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
My brother Jim wanted to close out his recent visit with an experience on the mainland of Belize. We had two days left and the “tour” had to end up at the international airport for his flight home.
We put together a whirlwind tour. And if I don’t mind saying, this could well be the template for The Two-day Whirlwind Tour of the Mainland.
Two Maya archeological sites, the Belize Zoo, visits to Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio with one great dinner and one decent breakfast that included fryjacks — and of course the thrill of navigating through Belize City and risking life and limb on 70 miles worth of the George Price and Great Western highways, bisecting the entire country. Read the rest of this entry »
When almost an entire block on Middle Street in San Pedro went up in flames in June — leaving 66 people homeless and a number of businesses crippled or wiped out — the whole world responded with unconditional generosity.
Certainly the whole of Ambergris Caye did.
Scores of volunteers stepped in to help clear away debris. They didn’t ask which rubble belonged to homes and which to businesses. The amount of clothing and food donated could be calculated in tonnage and by the size of the hearts of the people on Ambergris Caye.
The San Pedro Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help
sort and distribute clothing to Hurricane Earl victims!
Report to the Lions Den, downtown San Pedro,
at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Barges and planes brought in even more aid from the mainland.
A significant amount of cash was raised in numerous and imaginative ways. Nobody designated their dollars to go to specific people or businesses.
People just gave — time, money, food, clothing, shelter.
Hurricane Earl is different.
Or it seems that way. Read the rest of this entry »
Drone catches aerial view of flooding in San Ignacio Town, Bullet Tree and surrounding areas in the Cayo District from Hurricane Earl, posted by Victor Castillo.
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As many as 400 San Pedro residents sought refuge in the town’s three shelters during the Category 1 hurricane Earl, Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. told Channel 7 News Belize.
The minister, who also serves as San Pedro’s NEMO chairman, added that there were “about 6 homes that were totally destroyed and another 3 or 4 that were extensively damaged.”
Heredia told Channel 7 that the “obvious” damage was seaside where “practically 90% of the piers are either gone or extensively damaged. The dive shops, likewise, I would believe that it’s only two or three that are standing, but not in a very good shape also. Beach erosion was terrible over here.”
7News also reports that some northern resorts, including Costa Blue, X’tan Ha and Saphire Beach have closed temporarily for repairs.
Ministry of Agriculture puts Earl losses at $100 million
Earl’s toll on Belize’s economy is over $100 million, Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, told Amandala today.
“What we have right now indicates $100 million worth of damage, because when we factor in the main affected subsectors – bananas, corn, and vegetables—corn, as I had said, was in the region of $49 million worth of losses, bananas will probably be within the region of about $40 million, and the rest takes us over $100 million in damages,” Alpuche said.
Tropic Air offers 50% off domestic fares through August 14
Tropic Air has responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Earl by cutting airfares in half because ” it was important to us that we make sure people can get where they need to go quickly in order to rebuild,” said John Greif III, president of the regional airline.
The offer will last through Aug. 14 and includes flights to all Belize destinations, except Belize International Airport.
“The task of rebuilding has already started in earnest, and we are eager to support this effort,” according to a Tropic Air press statement.
“We needed to do our part,” added Greif.
The discount can be applied to travel booked online at tropicair.com using promotional code: D50AUG. Tickets can also be booked at any of Tropic Air terminal or through the reservations department at 226-2012/2626 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tropic Air travels within Belize to Belize City Municipal, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Corozal, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda and San Pedro.
At last, a view of damages from up north
San Pedro Scoop Blogger Rebecca Coutant has posted a report and pictures of Hurricane Earl’s damage, starting at X’tan Ha Resort and traveling to points south.
As we feared, the damage up north mirrors what we have experienced in San Pedro.
“X’tan Ha Resort, her dock, dive shop, bar and beach took a beating,” reports Rebecca. Additionally, where possible, she has added “before” photos of some of the damaged docks, palapas and resort properties.
As a bonus, Rebecca was able to photograph the swollen rivers on the mainland when she flew home from San Ignacio. She had been evacuated from the Chiquibil Forest Natural Reserve ahead of the hurricane, but was forced to sit out the storm in San Ignacio.
An Ambergris Caye classic lost to the storm: Turtleman’s House
Rosemary Ingram Smith reports that on North Ambergris Caye, the Turtleman’s House — an over-the-water cabin that was the subject of many paintings and photographs over the decades — was lost to Hurricane Earl.
“Having a structure over the water in a hurricane area means that you have to accept the loss when it occurs,” she notes.
For the post on the Turtleman’s House and more background, see Rosemary’s Facebook post here.
This coast was, until, Wednesday night, jammed with piers and boats and businesses. Not a single dock, commercial or private, on the 24-miles island escaped Hurricane Earl unscathed.
Photos from various numerous island sources and residents:
- More photos from the Tres Cocos neighborhood south to Caribbean Villas can be seen here.
- Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop has images from San Ignacio to Caye Caulker to San Pedro here.
- More than 30 pictures of Earl’s devastation from San Pedro Sun’s publisher Tamara Sniffln
- More photos of San Pedro: From Rachel Brock
- Continuing news coverage from San Pedro Sun, including photos from Caye Caulker
- A set of 20-plus photos from Thursday morning by Heidi Simmons shows the scope of waterfront damage
- Ambergris Today: Coastal devastation on Ambergris Caye by Hurricane Earl, islanders rebuild
Found this question on a Belize expat site to be absolutely adorable: “I am seriously wanting to make the move by the end of the year…what do I need to know?…”
It took me back to those very early days when we crossed that invisible line, too. “We’re going to make the move. My, god, I don’t know a thing about Belize!”
What do you need to know? Read the rest of this entry »
I think I’m becoming a birdwatcher. I’ll let you know for sure if I ever drop a bundle on high-end binoculars, a camera with a telephoto lens, a light-weight bush jacket with pockets for my bird guides, notebooks, pens, spare glasses, mosquito repellent and granola bars.
Then I’ll know for sure.
Meanwhile, I just spent a very productive morning with Mario, a guide at Pook’s Hill Lodge, spotting birds.
Man, did we see birds. Read the rest of this entry »
A man paddles north in a kayak so brilliantly green that it matches the water beneath him.
A young Belizean in a sideways red ball cap, a basketball jersey and white baggy Gekko shorts, his hands clutching a small throw net, pursues a school of feeding snapper close to shore.
I don’t know if this is a trend or merely a reflection of the relentless winter that has left so much of the US in the freezer but in two days we met two people who spontaneously booked the next flight to Belize.
One fled Chicago and the other Massachusetts, both on two days’ notice.