Category Archives: adventure

Belize Update #2

The other day I was thinking about my first impressions of Belize

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The Famous ‘Split’ on Caye Caulker

Evelyn and I landed at the Philip Goldson International Airport in January 2001. It was wicked hot and humid and we were both overdressed. We sweated through Customs and looked anxiously for our pre-arranged pick-up to take us to the Radisson Hotel.

Driving into Belize City from the airport, wending our way through the rough streets on the way to the hotel, observing the flow of traffic, the pedestrians and bicyclists dodging cars, trucks and buses, we both said at the same time, “Ghana!”

Ghana is a country on the west coast of the African continent. It had then a population of more than 15 million people, predominantly black Africans with different tribal allegiances, and dark and tan- skinned Indian and Lebanese traders and a relatively small number of British expats who stuck around after independence to help run the civil service.

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Sarah, our housekeeper at the OASIS Apartments

In short, on the surface, it was nothing like Belize with its total population of 400,000 and its diverse population of Mestitzos, Garifuna, Mayan Indians, Creole, Mennonites and Chinese, except it was hot, hot, hot and it had that third world vibe that we got to know so well in Ghana, a mixture of sounds and sights and smells that bespoke poverty and wealth, hopelessness and dreams, noise and serenity, calmness and violence and a myriad other contradictions.

We landed in Ghana in 1966 with our 3 month old son. We had joined CUSO, Canada’s equivalent of the U.S Peace Corps, and signed up to teach school for two years. We ended up living in Ghana for 4 years and brought a 6 week old daughter back with us when we returned to Canada.

In Belize, we arrived as travellers looking for adventure for a 3 week vacation and we returned for 15 consecutive visits of 3 weeks, 4 weeks, a month, six weeks and for the past 7 years 2 months.

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With CC at a dart tournament in Belize City

Looking back, it is now apparent that Ghana and Belize and Canada have much more in common than we first thought. We were all British colonies and we all achieved independence without violence. English is the official language of all 3 countries and the language of instruction in the schools. Of course, Canada has French as a second official language, while in Belize Spanish is the un-official second language. All three countries adopted British common law as the basis for their legal system. All 3 accepted the British Parliamentary model of governance. All 3 are members of the British Commonwealth.

For me, as a traveller, the familiarities of language, law and governance serve as a short cut to getting to know what’s really going on in the lives of Belizeans we meet on buses, in bars and restaurants and hotels and at social gatherings. What are their hopes and dreams, their aspirations? What turns them off and what turns them on? When they wake up in the morning what will they have to go through before they go to bed at night? And will they sleep well or toss and turn before the roosters crow in the morning?

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3 Amigos Enjoying Themselves

Travel with me while I traverse the small country of Belize and learn what I can about the people who live there. And, maybe, someday you’ll swing on your backpack or roll out your suitcase and check out this sub-tropical country yourself.

An adventure awaits you.

Cafe BelizeFollow the link browse the menu and select

Welcome to Chez Belize – Virtual Cafe and Bar


Welcome to Chez Belize – Virtual Cafe and Bar

Welcome to my blog on Belize, Central America. I have been writing about my many years of travel (16) in Belize for a long time. Now I have gathered all my blogs together to form a travel-book.

I will update and add to this travel- book from time to time. This will give you the chance to return to it for up- to date info. Or you can check it out to refresh your memory. Or to reread a blog you want to read again.

To make blogs more accessible in a different way , my blog partner Shirley Howarth and I created Chez Belize, a virtual Café and Bar which exists somewhere in the stratosphere. Here you can order travel-foods off the take-out menu and dine on whatever appeals to your travel appetites. You can return whenever you want as you would to a good restaurant.

Let me suggest that you begin by ordering appetizer s from the menu , items #’s 1-3, Thinking Adventure, Arriving in Belize, and the Weather in Belize as tasty morsels which will tempt you to come back and enjoy our blog again.

If you are looking for something bolder, order #18 The Sting Ray Incident. It’s neither fish nor fowl and it may be hard to digest, but some say it’s an acquired taste and you may order it again from time to time.

Cafe Belize
SCROLL DOWN THE A LA CARTE MENU AND MAKE YOUR SELECTION

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A LA CARTE MENU

  1. THINKING ADVENTURE? THINK BELIZE! –  http://wp.me/p2orau-i Describes the chef’s reasons for opening the virtual cafe and bar Chez Belize which offers the adventurous traveller an option to the same old same vacation fare.
  2. ARRIVING IN BELIZE  – http://wp.me/p2orau-s A tasty description of the countryside and the people you will see in Belize.
  3. THE WEATHER IN BELIZE – http://wp.me/p2orau-E  Something to chew on – What to expect weather-wise when you visit Belize.
  4. THINGS TO THINK ABOUT  – http://wp.me/p2orau-y  Fill up on travel tips and info on packing, banking, medicine and good health
  5. BELIZE BY PLANE  http://wp.me/p2orau-Z – A tempting dish full of useful information on airlines, times, schedules, etc.
  6.  BELIZE BY BUS – http://wp.me/p2orau-12 – A dish with lots of spicy info on how to get around Belize by bus.
  7.  INLAND ADVENTURE IN SAN IGNACIO/SANTA ELENA – http://wp.me/p2orau-1g – A full course meal with an emphasis on getting there from the airport.
  8. COMPLETE THE INLAND ADVENTURE IN SAN IGNACIO  http://wp.me/p2orau-1k –  A Buffet offering – Where to Go, Where to Stay, What to Eat (updated for 2015)
  9. INLAND ADVENTURE 2 -ORANGE WALK TOWN – HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT http://wp.me/p2orau-1L
  10. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #1, CAYE CAULKER: HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO EAT, WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO  – http://wp.me/p2orau-25  Hope you enjoy eating it as much as I did preparing it!
  11. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #2, HOPKINS VILLAGE, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY, 2014 – http://wp.me/p2orau-2F  Enjoy!
  12. HOPKINS VILLAGE, WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT http://wp.me/p2orau-lF  Bon appetit!
  13. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #3, PLACENCIA VILLAGE, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY – http://wp.me/p2orau-3Z  You’re going to like this sumptuous delight!
  14. PLACENCIA VILLAGE: WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT –  http://wp.me/p2orau-lP A Virtuoso dish designed to satisfy your craving for more information.
  15. TRANSITION DESTINATIONS IN BELIZE: BELIZE CITY https://briansbelize.com/2013/05/15/transition-des…ze-belize-city/
  16. TRANSITION DESTINATION: BELIZE CITY , EXPLORING THE CITY, PART 1 https://briansbelize.com/2013/05/31/transition-des…he-city-part-1/
  17. TRANSITION DESTINATION: DANGRIGA https://briansbelize.com/2013/06/27/transition-destination-dangriga/
  18. THE STING RAY INCIDENT –  http://wp.me/p2orau-nf – newly flavoured with a mixture of Spanish and Belizean Spice
  19. AN IN-DEPTH, PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF MY 2013 ADVENTURE IN BELIZE. PART 1 OF – 6  – http://wp.me/p2orau-cb –  This deep-dish feast is spiced and flavoured with every-day travel activities, pictures and reflections on life  and travel.
  20. BELIZEAN ADVENTURE 2013, – PART 2, SAN IGNACIO FAREWELL, HELLO TO HOPKINS VILLAGE AND HOPKINS INN – http://wp.me/p2orau-ce
  21. BELIZEAN ADVENTURE 2013, Edited with New Pictures – PART 3 BACK ON CAYE CAULKER – http://wp.me/p2orau-cJ
  22.  BELIZIAN ADVENTURE 2013, Edited with New Pictures -Part 4, CAYE CAULKER continued – http://wp.me/p2orau-cX
  23. BELEZIAN ADVENTURE  2013, PART 5, EDITED WITH NEW PICTURES http://wp.me/p2orau-dd
  24. BELIZEAN ADVENTURE 2013, PART 6 edited with new pictures – http://wp.me/p2orau-dv
  25. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #1, CAYE CAULKER: HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO EAT, WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO  – http://wp.me/p2orau-25 – Updated for 2015
  26. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #2 HOPKINS VILLAGE, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY – Updated for 2015 – http://wp.me/p2orau-2F
  27. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #2, 2015 HOPKINS VILLAGE CONTINUED …WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT http://wp.me/p2orau-lF
  28. CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE #3: PLACENCIA VILLAGE, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY – updated for 2015http://wp.me/p2orau-3Z
  29. CARIBBEAN  ADVENTURE #3, PLACENCIA VILLAGE continued – What to Do, Where to Eat – Updated for 2015 – http://wp.me/p2orau-lP
  30. IN-LAND ADVENTURES, SAN IGNACIO/SANTA ELENA  – WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT, Updated 2015http://wp.me/p2orau-1k
  31. SECOND IN-LAND ADVENTURE – ORANGE WALK TOWN, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY, WHAT TO DO, WHERE TO EAT, Updated for 2015 http://wp.me/p2orau-1L


