Estel’s

Four months in Belize: We’re got some answers, Part 1

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Sunsets from our porch can be quite distracting. This one was going on as I was trying to write this blog post.
Sunsets from our porch can be quite distracting. This one was going on as I was trying to write this blog post.

My old friend Dave Dennis from San Diego sent me an e-mail yesterday that was filled with questions about our life here in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, Belize. Dave’s questions echo many that we have received, from other friends and readers of the blog.

Since today marks the start of our fifth month here in Belize, now would be a good time to try and answer these questions.

For my benefit as much as yours. Read the rest of this entry »

San Pedro Saturday night: A magical tour through tapas and wines

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Flor from Wine De Vine previews the next wines that will be poured and how it fits in with the next course to be served at Casa Picasso during a special dinner Saturday night for about 120 guests.
Flor from Wine de Vine previews the next wines that will be poured and how it fits in with the next course to be served at Casa Picasso during a special dinner Saturday night for about 120 guests.

Quiz time, my little Luminosity-loving friends! Very simple and no time limit.

Match the Casa Picasso food serving in Column A with the appropriate Wine de Vine wine pairing in Column B:

Course                                                                                      Wine

1. Sashimi Styled Snook                                                       A. Protos Gran Reserva, Spain

2. Savory Cheese Custard/Heirloom Tomatoes         B. Bujanda Finca Antigua, Garnacha, Spain

3. Butternut Squash & Ricotta Gnochi                            C. Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, U.S.

4. Chocolate & Vanilla Pork Short Ribs                          D. Villa Antinori Toscano Bianco, Italy

5. “Cookies and Milk” Pie                                                       E. Qunita Do Noval, 2003 Port

Aw, I’m just messing with you. You don’t have to take the quiz because it has already been done for you. Here’s the menu from which the quiz was cribbed. Read the rest of this entry »

Eco-Challenge kayakers finish 42-mile, 2-day feat of endurance

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Eco-Challenge winners Cesar Salazar and Irvin Humes of Team Coco Beach cross the finish line in front of Central Park, San Pedro Town, Belize. The finish of the 42-mile, two-day kayak race around Ambergris Caye drew a big crowd to the beach.
Eco-Challenge winners Cesar Salazar and Irvin Humes of Team Coco Beach cross the finish line in front of Central Park, San Pedro Town, Belize. The finish of the 42-mile, two-day kayak race around Ambergris Caye drew a big crowd to the beach.

Given its advantage point as the restaurant closest to the finish line for the 10th annual Lagoon Reef Eco-Challenge kayak race, it was no surprise that business on Sunday morning was booming in Estel’s Dine by the Sea.

Yet, somehow, Rose and I ended up with the front corner table, closest to Central Park and the finish line. From this vantage point we could look far down the beach, and catch glimpses of the sea between piers and palapas.

Sooner or later — later, as it turned out — the brightly colored kayaks of the lead boats would appear. Read the rest of this entry »

I opened the newspaper — and you won’t believe what happened next *

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Ring! out the old and ring! in the new: going back to the future for a flip phone.
Ring! out the old and ring! in the new: going back to the future for a flip phone.

We have a local phone. It only took, what, nearly three months?

Let’s just say there wasn’t any overriding, compelling, just-gotta-have-it reason to acquire another phone.  Rose and I are big e-mail users and the communications lag suits our new lifestyle just fine.

It used to be like this: Read the rest of this entry »

The future of San Pedro looms on the lagoon side

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This little guy was standing next to me taking photos of the same Garifuna ensemble as I was. Probably got better photos too, from his shorter perspective ...
This little guy was standing next to me taking photos of the same Garifuna ensemble as I was. Probably got better photos too, from his shorter perspective …

If there is one thing that I learned in my short stint with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) it was how to set up a ribbon cutting ceremony.

There were at least four of them. That worked out to one a month. To which you can also add a month-long celebration of bicycling which culminated in a bike festival followed by a single day in which thousands of people actually rode their bicycles to work and school.

SANDAG is many things but its biggest role is as the transportation agency for the 3.2 million people in San Diego County. And it handles its duties extremely well. It builds highways, bike paths, railroad tracks and bridges – and I contributed to organizing ribbon cutting ceremonies for each of those.

So it was with some professional curiosity that I decided to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday night for the San Pedro Sunset Boardwalk & Water Taxi Terminal on the lagoon side of San Pedro Town. Read the rest of this entry »

Night of the gecko … terror strikes deep in San Pedro

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Breakfast under the coconut trees at Estel's in San Pedro Town this morning. Note the blue sky. That was to change dramatically by this afternoon.
Breakfast under the coconut trees at Estel’s in San Pedro Town this morning. Note the blue sky. That was to change dramatically by this afternoon.

There’s a gecko in the bedroom.

Like many a good gecko, this one is heard but not yet seen. Unlike that overexposed fellow who shills for GEICO.

Problem is, the gecko is heard at the most inopportune times. Like when we are trying to sleep. If you go strictly by the sound, this thing must weigh in at 10 pounds and measure more than a foot long. Read the rest of this entry »

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.