San Pedro Scoop
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 »
When is a meal more than a meal? When it is a communal gathering of family and friends.
You can sit at a lovely table, with a gorgeous view, and have the best meal in the world but if there is no one around to share it with, no one to talk with as you eat, then, what’s the point?
Good food is nourishment for the body. Good companionship while eating it is nourishment for the soul.
Oh, lord, I could go on and on. These are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind while sharing a remarkable lunch with a great group of folks at the new Pier 366 Seafood House at Banyan Bay Resort on the south side of San Pedro Town, here in Belize. Read the rest of this entry »
After two weeks in the States, we came home to the disturbing news that the Government of Belize has authorized oil exploration within six-tenths of a mile of the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef.
This is startling because the people of Belize spoke by referendum two years ago and rejected off-shore oil exploration. And just last year the government placed a moratorium on off-shore oil exploration and the sale of oil leases.
The barrier reef is a designated World Heritage site, meaning it merits the attention, care and protection of the entire planet. It is the longest continuous barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere, extending the length of Belize and into Mexico to the north and into Guatemala and Honduras to the south.
Why the government would suddenly spring this on its own people is baffling. Read the rest of this entry »
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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
Below is a roundup of news reports and information on the devastating fire that hit downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize in the early morning hours of June 27. More than 10 buildings were leveled and 88 people left homeless. Several businesses were completely destroyed.
Bookmark and check back: More content is being posted as it is published throughout the day. (Here is a link to yesterday’s posts and stories about the San Pedro fire: Police treating fire as arson.)
At the bottom of this post is a link to the numerous photo galleries posted by professional and amateur photographers. All telling the devastating story as words can not.
From Corozal Daily
Jun 28 – San Pedro Fire Relief – The Management of Thunderbolt Water Taxi announces that Thunderbolt II will be making a special trip to San Pedro Ambergris Caye tomorrow June 29th at 8:00 a.m. from the municipal dock in Corozal Town. Send as much sundries as you can!
Anyone wishing to send donations to the San Pedro Fire Victims can make deliveries 1/2 hour before the boat departs tomorrow or preferably at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon at the municipal dock. This trip is a special one and will not stop in Sarteneja but Thunderbolt will continue to make FREE deliveries (until further notice) on its regular run departing at 7:00 a.m. each morning and stopping at Sarteneja.
Packages MUST be marked “San Pedro Fire Relief” “San Pedro Lions Club” c/o Thunderbolt.
From: San Pedro Emergency Operations Committee, NEMO
The Emergency Operations Committee (EOC), activated by the NEMO – San Pedro, would like to emphasize and advise that all financial aid for the San Pedro Fire victims is officially being channeled through the San Pedro Lions Club – Fire Relief Fund and the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross. The official bank account is ATLANTIC BANK number 211-382-902.
We are therefore asking all members of the public to discontinue from creating individual fundraising profiles, since it will only open the door for confusion and unaccountability.
The EOC has been working very closely with all the NGO’s, social partners, tourism stakeholders, local and national governmental organizations to ensure that all efforts are being properly coordinated. This is to ensure that all those affected by the unfortunate fire are being given equal assistance.
We take the opportunity to thank all those businesses, NGO’s, social partners, tourism stakeholders and other organizations and individuals who are working closely with the San Pedro EOC in this humanitarian effort.
For further questions or information, please call the EOC Command Center at telephone number: 226-4458.
From San Pedro Sun, 2:50 p.m.
The humanitarian spirit continues on Ambergris Caye as the community continues their efforts to help the victims who were greatly affected by the devastating fire that took place in the early hours of Monday, June 27th. The San Pedro Town Council along with many volunteers are heading a massive clean-up campaign in the immediate affected area.
While the clean-up efforts are underway, other volunteers and island non-profit organizations are ensuring that the affected families are fed, clothed and sheltered. Even organizations around the country have joined in the efforts to assist the fire victims.
More volunteers are still needed, especially at the San Pedro Lions Den with the distribution of items, as well as at the NEMO station, which is located at the San Pedro Town Council Conference Room in Town Hall. The NEMO station will be operating for approximately three days with 24-hour assistance. For more information the SPTC can be contacted at 226-2198.
The Southern Ambergris Caye Neighbourhood Watch has set up and easy and fast way to donate through their webpage: https://sacnw.org/wp/product/fire-victim-assistance/. Any monetary donations received will be forward to the San Pedro Lions Club chapter. (See more photos.)
This Thursday, the Palapa Bar will be donating 10 percent of the entire day’s sales or matching all donations made at Palapa Bar (whichever is greater) to help the Fire Relief Fund: “We will be making a donation to the Lions Clubs International (San Pedro chapter) at the Lion’s Den on Friday.