Things to Think About

Things to Think About.


The Yellow Sting Ray Incident

A Dramatic Re-enactment of a True Event

My name is Brian Babineau. I have published a book called the Belizean Sextet, 6 Tales of Adventure, a work of fiction based on my knowledge of what can happen when you are travelling in another country.  Now, I want to tell you about something that happened to me outside of Hopkins Village on the shoreline of the Caribbean Sea during one of my many visits to Belize, a little country south of Mexico and the first of seven countries that make up Central America. It is not fiction. It is a true account of an actual event.

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My wife, Evelyn, and I were staying at Hopkins Inn, having a good time, as usual, enjoying the sun, sea and sand. On our fifth day there, rather than swim off the beach in front of the Inn, a mere 25 feet from our cabana, we decided instead to go for a walk dressed in such a way that if the mood moved us, we would be ready for a swim in the Caribbean anywhere along the coast.

We had eaten breakfast on the porch in front of our cabana, a magnificent continental breakfast prepared by Rita, one of our two hosts, and featuring a selection of fresh fruits, two cheeses, a variety of fresh bread and hard-boiled eggs.

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We lounged away a couple of hours, then headed out, first north along the beach, then circling around and heading south down the main street of the village. We stopped at Sonia’s kiosk, ordered a lime juice and drank it sitting on a picnic table under the shade of a mango tree.

Then we headed south again, passing by the stores and restaurants many of which have opened since our first visit many years ago in 2001.

About a mile outside of the Village, we were walking past a large field of wild grasses and straggly bushes, when I felt an urge for a swim and cried, “C’mon, first one in wins!”
Evelyn, ever up for a challenge, took off like a gazelle in the African green-lands. I lumbered after her. We both had to stop and strip off our shirts and shorts, kick off our sandals, and race for the water in our bathing suits.

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Evelyn got there first and rushed right in. I, slightly to her right, splashed after her and hadn’t taken more than two steps before I felt a sudden pain in my right foot like something had stabbed me or I had run into a sharp piece of underwater lumber or had stepped on a nail.

I didn’t cry out. Looking back, I guess I went into a state of dis-belief, the precursor to shock. My mind waited for a signal from my body that everything was all right, I was over-reacting but truly the pain of first contact had been replaced by a throbbing pain that was growing stronger with every step I took.

I called to Evelyn, confiding that I was in some distress, but I still wasn’t ready to accept what my body was telling me.

Evelyn could tell I was in pain and reached out to take my hand, turn me around and head back to shore. I shook her off and lunged toward a sandbar a few feet further away. She followed closely behind. When the water was only up to my knees, I leaned on Evelyn’s shoulder and using her as leverage lifted my foot up.

Blood was spurting out of a wound about 2 inches from my baby toe and slightly to the side of my foot. It occurred to me that I had definitely not stepped on a nail, not an odd thought under the circumstances, considering that the wound was on the top of my foot, not the bottom.

“C’mon,” Evelyn urged. “Let’s get you ashore.” With my arm still on her shoulder and her arm now around my waist we pushed ahead.

“What now,” I gasped as we hit the hot sand. I looked down and watched the blood spurt out of the hole in my foot, the bright red quickly neutralized by the sand.

“Right now, we get you to the road and hitch a ride to the Village.”

“Where’re we headed?’

“Hopkins Inn first,” Evelyn panted as we lurched across the scabbly field toward the main road. “Let’s hope Greg and Rita are back by now”.

Just then, Greg and Rita Duke, our hosts at Hopkins Inn in the Village, were returning home from a visit with friends in Sittee River, several miles south of Hopkins.

“Greg, look!” Rita cried, pointing across the field. “That’s the Babineaus. Something’s wrong.”

Greg said afterwards that in his imagination he saw two lone survivors of a battle in Afghanistan hobbling out of the fire-zone, the wounded soldier clinging desperately to his buddy.

Without any hesitation, Greg swung his pickup truck across the field, kicking up dust as he hit the brakes and swung round in front of us.

I remember feeling relieved when they jumped out of the truck and ran toward us.

“What’s the matter,” Rita cried out.

“We don’t know,” Evelyn responded. “Something in the water… we don’t know what. It’s his foot; it’s cut and bleeding.”

Greg slammed open the back of the pickup truck and ran over to help Evelyn and Rita drag me through the grass. Together they lifted me up and stretched me out on the rippled floor of the pay-load.

Evelyn jumped in behind me and clutched one of my hands with both of hers.

“Hang on, love,” she cried as we bounced along. “Every thing’s going to be all right.”

Greg was limited to how fast he could drive. The road was unpaved with lumpy wash-board indentations and deep-pitted potholes. It was important that he get me somewhere fast but he didn’t want to kill me in the process, was the way he put it later.

