Coco Loco’s

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 »

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Trash talkin’ on Ambergris Caye in Belize

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Our First Friday crew, gathering for the traditional group shot just before we hit the street and beach in the Tres Cocos neighborhood of Ambergris Caye.
Our First Friday crew waves our new trash pick-up sticks as we gather for the traditional group shot around one of the new trash barrels, just before we hit the street and beach in the Tres Cocos neighborhood of Ambergris Caye on November 6, 2015.

Mary Wells, a Houston real estate agent, and her family came to San Pedro recently in search of a second home. They brought a dozen trash sticks with them to donate to our First Friday Tres Cocos Trash Pickup group.

Ironically — and sadly — they chose to take a pass on Belize as their second home. It was, in Mary’s words, just too dirty. Trash everywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

The winds of change are in the air on Ambergris Caye

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All is calm on Ambergris Caye, hardly a breeze stirring.
All is calm on Ambergris Caye, hardly a breeze stirring.

We have been enjoying some interesting days lately.

A storm passed through dumping 5 inches of rain (badly needed) in less than 24 hours and since then it has been on-and-off rain storms, mostly at night. That makes for cooler nights and brilliant light shows off the coast, some fully tricked out with long rumbling choruses of thunder. And glorious cloud formations around sunset.
Our condo, like the homes of everyone else we have talked with, had rain coming in through the roofs, windows and walls. Fortunately for us, no leaks over our beds! Mainly the water pours down one wall in the living room and my main job is to run in and remove the batik wall hanging before it gets soaked.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Wednesday was a day of firsts for us on Ambergris Caye

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The Coco Loco's gang eagerly waits on the dock at The Cloisters (our home) for the arrival of the C-Monkey, which is seen at the far right of this photo.
The Coco Loco’s gang eagerly waits on the dock at The Cloisters (our home) for the arrival of the C-Monkey, which is seen at the far right of this photo. Through the magic of iPod panoramic photography, the boat on the right is really arriving on the far left but … well … don’t think about it.

Don’t you just love this question: When is the last time you did something for the first time?

How would you answer it? Read the rest of this entry »

A stretch of Ambergris shore is no longer a sore sight for our eyes

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Susan Barkhouse spends part of her birthday in the field picking up trash with her friends and neighbors. Now that is devotion!
Susan Barkhouse spends part of her birthday in the field picking up trash with her friends and neighbors. Now that is devotion!

Still basking in the glow of a huge effort to clear the roadside of trash just north of the Sir Barry Bridge, only one week later the neighborhood tackled an especially unsightly spot.

About 20 neighbors met at Coco Loco’s Beach Bar Friday afternoon and, armed with bags and gloves, marched north on the trash.

Their objective was the area near the barge landing. Once a deep water pool, separated from the sea only by a rock wall, the area has filled in with putrid sargassum and plastic. Compounding the sea-borne trash, cyclists and walkers frequently tend to dump their drink bottles and snack bags along the trail that runs through the field. Read the rest of this entry »

More than one way to clean up in Belize

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Part of the gang from our neighborhood who joined the roadside cleanup effort north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning. This is around 9 a.m. and everyone is fresh and smiling and raring to go. We spent nearly two hours cleaning up and I'd venture everyone was exhausted but happy in the end.
Part of the gang from our neighborhood who joined the roadside cleanup effort north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning. This is around 9 a.m. and everyone is fresh and smiling and raring to go. We spent nearly two hours cleaning up and I’d venture everyone was exhausted but happy in the end. Among the volunteers: Wayne McCrae, Edwin W. Sparks, Mike Kuun, Wendy Swanepoel, Rodney Cozby,Jamie Engledow Cozby, Juanece Messervy, Blair Messervy, Carmen Arenal, Linda J Rumney, Scott Barkhouse and Susan Traverse Barkhouse.

It was a clean sweep.

From the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge to just short of the turnoff for the Palapa Bar, nearly 60 people picked the roadside clean of trash on Friday morning.

The volunteers were split nearly evenly between a Houston mission group,  Adventure Sports Ministry,  and friends and neighbors from the neighborhood.

The “locals” showed up ready to rumble with homemade spear sticks. Carmen Arenal from Coco Locos pulled up with a box of heavy duty trash bags and some spare rubber gloves. (Carmen also bought two cases of chilled water from Village Market to distribute as the day heated up.) Read the rest of this entry »

Doing stuff we haven’t done before, Part 5: Poker run

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Ride, Sally, ride: Winner of the season's last poker run in San Pedro, Sally Backalukas flashes the cash and a wining smile at the finish, Pedro's Hotel.
Ride, Sally, ride: Winner of the season’s last poker run in San Pedro, Sally Backalukas, flashes the cash and a winning smile at the finish, Pedro’s Hotel on Saturday night.

“A poker run is an organized event where participants, usually using motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, horses, or other means of transportation must visit five to seven checkpoints, drawing a playing card at each one. The object is to have the best poker hand at the end of the run. The event has a time limit, however the participants are not timed—winning is purely a matter of chance.”

— Wikipedia

OK, that is basically it. We don’t use snowmobiles or horses on Ambergris Caye, but under “other,” you can add golf carts. Lots and lots of golf carts.

But more on that in a moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycling Ambergris Caye north: 24 clicks to home

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There are few things more peaceful than lying on your back beneath a palapa at the end of a dock -- especially on Ambergris Caye, Belize.
There are few things more peaceful than lying on your back beneath a palapa at the end of a dock — especially on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.Anatole France

Every journey in life should begin at the end of a pier, on your back, beneath a palapa.  They have a way of putting you in the right frame of mind, whatever the distance you plan to travel.

If you don’t have access to a pier and palapa, think of them as a very pleasant metaphor. When the going gets tough, the knowing duck under their mental palapa and chill for a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Read any good books inspired by Belize lately?

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Who says a hair salon has to be just a hair salon -- or a bookstore just a bookstore?
Who says a hair salon has to be just a hair salon — or a bookstore just a bookstore?

I think the questions about whether e-books, like Kindle, are the salvation or death of  books have been pretty much answered.

The death of bookstores? Maybe.

The death of books? Far from it.

Any questions surrounding their utility and propriety were answered for me, not in some futuristic scenario, but in the dusty streets of this tropical Caribbean island.

Rose and I could live without TV, although we don’t.

Cable TV has a limited number of channels here but it hits all the important bases, including around eight international football channels in numerous languages and accents and two Al Jazeera news channels.

We also get network channels from Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. (So many San Pedranos are Chicago Cubs fans, I’m told, because the Cubs channel, WGN, was among the first and few to be transmitted on cable in its early years.) Read the rest of this entry »