“If you are unable to make a monetary donation, please donate sheets, towels, pots, pans, silverware, plates, toiletries, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene products at the Lion’s Den, or bring ’em here, and we’ll give you a free rum drink in return!
“Let’s do what we can as a community to help each other. Please join us for Thursday’s Fire Relief Jam Night, and help give back to our community!
“For our friends outside of Belize, if you would like to make a monetary donation, please check out the only Lion’s Club approved website (at the moment) that is collecting donations online:https://sacnw.org/wp/product/fire-victim-assistance/”
Lions Den: Our clothing donations runneth over
June 28, 1 p.m.
Volunteers at the Lions Den are saying they have more than enough clothing donations.
What are needed most are: food donations, toiletries and household items. As always, monetary donations are graciously accepted. Please share and get the word out!!
From Tropic Air
Thank you Belize for the generosity in donating items for the fire victims in our hometown of San Pedro. We have gotten over 1,500 lbs of donations as well as items from the Red Cross. Please continue to donate and send with #TropicAir Cargo free of charge. Label packages “Fire Relief” and we will have items delivered for free. #TropicAirCares
If you wish to donate to those affected, you can drop your item(s) off at any Tropic Air Cargo station in Belize, and we will make sure it gets to those affected FREE of charge.
If the donation is for a particular family, we ask that it be properly packaged (no oversized boxes or items please) and labeled “Family ____, Fire Donation”. If it is a general donation, we ask that it be labeled “Fire Relief”, and we will take it from there.
Maya island Air is also flying donations in from the mainland for free and Caribbean Cargo is shipping them in by barge.
This is a tiny country with a huge heart! (See Tropic Air’s photos.)
The community of San Pedro stands strong and united after the Massive fire left 88 individuals homeless. After the impressive efforts of forming a bucket brigade to out the fire and also doing the impossible, they are out once again helping with the clean up of what is left.
Thank you to all the volunteers that have been at the site since early morning to help with the clean up. We also extend a huge thank you to all those businesses and people preparing food for the volunteers and the fire victims.
From Carmen Arenal
Last night, our Coco Loco’s Cribbage Crew raised a total of $375 to help the fire victims. We dropped it off at the Lion’s Den today. Thanks everyone!
At the 4 p.m. weekly Travellers Cribbage Tournament, and later for burgers on the grill, Coco Loco’s, donated 10% of all sales to the Food Bank to be given to the families affected by the fire last night. In addition, the bar matched the Cribbage cash total winnings.
Update: From San Pedro Town Council — Belize Bank has already kickstarted the radiothon with a pledged of $5,000! Thank you Belize Bank! Please make a donation and support the San Pedro Fire Victims in their time of need. We also need lots of volunteers to help restore balance.
88 or so residents (27 families) and 11 family and business buildings destroyed, 6 partially ruined buildings. 21 families (68 people) lost everything. (numbers courtesy of San Pedro Sun)
Reef Radio and TV Telethon – Thursday June 30th from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm on Middle St. Look for our dollar drive teams around town.
This Telethon be combined effort from Red Cross, Projects abroad, South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch (SACNW), San Pedro Tourist Guide Association, Ms. Flora Ancona and Hellfighters Footsoldiers Ambergris Caye Belize will be joining forces with us on Thursday Radiation.
All monies raised will be distributed by the Lions Club. (Read More.)
Smart is extending a helping hand to those affected by the recent fire in San Pedro which has affected twenty seven families. The Company will be donating $2,500 to assist the fire victims. In addition, the Company has activated its Smart! Cares Program to facilitate customers who wish to contribute. Customers can text to CARE (2273) and pledge a donation which will be deducted from their credit.
Smart will match ALL donations made.
(SEND A TEXT TO 2273 and in the body of the text put the amount (numerical) that you wish to donate from your Primary Credit … example if you put 5 then $5 will be donated from your credit).
From The San Pedro Sun
After a devastating fire that occurred after midnight on Pescador Drive on Monday, June 27th, community members have come together to provide relief efforts. Out of 11 buildings destroyed, 8 were businesses, and 3 were family homes. A total of 88 people were affected by the fire, and 68 lost everything.
San Pedro Town Mayor Daniel Guerrero emphasized that the main priorities are having enough volunteers to speed the clean-up, accommodations to shelter the victims, food, water, and clothing. The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), along with stakeholders from various Non-government organizations held a briefing at the SPTC conference room to discuss relief efforts for the fire victims.