I only remember bouncing along under a Caribbean-blue sky, each tremor accentuating the pain and making me want to cry out.
Greg braked hard at the Inn, jumped out and helped Evelyn and Rita lug me over to a shower he had jury-rigged amongst the cabanas where his clients could wash off some of the sea water when they came in from a swim.

Rita and Evelyn coaxed me to stand still as they washed the sand off my foot. Greg excused himself to make some phone calls.

With the sand cleaned off and leaning again on Evelyn’s shoulder with Rita making sure I kept my right foot above the sand, I hopped on one leg to our verandah, watching gouts of blood splatter on the cement stairs as I took each step up.

They sat me on a plastic picnic chair. Evelyn lifted my right leg up and placed it on another plastic picnic chair on top of a triple-folded towel to elevate the foot. She told me afterwards she was very concerned I was losing so much blood.

She was also very concerned that the blood was not coagulating. At first using paper towels, then wash-cloths, she was having no success in staunching the flow of blood.

Greg re-appeared with a wash-basin and some bad news. “Tried the cop-shop, recorded message, phone Monday. Tried the clinic, recorded message, phone Monday. Tried the Doctor who’s supposed to be on call this weekend. No answer. Looks like we’re on our own, folks.”

Evelyn helped me lower my foot into the wash basin and Rita poured water from a bucket up to my ankle. Greg added ice cubes from their refrigerator.

At this point, I was experiencing pain like I’ve never felt it before. I’ve felt pain, ordinary pain, and after a surgery for cancer, I felt real pain but it was pain-killer reduced from the get-go. I had a friend with pancreatic cancer not long ago who howled with pain before he died. My pain wasn’t that bad. I’ve heard that many or all women in child birth experience pain beyond belief. My pain wasn’t that bad.

But it was bad, man, real bad, and getting worse. Bad to the point that I started to wonder how much more pain I could endure and what would I do then?

“So,” Greg interrupted my reverie, “if you need medical care, we’ve got to get you to the hospital in Dangriga. What do you think?”

“I think we’ve got to take action right now,” I said. “Don’t know how much longer I can hold on.”

“Question is, what action do we take,” Rita said.

“Right,” Evelyn replied. “If it’s a cut or a nail puncture, that’s something we can treat with alcohol and anti-biotics. Right now we’ve got to stop the bleeding. Fill that basin with as much ice as we can get and hope it stops the bleeding …and eases the pain.”

“Okay, guys, you’re right but I think we’ve seen enough to know this is no ordinary wound,” Greg ventured…

“Greg’s right,” I interjected, wanting to move the conversation along. “It’s a sting ray puncture, isn’t it, Greg.”

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“I’ve only seen a few in the twenty years I’ve been here, but yes, I think it is. Only problem I have is the pain’s not shooting up the leg, that’s a common characteristic. But the pain isn’t shooting up your leg .”

“No,” I gasped, “I’d tell you if it was. It isn’t.”

“But everything else fits and we don’t have lots of time,” Greg said, as though thinking aloud. Then he took charge. “Okay, I am saying it is a sting ray, a Yellow Sting Ray. They’re the little guys, 12-15 inches round. They come close to shore where the water’s warmer, that’s what happened here, you ran in and stepped right on it and it reacted…”

“Does that change how we treat it,” Evelyn butted in.

“Maybe dramatically.  Even Medical folk around here have always treated it like an open wound and let it run its course. Ice water baths and alcohol to stop infection. Just like you said, Evelyn. But I’ve seen men tougher than all of us go into shock and worse. “
“Worse?” Evelyn interjected.

“Yeah, cardiac arrest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s an old man in the Village, a fisherman. A few years back he told me the only way to treat a sting ray puncture is by putting the foot in water as hot as possible. Hot till it burns.”

Evelyn said, “You’ve done it? Seen it done?”

“Nope. Like I said, the old man told me.”

“Brian?” Evelyn said.

“This ain’t working,” I replied. “Just Do It,”.

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Rita had already left to fetch her kettle.

When she ran back, she filled it up with water from our sink and plugged the kettle in.

We sat silent on the verandah. Evelyn kept a compress on the wound and changed it when it became saturated.

I flinched every time she touched me. Hell, I flinched knowing she was about to touch me.

Greg poured hydrogen-peroxide into the water.

After the last bath, Evelyn had lifted my leg back up to the picnic chair, observing the bleeding had subsided but not stopped.

Greg scooped out the remaining ice cubes and hosed in more water and asked me to immerse my foot in the basin. When the water reached as high as my ankle, he stopped.

Rita arrived with the kettle full of boiling water and began pouring the boiling water into the basin until I wanted to scream with the pain.

Instead I cried out, “Stop!”

Everyone froze awaiting my response.

I sat immobile, white-knuckled hands clenching the arms of the picnic chair.

Suddenly, something happened. My mind that had so assiduously been monitoring my pain noted that upon the introduction of boiling water into my foot bath the pain had not increased.

It did not register that the pain had decreased; it registered that it had not gotten worse.

I slumped with relief.

“Brian,” Evelyn cried. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m going to be okay,” I croaked.

“Is it getting better? Is the pain going away?”

“No,” I replied, singing rapturously to myself. “No, it’s not. But it’s not getting worse. More boiling water. Please.”
We repeated this procedure at least a half dozen times over the next hour and a half.

When for the first time I felt the pain had lessened, I said to Evelyn, “Okay, I’ll take that drink now, double One Barrel Rum with water, no ice.”

Evelyn had offered it before but at that time I didn’t want any distractions. That may sound odd but I wanted to concentrate on the pain, wanted to confront it head-on.

At the first sip, I knew I had done the right thing. The booze softened the edges but I was confident enough to allow myself a little comfort.

At a certain point, I became aware that we all four were intently watching my immersed foot swell from the impact of the puncture and, Greg observed, from the venom of the sting ray.

We watched a milky discolouration of the swollen area and concluded that was the venom working its way out.. As the treatment continued, the milky-ness evaporated into hot-pink and the swelling began to subside.

Everyone seemed to think it was time I went into the cabana and had a little sleep, so I was very carefully raised up and half-carried to my bed, where they fluffed up my pillows and lay me gently down, the foot raised up on one of Evelyn’s pillows.

They tip-toed out and quietly closed the door. I heard them whispering on the verandah, hushing each other if a voice was raised.

I lay on my bed half-seated, totally awake. I closed one eye and then another. They both popped open.

Evelyn tip-toed in a couple hours later and said, “Greg and Rita are ready to go out for dinner. Shall I just tell them to go ahead without us?”

“Are you kidding?” I replied. “I’m starving”. And, I should have added, so juiced on adrenaline I could probably outrun Greg’s pickup truck.

