Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Master Lee Experience

Master Lee's on Front Street, soon moving to a new location

So I've been suffering from lower back pain for quite some time now.... a few months, maybe. It just started out as a dull pain, mostly after standing for long periods of time or after a long walk, but about a week ago it went from "dull" to "Holy-shit-I-can't-walk-at-all."
Fun! 

After getting some opinions on Facebook about who to see/where to go/what to do, I decided I would try a highly recommended massage therapist first. Miss Shirlene, located on the beach in Boca del Rio, gives a fantastic deep tissue massage. It's hard for me to totally relax and shut off my brain while I'm getting a massage and I think it's because I, too, am a massage therapist - so if they do a stroke or something that I like, I think, "oooo, I have to remember that one," and if they do something I don't like I think, "wtf is this lady doing to me?" All I really kept thinking while with Shirlene was, "this is awesome, but it's sooooo not helping my back."

I had the same exact thoughts the following day when I had another massage therapist, a girl named Ashty, come to my house to work on me again. Another excellent massage that I would have enjoyed immensely, had I not had one specific area of pain that needed more than just a good rub down, 

What I really wanted to do was get adjusted by Doc, the chiropractor here on the island that almost everyone I know goes to for adjustments. Of course, Doc is off the island for vacation until mid-August... because that's the kind of luck I have. 

Sooo... by this point I'm out almost $200 for the massages and ... well, I think I'm one of the few legitimately poor white people who live here - I pretty much had one last shot at finding someone who could help me before I totally ran out of money. (aaand I can't go back to work until this is taken care of) 

I had three choices left - a new chiropractor down south and whom I had no reviews about since no one I know has used him yet; another doctor who does acupuncture and TENS therapy; or Master Lee, who sparked a bit of controversy when I asked about him on Facebook...
Here are some of the "reviews" I got about him:

"Watch out for fast aggressive movements. I am sure he will want you to remove your shirt as well."
"...some massage maybe some needles and harsh aggressive manipulatons ie legs over head while face up etc."
"Ran into a guy I know yesterday. He said he saw your post. He told me to tell you he swears by Master Lee, and brought others down here just to see him..."
"I had a completely normal experience with Master Lee... 5 stars"
"...Mr Lee tries to get you naked or close to it. If you see him, refuse that part; go with a guy then he is less inclined to be improper."
"Master Lee fixed a 2 year problem with my neck and shoulder. The pain felt like a knife was sticking between my shoulder blades, 24/7. He did beat the shit out of me, but 5 months later I'm pain free."
"Master Lee is inappropriate,., you have been warned."
"Some of your stories about groping and copulation are a lot of hearsay and very demeaning to a man who had helped many many people in pain and need from afar here and in Belize! I have 4 nieces and a sister-in-law who he has treated and helped cure old injuries from sports and car accidents...neck/leg and back pain and one with stomach issues and none of them ever had any issues with improper touching! ....." (this was a LONG comment, but that's the gist.)

So - as you can see - I received mixed opinions about Master Lee.

                                          Massage for weight loss?!? Hmmm.....

Obviously, it was Master Lee who I chose to go to...

For my first visit I told him what's been going on with me and he only had me there for about 15 minutes for an adjustment. Maybe it was a little "harsh," as I was warned - but I'm no sissy when it comes to spinal manipulations, so I was fine with it. It really didn't help my pain ease up at all, but it DID get rid of the numb sensation I had going on in my hips and thighs, so that was a good start.

I went back to him the following day for a massage...

Having received hundreds of massages in the States and having given probably thousands of massages over the past 15 years, I'm used to the client having a little privacy while they disrobe and get onto the table. I'm also used to staying covered up under a sheet while I'm basically naked on the table.

He had me undress down to my bra and underwear and lay face down, and then he helped me slip the bra off. He then pulled my underwear down below my bum and proceeded to massage me. (Seriously, throw away your modesty or any prudishness if you're going to see him.)