According to Mayor Guerrero, recovery depends on the community. “This is a tragedy, and we need to overcome it just as we have in the past. I know people of San Pedro are hardworking, and I know with the help and ideas of our good people, we will get back on track,” said Mayor Guerrero. (Read more.)
From Channel 5 Belize
The families displaced by the fire are looking for basic necessities following the horrible fire. They lost everything in the blink of an eye. In the island, relief efforts have started, but it will take some time to recover from the tremendous losses. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting: In the immediate aftermath of the fire, San Pedranos are coming together to assist victims with shelter, as well as food and clothing. A total of eighty-eight persons have been displaced by the conflagration and are in need of basic necessities. Leading the effort and coming to their aid is the San Pedro Lions Club. Since this morning, members of the organization have been doing their part to raise funds and collect various items to donate to the fire victims. (Read more.)
From Channel 5 Belize
As many as eighty-eight persons have been affected by the biggest fire to erupt in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The inferno sent clouds of fire into the sky as smoke engulfed the area on Sunday night. It is not yet known what sparked the blaze on Pescador Drive in the heart of the town, destroying a total of eleven buildings before it could be contained. Residents assisted in the efforts to put out the inferno as only one of two fire trucks in the prime tourism destination was operational. All hands are on deck right now as investigations take place. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. (Read more.)
From 7 News Belize
Tonight, 88 people are homeless, and there is major loss of property as San Pedro town tries to recover from a massive fire that devoured part of a downtown block in Belize’s tourism capital.
Tonight, we’ll have the story from the island plus the answers from the fire chief and the police.
We start with the basic narrative. This morning at12:45, The San Pedro Fire department received a report of a fire on Pescador Drive, which is in the heart of the town. By the time it was done four hours later, 11 buildings had burnt and 6 were partially damaged. (Read more.)
From Ambergris Today
As the community of Ambergris Caye rapidly pushes humanitarian efforts to effectively assist the fire victims of this morning’s tragedy and ensure that they are fed, clothed and sheltered, the San Pedro Town Council pushed forward a massive cleanup campaign of the devastated downtown area and the San Pedro Police Department looks into making an arrest of an individual suspected to be the arsonist responsible for the fire.
Henry Jemmott, Assistant Superintendent/Deputy CEO of Police in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, stated that his department is conducting an internal criminal investigation separate from the San Pedro Fire Department’s investigations. They are looking at arson as to the cause of the fire.
Just a few hours after the massive and disastrous fire that raved through downtown San Pedro, the Lions Club, Leos Club and the San Pedro Food Bank were first to organize a collecting station for non-perishable food, clothing and personal items for the fire victims. Clothing, toys for children and even diapers have been made available to them, but now donations of towels, pillow, bed sheets and personal hygiene items are being asked for by the Lions Club/Food Bank. (Read more.)
By Aaron Humes:
An early morning fire on Pescador Drive in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye is said to have razed ten buildings including homes and business and caused as much as a million dollars in damage.
Around 12:45 this morning, police and fire officials responded to a wooden two-storey apartment behind El Durado Store on Pescador Drive which was on fire.
The fire spread quickly toward Lino Meat Shop and ultimately further up Pescador Drive and Black Coral Street, wiping out several houses, apartment buildings and business establishments. (Read more.)
From The San Pedro Sun
As many as 88 residents have been left homeless after a devastating fire gutted through 17 homes shortly after midnight on Monday, June 27th.
11 buildings were totally destroyed, of which 8 were businesses and 3 were family homes. 6 buildings were partially destroyed. 27 families, totaling 88 people, have been affected by the most devastating fire San Pedro has seen in recent history. 21 families (68 people) lost everything. (Read more.)
By Clive Welsh
The clean up is underway; thank you to the many companies, businesses, visitors, tourist, Town Council San Pedranos. Thank God for His grace and mercy! (See photos.)
After taking these few pictures that left me feeling like I was in a war zone, I checked in to the Lion’s Den along with so many others to donate and spent the rest of the day helping in any way possible.
May the heart warming stories and the generosity from and to our neighbours be what is remembered long after we have come together and helped these families rebuild their lives.
I am grateful to have had a little part in this effort. (Read more.)
Sunday night there was a terrible fire on the highly populated, densely packed Middle Street in downtown San Pedro. You can see the truly scary photos in Ambergris Today and San Pedro Sun. THANK GOODNESS NO ONE WAS INJURED. Yesterday morning, I posted pictures of the wreckage.
People and groups are stepping up almost hourly and the mayor has pledged – with a huge team of volunteers – to have the area cleared and cleaned in 3 days, starting today. The San Pedro Town Council has requested more volunteers – their facebook page is the best place for updates. Stop by the Town Council building – or speak to one of the officers at the site to help.