I can’t say I remember what I ate. I remember liking it. I do remember being exhilarated by the silver glow of the moon in the sky and by the way the moon beams shimmered on the water; and I remember the sound of the waves rushing in, the salt-smell of the sea, the touch of the breeze on the hairs of my arms.

It wasn’t even a life-threatening experience.

What was my biggest fear?

I was afraid that the pain was going to break me. And what then?

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After Word

My foot was very sore the next day and for about a week after. Obviously the adrenaline had worn off..

It took the swelling another week to disappear.

I have a red scar the size of the rubber on the end of a pencil.

I bought a pair of swim shoes.

I vowed to do the sting ray shuffle when entering the water, which I always did until that one time. (It warns the sting ray of your presence and it quickly disappears.)

After the incident I went snorkelling in the relatively shallow water at the split in Caye Caulker .Evelyn accidentally bumped into me and I almost shot out of the water.

A calm Caribbean Sea

A calm Caribbean Sea

A couple weeks later I went on a serious snorkelling expedition at the Barrier Reef. My hosts at the Oasi Apartments led the expedition, Michael as captain of the boat and Luciana, as our snorkel guide. I followed Luciana, my wife, Evelyn, and my granddaughter, 8 year old Clea into the water.

When we cleared the boat and began snorkelling about a dozen 5 foot nurse sharks came to check us out before they swam away. They are vegetarians and therefore no threat to snorkelers. And they have a majesty of their own, a pre-historic authenticity that leaves one breathless.

The sharks were followed by an underwater flotilla of Caribbean Sting Rays, 3 to 4 feet in diameter, the size of the sting ray that killed an Australian wild-life adventurer a few years back. I felt a moment of panic, then got hold of myself and watched them swim by.

As I relaxed, another wave of Caribbean sting rays appeared on my radar, below and to my right. I went limp and let the waves carry me, breathing evenly. I stopped counting at 30. I’m not exaggerating a bit. I watched more than 30 of these large, beautiful, shiny grey creatures swim beneath me, some coming within a few feet of my mask.

They are not aggressive and if you don’t step on them or molest they will not sting you.

Afterwards, as I hauled myself back on board the boat I was thinking, ‘That was very, very cool’.

“You okay,” Michael said, offering me a hand up. He knew about my adventure with the Yellow Sting Ray. He had observed the sharks and sting rays from the boat.

“Yeah, I’m definitely okay,” I replied.

And I was.

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Double After Word

This year on vacation on Caye Caulker I heard a Scuba Dive Instructor warning his eager pupils not to jump off the dock into the shallow sea water. “Spanish Sting Rays,” he intoned. “But don’t worry. Their venom won’t kill you…” he paused and added, “ but the pain will be so bad you’ll wish you were dead.”

Check out the Yellow Sting Ray on line.


Caribbean Adventure #2, 2015 Hopkins Village continued …What to Do, Where to Eat

WHAT TO DO

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We’ve snorkeled, fished, bicycled, hiked, day-tripped, swum, tanned and even read a book or two on our visits to Hopkins Village (Don’t think you’d call drinking an activity, but we’ve done that too. In moderation.) And we have walked from Hopkins Inn to the furthest point north in the Village to the furthest point south and beyond. If you stay at the Inn, Rita and Greg can arrange trips for you but there are others in the Village who can be equally helpful.

Emma at AlternateAdventure offers all kinds of tours. She doesn’t do them herself but organizes them for others. She also rents motorcycles. AlterateAdventures is a short distance from the intersection on the south side of the Village.

Oli at the Windschief Beachbar, Internet and Cabanas, also on the south side, still rents windsurfing equipment and gives lessons.

You can rent a bicycle at Freddies, down the road from Windschief, or possibly from your host wherever you are staying.

You can go snorkeling with Noel Nunez.

photo by Senneker

Photo by Senneker

You can go fishing, sight-seeing or croc watching on the Sittee River with Levi Cuthkelvin.

You can take a jungle walk at Coxcomb or Mayfair National Parks with Marcos Cucul.

And something very new, you can zipline at Mama Noots Resort about six miles from the Village on the Southern Highway. There are several beautiful waterfalls in that area where you can hike and swim.

Photo by Senneker

Photo by Senneker

Talk to your host for further information, or check with Emma at AlternateAdventures, or just ask around.

On a more sedentary note, you can track down Caitlin’s Bakery on the south side. Just follow your nose. Fresh breads, pastries, buns, cakes and cookies. Great with drinks on your verandah as the sun goes down. And, she is almost always open.

You can walk and shop at two Maya/Guatemalan gift stores, one near the intersection by King Kasava and one across from Thongs on the south side. Check out David’s Woodcarving in the same general area. You can buy Belizean handicrafts made by Mayans in Punta Gorda in a new gift shop just past Hopkins Inn walking south.

As you walk along the main street, you will likely find a local Belizean selling shell jewellery.

What to do at night? Well,  much more than meets the eye, really. There is live music from time to time at Driftwood Pizza on the north side. And live drumming from time to time at the Drum Centre.  Occasionally a dance on the north side by the lagoon. Friday  nights at Oli’s Windschief Beach Bar where large numbers of mostly expatriates gather to bring in the weekend with a boisterous bang. And a little south of the Village, several higher-end hotels offer entertainment.

But let’s face it, folks. Outside of the bright lights of Belize City, in the Village it is mostly lights out by 10 p.m.

WHERE TO EAT IN HOPKINS VILLAGE

Years ago, there were few restaurants in Hopkins Village, all of them offering good Belizean food at reasonable prices but little to distinguish them one from the another except how far you would have to walk to get there.

Today, there are at least 15 restaurants to choose from, offering Belizean, Chinese, Mayan/Mexican, pub grub, pizza, Italian, and continental.

Starting at the north end of the village, you can get a good pizza at Driftwood Pizza, a funky restaurant on the beach run by a young Englishman and his partner. Walking south but still in the north end of the village, you will find Laruni Hati, a little place close to the Drumming Centre serving good local food.

Just before the intersection dividing north from south, there’s a new restaurant called Tina’s Kitchen. This was a big re-discovery because  we had been told that she had closed down her restaurant in the south end and moved on. This was bad news because we really liked her Belizean cooking. Some of the best we ever tasted. Then we found out she had not moved on but moved up and opened a new and much better place a block north of the intersection. We ate there three times in our short week in Hopkins Village, feasting on stewed beans and rice with chicken (Evelyn) shrimp and gibnut (Brian) and quesidillas, vegetable and chicken (Evelyn) and Amber Jack fish (me). It ain’t gourmet, nor meant to be Just real good Belizean cuisine.

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At the intersection, you can check out King Kasava which closed down last year but has re-opened for the 2015 season. Walking south of the intersection, there is another new eatery called Siomarra’s, a little place run by Mayan/Spanish people who offer an odd assortment of foods from burritos to chow mein.

