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 »


This is Belize: When good golf carts go bad

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We were nearly at the crest of the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge this morning when something started going awfully wrong with Moncho 59.

More exactly, the golf cart started going left and right.

On its own.

The steering wheel seemed to suddenly lose all interest in doing its job. Which is a simple one: Keep the front tires going in the right direction.

I eased Monch 59 down the bridge toward San Pedro Town, looking a bit like a tourist after that first stop at the Palapa Bar.

Pulling over at the base of the bridge, a quick inspection showed everything seemed to be in order. The tires were pointed in the right direction. They were adequately inflated. Nothing was dragging on the ground beneath the engine.

Still, the best the old girl could do was wobble past the toll booth and the adjacent hardware store. A tiny piece of real estate between Boca del Rio Hardware and Erica’s produce stand became a safe haven from the traffic.

By now the right front wheel looked — what’s the technical term? — off.

As in almost falling off.

I looked behind the wheel with fresh eyes, that laser-like scrutiny that says “I can fix this if I stare at it long enough and hard enough.”

There was a pivot bolt missing between the two — oh, I can’t lie. I haven’t the slightest idea what they are called. But any idiot, like me, could see the gaping hole that once held something that held it all together.

And it was gone.

Fortunately, Ruben’s mechanic shop was barely a block up the street.

Over the years, Ruben’s guys have rescued me numerous times when tires went flat or essential engine parts went kaflooie.

En route to Ruben’s, I dropped to one knee.

I’m not a terribly religious man. But there was a neatly folded $5 bill in the gutter. (Hey, I’m not proud. I thought it was a $2 bill.)

“Maybe this will work out OK after all,” I told myself.

I’m big on good and bad omens.

After a hearty greeting and an explanation, Ruben pulled Fabiano off the motorcycle he was disassembling and sent him with me.

With a quick look, Fabiano walked four steps into the hardware store, grabbed a couple of different length bolts and secured the two steering rod pieces with a few taps of his wrench on the head of the bolt.

Back in the hardware store, finding a proper nut and washer proved the toughest part of this project.

“Pay him,” said Fabiano.

“Four dollars,” said the store owner.

By the time I got outside, Fabiano had the bolt secure and was tightening several others.

“Twenty five dollars,” said Fabiano as he packed up his tools.

He smiled, shook my hand, and walked the 100 yards back to the shop where the partially disassembled motorcycle and more-interesting challenges awaited him.

Meanwhile, Rose had finished her produce shopping and ad hoc Spanish lesson at Erica’s.

So we headed off for Estel’s and breakfast, barely 20 minutes off our original time. And a mere $15 USD lighter in the pocketbook.

If something has to go bad, I’d recommend it happening just like this.

Dusk and Dawn in Belize: Characters in a tropical romance novel of our own

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Belize’s beautiful bookends: Sunset, and then, sunrise.

The calm is with us, the uncharacteristic coolness adds depth to our shadows.

The soft breezes from the north and west carry fresh artisanal air — richly scrubbed by mainland jungle and infused with savanna magic and minerals from salty bay waters.

Breathe in with your lungs and eyes, simultaneously.

The moment feels like one you can live inside forever.

But it is only a moment, a brief story arc dependent wholly on the sun breaking the horizon.

Dusk and Dawn are two characters in a tropical romance novel, only they are real and now and ours to embrace.

Every night, every morning, it is a short story written anew.

Not to be missed, toes dug deep in the sand.

Island life: A curated exhibition of nature’s early-morning artistry in Belize

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Pearls from the nightly rain still linger in the loving crevasses and folds of satiated leaves. No sun will rise to vaporize these crystalline gems on this early morn. All around us, clouds struggle to organize as shifting breezes thwart their mission — but the rain is inevitable and due in abundance.

It isn’t every morning that I get up early to walk the little Moppit, but when I do, I am always rewarded with stunning sunrises, a blissful calm, a symphony of bird calls rising to a cacophony on occasion, the occasional pod of dolphins just offshore, the blustery hustle of storm clouds moving into position, the egrets and herons vigilant in the shallows.

There is always something.