It's hard to remember everything he did, step-by-step. I know he worked on my back for quite a while, digging in to the sides of my spine and deep in my glutes, shaking me around to see how much movement my body wanted to give, etc.
Then he had me turn over and "covered me" with a paper towel while he dug around and did some deep work on my entire pelvis area. I could see why some people would think what he was doing would be considered "inappropriate," but honestly - nothing he did felt creepy or unnecessary. Yes, he got a little close to my lady bits - but he had to. If you know anything about the anatomy of the pelvis, then you know how many nerves are running around in there, and if one of your bones is out of whack, your nerves get pinched and it HURTS. 


At one point - and all I kept thinking was, "hmm, should i ask him to take a picture for me or no...?" he used those suction cup thingers on me. He had one big one right on the center of my stomach, one on each hip, and then a smaller one riiiight on my pelvis. It looked SO weird - all my stomach fat just sucked up into a tube... so, so weird. 

That paper towel that he had "covered me" with didn't stay in use for very long. He got on the table and straddled me, had me put my feet up under his armpits (like we were going to do "airplane") had me hold onto his wrists while he yanked me up towards him, and the paper towel was no longer. Whatever - I rolled with it. Again, I didn't get a "creeper" vibe from him or from anything he was doing - I really think that the people who warned me about getting groped need to loosen up a bit. Master Lee is a great guy, and even though I'm not 100% yet - I can tell that he knows what he's doing


He gave me a very fair price, and I can actually move my left leg forward to walk without wincing in pain with every movement again (not too far forward, that still takes my breath away, in a bad, bad way) 

I'm supposed to see him again next Tuesday for another massage and adjustment, and I'm pretty confident that I'll feel way better after that visit.

Until then, I'm taking it easy, doing very gentle stretches, sleeping on a mat on the floor, doing ice therapy, and taking anti inflammatory drugs (which I HATE taking, but whatareyagonnado?)

Me and the Master... My post-massage face looks a lot like my high face....
And he's just adorable, isn't he? 


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STILL looking for someone in San Pedro who can help me redesign my blog.... 



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Observations of an Island Dweller

Change happens quickly here on Ambergris Caye.

posted about stopping in Dangriga back in May, and mentioned how it seems as though NOTHING has changed in the almost three years since I've been back there. Everything is exactly where I remember it being - no buildings have been knocked down and replaced with something newer, all of the stores are the same stores that have been there for years, the restaurants, food vendors, even the guys asking for change - all of it is the same, same, same.

Ambergris Caye has the exact opposite situation going on. I swear - every time I leave my house and go into town I see something different... The place I used to get great, cheap tacos for breakfast across the street from Tropic Air is gone - not closed - GONE, with new construction happening. The once-empty lot next to Annie's bakery is now a construction zone. There's another new building going up closer to the bridge, and an existing building is having a fourth floor added to it. Grande Caribe has their new, obnoxious resort building going up still, plus whatever they're up to on the back side of the island, AND a fancy new sea wall (I'm bitter towards Grande Caribe, if you haven't picked that up from previous posts)
I haven't been south of town for a while - I can only imagine how different it's starting to look down there...

Two of the most upsetting changes (in my opinion) are what's happening to the beach here on the "main side" of the island, and how crazy busy it's getting on the "back side," up at Grande Belizean Estates.....

It was just a few days ago that I went out to the back beach for a bit - and holy crap, the road construction on the way out there is blowing my mind....

This brand new road was nothing but an overgrown trail not too long ago. It starts just after the old Journeys End resort and takes you out to the main road that leads out to Grande Belizean Estates. 

There isn't a whole lot going on once you get to the GBE lots - a few small houses are popping up here and there and some lots are just being cleaned up and maintained for now... but the amount of people that go back there to hang out is insane. That used to be a spot to go and get away from tourists and hustlers...

Now - it's busy enough to have someone selling jewelry and other people running a food truck/snorkel mask rental shop. 


Uuuuugh - am I right??? 

