San Ignacio

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 »

Template for the whirlwind two-day tour of mainland Belize

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My brother Jim and I below El Costillo at Xunantunich, the top Maya archeology site in 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 »

Lessons from Earl: No. 1, Not all disasters are alike

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Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.
A photographer stops to capture the sunrise and battered but still stately dock at Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.

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 »

Video of flooding on Macal and Mopan rivers in San Ignacio

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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.

 

Heredia’s take on the damage from Hurricane Earl . . . and more (updated)

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Before and after shots of San Pedro’s waterfront from Bryce Jon Peterson, manager of the newly named Island Tackle Bar & Grill. That’s the former Tackle Box, in the foreground of the picture. Island Tackle’s grand opening was delayed by Hurricane Earl and now must be delayed again for repairs.

* * * * *      * * * * *      * * * * *

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.

Read more here.

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 reservations@tropicair.com

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.

Don’t miss her latest post, The Power of the Surge, here.

Turtleman's House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.
Turtleman’s House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.

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.

 

 

After Earl: This was the Palapa Bar

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Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
Our friend Ben Popik took this drone shot of the Palapa Bar, or what remains of it in the Boca del Rio section of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Ben Popik, owner of the popular Truck Stop and Island Films, took a number of drone shots on Thursday of what remains of the once-thriving San Pedro coast line. You can see more of his images 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:

I want to move to Belize, what do I need to know . . .

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Life in "paradise" isn't always sunshine and blue water. Sometimes, like last week, a storm hovers around the edges and the water takes on  a spectacular emerald sheen. And the rain, when it comes, is life quenching.
Life in “paradise” isn’t always sunshine and blue water. Sometimes, like last week, a storm hovers around the edges and the water takes on a spectacular emerald sheen. And the rain, when it comes, is life quenching.

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 »

Pook’s Hill defines eco-tourism in Belize

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On the road to Pook's Hill, an eco-resort in the Cayo District.
On the road to Pook’s Hill, an eco-resort in the Cayo District.

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 »

In Belize, we finally made our move, and not where we thought we’d be!

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Here's part of the view from our living room porch in the new condo at The Cloisters. Next purchase: A fishing rod.
Here’s part of the view from our living room porch in the new condo at The Cloisters. Next purchase: A fishing rod.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

When you’ve got to get away, go Belize

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A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy's sits on the end of the dock.  If you are looking at his and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.
A quiet and windy Sunday afternoon on the beach in San Pedro Town. The bar known far and wide as Wet Willy’s sits on the end of the dock. If you are looking at this picture and all it does is remind you of the three feet of snow outside your front door, then you should be booking your flight to Belize. Right. Now.

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.

I see a new Belize Tourism Board campaign in the works: When you’ve got to get away, go Belize. Read the rest of this entry »