So, we are back on Caye Caulker comfortably ensconced in the second storey apartment at the Oasi, a chic open-concept apartment with a living-room futon and coffee table and T.V., full kitchen with gas range, small fridge, ample counter space and kitchen table with chairs and a roomy bright bathroom and a wrap-around verandah ccomplete with a full-length cotton hammock, a small rectangular table with two stools and a table with two clam chair around the corner.
My foot is still sore, not painfully so, not that I can’t get around, but I have to be careful how far I walk and I don’t even want to start bicycling. We walked up to the small local airport and watched a couple Tropic Airline 12-seater propellor planes fly in from San Pedro and Belize City, and take off again, picking up and off-loading their human cargo.
We walk ten minutes to the sea to check out the abandoned dock we swam and fished off last year but it was in such disrepair we decide to make it off limits for ourselves and guests. When she heard about this, Luciana said we could use the dock next to the old one. It is a first-class dock and she has made arrangements with the owner to let her guests use it.
Now it is time to re-explore the island.
Caye Caulker is approx. 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Check out www.cayecaulker.com for more details. Suffice it sufficient for me to tell you that it has grown increbily from the first time we visited 12 years ago to now. Not in settled population, around 2000, nor in tourists as far as we can tell, but in hotels and restaurants opened we guess on the premise ‘if you build it they will come’. And they probably will but right now it is still under-crowded during the week and it still has it old-time charm.
Come while you can.
We make manageable forays into ‘town’ to get foodstuffs for our visit. We walk to the nearest grocery store to us, the China Town Super Market. Most grocery stores in Belize, Chinese or not, claim Super Store status. Don’t get your hopes up. China Town provides us with most of our needs, canned and dry goods, rum and miscellaneous items.
We lug our stuff back.
For baked goods there is a great bakery not far away (nothing is) with fresh breads, buns and sweet buns and pastry-wrapped sausage and ham and cheese.
For chicken, there is the store next to the bakery that sells whole chicken and cut -up parts.
For vegetables, there are kiosks specializing in vegetables and often offering fresh juices like orange, lime, pineapple, papaya and watermelon.
For fish and meats we visit Land and Sea for pork chops, pork roasts, breakfast sausage, hot italian sausage, shrimps and fresh catch if we can get it.
We shop them all, one by one, stocking up, but knowing that we don’t have far to go to replenish our stock.
In a few days we are back on our bikes transversing the island from end to end.
Except for the incredible surge in construction which has been going on for 6 or so years, nothing much has changed.
The roads are a mixture of sand and pulverized coral and shell which when levelled and rolled are very good. When not regularly cared for, however, what with some heavy rains and heavy-duty trucks brought in to haul cement and such-like, the roads get pitted and pot-holed, making for some bumpy bike rides. We are lucky this trip because a municipal election is coming up so a grader and huge roller have been brought in from the mainland and the roads have been levelled. What’s new?
The people are mainly Mestitzos, a creole mixture of Spanish and Mayans, plus every other racial group in Belize, plus a goodly number of Chinese entrepreneurs, plus a cadre of Jamaican rastafarians, plus a burgeoning number of North American ex-pats who are changing the landscape of Caye Caulker, plus tourists and travellers from around the world. It is a friendly and fluid society that by and large gets along very well with one another.
We swim daily at the split, a popular swimming area on the north end of the island unencumbered by the docks that spike out from the sea shore and attach to the prolifigating number of hotels.
Where we swim it’s almosts a cul de sac of sea water, safe and clean and beautifully coloured with many-nuanced shades of blue and green, interupted from time to time by frothy white caps as the tide rolls in.
We snorkel there just for fun in water not much over our heads, snatching shells from the sandy bottom and sea stars that we touch and release, often watching young barracuda or silver snappers glide beneath us.
Afterwards, towelling off and catching some rays, we watch athletic wind-surfers and kite boarders decorate the skyline with the wild colour of their sails.
Later, after a shower to wash away the salt, we lunch in or lunch out, read a little, maybe write a little, sudoku, crosss-word puzzle, maybe nap, and then, before you know it, it’s time for a sun-downer before the sun goes down, and, remember, the curtain in the tropics comes down fast. It is dark by 6:30.
Supper? Sometime we eat out, more often we eat in. With a full kitchen, we can create extraordinary dishes and we do, but we also have the option to use the communal barbeque and eat our dishes under the lighted palapa in the front yard.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m waxing eloquent in a post-card kind of way and of course reality ain’t always like that. You drag your same sorry-ass carcass with you no matter where you go, your own ups and your own downs, your skits and your git-arounds. There is no place on earth is going to sort all that out. That’s something you’ve got to do yourself.
Truth be told, I think we’ve sorted a lot of that stuff out over the years.
Maybe the post-card scenes I describe are reverse snap-shots of what’s going on inside of me.
Maybe I’m getting closer to where I want to be.