Leonardo DiCaprio

Two dozen questions on living in Belize — and not one is answered just ‘yes’ or ‘no’

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Old-fashioned manpower is pulling fiber optic cable through the streets of San Pedro, Belize, during a very hot summer day recently.

 

The e-mail said, we have a few questions about living an expat life that we would like you to answer. And it shouldn’t take more than five minutes . . . that’s when I knew the e-mail was from an editor. No writing should take anyone more than five minutes to complete, according to every editor for which I’ve ever worked. That’s how editors think. That’s their job.

So, three hours later, this is what I came up with.

I’ve said it before, I like these questionnaires. They are lazy work for the person who sends them out, but they can prove enlightening for the person who must reach down inside and come up with some answers — about 24 of them in this case.

So, here’s the deal. I’ve been living on a tropical island for nearly four years now. It is probably about time I ask myself “Why?” Will I be here for the rest of my life? Am I slowly going insane from all the rampant beauty that surrounds me? Where can I find a cheap meal? Am I getting enough exercise? Am I drinking too much local rum? Does anyone out there know or care where I am? Hello? Hello? Knock, knock . . Read the rest of this entry »

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Blackadore Caye hosts the ultimate Christmas office party

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A visiting couple from Corozal tied up on the back of Blackadore, making for a setting out of a Joseph Conrad novel.
A visiting couple from Corozal tied up on the back of Blackadore, making for a setting out of a Joseph Conrad novel. Bonus points if this image makes you think of Gardner McKay and Adam Troy in “Adventures in Paradise.”

There are office parties and then there are OFFICE PARTIES.

Yesterday, the good folks who have been preparing Leonardo DiCaprio’s 104-acre Blackadore Caye for development into what will likely be Belize’s most prestigious and eco-friendly resort island ever held a party for staff and friends. Around 150 people came to the island on four boats organized by Marcos and Karen Zul’s  Creative Tours Belize to shuttle back and forth from Ambergris Caye.

It was a celebration and a bittersweet farewell at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

I mean, who gets a whole private island for their birthday? (Hint: You’re looking at him)

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Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island -- with 20 of my best friends!
Walking around Blackadore Caye on my birthday, enjoying the splendor of a deserted island — with 20 of my best friends!

Your first thought when you step off the boat and on to Blackadore Caye is “This can not be real.”

It is like a Hollywood movie set for a tropical island adventure film.

The coconut trees seem too perfectly spaced to be real. The ground beneath them too perfectly swept clean. The sand too white. The water on either side of this long, narrow caye shimmers in variants of teal, turquoise and aquamarine. The dry, cool wind sweeps so sweetly upon the skin, not a drop of perspiration survives. The cloud-dappled sky is a dreamy blue — azure color #007FFF, if you are into replicating sky colors from an RGB color wheel. Read the rest of this entry »

Blackadore Caye environmental report: Airport is out, eco-friendly construction is in

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Blackadore Caye with the proposed "outrigger" pier, facing north. The pier with over-the-water hotel and a three-story "village" is on the western side of the island.
Blackadore Caye with the proposed “outrigger” pier, facing north. The pier with over-the-water hotel and a three-story “village” is on the western side of the island.

Spoiler alert: The new Environmental Impact Report for the high-profile Leonardo DiCaprio resort on Blackadore Caye contains no smoking gun.

At least, none that I could find  as I perused the 430-page report recently at the San Pedro Public Library.

A “public consultation” on the findings regarding the proposed high-end resort will be held Jan. 14 starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Lion’s Den on Front Street in San Pedro. Read the rest of this entry »

It is just a high-end resort on an uninhabited island, Leo. You aren’t saving the world.

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An aerial of a part of the 104-acre Blackadore Caye which actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his partners plan on turning into a high-end resort. And save the world. They also want to save the world.
An aerial of a part of the 104-acre Blackadore Caye which actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his partners plan on turning into a high-end resort. And save the world. They also want to save the world.

Just west of Ambergris Caye in Belize is a long and narrow, 104 acre island called Blackadore Caye. If I had to guess, I would say that it has existed well protected on the leeward side of Ambergris at least since the days when buccaneers and privateers and pirates sought shelter inside the barrier reef.

It has existed unchanged for the decade or so since actor Leonardo DiCaprio bought it for a pittance.

But now, DiCaprio and his investors have decided the time has come to “rescue” this helpless piece of sand and mangroves from itself.