If I weren’t so lazy, I suppose, there would be even more.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ramming speed: One way to barge in on Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Backing up for a full-throttle run through the shallows and s bludgeoning impact with the landing site. That’s just how you get things done.

The early morning stillness crumbled beneath the blatting, wheezing, rumbling, cries of frustration from diesel engines as the tug helplessly shouldered the sand-banked barge laden with building supplies.

It wouldn’t budge, not one inch toward the Tabony lot landing.

Shallow waters and low tide conspired to thwart the mission. This was no storybook “I think I can” tale. This big muscular engine couldn’t. Let’s face it, rail traction is so much better than water. Read the rest of this entry »

On the 15th anniversary, Flor puts the divine in Wine de Vine

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The newly expanded Wine de Vine interior, the day before the 15th anniversary party.

If you only think of Wine de Vine as just this very nice place to pick up a really good bottle of wine for dinner, well, you’re really missing the big picture.

It is so much more than that.

Although, if it is only wine you want, you would be well-served. Read the rest of this entry »

Stuff that is almost ready and stuff that isn’t in San Pedro, Belize

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In a way, this is a project nearing completion. The sailboat has been moored out in front of our place for months and the owner, who works nearby, spends hours lovingly restoring the interior and doing all the things that boat owners do on their time off. It never gets sailed, but it looks really really good.

Progress has a speed all its own on Ambergris Caye. Sometimes you can watch for years as projects go up around you. Slowly. Very slowly.

Resorts and condo projects for example.

Some have been in the building stage since long before we got here and look like they will still be in the building stage long after we are gone. In between, they may experience a bankruptcy or two, experience a resurrection by the hand of a financial angel, all sorts of curious financial intrigues. And hardly a wall gets poured as rebar returns to rust.

Then there are things that actually look like they are getting done. Small things, in the current scale of island projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize Q and A: And now, a few words with Moppit, the island wonderdog

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Three images of Moppit, all of them pretty weak. Two things at work here: 1. I’ve yet to take a good picture of Moppit. 2. She hardly cooperates. Moppit is the most camera-shy dog I have ever met. I will keep trying! Plus, she needs a little grooming, and that is scheduled for Thursday at Pampered Paws.

Quite a few people have asked me recently about Moppit.

For example, when a crazy-ass San Pedro taxi driver with a “Pretty chicks only” decal on the back window of his dust-encrusted van knocked me off my bike and I was laid flat out in the street, a number of friends rushed up to me.

“How’s Moppit been?” one asked.

“Is Moppit adjusting to you OK? If not, I’d be glad to have her,” said another.

“Any time you want to go somewhere, I’ll babysit Moppit for you,” offered a third.

And so it goes. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize is all about the colors. So, why shoot it in black and white?

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This was the view from the deck of Island Tackle Bar & Grill in San Pedro on Sept. 23, 2016. I felt a cold chill on my neck and turned around to see this “monster” moving across the island toward the reef. Even in color, it is the dark aspects to which your eye is drawn. Is this the end of time. All else below is fragility. I tried another version of black and white that seems even more menacing. I will post it at the bottom of this blog post.

If God wanted Belize to be a black and white photo, he would have called it Lower Manhattan.

If ever a country was born to serve up every smudge in the global color palette, it is Belize. Even during an overcast day, Belize pops with colors unlike any you will encounter elsewhere in the world. Clearly, a special light is cast over the country.

Especially here on Ambergris Caye.

So, what’s with all the black and white photography? Read the rest of this entry »

The season for sun worshiping on Ambergris Caye is near and a professional statue offers some tips

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Professional human statues strike various poses while preparing for international competition. I kid, but there is such a thing. This photo taken this morning in front of Sandy Toes on Boca del Rio.

You know how you can be in a certain situation and all of a sudden, boom, a solution appears right at your fingertips? And sometimes, you are in a situation — and not even aware of it until the solution appears?

I’m talking, of course, about the recent New York Times Magazine “Tip” article, “How to Stand Still.”

The article interview John Eicke, a German whose resume lists his major skill as “living statue.”

I’m sure the NYT had no idea how relevant such an article would be to a guy who lives on a tropical island off the coast of Belize, especially now that the rainy season is almost over.

I too have been mistaken for a statue. Read the rest of this entry »