Down the road a bit and across the road there is Thongs. In its third or fourth season, this Italian/Russian owned restaurant offers a continental menu on the weekends and soup, salad and sandwiches for lunch. Further south, Sonia, a local resident, prepares pizza and standard Belizean fare such as fried chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw or potato salad.

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Not much further down the road, past the school on the beach side, turn into Windschief Beach Bar, Internet and Cabanas, a happening place on Friday nights. The bar fare is popular and the menu changes daily but fish and chips and burgers are always available and very, very good.

Still walking south, Innie has re-modeled her restaurant and added outside seating. The restaurant still offers good Belizian food for breakfast, lunch and supper and the price is right. Next on your perambulation, you will arrive at Iris’ Restaurant, formerly, like Innies, a Village land-mark. Now it has changed hands, been renovated with a spacious patio and  re-named Sunny Side Up.  It is  now owned and managed by a South African woman who has changed the menu; the reviews have been mixed.

Across the way by the Whistling Sea’s Cabanas, there is a Chinese restaurant called Rainbow where you can dine-in or take-out. It’s still going strong and does an active local business. Then, further down the road on the left hand side, Frog’s Point has re-merged in a new location.  It offers a Continental menu with a Belizean twist in a friendly and comfortable setting. Somewhat more expensive than straight Belize, but worth the step up  for a night out .

The times they are a changin’.  But change or not, Hopkins Village is still a place you visit to relax, going for long walks, biking the Settee River area with a picnic lunch, swimming, sunning, reading and just generally enjoying yourself. You have the chance to meet the locals and fellow travelers or, if you wish, to spend your time alone with your partner or your pal as the days melt by and you have to bid farewell to the cozy Village on the shore of the Caribbean Sea.


Caribbean Adventure #3, UPDATED FOR 2015, Placencia village continued – What to Do, Where to Eat

WHAT TO DO IMG_0339

Apart from swimming and tanning and eating and drinking and shopping and walking around and exploring the Village,  you can sign up for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing  or sailing. You can day-trip to Monkey River Village, a throwback to earlier times where you can tour the village, meet some of the locals, take a hike into the rain forest where you may encounter scat-throwing howler monkeys, or boat up the Monkey River for a refreshing swim once the crocs have been scared away.

We’ve snorkeled off Laughing Bird Caye, part sanctuary, part off-shore snorkeling. The boat trip to this Caye was fun and the lunch al fresco tasty, but the snorkeling was a disappointment because we had a lousy snorkel guide. You can’t do much about that except lodge a complaint when you get back to the Village. We’ve boated over to Independence, a small community on the mainland with a twin-town called Mango Creek. Many of the workers in the Village come from these twin-towns.

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We went bird-watching to observe scarlet macaws in their natural habitat. After crossing the lagoon to Independence/Mango Creek, we squeezed into a van that took us inland to Red Bank, a small Mayan village. From there we hiked for about an hour along a river bank to a clearing from which vantage point we were supposed to see the scarlet macaws but we got there too late and there wasn’t a macaw to be seen! Too bad, but all was not lost. Our guides had brought along rubber inner-tubes and we tubed back down the river with the current, meeting the challenges of three rapids. Somewhat scary at times but exhilarating at same time. It was a trip that was deposited in the memory bank.

Picnic lunch on a deserted island? Wind surfing? Crewing on a catamaran? Check out the Tour shops in the Village and take your pick.

Placencia is a dreamy little Village and your spot on the shores of the Caribbean can be dreamy, too. Sun, sand and sea…a cold beer under a thatch roof…languid conversations…watching the moon glow in a clear night sky…watching the sun rise in a golden burst inthe early morning…go ahead, make your day…in Placencia.

WHERE TO EAT

There are more than 40 restaurants to choose from in the Village, which is a lot considering you are at the tip of the Peninsula. Over all the years I visited Placencia Village, I ate at less than ½ of them, and I enjoy eating.

You can go online and find many of these restaurants, as I did for this post. As I reviewed them, I recognized many of the places I used to enjoy and have pulled them out for special attention.

De Tatch is in the centre of the Village, next to the Sea Spray Hotel and two doors north of the Ranguana. It is very popular with travellers and ex-pats, those from North America and Europe who have moved to Belize to live full-time. You can sit outside under thatched roofs a few yards away from the Sea and enjoy a range of foods from Belizean to Caribbean to Continental.  Mixed drinks, Belican beer and a variety of wines are available. De Tatch is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. There is is some after- hour activity but remember in the towns and villages in Belize, not much happens after 10 p.m.

The Galley is at the south-end of the Village behind the soccer field. It is family owned and has been there since our first visit, probably longer. You can eat inside or outside on a big porch. The Galley not surprisingly specializes in sea food but offers alternatives as well. The service has been consistently good and the fare delicious.

The Secret Garden is in the south end, just off the main road. It serves food and drink all day through to dinner which could be described best as Caribbean/sea-food. Dine inside or out on the patio. Nice bar. Funky interior with original works of art on the walls and comfy couches.

La Dolce Vita is in the south-end above Wallens Super Store, across from Wallens Pharmacy. Open for dinner only, reservations recommended.  Good Italian food. Nicely appointed. Good selection of wines. A bit pricey but not crazy. The kind of place you might seek out for a special occasion, like it being Wednesday, or Thursday  or any other day of the week for that matter. ‘What day is it?’ ‘Monday.’ ‘SPECIAL OCCASION!’

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Tutti Frutti Desserts, south end. Got a sweet tooth? Satisfy it with a visit to Tutti Frutti, a lively take-out place with scrumptious ice cream, tempting pastries and delicious blizzards. Child friendly.

The De Barcelona Beach Tapas Bar, ‘Barcelon’ to the locals, is new to me. It is on the main road of the Village and features Mediterranean/Spanish food served in the tapas form. My friend the artist, Lita Krohn, has some of her art hanging there. Check it and them out. I sure will.

Placencia has a dream-like quality to it, a haven where you can mix and mingle with local Belizeans and travelers and tourists alike. Sun, sea and sand…a cold beer under a thatch roof…languid conversations…watching the moon glow in a clear sky and the hot sun rise in the morning. Go ahead, make your day…in Placencia.


Belizean Adventure 2013, Part 6 edited with new pictures

Easter Weekend at "The Split"

Easter Weekend at “The Split”

This is the last blog based on my first-person account of our 2013 Belizean adventure, encompassing our two month vacation in Belize from February through March and the first of April. I decided to re-post parts 1-6 because I thought they needed to be edited and because I was able to add on -the-spot pictures which I wasn’t able to do in the first instance.

And also because I wanted a blog-break over the summer season, my favourite time in Ontario, Canada when we raise rabbits, laying hens, meat birds, turkeys and ducks in our hobby-barn and plant and harvest a wide-assortment of vegetables and nurture our peach and pear trees, raspberry, current and thimble-berry bushes until they can be picked, plucked, canned and turned into jam.

