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Hurricane Earl….nearly a year later….. San Pedro bounces back

Hurricane Earl….nearly a year later….. San Pedro bounces back

 

On August 4th, 2016, Hurricane Earl landed a devastating blow to the island of Ambergris Caye. Thankfully there were no deaths or major injuries, but nearly every dock, dive shop and restaurant located over the water was damaged or completely destroyed.  I had been in Placencia when Hurricane Earl hit.  Having been on the southern peninsula, we were fortunate to have lost only one small dive shop and dock with virtually very little additional damage.

Arriving in San Pedro the following morning, here was the incredible reality the residents of San Pedro would be facing.   These shots were taken from Banyan Bay area towards downtown.

hurricane earl damage
Beaches near Ramons

hurricane earl belize

Nearly a year later, as we walk these beaches, it’s amazing to see the transformation since the damage from Hurricane Earl.  Docks have been rebuilt, beaches have been reclaimed with beautiful white sand and seawalls that protect the beaches from erosion.  Ramon’s Resort has rebuilt their dive shop and beautiful walkway along the beach.  Xanadu Resort has added  palapas and extended their beach.   At the time, it was very difficult to imaging this little island would recover after the extensive damage.  Thanks to the unbelievable hard work of everyone involved…….here are a few shots of the morning walk……even better than before!

ambergris caye belizebeaches ambergris caye belize

belize beachesbeaches belize

belize beaches

The Office Bar & Grill San Pedro, Belize

The Office Bar & Grill San Pedro, Belize

san pedro bar

The Office!

When you tell a friend your favorite place to go is “The Office”, you typically get some awkward stares. Yes, I live on an island in Belize and my favorite place to go is “The Office”.

Tucked away on the lagoon side, just a block or so behind the airport is a quaint little bar and restaurant on the edge of the water.  A great place to catch the game, with drink specials every night.   You can relax,  meet some awesome people, listen to music, watch fishing boats leave for the day and catch some awesome sunsets.  However, the best of all is the unbelievable food and coldest beer I have found on the island.  Obviously, you will find bar food that goes great with a cold beer, but you can also get some unique items you wouldn’t expect at a local bar and grill.

Miss Sarita!

 

Offering a wide variety of food from burgers, burritos, and pasta, to appetizers and Lobster dishes, you will not be disappointed. Having tried several items, my favorite are the wings and quesadillas! With Miss Sarita in the kitchen, you are guaranteed to get one of the best meals on the island. Her coconut pie reminds you of your childhood days at grandma’s house. Unbelievable!

 

With a recent new menu, daily lunch specials and free delivery, it’s always a great decision to go to “The Office!”

Hours: Bar: 11am- 12am
Kitchen 11:30-11pm
Closed on Tuesdays!

Tel: 226-4655 or 623-5018

Check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Trip Advisor!

Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda

We decided to rent a car and venture south for the day to Punta Gorda.  Having planned this daytrip as just a drive down south to explore the region and uncertain as to what we would find, we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the countryside. Having only small villages along the route, you can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle. This area of Belize is the least developed and is home to some of the most beautiful rainforest in the country.  On previous trips to Belize, we visited many of the different regions of this small country.  San Ignacio in the Cayo district, Corozal in the northern most region and the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.  Visiting the different regions reinforces how vastly different these areas can be.   A day trip to Punta Gorda was an easy drive from Placencia village and definitely provides some options for future daytrips.July 10, 2016 (6:30 pm)

 

The Toledo District is the furthest south, and although very densely populated is beautiful and charming with small fishing communities and small farms dotting the countryside.   We quickly realized the numerous options this area of the country has to offer. Banana plantations, spice farms and cacao plantations can be seen from the Southern Highway; the only road going south after Placencia.

 

Ixcacao Chocolate
Ixcacao Chocolate

Many people have told me the Ixcacao chocolate tour is something you definitely must do while in the area.  Although we ventured off the “beaten path” and found it located deep within the rainforest, we were not scheduled to do a tour, but were able to see their process and purchase some chocolate. Definitely worth the drive!  Tours and daytrips can be scheduled at any tour office in the village.
Countryside church

The countryside is dotted with small villages, wild turkeys, horses and some of the most beautiful churches you will see anywhere you may travel.  Two major Maya ruin sites are along this route to Punta Gorda and said to be definitely worth a visit.  Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun.  Both looked easily accessible from the Southern Highway, as well as Hokeb  Ha Cave which is near the village of Blue Creek.

