt Cafe in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. A gentle breeze kept me cool and the view kept me distracted -- my kind of office.
My “office” this morning, an outside table at the Melt Cafe in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize. A gentle breeze kept me cool and the view kept me distracted — my kind of office.

Mark and Michelle, both retired from the Air Force, recently took over the Melt and are working hard to make a go of it. Yes, working hard is not a foreign concept in the island.

As Michelle pointed out, there is hard work and there is working hard at something you enjoy. And they clearly enjoy their cafe.

This is their first go at a restaurant — in the military, Mark was in telecom and Michelle was in operations. They are emphasizing fresh and local with a nice dose of warmth and personality.

That cool breeze brought with it some dark clouds from the northeast and with it, some rain. So I moved my office in under the protective palapa covering as the rain came down for about 20 minutes.
That cool breeze brought with it some dark clouds from the northeast and with it, some rain. So I moved my office in under the protective palapa covering as the rain came down for about 20 minutes.

This is a slow time on Ambergris Caye for any business, said Mark. Come October and the high season, everybody starts making a living. “You make your year from October to April,” he said. “After that it is all profit.”

Mark and Michelle took a year off after spending time in Afghanistan as consultants and moved to Las Vegas. When considering their next move they looked at a lot of countries but settled on Belize, specifically Ambergris Caye.

They are avid divers and love fishing and some day in the future there will be a boat of their own. Meanwhile they are working from 6 a.m to around 3 p.m. at the cafe and are thinking of eventually adding dinner to the menu.

They’ve got their two-bedroom oceanfront condo, their business and their dream and they sure seem to be enjoying all of them.

Hello, Belize, you beautiful, colorful, complicated thing you!

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Rose and her longtime companion, Monkey Bob, at a BART station in San Francisco. Making our way to San Francisco International Airport. Monkey Bob was around in various forms before I was, apparently. Some attachments are hard to let go of!
Rose and her longtime companion, Monkey Bob, at a BART station in San Francisco. Making our way to San Francisco International Airport. Monkey Bob was around in various forms before I was, apparently. Some attachments are hard to let go of!

A couple of flights that can only be described — thankfully — as “uneventful” have brought us to Belize.

More specifically: the Blue Tang Inn at 1 Sandpiper Lane in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. (I’ve suddenly begun misspelling the caye as “Amberguis” on Facebook. What’s with that? Sleep deprivation?)

So, words fail me just now — hey, it is sleep deprivation!

Until the brain re-engages, here are some early photos.

Suddenly we're at the Belize International Airport, boarding a Tropic Air puddle jumper for the 15 minute hop to Ambergris Caye. Miami's airport was a brief and anonymous blur, notable only for the bowl of grits I age at 6 a.m.
Suddenly we’re at the Belize International Airport, boarding a Tropic Air puddle jumper for the 15 minute hop to Ambergris Caye. Miami’s airport was a brief and anonymous blur, notable only for the bowl of grits I ate at 6 a.m.
The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
Wheels dowbn, landing strip ahead. The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
Wheels down, landing strip ahead. The view out the window as we flew to Ambergris Caye from Belize City.
Classic view at the Blue Tang Inn. Every photo album I've seen has this shot from the entrance looking out toward the sea. Big difference is, mine has Rose Alcantara in it!
Classic view at the Blue Tang Inn. Every photo album I’ve seen has this shot from the entrance looking out toward the sea. Big difference is, mine has Rose Alcantara in it!
Jesus Anthny cleans a fresh caught baracuda. Dinner for the family tonight, he said. He also cuts up coconuts for tourists to drink, for a slight charge. "Very healthy for you" he adds. What you don't see is the very large "pet" ray that swims up as soon as it hears water splashing around the cutting table. Scraps have conditioned it to know when the dinner bell rings.
Jesus Anthony cleans a fresh-caught barracuda. Dinner for the family tonight, he said. (He was also smiling every second except the one in which I snapped this photo!) He also cuts up coconuts for tourists to drink, for a slight charge. “Very healthy for you,”  he adds. What you don’t see is the very large “pet” ray that swims up as soon as it hears water splashing around the cutting table. Scraps have conditioned it to know when the dinner bell rings.
Monkey Bob's first exposure to the national beer, Belikins. Very tasty but the bottles? Very small. Even at $2.50 US a beer. Shot taken at Estel's on the beach where we'll be meeting some recent ex-pats, John and Rose East, for breakfast tomorrow. Can't wait! They are building a home just north of the town of San Pedro.
Monkey Bob’s first exposure to the national beer, Belikin. Very tasty but the bottles? Very small. Even at $2.50 US a beer. Shot taken at Estel’s on the beach where we’ll be meeting some recent ex-pats, John and Rose East, for breakfast tomorrow. Can’t wait! They are building a home just north of the town of San Pedro.
Rose looking so much warmer than when were were sitting in the BART station. Here at Estel's, where we grabbed our first Belikins and fish tacos shortly after chacking in at the Blue Tang Inn.
Rose looking so much warmer than when we were sitting in the BART station. Here at Estel’s, where we grabbed our first Belikins and fish tacos shortly after checking in at the Blue Tang Inn. Monkey Bob did NOT get a fish taco.

As we walked back to the inn we met our first San Pedro real estate agent, who naturally offered to help us find a home. We may drop back to chat with her.