We have had a very interesting afternoon! A guy apparently broke into and robbed a nearby vacant house and was carrying his loot in a bedsheet right in front of our condo when one of our security guards confronted him. We were watching out the windows and saw him drop the loot in the sand only feet from our condo and run into the woods right next to our condo. Our guard called for backup, and two guards took off after him. Later additional local men joined the pursuit. The guards told us later that he pulled a knife on one of them and that he dove into a crocodile pond and swam across and came out on the other side (yikes!) He then came out to the beach path again and started running north with the guards in hot pursuit.
He hasn't been caught yet, but there is a group of people up the beach a ways looking for him, so he should be in a contained area and hopefully will have to come out at some point. One interesting thing is that he apparently changed shirts at some point during the pursuit as when he was sighted later, he was wearing a different shirt, according to the guards. Even if he is not caught this time, the guards know him. Someone else was here taking photos, and they are going to dust for fingerprints. The police were called, but we're not sure if the guy taking photos was off-duty as we never saw anyone in a police uniform.
Barry took a photo when the loot was finally uncovered. Looks like he was trying to make off with a stereo, speakers, a DVD player, and, you read this right, a bottle of olive oil, partially used.
Seeing how the guards reacted to this situation, we feel even safer here than we did before. They did an excellent job in preventing the thief from making off with someone else's property, and should be commended for their quick action.
UPDATE: The police finally showed up, took the guards' statement, some photos, and hauled off the loot. Our assumption is that the perp is still at large...
Yesterday during Paisley's late afternoon playtime, she found a small coconut that she quickly became obsessed with. Barry got the idea to throw it into the ocean water to see if she'd retrieve it. Um, yes. Again and again and again. The tide was out, so the water was even shallower than usual in this area, with a few deeper holes. It was quite entertaining to watch her walk, then swim when she hit a hole, then walk again, in dogged (pardon the pun) pursuit of her latest obsession. Once she had to dive fairly deep under water to get the coconut as it had floated into a deeper water area. After several aborted attempts, she finally got it. I couldn't believe it! She even attracted an audience of the security guard and two guys working on the second floor of our building.
Here are a few photos of her retrieval efforts as well as a YouTube video showing the extent to which she'd go for that little coconut (and for the treat from Barry that came after!) Needless to say, one little Boston Terrier was a very tired girl last night!
Around 9:15 this morning, I was in my bike shorts and just about to head out on our usual Sunday morning bike ride to the north, when Mike stopped by to see if we wanted to go out on his boat again to Caye Caulker at 10:00. At first I regretfully declined the invitation because I was supposed to meet Barry for the second loop of his long ride, and he was not back yet. (Normally he does the first 12 miles on his own while I'm eating breakfast and drinking coffee, then I join him for the second 12 mile loop). Mike went on his way, and just a few minutes later, Barry got back. Normally we would have just head out to ride from here, but as if by magic, Mike happened to be walking by again, so I told Barry about his invitation. Only pausing to consider it for a few seconds, Barry said that we should definitely go to Caye Caulker, as we could ride our bikes any day.
I couldn't argue with his perfect logic, and as I've said before, I HEART CAYE CAULKER, so I quickly changed out of my bike clothes and got ready for another boat ride. Barry had to eat a bowl of oatmeal and drink his tea quickly as he had only had a quick snack before the ride, but we were ready to go at 10:00. On the dock, we met another Grand Caribe owner couple who would also be joining Mike and Myra, Warren and Donna from Canada. I bet they were happy to be here instead of there on such a gorgeous, warm day!
We had an absolutely beautiful day for a boat ride, with sunny skies turning the sea bright turquoise, and just the right amount of breeze. I guess Mike and Myra must be a good luck charm for us as I've mentioned that we normally have overcast or rainy weather when we go to Caye Caulker or stop there on the way to/from Belize City on the ferry.
We walked around town, went into a couple of shops, and I even bought another of Debbie Cooper's cute prints from Cooper's Art Gallery. The frame is still in process of being painted, so it will be shipped over via Tropic Air sometime next week. We had a nice lunch at Rainbow Grill and Bar over the water. I had a grilled fish sandwich on wheat bread and filled with veggies (yummy), and Barry splurged with a lobster burrito. Go Barry! I snuck a bite, and it was delicious! We looked for the pie lady after lunch, who wheels a cart of delicious desserts around the sandy town streets, but sadly it appears that she doesn't sell her wares on Sunday, so we hopped back into the boat for the trip back to San Pedro.
