Belize Expedition 2014

Belize Expedition–Day 4

Monday, April 28th, 2014

April 15

I’m up early and meet the Di the cook bringing the coffee pot to the raised dining pavilion at 6:00 A.M. She and the staff drummed and danced till midnight and then went swimming, and she got up at 4:00 to start breakfast.  In answer to my questions she tells me some of her story, less carefree than her joyous presentation as cook.  She’s about to go home to her tiny village in the interior to see her grandson and three children.  Thirteen years ago she left her abusive husband after he hit her and she stabbed him with a kitchen knife, taking her kids and making her own way. Her sister, who was at the party last night and cooks at the adjoining resort, had a similar problem. After she saw her husband punch her, Di smashed his hand with a rock and won when the case went to court.

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I hear screams in Creole and loud laughter from the men’s dormitory above the cook shack. (more…)

Belize Expedition–Day 5

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

April 16 2014

After home-brewed coffee and breakfast of leftovers, Joe goes fishing in the single kayak, Peter rests—sensibly pacing himself after his major surgery and also recovering from a back injury—and the rest of us return to the south wharf to revisit yesterday’s snorkeling paradise.  We encounter a group of local conch fisherman just back from a dive with hundreds of the magic-looking creatures in the bottom of their boat.  One cracks a hole in the shell with a pointed hammer at specified spot just below the cap, another sticks in a knife and detaches the inhabitant from the shell, a third grabs hold of the slippery crustacean and yanks it out and then tosses the empty shell onto a huge pile serving as a breakwater, and a fourth slices the edible meat from the gristle and drops it on a mound in the bottom of the boat. As we swim out toward the breakers at the edge of the reef, they take off for another load.

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Small children play in the water and a stingray with wings six feet wide glides by them coolly and disappears under the wharf. (more…)

Belize Expedition–Day 6

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

April 17

I wake up before sunrise and find a meditation spot under a palapa during a downpour. Soon the sun returns.

Lionel Webb photo

We decide to remain here one more day and enjoy a long leisurely morning.  Around noon, John, Eman and I head south on a winding white path straddling a long narrow isthmus.  We pass a young couple led by a Belizean toward one of the cabanas, and next, a fully developed boardwalk and harbor on the west side of the island invisible to us earlier.  Then, hidden by tall palms and casuarina trees, we come upon a huge conical thatch-roofed lodge.  We walk up the steps to a verandah surrounding a 50 foot conical dome held up by rafters lashed to a wooden circle near the peak.  A mastlike pole at the center supports a circular counter roofed by its own thatched palapa.

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The floor is a mosaic tiled with multicolored pieces of varnished hardwood. On one side of the dome is a large well-stocked bar, and opposite a small gift shop, and between them a couch, armchair, coffee-table arrangement, behind which is mounted a well-stocked bookshelf.  At the table sits a large bearded man typing on a Mac laptop. (more…)

Belize Expedition–Day 7

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

April 18

We strike camp and pack the kayaks, reluctant to leave the luxury of Cocoplum, but eager to experience what comes next. The manager shows up to see us off, friendly but vigilant, and discloses that the original owner of the island was a drug dealer.

The adjoining island to the south is another luxury resort, one less ecologically friendly, built with steel and concrete.  During the crossing of a wide expanse of water, Eman, who has adopted the solo kayak, confounds his elders by paddling only with his hands.

Joe discovers that the rudder on our boat isn’t working and we pull in at the first dock on the next Caye to see about repairing it. A young Asian woman approaches and anxiously says that we cant stop here because a guest party is about to arrive. They are paying $3000 per night and want the place for themselves.  Joe says we’ll be out well before her noon deadline, and she relaxes a little.  She’s from San Diego, and seems just like a Cal Poly student.

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He finishes the repair, knotting some rope to replace the broken section of cable.

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Back on course, we cross a new expanse of water and pass some less luxurious settlements. (more…)