Ya know what surprises me? It surprises me that all of the big money resorts haven't starting snatching up all the land on the back side of the island yet. I mean.... if they refuse to let all of the sargassum that keeps rolling in just stay around and do its job (repairing/rebuilding the beach) then... one of these days those resorts will start toppling into the sea - just like these palm trees....


Ok maaaaaybe that's a bit dramatic - but you know what I mean. *Everyone just keeps raking it all away, and I've been thinking to myself ever since this problem started (what - a year ago?!?) .."Hmm... they should probably just leave that shit there... they're raking away beach every time they remove it.... "

Seriously - if you haven't been here in a while - the erosion is BAD. 

I posted this on Instagram recently- Do you see the tree that grows straight out over the water? Up until a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike UNDER that tree - when there was still a beach to ride on. 

This tree started dying a long time ago, but the ground that was keeping it standing washed away...

I was super excited to read an article posted by AmbergrisToday.com - Man-vs-Sargasso: One islanders idea- Build more beach - FINALLY!! Someone who seems to have the right idea!!

"Instead of collecting and removing seaweed from the beach, which also takes away beach sand along with it, Dimas tested a method that keeps both on site and has the beach growing exponentially. In his first testing of the method he was able to add 17 feet to a beach area. It’s a simple process of collecting the seaweed and evenly laying it out on the beach; various holes are dug where as much seaweed is dumped and compacted, while the white sand from the hole is used to cover the remaining seaweed on the beach."

GENIUS!!!

If I remember (it's hard to keep track of which day it is) I'll go up there on Sunday morning to see his project at work and lend a hand...


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I'm STILL looking for someone on the island who can help me re-do my blog - I have ideas for it and no idea how to make them happen. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Peek at Hideaway Caye

It was back in May that I went on a few charters down south (and posted a blog, "Sailing South and Taking Pictures") and I mentioned a cute little island that we visited called Hideaway Caye.... Now, two months later, I will tell you about it ;)

Hideaway Caye is 14 miles off the coast of Placencia, in the Pelican Caye Range - (there were a LOT of pelicans around, so the name totally makes sense.)

My favorite water bird - I love how they just smash into the water to land and make their catch

Hideaway Caye is also a very fitting name for the island - from the outside all you see are mangroves and the peak of a rooftop, but once you get in there, there's much more going on.

That's Doris to the right of the Caye, and a little fishing boat at the dock. 

A closer look at the dock - I would have NEVER guessed that there was a bar and restaurant open to the public INSIDE these mangroves. Blew my mind. 

The elevated boardwalk leads you to the main house, the Tiki Bar and Restaurant, and, away from everything, the private guest house. This cute little doggy was there to greet us. 

I think most people would have ripped out these mangroves, threw down some sand and tried to build up the island with a beach - but what owners Kim and Dustin have done is SO much better for the environment, and it makes it way more unique than any other island I've been to.

Path leading to the private guest house - the only one on the island

The main house and, to the right, the restaurant and bar

Damn blurry picture - this is under the restaurant..... again, you're IN THE FRIGGIN MANGROVES!! 

If we had known that Kim was in the kitchen preparing the fresh catch of the day for dinner we totally would have stayed to eat, but I already had fish or something in the oven, so we just enjoyed a drink at the bar and then I got a ride back to the boat to finish cooking and the guests came back soon after.

I really wish I had tried to take a panoramic shot of the location that we were anchored in - we were in, like, a lagoon surrounded by these tiny mangrove islands and a long stretch of coral reef and could see the Maya Mountains off in the distance.... Hard to imagine, I know. Just try:

Our neighbors for the night - you can see the reef line behind them

Another little mangrove island just "across the sea" from Hideaway. Looks like a little fishing shack on the edge. 

Sunset to the west - if you're viewing this on a large enough screen you maaaaay be able to see the mountain range. 

To see more pictures of the Pelican Caye Range and Hideaway Caye, check out their website here

To read about HOW the heck they accomplished building inside the mangroves - which I was completely curious about - browse through their Building a Dream blog here
It's kind of a difficult read because of spelling/grammatical errors and lack of punctuation, but definitely worth checking out.  (And, guys, if you come across this post and need an editor for your blog or your book - which I hope you're writing - I'm your girl!)

