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Month: March 2017

Full heart…..empty gas tank!

Full heart…..empty gas tank!

 

So last night, I’m driving the golf cart home to the south end of town, having been at a friend’s house north of the bridge. For those  unfamiliar with the island, the north end and south end are basically determined by the toll bridge as you enter town.

                                         Ambergris Caye, Belize

Anyway, when leaving the north end, you cross the toll bridge into town. As I slow down, a mother and young son were standing beside the road. Mom has a large bundle near her feet and is obviously preparing to sell here handmade wares to tourist downtown. We make eye contact, I smile and she yells, “can we have a ride please?” Obviously, I’m headed across the bridge and with only one road; hard to say I’m not heading her way. Of course, jump in! The adorable young boy jumps in the front seat with me, while mom loads her huge bundle on the backseat. Yes, she’s headed downtown, just let me know when you want off. A few short minutes and I learn he’s five years old, will start to school this year and has a big sister. They are headed to work and he helps his mother. Oh, and he’s five years old now….he kept reminding me! I fell in love with this kid. We soon reach their stop, they jump off, he slaps a quick “high-five” and thanks me several times as I drive away.

As I drive thru town, I’m smiling, both inside and outside; realizing I truly love this island. Just as I slow down for a speed bump; I guess I was still smiling as I made eye contact with a young girl walking with a large bag of produce. I say Hi, she replies, “can I have a ride?” Of course, again, one road and we are both headed south. She tells me she’s headed home from the store for her mom and she’s nine years old. It’s getting dark and as I turn on my road, I did not want to let her out on the dark road to walk alone, so I said, show me where you live, I’ll take you home. She looked very surprised…”really?” Not far past my house, I drop her off…we are both smiling as I drive away!

Now, I’m headed home. One block before getting to my driveway, I see a young mom carrying a baby, two young boys following, all dressed up, I’m guessing for church. Thinking there is no church near my house, I realized she would have a very long walk with these small children. I slow down, yes, we make eye contact. I did not have the heart to tell her, sorry, I live across the street and I’m almost home. So I smiled, she smiled, I said hop in. Yes, they were headed to church, back in town! So, now I’m headed back into town. Another few minutes laughing with these beautiful children, I drop them off in front of their church. Thank you’s and smiles….I am now headed home. Seriously…..I drove straight home and did not make eye contact, as my heart was full and my gas tank was nearly empty!

Lesson in Belize!
Eye contact and a smile is well worth the time!

#ILoveBelize!

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker is one of those places that it’s very difficult to explain.  At least in terms of a description that would do this wonderful little island,  it’s due justice.  Visiting the island about a year ago, I’ll admit, it was a great trip and I truly enjoyed our time here.  However, anyone who is familiar with the country of Belize has heard the descriptions of the three top places.  San Pedro….Caye Caulker….and Placencia.   Most will describe San Pedro as active, vibrant, lots of tourist and tons of things to do.  Placencia is a quiet little fishing village in the southern part of the country, much slower, quiet and peaceful.  I have heard many times that Caye Caulker is the “little sister” to San Pedro.  The same awesome beach atmosphere,  beach bars, and fishing, just on a smaller scale, much less developed and definitely less tourist.   Their motto is “Go Slow” and it definitely is appropriate for this little piece of paradise.

The streets are sandy, the people are amazing and the feeling of family is everywhere.  Children play in the parks, ride their bikes, play on the beach and the local soccer field is the highlight of the evening.  A sense of small town from 3o years ago.  Backpackers stroll the street, tourist lay in beach hammocks and music flows softly from the local beach bars.  How can you not fall in love with this place?  I did all over again!!

Napping in the street

With it’s development and tourist attraction being a few years behind San Pedro, the prices reflect this reality.  Food seems to be a little cheaper, hotels are less expensive and grocery prices are more reasonable.  I wonder with the obvious influx of development and expansion, how fast will it grow?  New development can be seen in the heart of the village, as well as rumors of a large resort being built across the infamous “split” on the north side of the island. This property seems to be selling quickly, as rumors of the resort lead people to believe this may be a good long-term investment.

Anyone who has visited Caye Caulker is familiar with “the split”.  The awesome area between the developed southern part of the island and the northern undeveloped area.  A great bar and restaurant with one of the most famous swimming areas in the country.  Suffering substantial damage, new seawalls are in and covered palapas and seating areas for the beachside restaurant will soon be reopened.

 

caye caulker split
Construction at “the split”
New section at “the split”

As for places to eat……you will not go hungry!   Tons of choices with street-side taco stands, fry jacks, chicken, beans and rice can be found on every street.  Middle street has some great dine-in restaurants that are definitely worth trying.  The Happy Lobster serves fresh seafood and daily fish specials at great prices.  Aunties Take Out  has some great lunch choices under $5 US.   By early afternoon, the small stands as you head near the split are open with tons of choices……great coffee shops, donuts, ice-cream and sandwiches.  There are also several beach restaurants along the water for lunch and dinner.  Again…..you won’t go hungry, or break the travel budget!

