sargassum

On Ambergris Caye — change is gonna come

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All is calm this morning, just a hint of a breeze and calm waters. Welcome to hurricane season.
All is calm this morning, just a hint of a breeze and calm waters. Welcome to hurricane season.

You can’t escape change. Even on a Caribbean island.

Some of it you can’t do much about — like the weather. Some of it is economic — like the end of the tourism season. And some of it is man made — like traffic.

We’re heading into hurricane/rainy season and it is interesting how precise the timetable is — for the rain at least. Right on schedule, June 1, the clouds began moving in and the winds began to die down. It now rains, however briefly, at least once at night and occasionally during the day.

This is a good thing since our water supply is almost entirely dependent on rain and our cisterns are nearly depleted. Likewise, well water is quite low and high in smelly rotten-egglike sulfurs. Flushing toilets are not a pleasant experience at the moment. Ah, island living. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from a year in Belize, like, Paradise will not make you a better plumber

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The view from our balcony. Not even bad plumbing can overshadow this.
The view from our balcony. Not even bad plumbing can overshadow this.

I recently celebrated our first anniversary in Paradise by straddling a toilet seat, trying to loosen the rusted bolts that hold the tank on to the toilet. And I was failing miserably.

No amount of WD-40, muscle-straining leverage, cursing and sweat was going to dislodge those suckers.

At least the water was shut off and the floor was no longer flooded. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Belizean Groundhog Day — six more months of fun and sun!

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Happy Groundhog Day! Yes, this is the Belizean groundhog! Local tradition say that if it comes out of its burrow and sees a camera in its face we will have six more months of happy tourism and a plentiful supply of rum punch and Belikan beer ... Oh yes, lots of sunshine, clear blue-green water and cooling breezes. Our groundhog never fails us
Happy Groundhog Day! Yes, this is the Belizean groundhog! Local tradition say that if it comes out of its burrow and sees a camera in its face we will have six more months of happy tourism and a plentiful supply of rum punch and Belikan beer … Oh yes, lots of sunshine, clear blue-green water and cooling breezes. Our groundhog never fails us

Happy Belizean Groundhog Day!

Yes, this is the Belizean groundhog! After a long night of partying at local island bars, people by the thousands politely waited at sunrise along the shore’s rip-rap walls. As the sun peeked over the horizon, spreading warmth and good cheer, scores of iguanas began to climb tentatively out of their burrows and face the sunlight.

Not coincidentally, Sunday marked the end of iguana hunting season in Belize — true story. The newly emboldened iguanas, breathing a little easier on MOnday, but still irritated at being called “Bamboo Chicken” by hunters, are none-the-less ready to make a statement.

On Monday, the public remained remarkably restrained, behind the yellow tape barrier. Many of them were sleeping off the night of dancing and rum punch in the sand. A few sold T-shirts and plastic iguanas on a stick, made especially for the day and hundreds more sold the usual jewelry and woven wallets and bags. Some, mostly tourists, had their faces painted like iguanas and a few even wore full-body iguana costumes and practiced the cool shark moves they saw during Katy Perry’s Super Bowl Half-time Extravaganza the night before.

As is tradition — but for no known reason — dozens of men dressed up as female iguanas, although gender isn’t important when looking for a signal from the lizards about the island’s future.

Local tradition say that if the iguanas come out of their burrows and see cameras in their face, we will have six more months of happy tourism and a plentiful supply of rum punch and Belikin beer … Oh yes, and lots of sunshine, clear blue-green water and cooling breezes.

If the iguanas come to the surface and begin chasing people, shouting garbled obscenities and biting small children on their toes, we’re in deep trouble, and you might consider visiting relatives in the U.S. until this thing blows over.

Quite seriously, if you see an iguana in top hat and tails today, know that the sargassum you see above and all the plastic that is embedded on the shore will disappear from Ambergris Caye in 24 hours. This offer is good today only.
Quite seriously, if you see an iguana in top hat and tails today, know that the sargassum you see above and all the plastic that is embedded on the shore will disappear from Ambergris Caye in 24 hours. This offer is good today only.

And if the iguanas come out in top hat and tails,  singing an astoundingly well-choreographed version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the crowd goes wild because it knows that the sorgassum will disappear, taking with it all pieces of plastic from the shore, leaving behind those mythical pristine white sand beaches we’ve all heard so much about.

Mind you there are hundreds upon hundreds of iguanas inhabiting the shoreline and it is not unusual for the message to vary from colony to colony. To avoid confusion, the town council every year hires members of its own political party to position themselves every hundred yards or so and record what they observe.

The council then takes the average of all of this data and declares a single unified message from the iguanas. It is no small coincidence that Iguana/Groundhog Day takes place one month before public elections.

One little known fact, every year for nearly a decade, Bill Murray has flown to Ambergris Caye to act as master of ceremonies. Every year around 3 a.m. he wanders over to Back Street and disappears for several days, each time returning with yet another tiny iguana tattoo on an obscure part of his body. He is always deeply apologetic and nobody seems to mind.

With or without him, the future is foretold.

Our iguana/groundhog never fails us.

 

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Drifting along the Ambergris Caye shore

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The sargassum sometimes comes in so thick that some property owners on the shore have taken to piling it up into mounds in the shallow areas.
The sargassum sometimes comes in so thick that some property owners on the shore have taken to piling it up into mounds in the shallow areas.

This morning I learned about the day the red apples drifted  up on the shore of Ambergris Caye.

It was in the days before island people had the ability to can and preserve food.

They were fresh, red, sweet and juicy apples and they came in like a red tide. There were so many of them that people grew sick of eating them and fed them to their dogs, recalls Angel Nunez. Read the rest of this entry »