The newly posted blogs have been very well received. Thank you, whoever (and wherever) you are. Do not hesitate to comment on my blogs. I like it very much when viewers make comments.

Host with the Most

Host with the Most

So come with me now, back to Caye Caulker, a little island off the coast of Belize, where we have been languishing for the past couple weeks…

All is calm on Caye Caulker. Our daughter, Rhiannon, her partner, Andrew and our granddaughter, Clea, have flown the coop and are back in Toronto facing the vicissitudes of city life in the winter. Alas.

We are left alone again, forced to face one another across the table on the front verandah of our 2nd story cabana on a sub-tropical island in the Caribbean. I read the Toronto Star on my Asus tablet. She’s doing something but I don’t look up. We grunt monosyllables at one another, each of us wondering how much more of this we can endure. Black grackles the size of vultures soar ominously overhead…

I jest.

We chat with Luciana and Michael, two truly busy people who don’t have much time for chit-chat but alway make time.

We exchange greetings with other guests as they come and go through the gates of the Oasi; we talk with Oasi staff, the gals who clean our room every day and the guy who sweep the grounds clean; we talk to street vendors, shop keepers and tourists and travelers we meet at restaurants and at the ‘split’, our favourite swimming place on Caye Caulker.

This season the weather has been less predictable than years past, more inclined to days of hot, hot weather tempered by cold fronts from the north when you have to wear long-sleeved shirts or even a jacket till mid-day and at night tuck yourself in bed with a wooly blanket. Today is one of those days, so we skip our daily swim at the split and stroll along the main drag looking for presents to bring home.

We still frequently use the gas barbecue available for guests and often eat our supper under the palapa set in the midst of the bushes, plants and flowers that adorn the front yard.

As my birthday approaches, we decide not to have a birthday bash for me. Since our family has gone home, we will go low-key and less labour intensive. Over supper one night, I mention ”Chinese take-out”” as an alternative, Michael says, ”Peking duck”, Luciana likes “dumplings”, Evelyn offers “wontons” and so for my birthday supper six of us sit under the comfort of the brightly-lighted palapa feasting on all of the above plus an extraordinary dish called “salty Chinese chicken” and vegetable rice. The wine flows and the beer is cold. Happy Birthday to me.

Tomorrow I am going to rotisserie a whole chicken, using the rotisserie-attachment on Michael’s barbecue. This is field-training for our next culinary adventure on the last Saturday of the month. We are going to rotisserie a leg of lamb and plan a whole meal around it. After that it’s pack up and go home.

I’ve been thinking about the “adventure” in my Belizean Adventure 2013 series, and mentioned this to Evelyn.

She said, “What’s your point?”

I said, “Well, looking back at it, we don’t seem very adventurous.”

 “Depends what you mean by ‘adventurous’, doesn’t it?” she says, punctuating the italics like a stuffy English Major. “If you mean ‘adventurous’ as a thrillingly exciting moment, I would agree with you. But we’ve done all that. Snorkeled the famous Blue Hole, hiked here and there and everywhere, identified and visited every Mayan site  in Belize, wore coal-miners helmets to explore the pitch-black Barton Creek caves,  tubed down the Red Bank river, canoed the Sebun River with Mr. Brooks and you even swam in the crocodile infested Monkey  River, need I go on?”

“But…”

“But if you mean ‘adventurous’ in the sense of  dealing with an experience out of the norm, like, for example, travelling in any third-world country for any length of time, I would say that every day is an adventure, wouldn’t you?”

And believe it or not I had nothing to say.

Swimming in the Monkey River

Swimming in the Monkey River

So what do we do next? We go to the Friday Jam at the Sportsmens Bar on Front Street, sit on the beach side and listen to a core group of five musicians + anyone else play old-time rock and roll and some hard driving rock that sounds like a freight train full of steel pounding the tracks on a down slope.

The Jam is an ex-pat extravaganza with a mixture of tourists, travellers, local Caye Caulkerans and Belizeans from around the country. If the band is like a freight train, the Cuban guitarist is the engineer careening around bends with abandon, the other musicians like freight cars racing behind him. Only the drummer can keep pace, flipping her sticks to the clickety clack of the train on the track.

The music is contagious and we dance as the sun sets.

Jamming at the Sports Bar

Jamming at the Sports Bar

We pretty much stick with our routine for the last week. We are both getting a lot done on our special pursuits.

Evelyn is crewel embroidering her second section of a museum project which when completed will consist of 20 sections sewn into a hooded coat, called a ‘soil’ coat because it depicts the creatures that live in the soil we trod on. Judging from what Evelyn has shown me, the finished coat is going to be a beauty.

I’ve been blogging of course but also writing more travel noir fiction which I hope will result in another book of Belizean Tales of Adventure being published.

"Put on a Shirt!"

“Put on a Shirt!”

That's Better!

That’s Better!

On Tuesday, I order a leg of lamb from Maria at my favourite shop, the Land and Sea. This is where I buy our sausages, pork chops, pork roasts, chickens, shrimp, lobster, conch and fish, mostly red snappers. Maria orders my lamb from a shop in Belize City and promises me delivery Saturday morning.

I pick up the leg of lamb at 10, pack it into my basket and bicycle back to our cabana where Evelyn has a marinade prepared. I sever the shank from the leg with a machete and we turn the leg in its marinade every 1/2 and hour for the next 6 hours.

Evelyn shops for zuccinis and egg plants, gets them ready for broiling, then prepares a Greek salad.

Michael and Luciana do their part though they are both also working. Michael prepares a dish of onions and potatoes which he will finish off on the grill. Luciana bakes three different loaves of bread. She will also offer appetizers she picked up in Belize City on Friday.

I’m working on the barbecue, making sure it’s ready when we are ready; then, Michael pierces the leg of lamb on the rotisserie rod and we tie it with kite string.

When everyone has arrived, we toast one another with sparkling wine and feast once again at the table under the palapa

Last supper 'till next year

Last supper ’till next year

Sunday I turn left-over lamb into a remarkable lamb curry

Monday Evelyn cooks the lamb shank with lamb bones and creates a succulent lamb osso bucco.

Monday night after the March Madness Final, we sit together on the verandah overlooking the road that runs past the Oasi and toast each other.

View from our veranda

View from our veranda

Tuesday is departure day, April 9. We say farewell to our hosts, take the water taxi to the mainland, a taxi to the airport, Delta to Atlanta, Atlanta to Toronto where our friend Sandi welcomes us at the airport and then, early in the morning, home.

We have had a great Belize Adventure 2013 and have already made booking for next year.

But for now and the next 10 months, it is home sweet home.


