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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 »

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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.

 

After Earl: Trying to recall what was where, and is no more

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Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.
Navigating the beach to the San Pedro Express Water Taxi dock is still treacherous. No matter. The water taxi dock is too badly damaged touse. They have moved operations down to Municipal Pier by Central Park.

Earl left a mess along the seacoast of Ambergris Caye.

You probably already know that.

Mercifully it seemed uninterested in the rest of this long and narrow island.

But the coast…. It moved down the coast at 75-plus miles an hour and shaved off nearly every pier, like a razor carving bristles off a man’s jaw. Read the rest of this entry »

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:

From Ak’Bol to Caribbean Villas, Ambergris Caye coast nearly stripped of piers

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The "honeymoon cabin" survived. Ak'Bol Yoga Resort's palapa just behind it, did not. All that is left is part of the pier.
The “honeymoon cabin” survived. Ak’Bol Yoga Resort’s palapa just behind it, did not. All that is left is part of the pier.

What’s up dock?

This morning I found the owners of Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat down shore, retrieving canvas curtains and polls from their lovely palapa studio. Which no longer exists. Later some friends told me that the top to the gazebo that once crowned our own dock was down shore and intact on a beach.

“It still has its light fixture.”

A dive shop owner told me he was able to find his compressors underwater and about half of his 60 air tanks.

Everywhere you looked today, people were off in search of their docks, their gear, some remnant of their life that blew away in the Category 1 hurricane Earl last night. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Seriously, Earl was barely a Class 1 hurricane?

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Part of the Dive Bar pier, I think. So much debris has washed up from so many piers that are no longer there.
Part of the Dive Bar pier, I think. So much debris has washed up from so many piers that are no longer there.

 

This morning, first light, at The Cloisters, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

There is debris everywhere from docks that were wiped out, up the coast. Ours is gone too.

Looking south, The Palapa Bar is gone too. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Earl is beginning to make some waves

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The view from our dock. We're on the second floor and feel relatively comfortable even if we are only about 40 feet west of the action ....
The view from our dock. We’re on the second floor and feel relatively comfortable even if we are only about 40 feet west of the action ….

Still a few hours before the serious side of Earl begins to show himself but already he’s making himself known.

Already some planks on our dock are showing an independent streak. There will be some gaps before this night is done.

Mostly it has been intermittent drenchings and bigger than normal waves. Already our little retaining wall is proving no match for the waves, and fairly modest waves at that. The sky is a somber gray but the light still projects an eerie brightness, as if the air itself is burning phosphorescence. That, and the constant rumbling as the Caribbean’s massive waves trip over the barrier reef. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: We prepare, we sit and we wait . . . for Earl?

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It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up
It is mid-afternoon and the surf is picking up energy. The sharp white line in the distance is the barrier reef with pounding waves coming in from the east to rile it up

We woke up this morning to a glorious Caribbean sunrise with swatches of blue sky amid the gauzy clouds and golden amber glow. A flat sea, still wind and barely visible reef greeted me and my cup of coffee. And mosquitoes, the most murderous panicky mosquitoes I have ever encountered here.

Tonight, I suspect,  will reveal to us one of those many variations of hell that the imaginations of god-fearing mortals have conjured through the ages.

This hell has a name and it is Earl. Read the rest of this entry »