To find out about renting Hideaway Caye for yourself, see their TripAdvisor page here

To learn more about the importance of mangroves, visit MangroveActionProject.org

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Belize/San Pedro people - I'm looking for someone to help me redesign my blog - please contact me with your rates!







Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Home Number Ten... Another Good One

I think everyone knows how much I loved home number nine and how sad I was that my time there came to an end. It was only supposed to be a three month stay and I ended up being there for ten months - so I can't complain at all - but I was still pretty bummed to leave.

Here are some pictures, again, showing how cute is it there...

I mean, the entrance alone is enough to fall in love with

The pool.... Oh, how I'll miss that pool...

If the mosquitoes weren't TOO bad, the porch was a great spot to sit at night and look at the stars.
It was also where I washed my dishes, since there was no kitchen sink inside.

The only thing you really can't see at all is the little "kitchen" area on the left - which has a long counter with a mini fridge on top and two cabinets underneath.

It was tiny and it was hot as hell in there some days - but it was just so cute and cozy, and the rent was insanely affordable - something so hard to find on this island.

I've been in home number ten now for just over a week (9 days) and, even though I was kind of "meh" about it at first, I think I dig it now.

It's kind of cute, right? 

Those slotted windows take forever to clean, but they're great for turning the cabana into a dark cave on rainy days and napping like a pro. (I learned both of these things today)

The view from the front door. If you bend down a little you can see the sea.

Here are two of my neighbors who come say hi every day:

This handsome guy is Lion 

And this big girl is Porche

There's this cool palm tree next to the house:

Anyone know the name of it?

A little peak of the inside - 

Walking in - living room area to the left, kitchen (obviously) to the back 

From the kitchen - bathroom, bedroom, attic!!! 

Poquito taking over nap duty for me 

So, yeah. Now that it's all clean and I have everything where I want it, I like this place. 
It took me a few days to realize that I don't have to empty my coffee pot or drain my water outside any more... these kitchen sink thingers are VERY convenient!! 

I'm going to be popping up to the States for a quick visit next week, but I have plenty of time in the next few days to try to get another post out before I go - maybe I'll finally show you that tiny little mangrove island off the coast of Placencia that I visited while on charter a few weeks ago...

Aaaaand, to end this on a depressing note -  my buddy Cheech, who finally found a forever home not too long ago, was attacked by a crocodile a couple of weeks ago and didn't survive.
I posted about him so many times - I thought I should tell you.

I can't believe I'll never get to hang out with this big dumbhead again.... Go home and hug your doggies for me!!

Ugh. Love.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Developing an OCD And Hatred for Throw Pillows

There's a lot of repetition involved in my job - we basically serve the same menu on every charter, answer the same questions about ourselves and Belize over and over again, ask the guests the same questions and give them the same options, we're constantly cleaning up the same 38-50 feet of boat space... you get the picture. 

I'm on my longest stretch of the season - about four weeks in a row with super quick breaks (1-3nights off) in between charters - which I'm not complaining about, but I'm pretty sure is taking a slight mental toll on me...

The best example I can give you is the throw pillows - or, as I now think of them - the "goddamn mother effing throw pillows."

This is how they SHOULD look on the inside couch. 

And this is how they should look outside. 

BUT.... obviously, they don't stay in the same position all day long. They serve two purposes - decoration and comfort. 
In order to be comfortable, they'll obviously get moved around. 

      This is my newest vision of Hell. 

                       So is this. 

I haven't actually counted how many times a day I straighten these goddamn mother effing throw pillows... but, clearly, it's enough to spark a murderous rage inside of me.
I picture myself snapping one day and beating someone with them - just like Mommy Dearest, but with a pillow instead of a wire hanger. 

Luckily (for everyone) I have a nice, long break coming up and I'll be back in my normal, zen-like, I-heart-pillows, mellow mood. 