It was a really fun trip! I'm so glad we decided to be spontaneous (not our strong suit as we have half a century of being planners behind us!) and join in. Thanks so much to Mike and Myra for another fantastic day!
Today we finished hanging the artwork we'd purchased at Cooper's Gallery on our recent visit to Caye Caulker. It really helps brighten up the place!
Yesterday we joined Mike and Myra from Grand Caribe on their boat for a trip around Ambergris Caye. Jerry, who owns a unit in our building (Chico Caribe) also joined the crew. We were delighted to be invited because it sounded like a fun and interesting trip. A side benefit was a day out of Chico would provide a much-needed break from the constant hammering and other construction noise in the unit immediately above us, which currently seems to be stuck in change order hell.
With Mike at the helm, we took off in mid-morning south to San Pedro to pick up Marco, who would be our boat captain and guide for the day. Since we'd have to go outside the reef to get to the cut between Belize and Mexico, having a captain with local knowledge of this area was a must, and Marco had made the trip many times.
We first landed at Tranquility Bay, the northernmost resort on Ambergris Caye. It is located approximately 12.5 miles north of San Pedro Town. This place was absolutely adorable, with its ice-cream colors and relaxed Caribbean charm. The delicious lunch, which Jerry generously picked up for the entire table, was most enjoyable. I think their fresh fish tacos were the best I've ever had.
As we were leaving Tranquility Bay to continue heading north, a light sprinkle slowly picked up into a full-blown torrential rain. Thank goodness Barry and I had brought our rain jackets, but everything not covered by them was soaked. The temperature was in the 70s if not low 80s, but on the water in the rain, the air felt cooler. We all huddled together under the bimini, though by the time it was drenched, that really made no difference.
Since the reef gets closer and closer to land as you head north, and eventually touches land at Rocky Point, it is necessary to go through a small cut in the reef to continue to the channel between Belize and Mexico. The reef then goes farther back out to sea if you were to continue north towards Mexico. Marco expertly guided the boat through a narrow gap in the reef. When we were outside the reef, we were really rocking and rolling in five-foot waves during the storm. Despite Jerry's suggestion that we turn around and head back to town (he had not brought a rain jacket), we forged onward. Before long, as is very typical in Belize, the rain had stopped, the sun came out, and everyone warmed up again. From this point on, we had perfect weather for the rest of the day.
Soon we were heading through the Bacalar Chico channel (directly north of the Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve), a totally undeveloped cut through mangroves on either side with Belize on the left and Mexico on the right. I read online that this narrow channel between Mexico and Belize was dug by the Maya to provide a trade route from the Bay of Chetumal to the Caribbean. It was a go-slow manatee zone, and it was interesting to see signs in English on the Belize side and Spanish on the Mexican side. Unfortunately, we saw no manatees, but the scenery was gorgeous nonetheless. Marco told us that there would be orchids blooming here if we came back in June.
As we rounded the northern tip of Ambergris Caye, Marco told us that we were in the largest lagoon on the Caye. He pointed out a large mound of foliage that was an unexcavated Maya site. I'm glad he told us as I would have never recognized it as such otherwise. Next we reached Iguana Caye, where many birds nest. Beautiful!
I had hoped we would go all the way around to the southernmost point of Ambergris Caye, but I guess that would have made for too long a day (not to mention the extra fuel usage), so we came back through the western side of San Pedro and under the bridge separating the area north of San Pedro (where we live) with the San Pedro Town proper. We have been over this bridge countless times as it is the only way to town, but we'd never been under it.
After dropping Marco off at a dock in town, Mike once again took the helm, and we headed back to Grand Caribe. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing more of the island, the good company, and being out on the water. Many thanks to Mike and Myra for inviting us along on this adventure!
There have been a bevy of beautiful butterflies in the foliage of the vacant lot next door lately. Except for the monarch, I don't know what these are, so if anyone knows, please leave a comment!
Yesterday we took our second day trip off-island for some shopping and a change of pace. On our hike into town to the ferry, we were offered a ride in a golf cart at Reef Village, which we gladly accepted since we were running a bit late (as usual), and were having to keep up a very brisk pace in order to make the 10am ferry. The driver turned out to be Dale, who owns the Funky Monkey restaurant/bar at the Cloister's, along with his wife. Since he is from Ohio, he and Barry had something in common (aside from living in San Pedro!) and were able to have a nice chat. We were very appreciative for the ride, as it got us to the ferry dock 20 minutes early instead of barely on time.
