The town has been widening parts of the unpaved road in the Tres Cocos area of Ambergris Caye this past week, as we showed in some photos in a previous blog entry (Ch-ch-changes north of the bridge).  In some areas, this involved plowing down vegetation and relocating fences that were apparently encroaching into the town right-of-way.  In other areas, it is swampy or low near the road on the lagoon side, so fill had to be brought in.  The fill consisted of a mixture of tree branches, stumps, vegetation, and dirt (probably gleaned from early-week plowing).  Yesterday, the dozer was at work again flattening it all out.  This is the area right across the road from Lazy Croc BBQ.
Looks like the low concrete walls that demarcate the driveway for this home/bed & breakfast (to right in photo above) are going to have to be torn out as they extend into the right of way, which I believe runs right up to the power pole.
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It will take some more work to make this mess a road
We snapped the photos above on our way to Lazy Croc with Chunky and Ruthie.  We had barely seen them since they arrived back on the island in November as they've been having nearly continuous visits from family or friends.  It was great to catch up with them again.  They are always so much fun to hang out with and full of laughs.
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Ruthie and Chunky on the left and Barry at right. We shared our table with a few folks we didn't know as the 'Croc was busy!
And speaking of crocs, there was the obligatory sighting in the pond below.
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Don't feed the crocs!
We had a great meal as always, but must haven been distracted by the lively conversation as we totally forgot the traditional food photos.  Sorry about that!

After lunch as Ruthie and Chunky prepared to head back south on their bicycles, Paisley brought a toy over as she was sure that they couldn't resist playing.  She knows as well as we do that they are good peeps!
It worked out to be very good timing having our lunch yesterday, as it was the last in a series of beautiful days.  A cold front passed through last night bringing overnight rain, cool weather (72 this morning - brrrr!) and a general gloom to the island.  Sounds like it will be quite windy and cool for the next few days, a real bummer for the tourists.
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Not as pretty as yesterday's view
 
Had to snap a few shots on our way home from town today of all the work being done from the Palapa Bar north to Grand Caribe all of a sudden.  It's a real beehive of activity.  There's road work, construction, and lot clearing.  
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New fence going up
The road between the Palapa Bar and Grand Caribe is being widened quite a bit.  You can see the widening around the curve here.  (Sorry it's blurry, I was riding my bike while snapping photos.)
In the photo above, you can see where Barry is standing with his bike.  The road north turns to the right.  To the left, there is a road that used to be little more than a narrow path.  Now it's a lot more than that.  Here's the new view down that "path" to the left.  As for why this was widened, it remains to be seen.  Are they hoping to bring in large vehicles laden with construction supplies the back way? Possibly.
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Looking south
Now, looking north up the road where it is being widened up to people's fences.
A bit farther north but looking southwards, the Maya House is having to move their fence back to allow the road widening.
A little farther north, more road widening being done on the left.
Just before arriving at Grand Caribe, a large lot has been cleared on the lagoon side of the road in the past week or so.  Perhaps whatever is being built here requires access by some really large trucks, and thus explains the widening of the road.  We've heard rumors of a convention center being built don't have any confirmation yet.  
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Part of newly cleared land on lagoon side
If you've got the "scoop", feel free to enlighten us in the comment section below.  Thanks!
 
Last year was the first time we'd ever been in Belize in the month of October.  It was not our favorite month.  I remember it as being gray and rainy and still, with not nearly enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes and sand flies away.  I remember plowing through deep pond-sized puddles on the road north of the bridge as we traveled from our condo to town and back again, time after time.  I remember washing our bicycles over and over since the puddles were deeper than our bottom brackets.  About the only thing positive I can recall about last October was that it was cooler than the summer months.  October, we were not sorry when you melted away into November.

What a difference a year makes.  This October has been much drier, sunnier, and the breezes a bit more constant.  There have been a few mosquitoes and sand flies, but nothing like last year.  It has been, really, gorgeous and bright, with only a few days that tourists wouldn't love.  Those folks who got cheap low-season rates for October vacations here are no doubt feeling a bit smug.  Hurricanes?  Nope.  Tropical storms?  Not even close.  

The biggest difference in the October of 2012 and the October of 2011, though, is the roads.  Sure, less rain has helped, but thanks to a big effort by the new town council, the road north of the bridge (at least as far as Grand Caribe), was graded and filled with load after load of gravel this summer.  And it's holding up well.  There are a few areas where potholes and "moguls" are developing, but this is nothing even close to the "great lakes" of October '11.  And in a few of the larger holes, more heavy-duty gravel was dumped just in the past week or so, after a few wet days made a bit of a muddy mess in a couple of lower-lying spots.  This rocky gravel isn't the most bike-friendly stuff I've ever seen or ridden on (thank goodness for wide beach cruiser tires), but it certainly beats putting one's legs up and going "wheeeeeee!" through deep, silty puddles you can't see the bottom of.
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This was a big, wide puddle a little over a week ago but was quickly filled!
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Rocky gravel fill
But I'll shut up now and let the photos tell the rest of the story.

October 2011

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Huge puddle behind our condo

October 2012

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Same area behind our condo - dry

October 2011

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At Reef Village looking towards Kama Lounge -- what a mess this made of us and our bikes!
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Same view and a very different road this year thanks to weather and lots of packed fill

October 2011

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Looking south towards Legend's -- tough going for golf carts and bikes

October 2012

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Looking south towards Legend's now -- smooth sailing!

October 2011

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Reef Village -- notorious for having a terrible road out front

October 2012

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Reef Village now -- still some small bumps but the "great lakes" are GONE.

October 2011

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Outside The Cloisters and Funky Monkey Bar & Grill -- cyclist dodging huge puddles

October 2012

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Road is far better and even the telephone & electric wires have been cleaned up!
In addition to changes in the road, the Funky Monkey at the Cloisters is no more, but a new restaurant. Feliz, is busily preparing for opening soon, and we happened by as the new sign was being painted.
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Sign being painted
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Sign for "Feliz"
We also happened to meet the new proprietor, Kevin.  He's currently working on planning the menu and is hoping to keep prices reasonable so ex-pats and locals, as well as tourists, will be able to afford to eat and drink there.  Great idea!  It will be nice to have another choice of eateries in our north of the bridge neighborhood.

All in all, I'd say the changes between this year and last are for the better!
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Emily talking to Kevin
UPDATE October 20:  I was biking by again today, and the Feliz signs are complete.  Very cute and colorful, don't you think?