Sports Bar …. Great Music

When deciding to visit this little piece of paradise. you should be fine booking when you arrive.  We found lots of vacancies, so it just depends on your budget, and the area of town you want to stay in. If you are staying at a hostel, there are several in town, and a great one Yumas, just as you exit the water taxi on Front street.

Yuma’s Hostel

When exiting the water taxi, to your left you will find a great beach front hotel and restaurant:   Popeyes Beach Resort.  Very nice with great views, pool, AC and Wifi… and most importantly pet-friendly!

Popeye’s Beach Resort

So, as you plan your trip to this great little island…..be prepared to “slow down”, relax and soak up all the kindness and charm this place has to offer!

Beautiful sunsets are a daily occurrence!

Todays Lesson In Belize……GO SLOW!

Crepes & Dreams….A Caye Caulker Favorite! | caye caulker belize restaurant

Crepes & Dreams….A Caye Caulker Favorite! | caye caulker belize restaurant

Visiting this small Caribbean island for a few days you’ll want to experience as much as possible without missing a single thing. The beaches, the shops, water sports, beach bars and island tours….it’s difficult to do it in such a short few days. So choices must be made! One of the most difficult choices is “Where do we eat?”

For such a small quaint little island the food choices are unbelievable. I am a morning person. The first decision every morning is to reach for my coffee. After several cups, I may or may not choose to have breakfast. So when deciding where to go for breakfast on the island, I was pretty indecisive. As long as they serve coffee…..I’m good. As we walked down the sandy beach streets, passing several options for breakfast, nothing caught my eye. Then we passed a cozy little place with an awesome French ambiance…..ok…let’s try this!

Caye Caulker, Belize
Crepes & Dreams

Best decision since arriving on the island!  The owners were welcoming, friendly and seemed to be the perfect people to operate this specialty restaurant in this unique island atmosphere. The restaurant provided ample seating. Cozy areas for small groups, and larger arrangements for groups of six to eight. The menus were mounted on small cutting boards, as well as having the drink menus on wooden rolling pins. A unique, clever and authentic addition to this one of a kind place.

caye caulker belize restaurants
Owners; Chris & Carrie

The options for breakfast were quite large and had numerous choices in addition to their specialty crepes.
Drinks ranged from basic coffee, iced coffee, fresh juices, smoothies, shakes, sangria and infused rum. A ton of choices to fit into either your breakfast or brunch options. Having two categories of crepes; savory included traditional breakfast items from bacon and eggs, to cheese, potatoes, onions and garlic, with sweet crepes filled with fresh fruit, cream cheese, nutella, topped with honey or caramel.

.caye caulker restaurants

caye caulker belize

Everyone is well aware of the qualifications of being recognized as a great restaurant. To obtain an “exemplary” classification on Trip Advisor, you must combine great food, great service, and great atmosphere. This quaint little island restaurant hits the mark on all three; service, food and atmosphere. Service was wonderful, friendly and welcoming. The atmosphere of French motif/bistro, set the scene for some authentic French favorites…..classic crepes. It’s easy to see how they are receiving top ratings on Trip Advisor.


For this fast developing little island, the owners should be proud of what they have accomplished and the village should be appreciative to have such a great unique choice for the island visitors. Their wonderful restaurant, their welcoming attitude, and unbelievable food will continue to attract visitors and locals to this fabulous little jewel on this tiny island.  A “Must-Do” while on Caye Caulker!

Island Hopping to Caye Caulker, Belize….Day 1

Island Hopping to Caye Caulker, Belize….Day 1

When visiting Belize, Caye Caulker is a unique location that must be experienced.  A short 30 minute water taxi ride from San Pedro, this quaint little island is the perfect place to spend a few extra days.  It’s easily accessible from both San Pedro and Belize City and well worth the trip. Leaving San Pedro, Ambergris Caye; a roundtrip ticket is $25 US,  with several departures daily.http://belize express.

As for accommodations, you will have numerous choices. From budget savvy hostels for $20 per night to high-end beach rentals for $200, finding the perfect fit should be easy.   VRBO and  Airbnb have lots of listings!  I checked on-line before arriving but decided to “wing-it” and just find a room when I arrived on the island. Needless to say, traveling with Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua tends to complicate things a little.   However, I did find three “pet friendly” hotels.  I settled on Popeyes Beach resort http://popeyesresort   A great location directly on the beach with pool, air conditioning, tv and internet.  Yes, this may seem basic to many people, but in Belize…..if you need air conditioning, internet and TV….you should verify before booking!

Floyd is ready for a new island adventure!

 

When comparing San Pedro and Caye Caulker, you’ll find many similarities, but also many drastic differences.  The water is crystal blue, the people are amazingly friendly and the beer is ice cold.  Most locals will tell you this is how San Pedro was 20 years ago….no cars…sandy streets….bikes and golf carts.  Having much less tourism (for now) than San Pedro, Caye Caulker allows for a more relaxed island feel.

Sandy streets of Caye Caulker

My last visit to Caye Caulker was nearly a year ago and it’s easy to see the changes.  After suffering some significant damage from Hurrican Earl las fall, many businesses have expanded, rebuilt and upgraded.  The beaches have been repaired and many sea walls installed.  This is providing some great areas for beach volleyball, sun bathing or a lazyday laying in the hammocks

.