Some additional sights along the way….

belize wild turkeys

July 10, 2016 (6:31 pm)July 10, 2016 (6:33 pm)July 10, 2016 (6:30 pm)

punta gorda
Cotton Tree Chocolate Factory

 

Spice Plant Nursery
Spice Plant Nursery

July 10, 2016 (6:31 pm)July 10, 2016 (6:32 pm)

toledo district countryside

 

 

The major lesson we learned on this short day trip to Punta Gorda in the Toledo district, is we must go back!  A visit to the ruins, Spice Farm Nursery, Ixcacao Chocolate Tour and the downtown area of Punta Gorda on market days is definitely on my list of “to do’s” in this beautiful little country I’m loving more everyday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Plantations
Banana Plantations
Destination Placencia! | Placencia Belize

Destination Placencia! | Placencia Belize

Every trip we have made to Belize has been a breeze! Easy flight from Dallas to Belize City.  Puddle jumper to Ambergris Caye on a 12 minute flight. Easy flight, no checked baggage, no hassle.  Granted, this trip is a little different, as this is an extended stay in our new place and we have packed some necessary items that are difficult and expensive to find in Belize.

Having an early morning flight, several pieces of checked luggage, and taking a dog on an international flight, we decide to get a hotel near the airport.  Avoid the last minute  rush to the airport in Dallas traffic. We thought this was a great idea.  Someone had different ideas.

Our adventure went something like this…..

Two taxis, three planes, eight pieces of luggage, a four hour layover, one missed connecting flight, a dog who desperately needs to pee in the Houston airport….you get the picture!

We arrive in Belize city, only to realize we are dangerously close to missing our connecting “puddle jumper” flight to Placencia.  Oh yes, did I mention, it’s the last flight of the day. Southwest has open seating, so we strategically grabbed seats as close to the front of the plane as possible, knowing that landing in the small airport in Belize, you want to be off the plane first and get in the customs line as quickly as possible.  Another strategic move….after we clear customs check, we have to pick up the checked baggage and have those cleared at customs. Oh yes, our dog Floyd, we have to have his paperwork cleared to enter the country.  We now have 15 minutes before our connecting flight to Placencia.  We decide to split up.  I get the luggage, you get the dog cleared and we meet at the customs line. It’s going to be close, but we can do it!

Almost every time, we have been waved through customs, no problems.  You guessed it, not this time. This is the moment I realize our ingenious idea of putting the fishing poles in the TV box was probably not the best idea!  In my defense, finding this box in the attic solved the fishing pole problem.  They fit perfectly, we can add t-shirts for extra protection.  As you enter Belize, if you have new items to claim, you will pay duty fees.  Of course, a new TV box, looks like you are bringing….. a new TV into the country!  What was I thinking?

As the agents see us enter the customs area with eight bags and a new TV box, we are immediately waved into the “Items to Claim” line. No!  This line takes much longer and we are dangerously close to missing our connecting flight.   All eight bags, up on the table, unzip the luggage….anything to claim?  No.  But sir, this big TV box is not really a TV, it’s the only thing that would hold our fishing poles.  Really, the TV box has clothes and fishing poles.  I try to explain as they cut the box open, to yes, find clothes and fishing poles.  They smile and shake their heads.  I grabbed the tape, which I had in my carryon, (I guess I assumed they would check the TV box), taped the box….. grabbed the zipper on the suitcase, which they didn’t even look in after laughing about the fishing poles…….you guessed it…..the zipper breaks. I should have assumed this would happen with this “oversized $5 flea market suitcase” I bought the week before so we could take advantage of Southwests two free checked bags policy. The porter who helped load the luggage is aware we are trying to catch the last flight to Placencia, grabs the open suitcase, throws it on the other seven bags and runs to the check-in counter.  I yell to him….”.that suitcase is open”.. he holds the top down and rushes to the counter.  I had visions of my underwear being strewn throughout the airport.  At this point, I really didn’t care.   We make it to the counter where the very calm employee, just smiles and states,” sorry, the flight just left,  the next flight leaves tomorrow morning.”

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.  My suitcase is busted open, we missed the last flight out for the night, we have no hotel room and my dog desperately needs to pee. What are our options?  We really don’t want to spend the night in Belize City, and most hotels wont take a dog anyway. If we can get a rental car, it’s a four hour drive.

Another strategic move….you run across the street and check for rental cars, I take the dog outside to pee. We meet back here.  As I run out of the airport, taxi drivers are yelling….taxi lady??….no, I don’t need a taxi….. I need grass…..my dog has to pee!

No options for cars, but Floyd feels better, just as an employee says, “check with Maya airlines, I think they have one flight left for the day.”  Thank You Jesus!!  It’s boarding now, two seats left.  They grab our TV box full of fishing poles, my busted, half zipped, flea market suitcase….I grab the dog and run to the gate.  Yes, they were boarding and yes, there were two seats left.

We can now relax and laugh…..and we did!

The very unusual experience was well worth the hassle, as this is how I spent our first day in Placencia!

Floyd enjoys his morning beach walk!
Floyd enjoys his morning walk on the beach!

 

July 4, 2016 (6:46 pm)

July 4, 2016 (6:56 pm)

 

Lesson from Belize……..

Relax, it all works out!  We arrived safely, provided some entertainment to the airport staff and learned some valuable lessons…..pack lightly….buy those cardboard tubes to transport your fishing poles……and pass on the $5 suitcase from the flea market!!

 

 

 

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