Estel’s

This is Belize: When good golf carts go bad

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We were nearly at the crest of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning when something started going awfully wrong with Moncho 59.

More exactly, the golf cart started going left and right.

On its own.

The steering wheel seemed to suddenly lose all interest in doing its job. Which is a simple one: Keep the front tires going in the right direction.

I eased Monch 59 down the bridge toward San Pedro Town, looking a bit like a tourist after that first stop at the Palapa Bar.

Pulling over at the base of the bridge, a quick inspection showed everything seemed to be in order. The tires were pointed in the right direction. They were adequately inflated. Nothing was dragging on the ground beneath the engine.

Still, the best the old girl could do was wobble past the toll booth and the adjacent hardware store. A tiny piece of real estate between Boca del Rio Hardware and Erica’s produce stand became a safe haven from the traffic.

By now the right front wheel looked — what’s the technical term? — off.

As in almost falling off.

I looked behind the wheel with fresh eyes, that laser-like scrutiny that says “I can fix this if I stare at it long enough and hard enough.”

There was a pivot bolt missing between the two — oh, I can’t lie. I haven’t the slightest idea what they are called. But any idiot, like me, could see the gaping hole that once held something that held it all together.

And it was gone.

Fortunately, Ruben’s mechanic shop was barely a block up the street.

Over the years, Ruben’s guys have rescued me numerous times when tires went flat or essential engine parts went kaflooie.

En route to Ruben’s, I dropped to one knee.

I’m not a terribly religious man. But there was a neatly folded $5 bill in the gutter. (Hey, I’m not proud. I thought it was a $2 bill.)

“Maybe this will work out OK after all,” I told myself.

I’m big on good and bad omens.

After a hearty greeting and an explanation, Ruben pulled Fabiano off the motorcycle he was disassembling and sent him with me.

With a quick look, Fabiano walked four steps into the hardware store, grabbed a couple of different length bolts and secured the two steering rod pieces with a few taps of his wrench on the head of the bolt.

Back in the hardware store, finding a proper nut and washer proved the toughest part of this project.

“Pay him,” said Fabiano.

“Four dollars,” said the store owner.

By the time I got outside, Fabiano had the bolt secure and was tightening several others.

“Twenty five dollars,” said Fabiano as he packed up his tools.

He smiled, shook my hand, and walked the 100 yards back to the shop where the partially disassembled motorcycle and more-interesting challenges awaited him.

Meanwhile, Rose had finished her produce shopping and ad hoc Spanish lesson at Erica’s.

So we headed off for Estel’s and breakfast, barely 20 minutes off our original time. And a mere $15 USD lighter in the pocketbook.

If something has to go bad, I’d recommend it happening just like this.

After Earl: Trying to recall what was where, and is no more

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Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.
Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.

Earl left a mess along the seacoast of Ambergris Caye.

You probably already know that.

Mercifully it seemed uninterested in the rest of this long and narrow island.

But the coast…. It moved down the coast at 75-plus miles an hour and shaved off nearly every pier, like a razor carving bristles off a man’s jaw. Read the rest of this entry »

The first lobster dish of the season has been consumed; now, on to LobsterFest!

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I mean, seriously, what does this picture have to do with the Lobster Festival 2016? Nothing! And yet, this photo was taken today on Middle Street, barely three days after the opening of lobster season and the launch of Lobster Fest. Coincidence? You be the judge.
I mean, seriously, what does this picture have to do with Lobster Festival 2016? Nothing! And yet, this photo was taken today on Middle Street, barely three days after the opening of lobster season and the launch of Lobster Fest. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Lobster season. It’s on.

We had our first taste of the new season on Thursday at Estel’s Dine by the Sea, lobster omelettes all around. Man, they were good.

Next up has got to be the original island lobster sliders at Casa Picasso, my all-time island favorite lobster delivery system. Must have something to do with those little buns slathered in butter.

I’m surprised that lobsters have not evolved to include gobs of butter under the exoskeleton. You know, the way the Butterball turkey has evolved to naturally include lots of butter under the skin. Or the way watermelons can be grown to include vodka infused inside the “meat.” Read the rest of this entry »

Don a gown, dance disco, devour BBQ — there’s a San Pedro fundraiser soon to suit you

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sagaThe fund raiser is a way of life when you live on a tropical island that is marked by severe poverty and great wealth, and a government that has limited ability to help its own people.

Here on Ambergris Caye it is a common sight to see locals in the street with money buckets, collecting coins and dollars for fire victims, cancer victims, accident victims. Last year a tour guide whose boat was torn up on the reef as he attempted to rescue some tourists was the beneficiary of a fund raiser to get him back on his feet. It is the island form of insurance, which otherwise does not exist or is out of the reach of ordinary residents.

