Marbucks

This is Belize: Looking a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined

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Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday's First Friday trash cleanup.
Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday’s First Friday trash cleanup.

Moppit and I walked to Ak’Bol and back this morning and for the first time in a long time this always beautiful walk dazzled me.

And I know why, too.

Not only is the shoreline almost completely recovered from Hurricane Earl but the beaches are as full and lush as I’ve ever seen them.

But, most noticeably, THERE IS NO TRASH TO BE SEEN. This is a rare and incredible sight because even the most charming sections of beach up here are usually littered with plastic refuse and bottles. I urge you to take a walk north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge as far as you can up the beach. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: We prepare, we sit and we wait . . . for Earl?

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It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up
It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up

We woke up this morning to a glorious Caribbean sunrise with swatches of blue sky amid the gauzy clouds and golden amber glow. A flat sea, still wind and barely visible reef greeted me and my cup of coffee. And mosquitoes, the most murderous panicky mosquitoes I have ever encountered here.

Tonight, I suspect,  will reveal to us one of those many variations of hell that the imaginations of god-fearing mortals have conjured through the ages.

This hell has a name and it is Earl. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: When all goes right, the life you save may be that of a cell phone

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rain-cell

Somewhere in the dark and the rain along the rugged main road south from San Pedro Town, my friend Clive Brewster’s phone tumbled out of his pocket and skittered away in the blackness.

He didn’t even notice.

He was pretty busy steering his golf cart rumbling, stumbling, and trumbling, and sloshing in, around, and through ruts and bumps and deep rocky valleys in the road, in the rain.

The South Ambergris Caye road is so bad, I always feel a special appreciation when I see South island friends in town or up north at Marbucks  for a Thursday night Wine Down.

It isn’t just a journey. It’s a commitment.

But the next morning, when he realized the phone was gone, a sense of what might of happened began to dawn, as he sat watching the sun was rising over the barrier reef in front of him.

A logical and methodical man — and by nature an extremely optimistic one — Clive drew up a plan for finding his phone.

He would walk back up the road, scanning from side to side. It was early yet. There was still hope that it would be lying by the wayside somewhere.

The first thing he encountered were the puddles, enormous deep murky brown puddles,  as many as two and three, side-by-side, cratering the road. In some stretches during the rainy season, there is more  deep water than road. So, Clive borrowed his wife Janet’s phone.

Every time he reached a cluster of puddles he called himself.

If indeed it still worked, Clive reasoned, the phone would send up vibrations from the murky depths and the vibrations would morph into ripples and the ripples would alert Clive to the presence of his rat-drowned phone. Kind of like finding the black box on a downed aircraft. With about as much hope, too.

So Clive slowly worked his way up the road, retracing his path left and right, pausing periodically to call himself and scanning the puddles for signs of life.

At some point in this northbound exercise Clive noticed a familiar face, a man walking in the opposite direction. David Thompson was someone Clive would often encounter with a smile and a wave as he bicycled north to his daily workout at the Train Station gymnasium. And normally, David was also on a bicycle.

Clive hailed him. “By any chance did you find a phone this morning?”

David pulled off his knapsack and pulled out a tightly wrapped towel.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

David explained: “Just a few minutes ago I was passing this puddle, and the water started to vibrate. I reached in and found this!”

It was Clive’s phone.

Clive’s plan had worked! It just required the assistance of another pedestrian — and a cascading confluence of unlikely circumstances — what we often call “luck,” I guess.

Clive thanked him, then added, “don’t you usually ride a bicycle?”

David did indeed bicycle to work, but this morning his tire was not only flat but rendered unfixable from tread worn as thin as the elbows on a tweed jacket.

So he was walking.

Which is why he found the phone.

Clive immediately offered to get new tires for his bike and by the next morning the two bicyclists David and Clive were again hailing each other with hearty waves and wide grins — perhaps heartier and wider than when they were strangers — as they flew by each other.

Kind of a post script

The phone, of course, stopped working as soon as Clive got it home.

It had, after all, been immersed in muck for hours. It was as if it had clung to life just long enough to be rescued at sea, only to die in the arms of a loved one from technological hypothermia.