Belizean Adventure 2013, Part 5, Edited with New Pictures

Welcome to my summer blog. I am taking a totally (un)deserved summer break by re-posting my Belizean Adventure 2013 edited with new pictures I was unable to post the first time. I’ve tried to improve and cut back on the text and I’m hoping the pictures make a re-visit worthwhile.

So sit back and join me on Caye Caulker, an island off the coast of Belize where I arrived after visiting The Aguada Hotel in Santa Elena/San Ignacio, and Hopkins Inn in Hopkins Village on the Caribbean Coast.

Lunch at the Lazy Lizard

Lunch at the Lazy Lizard

We’re well into March now, the weather is good, the swimming, food and drink good also. And so are our friends, as we re-acquaint ourselves with those we’ve met before and those we hope to meet again. .

We are looking forward now to our annual visit with our daughter, Rhiannon and her partner, Andrew, and our granddaughter, Clea. Clea is 8 years old and this will be her 4th visit. She has learned to swim in the Caribbean and this experience coupled with swimming lessons at home in Ontario have turned her into a good swimmer. She is confident in the water, even exhilarated by it. She started snorkeling at the split last year and was so proficient that Luciana, our host, has a special surprise for her.

Rhiannon and family visit the ‘duty free’ and clear customs. Jason, our favourite taxi driver in Belize City, helps handle their luggage and the 12 bottles of red wine they have purchased on sale at $6 US. Don’t you just love visitors like that?

And there they are. We are standing under some palm trees near the terminal when we spot the water-taxi swing round the tip of the island leaving a wake of white froth behind it as it lunges through the waves towards us.

Welcome to Caye Caulker

Welcome to Caye Caulker

As the boat docks, we make our way out to greet them, then it is hugs and kisses and hand-shakes all around.

Clea is as excited as only an 8 year old can get, but grandma and grumpa are pretty excited too.

Back at the Oasis, we pick up on a routine we have established over the years.

Our cabana or apartment is over Rhiannon’s cabana. I’m usually up making coffee by 7, sitting out on the verandah dunking a ‘hard times’ cookie when Evelyn joins me. We chat and watch life on the road in front of us, the first trickle of school kids and hard-working Belizeans on on the way to work, on foot, alone, in pairs or in small groups, bicyclists ghosting in and around them, the occasional golf-cart taxi humming slowly by, headed south to the little Tropic Air airport or north to the center of the caye.

Usually the sun is up and shining through the littoral forest across from us. That’s where I take my ASUS tablet to check up on current affairs as presented by the Toronto Star. We see guests  bird-watching in the oasis beneath us; we listen to the grackles grackling and song birds singing, but mainly we are waiting for our 8 yr. old bird in the nest beneath ours to wake up, spread her wings and fly into the arms of her grandma and grumpa.

The general plan is to be ready to head for the split by 10. We are not regimental but  we are usually ready to go by then. We all have our bicycles and pedal at a leisurely speed to get to the split, about 10-15 minutes away.

By the time the rest of us have unpacked our snorkels and masks and spread out our beach blankets, Clea, in full gear for snorkeling , is in the water. It is a great place for us to swim because the water is often glass-clear, clean, with a firm sandy bottom and its boundaries are circumscribed by patches of sea weed.

I’m usually in next, following Clea who is snorkeling ahead of me, diving for shells and occasionally emerging above the waves with a sea-star clutched in one hand.

We snorkel together for a while, then we are joined by Evelyn and we track red snappers and 2′ baby barracudas through the water.

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Then Rhiannon and Andrew tag-team us and take over in the open sea-ring.

When the four of us are ashore, Clea is lured out of the water with promises of sea-snacks like sun-chips and popcorn. Then she negotiates more time in the water.

Sometime after 12, we bicycle back, stopping at shops along the way for lunch and supper groceries, and sometime stopping at one of our favourite restaurants for our mid-day meal

(Special Note. We’ve been in the sun for a couple of hours. We all applied sun screen lotion before leaving. It’s supposed to be water-proof but you can’t be too sure about that. We all wore hats while out of the water and draped towels over our shoulders or put on shirts if we thought we had had enough sun. We might have been over-protective with Clea who is fair-skinned but our efforts paid off with a golden tan after 6 days.

The tropical sun is ferocious on a clear or a cloudy day. Burn-rays penetrate the clouds. And remember, you are getting direct sun rays and rays reflected by the water and the sands.  We’ve seen too many vacations spoiled by sun burn. Be very very careful.)

After lunch it’s a nap for Clea, and maybe an afternoon swim in one of the swimming pools at the houses managed by Michael. When the owners are absent and the property has not been rented, Michael opens the gate and lets us in.

Then it is time for a sun-downer and supper preparations. Many nights we barbecue outside under an almond tree and eat our meal under the near-by festivally-lit palapa.

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(Two Text SNAP SHOTS to end this post:

1. Michael takes us out to the Barrier Reef on a snorkeling expedition.  I watch from the boat as the serious snorkeling begins. Luciana, Evelyn and Clea head for the reef. This is Clea’s first real snorkeling adventure outside of the split and it is on the second longest barrier reef in the world. I watch their fins stir up the water as they leave the boat far behind, headed for the reef. Then they disappear, all three of them, then after minutes of anxiety on my part, they reappear, one, two, three heads bobbing in the water.

Belize 2013 338

Afterwards, by all accounts, it was a fantastic snorkeling experience. Evelyn said they snorkeled in water as deep as 20′ and Clea dove as deep as 8′ or more to retrieve a sea urchin for examination.

Back on shore, in the comfort of our cabana, with a double rum and water in my hand, Clea describes in detail what she witnessed, pointing out the fish on plastic identification cards.

2. Michael and Luciana bring their scuba gear to one of the swimming pools in the early afternoon. Luciana suits Clea up, explaining the apparatus. They enter the water and after some last moment instructions, they submerge. Clea is breathing air from the tank strapped to her back. She faces Luciana underwater and mimics whatever Luciana does. One arm out mirrored by one arm out. Two outstretched arms mirrored by two outstretched arms. She is totally composed, totally trusting Luciana. They stay under for nearly an hour, emerging from time to time to discuss what they will do next. Clea learns how to clear her mask under water, a remarkable achievement for a beginner. We are in awe, not shock.)

What a quick study is our Clea

What a quick study is our Clea

Next Post #6 Belize Adventure 2013 edited with New Pictures. Life on the island of Caye Caulker continues…and the beat goes on.
Check out my Travel/Noir Fiction called Belizean Sextet, 6 Tales of Adventure based on my knowledge of the underside of tourism in Belize. Available on line at xlibris.com and other international publishers. Search title as above, Author Brian Babineau
Or deal directly with me at http://www.babineb@silomail.com. $20 Cdn or US plus shipping and handling. Signed by the author.