They will do so by building a super high-end resort that will require development of 55 percent of the land. Read the rest of this entry »

Anthony: ‘What do you like best about living here?’ And there goes my day . . .

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"Time and tide wait for no man" -- Geoffrey Chaucer
“Time and tide wait for no man” — Geoffrey Chaucer  Wait! Did Chaucer ever visit Belize? I think not.

“What do you like best about living here?”

My neighbor Anthony just pitched that question to me. And my answer was a swing-and-a-miss.

“Well,” I fumbled around, stalling while my thought processes kicked into gear. If there is such a thing as a WD-40 for the brain, I needed me some. “That’s a really good question.” Read the rest of this entry »

Leo’s Belizean island bling fuels fantasy

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Many of you have asked, “Will you be living next door to Leonardo DiCaprio in Belize?”

To which I reply, “Ha. Ha.”

Surely everyone knows that Leo – may I call him Leo? – owns an island. To live next door would mean treading water for an awfully long time.

DiCaprio’s 104-acre  island is about two miles long and just off the coast of Belize City. Are private islands to become the new celebrity Belize bling? The new gated community? (Everyone knows paparazzi can’t swim.)

Well,  there are about 450 more cayes (pronounce it “keys”) out there and many are indeed for sale. So it seems inevitable that celebrities would start scooping them up like jewelry. Hey, wouldn’t you if you had millions of dollars at your disposal?

As a selling point, quite a few of them list their proximity to DiCaprio’s island, Blackadore Caye. Like this one, Rosewood Caye — 25 acres and yours for under $1.3 million. It claims unobstructed views of Leo’s island, a mere four miles away.

Not that you’ll spot Leo through your binoculars or be able to cruise over and invite him aboard for drinks. DiCaprio and a co-investor plan on developing the island as a Four Seasons eco-resort. What the future owners of Rosewood will see is a presumably lovely and extremely expensive resort that is at one with nature and American Express. Maybe. It has been nine years since the island was purchased.

Wee Wee Caye, yours for a little over a half-million dollars. But it is no where near Leonardo DiCaprio's caye.
Wee Wee Caye, yours for a little over a half-million dollars. But it is no where near Leonardo DiCaprio’s caye.

My current favorite Belizean island for sale is one sent to me by my son Ryan. We shares my fantasy streak, apparently. It is called Wee Wee Caye (Yes, wee wee key) and it comes with its own solar power, dock, boats, marine research facility and a list of universities that have leased it in the past. Less than an acre, the appropriately named Wee Wee is off the coast of central Belize, far from Leo’s domain.

In Belize, DiCaprio isn’t the first celebrity to come up with this idea, either. In 2001, director Francis Ford Coppola and his wife, Eleanor, bought Turtle Inn, a resort in Placencia. Hurricane Iris almost immediately obliterated the place leading Coppola to think, “My god, what am I doing? Living through “Apocalypse Now 2: The Resort”?

Coppola must have been toughened by the endless series of off-screen (well on-screen, too,  if you count Marlon Brando) disasters that accompanied the making of his masterpiece “Apocalypse Now.” The Coppolas set about rebuilding the resort in their own vision, which is today an award-winning combination of rustic and elegant.

Our budget teeters more toward the rustic, so if anything, Turtle Inn will be a drive-by glimpse in the mirror. Those $400-plus per-night off-season rates are too rich for me!

Placencia is really a slender, dangling peninsula, not a caye.  I get the impression that it is a less-developed version of the slender, dangling Ambergris Caye, which is an island and the country’s leading tourist destination.

But, hey, wait a moment. As the oceans continue to rise — thank you, climate change — you have to wonder how many of these islands will be around in 50 years or so.  Not that I’ll be around to shore up the shore.

Still, owning an island has got to be one of the all-time top day dreams. They all seem to come standard with white sand beaches (often imported to the islands), mangrove forests, palm trees, aquamarine blue waters and heavy, heavy fantasy potential.

Buying one would make for a great episode of “House Hunters International,” the HGTV series that can be ridiculously addictive.

I can hear the narrator, Andromeda Dunker, now: “Coming in at $1.2 million, Bob and Rose’s budget is going to provide some challenges. Finding an island close to Leonardo DiCaprio’s  that has a five-bedroom cabana with hot running water and flushing toilets, wet bar, pool, 9-hole golf course, WiFi and a deep-water dock won’t be easy ….”

Guy’s gotta have dreams, don’t he?