But in another set of happy circumstances, a house guest of Clive and Janet’s was a big fan of resuscitating wet phones by immersing them in microwaved rice, hot and dry. Five one-hour immersions later, Clive’s phone sprang to life.

So, there is a phone god. And rice immersion, apparently, is not mythology.

And, this is Belize.

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Editor’s note: “This is Belize” is an occasional series within the “Bound for Belize” blog. It highlights the sometimes goofy, quirky, strange, frustrating, bewildering, heartwarming or sweet things that happen to us and which put a light on the Belizean outlook and spirit.
The title comes from a 20-year resident of Belize and long-time friend, Steve Thompson. When things happen here that are beyond Steve’s control or comprehension, he simply sighs and utters, mantra like, “This is Belize.” And he finds acceptance within, while warding off cynicism.
If you have experiences/stories that might leave you whispering “This is Belize,” send them to me so we can share! My e-mail is robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com.)

Meeting to set up Neighborhood Watch ends with two possible anti-crime groups on North Ambergris Caye

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This police booth was built in a day back when the North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch was active. It has recently been moved to the paved road and Grand Caribe Resort has offered to help restore it to functional use. Revival of a north island Neighborhood Watch is a big part of the island discussion after a meeting on Tuesday night.
This police booth was built in a day back when the North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch was active. It has recently been moved to the paved road and Grand Caribe Resort has offered to help restore it to functional use. Revival of a north island Neighborhood Watch is a big part of the island discussion after a People’s Coalition Committee meeting on Tuesday night.

The rising number of burglaries and thefts north of the bridge has moved San Pedro police and government officials, residents, business owners and others to seek a way to jump-start the dormant North Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch crime prevention group.

As many as 30 concerned citizens met at the El Pescador resort and came away reviving, not one. but two crime-prevention organizations for the nearly 20 miles of island extending north of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge.

Both Neighborhood Watch groups have apparently enjoyed active and successful pasts over the last decade or so, and for reasons not completely apparent last night, both went dormant. Importantly, both retained membership mailing lists and institutional memories of successes and failures in running volunteer crime prevention groups. 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 »

Sometimes, ‘Belize’ isn’t the answer to all of life’s questions

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Rain is as much a part of life in Belize as sunshine, and just as critical for survival. Some folks might not like that.
Rain is as much a part of life in Belize as sunshine, and just as critical for survival. Some folks might not be able to cope with weeks and weeks of gray sky and drizzle.

If the answer to all of life’s difficult questions is “Belize,” then why don’t some expats succeed here, while others do?

It is not unusual to say goodbye to someone on whom we were about to bestow with Belize-friend-for-life status. More and more, it becomes clear that if you want to be here for the long-haul you have to behave more like a Rolling Stone than a Beatle. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, what a night: Test-driving a cabana at Daydreamin’ Bed & Breakfast

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Panoramic image of Daydreamin' boutique B&B and the island's newest coffee shop, Marbuck's, about one mile north of the town bridge.
Panoramic view of Daydreamin’ boutique B&B and (at left) the island’s newest coffee stop, Marbucks Coffee House, about one mile north of the Sir Barry Bowen bridge.

Having lived on Ambergris Caye for only a year, there are few building projects that we can say we were there at the birth. Building things here — even houses — takes a very long time — unless you are Ramon’s Village and you want our fire-ravaged resort to reopen by Christmas. In which case, yes, miracles do happen.

We can say with pride that we knew Daydreamin’ Bed & Breakfast when it was just a little hole in the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

Taming the widow maker

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Recent sunrise from the deck of our condo. Probably my all-time favorite to date. I take this as a good sign that  good things are ahead. Of course, at my age, I take every sunrise as a good sign ....
Recent sunrise from the deck of our condo. Probably my all-time favorite to date. I take this as a good sign that good things are ahead. Of course, at my age, I take every sunrise as a good sign ….

The “Widow maker” has been tamed.

That would be the left anterior descendant artery in my heart.

The artery that has been giving me problems since — what? — last October?  Last week, two talented doctors deployed a 33×3 mm stent right through what I imagine looked like a fairly long, ugly, and unwanted cheerio of calcium that was blocking 95 percent of this particular artery.

Success! Read the rest of this entry »