Here are the approved organizations that are leading the effort: (Read more.)
- San Pedro Sun, new gallery of Tuesday, June 28, cleanup along Pescador Drive.
- San Pedro Town Council photo gallery of Tuesday cleanup operations.
- Ambergris Today offers an early morning look at the devastation in a video on its Facebook page.
- A collection of photos this morning from Jorge Aldana shows the extent of the fire damage downtown.
- Here’s an early set of images from Jorge Aldana while the fire was in full rage along Middle Street.
- San Pedro Sun’s photo gallery of the heroic bucket brigade volunteers and more.
- San Pedro Scoop’s photos from this morning look at the fire’s tragic aftermath.
- Clive Welsh posts 19 photos of clean-up progress and tour of the disaster site by Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. this afternoon.
- Jorge Aldana’s photos: Ground zero in San Pedro Town following a devastating fire. A total of 88 people affected and a total of 11 structures completely destroyed. The San Pedro Emergency Operations Committee has been up and running from 3a.m.”
If you live in San Pedro you probably couldn’t help but notice the “teasers” plastered to nearly every telephone pole on the island “The Breeze is coming.”
Did they get your interest up?
Well, the mystery is over and the Breeze has been revealed: It is a gringo internet radio station here in San Pedro, aimed at ex-pats and future ex-pats and people who just wish they could be ex-pats. Also described as “A classic hits music and information radio station.”
The music format is ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s with a little stand-up comedy tossed in. Ugh, I heard Henny Youngman this morning. “Take my jokes, please!” There also promises to be a sprinkling of island sounds — presumably Bob Marley to Jimmy Buffet.
If you were listening around 10 a.m. today you got something like this: The Dixie Cups, “Going to the Chapel”; Wings, “Silly Love Song”; Carole King, “It’s Too Late”; Stevie Wonder, “Isn’t She Lovely”; Bill Haley, “Shake Rattle and Roll”; Leanne Rimes, “Can’t Fight the Moonlight”; Bill Haley again, “See Ya Later Alligator”; and Earth Wind and Fire, “September.” With a little Henny thrown in somewhere in the mix.
The Breeze website promises U.S./International news at the top of the hour, local weather at the bottom of the hour and community events on the quarter hour. The website even offers some basic Spanish lessons.
The man behind it all is “the radio guy” Danny Vega, with whom I left a message to cal me back. If or when he does, I’ll add some more background here. Including the question on the minds of some Ambergris forum members: “Will the flyers be removed from all the telephone poles?”
The internet station intends to be advertising supported. Meanwhile, you can grab a listen right here. Scroll down the home page for some basic information, including how to add the station as a pop-up so you can listen while doing other things on the Web.
Southwest Airlines is looking for a few good reasons to visit Belize.
The U.S. airline will begin daily flights to Belize in October, from Houston. And anyone who knows Southwest knows this airline doesn’t do anything unless it is fun. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to land on a Southwest flight when the safety speech is given by a budding stand-up comic you’ll know what I mean.
Southwest likes creative employees. Heck, it simply likes its employees (and I think they are called team members, or something like that). My friend and neighbor in San Diego for many years was a Southwest flight attendant who rose through the ranks to become a recruiter and trainer among other duties for the airline. Wayne Toups loved the airline and loved going to work every day. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m flat on my back in water that is just deep enough to cover my ears and muffle the sounds of friends who are happily chatting just a few feet way.
The water is a gloriously comfortable temperature. The sky above is a radiant blue with just enough fluffy bits of cloud to add interest but my eyes are closed, letting the gentle heat of the sun sink deep into the frontal lobe and warm it up like bacon.
Two thoughts are floating through my brain:
1. This is a Monday afternoon. Incredible.
2. If I stay like this long enough, can I grow gills through my ears and never have to get up? Read the rest of this entry »
In California, we used to say the seasons were Drought, Wildfire, Rainy/Greenery, Earthquake and Glorious Sunshine. San Diego had a whole season called June Gloom, in which the fog would roll in and stay until about 11 a.m., when the morning sun would finally burn it off and the breeze would beat it back to sea.
Here on Ambergris Caye there are similarly quirky seasons. There is High Season, during which people comment on how many other people there are on the island. And Low Season, during which people miss the fast-spending crowds of High Season, the people who by their presence and injection of cash pry open the seasonal restaurants and shops, bringing them out of their relatively brief commercial hibernation.
There is also Hurricane Season, Mosquito Season, Lobster Season and Conch Season. And the ever-popular Season of Paradise, during which the weather is beautiful, the mosquitoes non-existent, the crowds are manageable, the restaurants and bars all open and prices are still in the Low Season bracket. Read the rest of this entry »