moving to Belize

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

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Forever, it turns out, is a slippery concept: Goodbye, Belize

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My own opportunities to understand Belize are running out because I will be leaving the country shortly, probably forever.”

A “60 Minutes” piece from 1985 in which Morley Safer travels to Belize is cruising around the Internet. Like any 15-minute television essay on an entire country, it packs a little truth around a basket of cliches and misses more than half the story.

Tootling up and down the Belize River in a panga, Safer looks rather rakish in his rumpled white linen suit and black shirt — in a faded “Miami Vice” sort of way. He pronounces the country corruption-free, poor but not direly poor, filled with cheerful people from many backgrounds, a country comfortable with itself, a country ripe for exploitation, and on the cusp of great change.

Great change, from television.

He got that one right. Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes words fail when trying to describe Paradise in Belize but a picture will do

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Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how Paradise and Belize fit together. I have pages and pages of failed writing attempts. Sometimes, words aren’t what is called for. This morning, it took only one photograph with my humble iPod to make all those words moot. I will say, Paradise lasted but a moment and it felt eternal. Taken from the beach at Tres Cocos Resort in North Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’ll just step out of the picture now. Have a wonderful day.

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 »

You can skip the story and go for the moral: Wear sunscreen and use your noodle

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A visual aid for my little story. The yellow and green things in this picture are called “noodles,” for obvious reasons. They are not the only kind of noodles, apparently. Always ask when someone asks you to fetch noodles.

This is an absolutely nothing story and if you want to move on with your life, that’s OK by me.

It is just that I need to put it down on paper to see if it all really happened the way I think it did.

It started on Sunday with a pool party down the road, next to Coco Loco’s Beach Bar. The party was actually a continuation of a birthday party from the day before which included a glorious day aboard the No Rush catamaran with snorkeling and good food, plenty of rum punch, great friendship and a brilliant sun over head.

I’m pretty sure it was the last one that did me in. Rookie mistake, going the whole day without sunscreen. My face looked like a two-tone bowling ball: Pale white where the bandana sat and an awful shade of burgundy from my forehead south. (Right now it looks like a badly peeling bowling ball … .) Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Nature serves up a spectacle this morning and gratitude runs amuck

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Sunrise this morning on Ambergris Caye , Belize was so worth getting up for this morning. Well, nearly every morning.

The breeze, steady as ever through the night, picked up urgency around 5:30 this morning. The time is a guess. The first water taxi hadn’t yet sped up the coast. The bell-curve thump-and-rumble of that boat is like a  morning cock’s crow to mainlanders.  Only more pleasant.

It was still too black out to see, but my wind gauge was beginning to go off the charts.

I use the rustle of the coconuts and palms posted outside my bedroom window as a reliable source of wind information. Slightly breezy and they sound like waves lapping against the beach.

In fact, I’ve learned to distinguish the lapping of waves against the rustle of fronds.  It is an art that takes time to train a keen ear. It often requires lying very still in bed, listening closely to the sounds and then opening one eye, ever so slightly, to observe the weather outside and measure it against the assumptions. Read the rest of this entry »

The diversion factory called Truck Stop has come up with a corker

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Amy Knox of Wild Mango’s bites into her finisher medal at last Saturday’s “Amazing Race: San Pedro Edition.”

If you can imagine this, lots of people who live on tropical islands complain about the lack of diversion in their lives.

You hear things like:

“There are only so many spectacular sunsets that I’m going to sit through.” and “Sunrises? Do you really think I’m going to get up that early?”

“Oh look. Another flock of gloriously pink and retro roseate spoonbills feeding in the marsh. Which reminds me, what are we doing for lunch?” Read the rest of this entry »

A Scoop exclusive! My favorite San Pedro blogger peeks inside island’s hottest homes

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Our friends’ house is the first to be highlighted on a new feature on the popular San Pedro Scoop blog! (Photo by Mark Schafer)

What a delightful surprise this morning to open the latest post on San Pedro Scoop and find out it is all about my friends Mark and Deb Schaffer. Well, specifically, about the beautiful home they have built on the shore of North Ambergris Caye.

Rebecca “Scoop” Coutant is launching a new feature on her ever-expanding blog: a peek inside Ambergris Caye homes that are for sale by owner. Not quite “Househunters International” — how about “House Peekers San Pedro”? Something for the voyeur in all of us!

I’m going to jump right in and say that Scoop picked a cool one for her debut. Read the rest of this entry »

On Ambergris Caye, no ‘I survived Franklin’ t-shirts today — and that’s OK

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On Monday the dark gray and eerie stillness that preceded Hurricane Earl a year ago, settled on us once again. Looking north, I see the Dive Bar pier and a couple more that ended up on our waterfront beach after Earl. And I prayed it wouldn’t happen again.

 

Upon waking up almost exactly one year ago to shredded and twisted bits of around a half-dozen piers littering what was left of our beachfront, this morning’s sight was a joy to behold.

As they say in boxing, Franklin was a contender but he didn’t lay a glove on us. A change in wind here and a rise in barometric pressure there and this could be a whole other kind of story. A lot was learned last year from the abrupt changes in Hurricane Earl that spelled disaster for Ambergris Caye and The Cloisters/Tres Cocos Resort, where we live.

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This is Belize: Last sunrise of 2016, first sunset of 2017 and stuff in between — some fake, some real

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Last sunrise of 2016 on Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Last sunrise of 2016 on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The last sunrise on Ambergris Caye for 2016 was a real beauty. A diaphanous gold, like spun cotton candy, filled the air out to the reef as an early morning sun shower cleansed us, washed away this most unusual year.

Happy New Year to you all! May your every dream find its path to fulfillment in 2017.

Thanks to the recent addition of Moppit to the household, sunrises are becoming a daily thing. In pre-Moppit days, I would awaken at a civilized hour and think, “Wow. That must have been a nice sunrise. Maybe tomorrow.” Read the rest of this entry »