Mexico

Three things you should do as quickly as possible once you move to San Pedro

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Watching the sun rise over Lake Bacalar on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. They say every morning the colors are different because of the unique reflective qualities of the pristine lake waters.

The three best things you can do once you move to Ambergris Caye in Belize involve getting off the island. One means getting out of the country. None of them includes the Blue Hole or the “Chicken Drop.”

This sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

I mean, here you are, newly landed on one of the great expat destinations in the world, and this guy who is moving away shortly is telling you to get off the island for your own sake.

Hang in there. I in no way intend to burn Ambergris Caye, a place I love above all others on this planet. Follow my steps through these three adventures and I promise you’ll return to Ambergris Caye with a deepened love for the island and a profound appreciation for the beauty that surrounds it. The real estate won’t expand, but your world will grow bigger.

Welcome to San Pedro, now go and explore the rest of Belize

Read the rest of this entry »

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You can fool a Moppit some of the time but you can’t fool a Moppit all of the time

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Moppit gets a bath after a recent dip in the sargassum, followed by a full-body roll in the sand and decaying beach algae. Look at that face. Of course, she loved it. Me, not so much.

Yes, we are still here. In Belize, until Thursday.

Getting to San Miguel de Allende with a little dog and six formidable suitcases in tow (still an estimate) will be quite a coup from my perspective.  I turn out to be very good at perspective, while Rose is, in fact, even better at actually scheduling things like planes (2) transport vans (2), and hotels (1).

Meanwhile, I have been studying YouTube videos on how to lovingly coax your little dog into an even littler carrier. I just finished a 9-minute video in which the rather attractive woman spent seven of those minutes telling us, me, how lovely and obedient her own little Muffie is.

“There you are Muffie, you beautiful, beautiful little angel! Who’s mama’s little angel!?” And, you know? She had that way of drawing out the word “angel” into several extra syllables, covering three octaves in the upper register.

Muffie is an over-achieving little princess, in my book. My Moppit, former street dog and reality TV star of “Survivor for Dogs,” would whip her furry little ass. Read the rest of this entry »

Yet another medical saga: Saved by my angels in Merida

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This is a ponderous blog post for many. I will try to leven it with beautiful artsy pictures from Merida, taken when I first went for a medical consultation in December. This, for example is one of the many many churches in Merida. I don't know which they have more of, churches or medical facilities. Every public square seems graced with a church.
This is a ponderous blog post for many. I will try to leven it with beautiful artsy pictures from Merida, taken when I first went for a medical consultation in December. This, for example is one of the many many churches in Merida. I don’t know which they have more of, churches or medical facilities. Every public square seems graced with a church.

Hello. Miss me?

So sorry. I have checked out — in a number of ways — and the Bound for Belize blog has fallen by the wayside.

Then I popped back up the other day with that number on violence and murder in Belize and I know it felt more like a hard slap than a cheery wave “hello” to many.

Sorry about that.

The trouble with this blog is that I write about what moves me, what’s on my mind. Since I am beholden to no advertiser or revenue stream or reader, it comes and goes as I am moved most — or least.

I hope you enjoyed my friend Jeff Drew’s guest post on spending the day with Jose/Salva, a solitary fishermen at sea in his kayak. I see Jose paddle out nearly every day in fair weather and foul. I find him incredibly brave and determined. Thank you Jeff, for sharing your story. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s my wish from Belize for you in 2016

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magic-palm-tree

At some time in your life, when you need it most, may you gaze out from a comfortable chair upon a lone palm tree.

There are two types of palm trees that I like best. One is the solitary palm hugging close to the shore with its lapping waves, bent into the wind from a lifetime of resistance. These palms show the scars of battle and every twice records their resilience. They are inspirational.

And relaxing.

You just know that if you are string at a palm tree, you are already in a good place. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding music, moments and magic in Merida

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A young schoolgirl keeps the pidgeon population happy in Parque de Santiago on Calle 72 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.
A young schoolgirl keeps the pigeon population happy in Parque de Santiago on Calle 72 in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on a Friday afternoon.

The thing is, I really didn’t think I could afford the hat.

I liked it. It felt cool and comforting on my head. It sat naturally on my crown with no fussing. The roll of the brim had a slightly rakish appeal that the rest of me certainly didn’t exude.

Still, $3,200 pesos? Taxes are coming up. So is rent. And a trip or two back to the States for both Rose and me. Really, I wasn’t even sure that we should have been taking this mini-vacation to the beautiful colonial city of Merida on the Yucatan Peninsula. Read the rest of this entry »

A Very Merry Belizean Christmas to you all!

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With holiday love from Bob Hawkins and Rose Alcantara in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
With holiday love from Bob Hawkins and Rose Alcantara in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

 

In 2010, Rose and I spent Christmas with friends in their village Los Barriles, a quiet and endearing little fishing town on the Baja Peninsula, about 40 Km north of the go-go party town of Cabo San Lucas. It was my first Christmas away from family and the United States, but hardly the first for Rose, a well-traveled soul of the World.

It was a terrific holiday with our ex-pat friends Kim and Rick and their friends, and importantly, my first real exposure to an ex-pat life. Not that we were even remotely considering such a dramatic change in our own lives.

We had a surprise visitor on Christmas Eve — no not that one. His name is Robert F. Gannon.

Long ago, Bob took off from San Diego in “Lucky Lady,” a Cessna 182, and began flying around the world.  And now 10 years later — after three trips around the globe, numerous adventures, mishaps, a massive collection of new friends and profound acts of luck and good fortune — Bob was ready to come home. In a stroke of good luck on my part, I was assigned to hunt him down and interview him before he reached his home airport in El Cajon, a dusty city east of San Diego, now flying in his “Lucky Lady Too.”

Around Thanksgiving, I found Bob on a layover in Mexico and we had a terrific conversation. He planned to hang out in Mexico until January, then make his triumphant return.

Globe-trotting pilot Bob Gannon in front of his home away from home, Lucky Lady Too, somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, if I recall correctly.
Globe-trotting pilot Bob Gannon in front of his home away from home, Lucky Lady Too, somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, if I recall correctly.

As you can imagine of anyone who travels the world, Bob is a first-rate raconteur who makes lifelong friends as easily as others breath air. I easily succumbed to his charm, his wit and his tales of adventure.

A few days after the story ran, we spoke again. I impulsively mentioned to Bob that we would be in Mexico, too,  for Christmas and if he wasn’t doing anything to come join us. Seeing as we were in the same country and all.

To my surprise, Bob said he’d be happy to join us.

And sure enough, on Christmas Eve day he landed on the tiny little rolling tar strip just north of Los Barriles and hitched a ride into town, arms laden with bottles of wine.

Needless to say, at dinner that night at Rick and Kim’s, Bob mesmerized a global audience of ex-pats with his good cheer and stirring tales of landing on dirt strips in Africa, high altitude fields in the Himalayas, and crossing the Pacific in what was basically a full gas tank with wings.

When Bob heard that I had proposed to Rose earlier that day — a most-clumsy, inarticulate and unimaginative proposal as ever there was one by an alleged writer — he took to the floor and proposed, to wild applause,  that we get married the very next day. Did I mention how impulsive people like Bob can be?

“What is there to prevent you from getting married?” he asked with a gleam in his eye and a glass of red wine upraised in his hand.

With no good answer for Bob, we still didn’t get married the that day.

After that night, Bob returned to his hotel and somehow managed to invite every soul in Los Barriles down to the airport for a ride in his plane. By the time we got there, the line was filled with local parents and kids. Bob took off, flew around the town and landed over and over, until everyone at the strip had been given a ride. Most of those kids had never dreamed of ever flying in a plane and the looks on their faces said it all when they landed.

Rose and me after our wedding with all our kids, Ryan, Cami, Brendan,Jon, Caira, Chris, Katie and Quinn in Los Barriles, Mexico.
Rose and me after our wedding with all our kids, Ryan, Cami, Brendan, Jon, Caira, Chris, Katie and Quinn in Los Barriles, Mexico.

The wedding finally took place in Los Barriles, but not until February 12, 2012,  with 40 family members and friends present. Sadly, Bob was not among them.

True to his word,  he did come home after 10 years — but true to his nature, Bob Gannon couldn’t stay grounded. He took off again and I like to imagine that he is still hopping from dirt road to airport to open field somewhere around the world.

Merry Christmas, Bob Gannon, where every you may be. I know that you are making the life of those around you on this day as merry and bright as any they have ever had.

Keep flying, old friend. And thank you for helping make our own dreams soar.

And Happy Holidays to you, our dear readers and newest friends. May you all have a wonderful 2015, in which your answer to the question “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” will be “Why, just today!”

Island is abuzz with a Bowen Family wedding and a special brew

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Set-up for a Thursday night Bowen-Tully pre-wedding party? These tables were on the waterfront of Ramon's Village, a local institution and a conch shell-toss from the Bowen home and Island Academy.
Set-up for a Thursday night Bowen-Tully pre-wedding party? These tables were on the waterfront of Ramon’s Village Resort, a local landmark institution,  and a conch shell-toss from the Bowen island home and Island Academy.

Just so you know, we have a royal wedding planned this Saturday on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

And when I say “we” I mean the grand, island-wide “we.” I  don’t mean to imply that either I or Rose are in any way a part of it.

Nope. Not even an invite to the post-wedding party on the grounds of the Island Academy which, gosh, it looks like it is going to be fun. I mean, we’re one rung above tourist here. Wouldn’t expect an invite. Nope … Read the rest of this entry »

A Belize day-in-the-life: Sapotes, yoga, good food and friends

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Mayem Sapotes share the bowl with a couple of limes, bananas, tomatoes .... just another shopping day, with lots of yoga.
Mamey Sapotes share the bowl with a couple of limes, bananas, ginger, tomatoes …. just another shopping day, with lots of yoga.

So much for that laid-back island vibe.

Rose took three yoga classes  yesterday –and a hyper-energy dance class at Zen Arcade.

So, what’s a guy to do if he wants to see his wife? I took two of the yoga classes, too.

And that, my friends, constitutes a busy day here on Ambergris Caye. Well, with a bunch of other stuff thrown in between the classes.  It kind of feels like this video, (which was posted by Rebecca of San Pedro Scoop)  — a jittery GoPro bicycle tour up and down the same streets we cycle, filmed by Nicolai Hebert. Read the rest of this entry »

Ambergris Caye among the Top 8 places to retire in 2014

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Here's a last glimpse of part of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye as we took the air taxi back to the mainland of Belize for our flight home.
Here’s a last glimpse of part of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye as we took the air taxi back to the mainland of Belize for our flight home in October. I mean, really, are you surprised that it is a highly desirable place to retire to?

Well, it is nice to know that we are on the right track.

A U.S. News & World Report blog post today lists Ambergris Caye among the top 8 places in the world in which to retire in 2014.

And darn if that isn’t exactly what we plan to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Game on, Belize

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Rose sits on the Water taxi to Ambergris Caye toward the end of our fact finding tour of Belize.
Rose sits on the Water taxi to Ambergris Caye toward the end of our fact finding tour of Belize.

Game on, Belize.

One day a suspect lump in a breast threatens to delay, if not derail entirely, our dream of moving to Belize early next year. And now, a long couple of weeks and numerous tests later, Rose has been given a clean bill of health (literally) from Kaiser Hospital’s enormously efficient Breast Cancer Clinic.

So, like I said, game on.

It was while we were on our scouting trip to Belize last month that Rose detected the very distinct bump.

The immediate response was a quick reordering of priorities.

Do we fly home right away and have it checked out? Do we call a doctor in Belize? Should we even be thinking of moving if there is cancer? Do we panic? Do we stay calm? My god, why is this happening and what do we do next?

Read the rest of this entry »