This time, instead of the large ferry we were on on our first trip to Belize City, we were on a much smaller boat; I guess the 10am leaving time is not as popular as the 11:30 we took last time.
The trip over was uneventful, and soon we were in the city. This time we knew exactly where to go, so we didn't look or feel as clueless as on our first trip over. Some of you may remember my trepidation about our first visit to Belize City, but I felt more relaxed this time. Yes, there were still a few beggars and the ubiquitous taxi drivers offering us their services, but there did seem to be more police presence and security guards around, so I never felt threatened. I still had no desire to spend any extra time there than it took to buy groceries at Brodie's (10% off on Fridays!) and several items in Hop Sing bicycle shop for Barry as you don't dare dawdle anywhere because of the panhandlers. As a result, we were back at the ferry terminal quite early to buy tickets for Caye Caulker (which is a stop right on the way back to San Pedro), and eat the snack bars we'd brought along.
We caught the 1pm ferry over to Caye Caulker, and as usual, it looked like rain. It always seems to be raining when we go to Caye Caulker or just make a quick stop on the ferry, but this time it did not rain on our parade. Yay!
We love Caye Caulker. It is the way they tell us San Pedro used to be, with all sand steets, almost no vehicles, and very little traffic. Sure, there were a couple of golf-cart taxis and the ubiquitous bottle truck (here all sodas and beers come in recyclable bottles that are returned for deposit, just like in the old days in the US), but most of the vehicles were bicycles, along with folks just walking in bare feet or sandals.
Our mission here was to visit Debbie Cooper's gallery for some artwork, as we had seen her work online and thought it would be perfect for our condo. It's colorful, with tropical themes, and reasonably priced to boot. We met Debbie there and picked out a few pieces. We bought two of her framed prints, including our favorite bicycle by palm tree scene. She told us that the frames, which are wooden and painted in bright colors, are made by local Mennonites, of which there is a relatively large population in Belize. The larger print of two toucans will be shipped to us via Tropic Air next week as she did not have the appropriate-sized frame in stock. We also chose a small canvas from another artist, showing sailboats and palm trees. I just loved the soothing blue and green colors on that one. We still need a few more things for the walls, but this is a good start. It was a lot of fun to meet Debbie and see her cute shop.
By the time we finished shopping, it was about 2:30, and we were starved, so we stopped in at a local restaurant called Bambooze for a bite of lunch. I loved this place because it was open air, and the chairs were swings! Such a unique concept, and transported me back to my childhood love of swing sets. We had delicious grilled fish sandwiches with mango-lime sauce and a couple of drinks.
After lunch we walked around a bit before catching our 3:45 ferry back to San Pedro. Unfortunately, we were lugging heavy backpacks full of groceries, so we weren't able to go as far as we would have liked. We'll just have to go back!
The ferry from Caye Caulker was the bigger boat like we'd been on before and was packed with passengers who were coming from Belize City. Poor Barry drew the short straw and was stuck sitting on the unpadded bench in the middle, as there were no more seats around the perimeter. Thankfully this was the shorter leg of the trip.
Since the ferry was 10 minutes late leaving Caye Caulker, we were cutting it very close to make the 4:30 pm northbound water taxi in San Pedro, and then the ticket clerk did not have change for a $50 BZD (equivalent to $25 US), so I had to charge the tickets. We were the last people on the VERY crowded taxi boat (and the first off at the Grand Caribe dock), with full backpacks and our art work, so that was not very comfortable, and we were very happy to be back home. Paisley was happy too, as she'd somehow gotten the door to her kennel closed behind her (and didn't realize she could just push it open, as it wasn't locked) so was "stuck" in there when we arrived after our day away. Hopefully she hadn't been in there for too long without water, but she seemed no worse for the wear!
My apologies for the lack of blog postings lately, but I didn't want to get too repetitive. After all the "firsts" from our first month or two here, we're now into more of a regular routine, so there's not as much new and interesting to report. We continue our morning beach runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and our daily bike rides into town for groceries. We've dealt with the internet being down in our building many times in the past few days, and lots of construction noise, both a bit frustrating (especially since our building was supposed to be completely DONE quite awhile ago). On a positive note, I got to talk to my mother yesterday for her birthday, a nice highlight of my week.
Here are a few photos from the past few days.