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sailing South and Taking Pictures!

I finished working a fun, easy, five night charter on Monday - and, as usual, I'm pretty sure I took even more pictures than our guests did...

Have we talked about Blumps before? The stuffed, no armed, orange bodied, green haired, big nosed dude that I've had for as long as I can remember? Yeah... He came on charter with me this time and I slept like a champ. Coincidence?? 

Our first night's anchorage spot - Bannister Caye. This is one of the islands that cruise ship guests can visit while they're here for an excursion day... It's a lovely spot but there isn't much there and I heard that the bar is crazy expensive. 

Tobacco Caye - one of my favorite islands to visit. Maybe one day I'll get to spend a few nights in one of those over-the-water casitas!!

They're trying to protect the island from erosion (something everyone should be doing) by piling up all of the empty conch shells to use as a barrier.
Look at all those shells!!! 

    Rasta colored palm trees... I love it.

These people are serious about their private time...

A provision run to the closest town was necessary, so I hired Captain Doggy to take me over to Dangriga so I could get some shopping done -
Dangriga was where I always went when I needed to go to a post office or hit up an ATM or a decent grocery store when I lived in Alta Vista - and I haven't been there in close to three years now, so I was very happy to go.


From what I could tell, not much has changed. At all. 
(That's so different from Ambergris Caye, where change is constant) 

                 The market area

               Fresh fish for sale

Quick story about my new friend Tyree- I was in a grocery store looking for a few things when this kid approached me and said, "Excuse me, ma'am, you have a job for me?" 
People in Dangriga do this a lot - more than anywhere else in the country that I've noticed. They aren't looking for anything for free, they want to work. 

I told him I didn't really have anything for him to do, so he asked if he could push my cart for me for a dollar and I handed it over. He went aisle to aisle with me, helped me find everything I was looking for, and asked one of the employees where things were if we couldn't find them ourselves. 
He then took the bags from me and carried them over to Captain Doggy's boat and came with me to buy some veggies at the market, and helped locate a few other things I was looking for. Super helpful, super polite. I gave him $10bz for his time and he seemed VERY appreciative. 

Ok - back to pictures...

South Water Caye!

This was my first visit to South Water Caye and it is BEAUTIFUL. 15 acres and only two resorts - the Pelican Beach Resort and the Blue Marlin Lodge.


That's Carrie Bow Caye in the distance - the field station for the Smithsonian's Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program (CCRE)
I was too busy with work to pop over to Carrie Bow when the captain and guests went there to snorkel - but I did make time to check out South Water... 

Starting on the north end:

View from the Blue Marlin Lodge - looks like a great spot for cocktails and dinner with a sunset view

Or you can just chill and see what kinds of fish and crabs swim by - that's a barracuda down there


          I LOVE these "island igloos!"

Gorgeous property - with lots of deadly coconuts. (You know they kill more people than sharks do every year, yeah?)


The second largest barrier reef in the world - RIGHT THERE. (And a buttload of empty conch shells, too)

The south end, where the Pelican Beach Resort is, has one of THE nicest beaches that I've seen here in Belize. 


         There's Carrie Bow again

River rocks brought over from the mainland here instead of conch shells

Is this too ugly for you, or can you totally picture yourself spending ALL damn day right in these hammocks? 

 I served lunch and sangria right here. I think our guests were happy.

They had the whole beach to themselves. What a sweet vacation. 

The next day... Or maybe even the same day, they kind of all blur together, we did some more sailing along the reef, and I just can't ever get tired of all of these different shades of blue!!




The view from my "office," with English Caye in the distance

That day's appetizer (Spinach and Artichoke Dip in a Garlic Bread Bowl) was so good, it deserved a picture. 

If you want to have an incredible vacation like this - if you want to get married somewhere amazing - if you want to see a variety of islands in Belize in one vacation - you need to contact me so we can get you hooked up! 

I go out back tomorrow for 7 nights - so if you want to see all these pictures I take before I get around to blogging about them,  you should really FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM