San Pedro Town

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 »

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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 »

This is Belize: There’s just no bad day aboard the No Rush

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Yo, ho, ho! A pirate’s life for me! And my friends. On board the No Rush on Saturday morning, Aug. 26, 2017, headed for the barrier reef and a day of snorkeling, hanging out and saying things like, “This life does not suck.” San Pedro is in the background. (Photo by Gerry Neumann, who dropped alongside us on his Hobie cat as we were under way.)

We spent all day Saturday playing “tourist” on a boat, a local favorite called the “No Rush.”

It is an older catamaran that holds about 24 people, plus crew. It is the crew that makes it a favorite, they are long-time friends to many aboard. That, and the fact that the No Rush lives up to its name. This catamaran raises sails when ever it can. Most of the newer and larger touring cats tend to motor out to the reef and back. When you sign on to No Rush you have to plan on letting the rest of life rush past you and put your faith in the winds. 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 »

At Cayo Rosario development hearing, plans for ‘gringo rings’ rile San Pedro

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The Lions Club in San Pedro, Belize was full last night for a hearing on a proposed development of Cayo Rosario into a resort of which 80  percent of it would be over the water — in the Ho Chan Marine Preserve and fly-fishing flats. Not a happy crowd.

It took the last fisherman of the night, a quiet gentleman named Gomez, to strip away all the sham and pretense in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the preposterous Cayo Rosario resort proposal.

It was a long and emotional hearing and San Pedranos were pretty much shredding the EIA during the Q&A. If anger were a liquified mass, it would be boiling over and spilling out of the Lion’s Den on to Front Street in San Pedro. As it was, the audience was spilling out onto the streets.

Gomez told the hearing panel that he has pursued bonefish and permit in the shallow waters around Cayo Rosario for 30 years as a tour guide. Read the rest of this entry »

Follow little Madi as she snorkels the Belize barrier reef from end to end

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Madison Pearl Edwards is snorkeling the 190-mile Belize barrier reef to highlight the dangers of oil exploration to the country's greatest natural resource. She is 11 years old. (Photo courtesy of amergristoday.com
Madison Pearl Edwards is snorkeling the 190-mile Belize barrier reef to highlight the dangers of oil exploration to the country’s greatest natural resource. She is 11 years old. (Photo courtesy of ambergristoday.com)

Madison Pearl Edwards is about the most delightfully precocious youngster you’ll ever encounter in Belize.

I mean, it takes a lot of precociousness — and courage — to snorkel the entire 190-mile length of the Belize reef, from north to south, to publicize the dangers and absolute stupidity of off-shore oil exploration.

Even for an adult.

Madi is 11 years old. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Looking a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined

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Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday's First Friday trash cleanup.
Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday’s First Friday trash cleanup.

Moppit and I walked to Ak’Bol and back this morning and for the first time in a long time this always beautiful walk dazzled me.

And I know why, too.

Not only is the shoreline almost completely recovered from Hurricane Earl but the beaches are as full and lush as I’ve ever seen them.

But, most noticeably, THERE IS NO TRASH TO BE SEEN. This is a rare and incredible sight because even the most charming sections of beach up here are usually littered with plastic refuse and bottles. I urge you to take a walk north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge as far as you can up the beach. Read the rest of this entry »

In Belize: Close encounters of the aquamarine kind

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Mexico Rocks boasts the most precocious turtle in the world.
Mexico Rocks boasts the most precocious turtle in the world.

Do not adjust your set. The ridiculously fluorescent blue water you see in these pictures is correct. The water on the reef just off Ambergris Caye is that blue below the surface.

Up above is a different story. There, as you look out from shore to reef, the color can change numerous times, shimmering between emerald and azure.

The other day I joined friends for a trip around the island, with a little snorkeling at Mexico Rocks thrown in at the end.  Read the rest of this entry »