 

caye caulker belize

New tour shops have opened for fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling and sunset cruises.  Paddle boarding, windsurfing and kayaking are becoming increasingly popular.  The calm waters that surround this little island provide the perfect conditions for these watersports.

As for food….choices are unlimited.  From beachside restaurants, local taco stands, streetside BBQ, coffee shops, fresh juice bars and ice cream…you will not leave the island hungry.  (The key lime cheesecake at Popeyes beach grill at 10 pm is highly recommended…probably not smart, but recommended!)

Breakfast was at an awesome little crepe restaurant.. Crepes & Dreams.  This place deserves a separate blog post coming tomorrow!  Awesome…check it out on http://trip advisor

Best Breakfast in Caye Caulker!

 

 

 

This being my first full day on the island, I already have tons of pictures!  My latest Lesson in Belize…..

“It just keeps getting better!”

 

Back to the Island ! | Ambergris Caye, Belize

Back to the Island ! | Ambergris Caye, Belize

After spending an extended period of time in the states visiting kids and grandkids, I returned to Ambergris Caye this week. Anyone who has traveled to Belize is well aware there may be a few of your favorite things you cannot find here on the island. Knowing I will stay for at least a few months before returning to the states, I checked the additional bags, filled to the brim with my favorite things. By the time I arrived, I was second guessing this decision.  My first sign should have been the need to sit on the suitcases to zip them, as I desperately wanted to bring my favorite bamboo pillow. Packed, zipped and headed to the airport, I thought the most difficult part was over. Bags were checked, boarding passes printed and we breeze through customs. Two carry-ons and a dog carrier with my “baby” Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua, I’m feeling pretty confident at this point. Just praying he does not have to pee before we get to Houston.

My first sign should have been the need to sit on the suitcases to zip them, as I desperately wanted to bring my favorite bamboo pillow. Packed, zipped and headed to the airport, I thought the most difficult part was over. Bags were checked, boarding passes printed and we breeze through customs. Two carry-ons and a dog carrier with my “baby” Floyd, my 4lb Chihuahua, I’m feeling pretty confident at this point. Just praying he does not have to pee before we get to Houston.

Stepping onto the escalator, I feel my earring slipping out, as I struggle with the carry-ons, try to keep my balance on the escalator, and desperately trying to hold on to my 4lb Chihuahua I see it fall at my feet. ( these were a special birthday gift, so I’m going for it) As I regain my balance, I desperately bend over and grab just as it disappears into the revolving steps! Frustrated, but realizing with a knee replacement impeding my mobility, and thankful I did not smash Floyd into the escalator, I laughed it off and headed to the gate. Sign number two!
Flying Southwest allows us to pick our own seats. I take middle and aisle seats, hoping no one wants to squeeze into the window seat, providing extra room for Floyd. Wrong! A very nicely dressed man, I’m sure was headed to a business meeting in Houston, decides to chance it. I’m thinking, “Sir, you really look smarter than this!” Nonetheless, he chooses to sit next to us. Just as we prepare for takeoff and I’m putting Floyd back into his carrier, the stressful day of traveling hits him. His nose is running and he starts to heave. Oh mother of God, No!  Having six children, I recognize these symptoms.  My first reaction was to try catching it, obviously not my first choice, just a reaction. Yes, I try catching it while attempting to keep my own breakfast down.  I avoid eye contact with the nicely dressed businessman next to me as I search for the airsick bag.  Sign number three!

We arrive in Houston with just enough time to rush outside to find some grass, back through customs and board for Belize city. Taking a pet to Belize is fairly simple and only requires some minor paperwork and a visit to our local vet for a health checkup. Paperwork was completed, he has a “pet passport” and a quick stop at immigration to submit the forms. We’ve done this before, no problem.
Feeling confident there would be no more issues, we land in Belize City, present the paperwork from our vet, only to be told it is the wrong paperwork!  Feeling certain this is the exact paperwork we submitted on our last trip. but a different agent at the airport. We are told we can not enter the country without a wellness checkup and correct paperwork. We are now on the Belizean side of customs and they are not going to let Floyd into the country. I was not surprised at the next comment:  ” Yes, we can do the correct paperwork and wellness check here for an additional $50!  Into the small room, yes, he looks healthy.  I pay the money and head for the last leg of the trip to the island. Sign number four!
Once into Belize city, it’s a short 12-minute flight on “puddle jumper”. I’ve done this several times with no issues. We check in just in time to be told a smaller plane is boarding with room for only two more, or we can wait for another hour for our scheduled flight. My first thought was how much smaller can you get than your typical 12 seater?  But  OK, we’ll go now. I soon realize smaller translates to only six seats.  As we board, or actually squeeze in, we are told, “one get in, the other wait,  as we have to flip the seat down.”   What??  The last seat flips down, as we try to buckle, uncertain whether these last two seats are secured to the floor.   We are all laughing,  well aware that in 12 minutes this long day will be well worth the hassle, and it was!
Welcome to Belize!

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