There are monthly fund raisers for Saga, our version of the Humane Society, as well as fundraisers for the local food bank, athletic teams and individual competitors, AIDS groups, self-improvement groups, and, most certainly, our schools. It is at events like these where Belizeans and expats come together, mingle, share in the fun and camaraderie and make new friendships.  Read the rest of this entry »

This is how you end up sleeping through New Years Eve in Belize

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Katie and Rose hold up their barracuda, the last two caught for the day aboard the Lucky Devil in San Pedro, Belize.
Katie and Rose hold up their barracuda, the last two caught for the day aboard the Lucky Devil in San Pedro, Belize.

With the departure on New Years Eve day of my youngest son Chris and his wife, Katie, all three of my sons have now visited us on Ambergris Caye in Belize. Ryan was the first, back around Thanksgiving 2014. Brendan, Cami and Brody were here for two wonderful weeks this summer.

My work is done here.

Now all I need do is sit back and wait for each to reach the obvious conclusion: “Man that was fun. Let’s go to Belize again!”

It will happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday morning coming down . .

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Striking cloud formations on Sunday morning over Ambergris Caye.
Striking cloud formations on Sunday morning over Ambergris Caye and incredibly clear water below.

 

I’m blue every Monday, thinkin’ over Sunday
That one day when I’m with you …
… But after pay day, is my fun day
I shine all day Sunday
That one day when I’m with you
That one day
It’s a fun day
Sunday is my day with you.

 

Oh man, Frankie, baby, you knew so well. Sundays are the kicks.

Two birds in the hand

The first bird to fly into the glass door on Sunday.
The first bird to fly into the glass door on Sunday.
Second bird to fly into the glass door on Sunday.
Second bird to fly into the glass door on Sunday.
Surprise! A third bird hits the door, this one on Monday afternoon. It too eventually flew away.
Surprise! A third bird hits the door, this one on Monday afternoon. It too eventually flew away.

And this Sunday kicked off  in unique style. With a dull thump. A small bird flew right into the sliding glass door on the living room porch and was sitting there motionless, stunned.

The sight took me back to a year earlier when  we found a bird, motionless, on its side but still breathing. It tried to stand up. And fell. I tried everything I could to revive it. Gentle strokes on the feathers, water, whispering and even a slight gentle rolling in a paper towel. The hit it took was too much and the bird died.

Later that day I was sitting on the steps, fixing my bicycle and still feeling badly about not being able to save the bird. A bird with very similar coloring landed next to me on the railing. Close enough that I could touch it. I did touch it. I stroked it on the beak and feathers on the back of its neck. It didn’t flinch. It didn’t flee..

I even brought it a little saucer of water, but it wasn’t interested.

Eventually it flew off, leaving me with the oddest feeling that I had just witnessed something beyond our normal scope of reality.

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 »

Grill of my dreams: Bring on those ribs!

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A method to the BBQ madness: six color-coded ribs for every curstorm. Pick your top three and mark them on the ballot by the color of the stick. Brilliant.
A method to the BBQ madness: six color-coded ribs for every curstorm. Pick your top three and mark them on the ballot by the color of the stick. Brilliant.

The fourth annual BBQ Cookoff at Estel’s Dine by the Sea is history and 120 rib-loving customers have spoken: Rick Saager of Oregon — a frequent visitor to Ambergris Caye — is the People’s Choice among the six talented barbecue chefs.

For those of you keeping score, Rick’s ribs were the ones with the orange stick in them. There were six chefs in all. Read the rest of this entry »

Conch and Estel’s– two ways we mark the change in seasons on Ambergris Caye

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Inside Estel's back in March which a pickup band of local musicians added spice to our Sunday breakfast!
Inside Estel’s back in March which a pickup band of local musicians added spice to our Sunday breakfast!

In California, we used to say the seasons were Drought, Wildfire, Rainy/Greenery, Earthquake and Glorious Sunshine. San Diego had a whole season called June Gloom, in which the fog would roll in and stay until about 11 a.m., when the morning sun would finally burn it off and the breeze would beat it back to sea.

Here on Ambergris Caye there are similarly quirky seasons. There is High Season, during which people comment on how many other people there are on the island. And Low Season, during which people miss the fast-spending crowds of High Season, the people who by their presence and injection of cash pry open the seasonal restaurants and shops, bringing them out of their relatively brief commercial hibernation.

There is also Hurricane Season, Mosquito Season, Lobster Season and Conch Season. And the ever-popular Season of Paradise, during which the weather is beautiful, the mosquitoes non-existent, the crowds are manageable, the restaurants and bars all open and prices are still in the Low Season bracket. Read the rest of this entry »

And we’re back in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

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Wide floating gobs of Sargassum have washed up on the shores of Ambergris Caye, adding a new color to the local palette.
Wide floating gobs of Sargassum have washed up on the shores of Ambergris Caye, adding a new color (and odor)  to the local palette.

And we’re back.

If one benefit of travel is to discover things about yourself, then one thing I discovered these past six weeks is that I don’t travel and blog very well.

In fact, you may have noticed, I barely blogged at all.

To those who saw this as a blessed relief which opened up space in your own summer opportunities (ie, less time on computer) I say, you are welcome. Read the rest of this entry »