Belizean Adventure 2013, Edited with New Pictures -Part 4, Caye Caulker continued…

Before we resume our journey together, I want to tell you that I’m taking a summer break from my blog. What I’m offering instead is an edited version of my 2013 Belizean Adventure, making the text shorter and providing some never before seen pictures.

Our Cabana - Upstairs at the Oasi

Our Cabana – Upstairs at the Oasi

So sit back and relax and enjoy your visit.
So, we are back on Caye Caulker comfortably ensconced in the second- story 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 complete 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 propeller planes fly in from San Pedro and Belize City, and take off again, picking up and off-loading their human cargo.
Now it is time to re-explore the island.
Caye Caulker is approx. 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Check out http://www.cayecaulker.com for more details. Suffice it sufficient for me to tell you that it has grown incredibly from the first time we visited 13 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 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.

Supermarket?

Supermarket?

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. You can order such things as leg of lamb from Maria, the owner, and she will arrange to have it delivered from Belize City.
We shop them all, one by one, stocking up, but knowing that we don’t have far to go to replenish our stock.

Fruits and Vegatables

Fruits and Vegatables

The roads around the island are a mixture of sand and pulverized coral and shell which when leveled 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 leveled.
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 travelers 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 shore into the se from the many hotels and condominiums that have recently been built.
The split is almost a cul de sac of sea water, safe and clean and beautifully coloured with many-nuanced shades of blue and green, topped from time to time by frothy white caps as the tide rolls in.

Snorkeling at the Split

Snorkeling at the Split

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, toweling 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, maybe work on a sudoku or a cross-word puzzle, maybe nap, and then, before you know it, it’s time for a sun-downer, 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.

Dining under the Palapa

Dining under the Palapa

And the days and nights dreamily drift by.
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Belize Adventure 2013, Edited with New Pictures – Part 3 Back on Caye Caulker

Check out my book based on my experiences in Belize. It is called Belize Sextet, 7 Tales of Adventure, Travel Noir Fiction, available at www.amazon.com, www.xlibris.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and many other international publishers. Search Books, Fiction, Travel/Adventure or Title and Author, Brian Babineau.

Or get a signed copy from Laurelreedbooks, see info on right.

Or email me directly at babineb@silomail.com for payment and shipping info.

Now back to Belize Adventure 2013, Parts 1-6 which I posted last March. I’m taking a summer break right now so I have edited my 2013 Belize Adventure, making it shorter and added pictures which are being posted for the first time.

Sit back and enjoy my trip with me.

The Barrier Reef

The Barrier Reef

On the road again. Greg takes us into Dangriga after heart-felt goodbyes to Rita. We get the express from Dangriga to Belize City with a quick stop at Belmopan. The bus has seen better days but at least it is not a rickety old Blue Bird. Lots of luggage room in compartments under the seats so we don’t have the hassle of trying to get our backpacks in the racks above us. Only downside is that the large windows are tinted so you don’t get the full colour of the trip up the Hummingbird Highway. On the upside, however, the trip only cost 16 bze each or 8 usd and it takes 1 1/2 hours instead of the normal 3 hours on the milk run.

Cutting through the city to the Novello Bus Station on Canal Street we notice a lot of construction on the infrastructure of the city, canals being widened and sanitized, sidewalks and roads being dug up to lay new water lines and plastic piping stretched with cables, but all the buildings look dirt poor and the store fronts are covered with red dust.

Now if all the bad boys would stop killing themselves and co-incidentally stop killing innocent bystanders maybe something likeable will happen to Belize City.

At the bus station, we are last off the bus on purpose, last to fetch our luggage, last to exit the station and by that time the frenzy for taxis has just about ended and we easily grab a cab for the water-taxi terminal. This time we choose the San Pedro Water Taxi over the Caye Caulker Water Taxi because of its schedule. It will get us to Caye Caulker faster.

We get return tickets at 32 bze or 16 usd each and after a 25 minute  wait we are sitting at the open back of a water-taxi powered by 3 200hp engines, skimming over the waves of the multi-shaded blues of the Caribbean Sea, sea-froth sprinkling us as we shift and turn under the Captain’s control.

Caye Caulker Shorline

Caye Caulker Shorline

45 minutes later we see the shoreline of Caye Caulker come into view, and as we get closer and closer we can identify the hotels and restaurants that lay claim to the beach front.

Nick of Nick’s Taxi Service, proud owner of a brand new battery-driven golf cart, is there to greet us when we disembark and ten bumpy minutes later he drops us off at the Oasi, a veritable oasis on Mangle Avenue, one block away from the Caribbean.

It is great to be back on Caye Caulker after being away for nearly a year. CC is a mid-sized island, south west of its big sister Ambergris Caye and its capital San Pedro, 1/2 an hour away by water-taxi. Over the 10+ years we have been visiting CC, it has changed dramatically, not always for the better, in our opinion, but you can’t stop change. You don’t have to embrace it but you have to accept it. Or not visit it. As we bump along on our golf-cart taxi, I feel elated. The colours and textures remain the same and the vibe is up-beat.

Luciana, the Italian owner/manager of the Oasis Apartments has been waiting for us and we are welcomed home. Her Belizean partner, Michael, owns and operates a landscaping business and also manages properties and residences when the owners have returned to their country of origin. Together they make a formidable couple, a dynamic duo.

Michael, Captain & Commander

Michael, Captain & Commander

We settle into the cabana or apartment above the cabana below. It is spacious and beautifully appointed, an open- concept room with a queen- size bed,  a large orange futon with sturdy wicker ends, a coffee table reminiscent of the tables Judd in Waterford used to make, a TV, a large armoire, a kitchen table and a full kitchen, and, of course, a full bathroom, which is not open-concept. It is air-conditioned but we rarely use it unless it gets so hot it is stupid not to.

It is hot on the island when we arrive. The Oasi is a block from the sea so we don’t get the constant sea-breeze to refresh us. But upstairs in our cabana we get a steady breeze when we sit on our wrap-around verandah.

On the Veranda

On the Veranda

We are hungry and walk up Mangle Ave to the nearest local restaurant where Evelyn orders quesadillas and I order a fish (red-snapper) burger which arrives with a mountain of salad on top . It is delicious. Evelyn says her cheese quesidilla is good too.

On the way back from lunch, I admit to Evelyn that my right foot is aching. Before we left Hopkins my foot was hurt in an incident that I will describe in a later blog. Because it was still hurting quite a bit, we didn’t wander far from home and didn’t even take our bikes out (provided courtesy of the Oaisi) for several days.

But not to worry. We were able to shop for groceries. Michael picked up a case of Belikin beer for us prior to our arrival and I bought a 60 oz  (1.75 litre) bottle of One Barrel Rum from one of the Chinese Super Stores for $30bze which translates into $15cdn. Not a bad price and not a bad drink (with water) for an old man with a sore foot, eh?

Paco, a Dog-tired Guard Dog

Paco, a Dog-tired Guard Dog