Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More Development Coming Soon. Ugh.

I'm sad to say that Ambergris Caye will be losing even more of it's natural charm once partners with Grand Caribe take over what has been Cheech's home for the past three months or so - the old Lazy Croc's property.

You can see in the next photo how close the enormous buildings of Grand Caribe already are .... 

And this next photo is even worse - they've ripped out mangroves, which are so important, AND they've filled in the lagoon in preparation to begin building even more obnoxious buildings. 

                 Seriously?? Awful. 

The front of the (old)Lazy Crocs property is basically raw land with lots of trees, shrubs, and mangroves - you can't even see the house or lagoon if you go by on boat, it's just looks like a nice, lush, natural spot (which I LOVE) 

You can almost see the sea in the back there - 
THIS is a wise idea for the island: PROTECT IT. All those beautiful green things you see protect the island from erosion... DUH. 

Unfortunately, that For Sale sign, along with pretty much every beautiful piece of growing, living nature that you see, will all be taken away soon.
Instead, we'll get another 6 condo resort from Grand Caribe to look at.

For now, I'm told that they have no intentions of filling in this part of the lagoon, leveling the house and restaurant, and raping the land for more profit - but I think it's only a matter of time, don't you?

I mean, they're already having their way with the land to the back - have you been wondering why they're filling up so much land from behind Akbol's yoga barracks all the way to Grande Caribe?

Yeah... that's so they can build 70+ over-the-water bungalows.

I've always heard there were crocs, huge tarpon, rare birds and lots of other things living back there - but I guess we'll just kill them or scare them off after taking away their natural habitat in order to build more fancy shit for the tourists....

Which makes me wonder - doesn't anyone want a nice, true, rustic visit to the "exotic" countries they travel to? Isn't the idea of a cozy little beach front shack with trees and hammocks and the sweat sea breeze blowing through your windows more appealing than a closed, sterile, air conditioned luxury suite comparable to a fancy house back home? 
Is it just me?

I know that growth is inevitable - but do we really need to be so destructive to be accommodating?**

Even worse (if that's possible) than what's happening to this island is what could potentially happen to the Lighthouse Reef Atoll

"Proposed by Italian businessman Domenico Giannini, president of Puerto Azul Exclusive Resorts & Hotels, the luxury resort would host 1,000 guests and 2,000 workers. It would include underwater suites, a golf course, an amusement park, a super-yacht marina, a submarine-base, hospital, and a Formula One racetrack. To transport guests to the site, the developers are also planning to build a 2-mile long international airport landing strip on the coral reef itself -- blasting away marine habitat, dredging sea grass beds, and hammering pilings and concrete into the reef. And this airport would be even larger than the country's existing international airport near Belize City. All of this construction lies within the immediate vicinity of the Great Blue Hole, a nationally protected area and World Heritage Site."

I don't know how people like Mr. Giannini and his coworkers are able to sleep at night.

**Speaking of being accommodating - I think what this island needs more of right now, instead of tourist resorts, are AFFORDABLE long term rentals. I'm talking $300us for a finished studio with private bathroom, $400us for a finished one bedroom, and maybe $600 for a finished two bedroom.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Back Beach Escape

It's (sadly) no secret that Ambergris Caye has a stunningly beautiful beach up north and over on the western side of the island, but if you're lucky, like I have been twice this week, you can still spend a few hours up there without bumping in to too many other people.

I know it's assumed by many that, since we live on an island, we can just hop on into the Caribbean Sea from basically anywhere and have a lovely swim - but that's totally NOT the case.

On the east side of the island, where you find all the bars, restaurants, shops, businesses, docks, boats, beach front condos, etc, and you can see the waves in the distance crashing over the second largest barrier reef in the world - we  also have lots of sea grass.

Sea that clear, sexy blue water out past the docks? THAT'S where you want to swim.

I, for one (and I know a lot of other people agree with me) think sea grass is creepy. I don't want to step in it - there could be crabs walking around down there, just waiting for a fresh toe to come by... I don't know, I just don't like it, so I don't swim in it.

There are a few, cleared out, nicer places to swim right from the beach  - like the beach at Ramon's Village or by the park at Boca del Rio - but when you have limited swimming spots and over 20,000 people on this island at any given time... you'll be sharing those spots with whoever else wants to enjoy the water that day.
Same with the docks - there are a decent amount of nice docks that have really nice swimming areas, but again, you could be sharing with a whole group of other people... and sometimes you just want your own little area! (I do, anyway)

Another reason I don't swim anywhere near town anymore - and I know some people will be furious that I'm sharing this information because it's "bad for business." but I was told by someone who tests the water that the toxicity levels are ridiculously high (fecal matter) near popular places like the Wet Willy's dock.
(Everyone calm down, not that many people read my blog so I'm sure I'm not doing any damage to the tourism industry)

So, back to the sea grass  - as you probably know by now, either through myself or through other bloggers on the island - we are having an obscene amount of sargassum wash up on our shores. It's been coming in for months now, it smells rank, and it makes swimming even less desirable than when it's just our normal sea grass creeping me out.

              SO completely gross

I don't even need to tell you how much nicer it is over on the "back beach," because you can just see the difference for yourself in the following pictures...

These first ones are from the spot I usually go to when I get back there:

Leonardo DiCaprio's island is straight ahead in the distance. NO sea grass, NO sargassum

We started at that same spot yesterday, but then a family of four showed up and we decided to bounce on out of there to find a less accessible area.

We drove the cart as far as we could and then took a short "jungle walk" to get to an even better spot...

I LOVE having the feel of the jungle on the island.

            Our own private cove

Those storm clouds you see had passed over us, but once they cleared out it was a PERFECT beach day 

"Our" beach from a distance - the water is only waste-high for quite a way out. 

                The life, right here!

I know that one day this side of the island will be taken over by mansions and resorts, too - but for now, I suggest you go back there and enjoy it while it's still clean and beautiful. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A FUN Island Adventure, on a Monday

I've totally said it before - the BEST adventures are always the ones that are completely spontaneous and unplanned.

The only plans I did have for yesterday were just running boring errands in town - I  had to buy a few things and drop off a package at Maya Air, but I was up super early, so I took the 7:30am water taxi to town to get shit done so I could visit Cheech later in the afternoon.
I was finished at Maya by 8am and then I realized it was a bit too early to go to a few of the places I was planning on - the veggie stand where I pick up fonto wasn't open yet, so to kill some time, I went and had a little breakfast at Estel's

Always a good idea... But I wasn't even hungry. Only about half of this delicious food got eaten.

While I was sipping on my coffee and waiting for my food, I got a text from my friend Rene asking what I was doing all day and suggesting either a beach day back at the quiet side of the island or a pool day at Rojo Lounge. That plan soon turned into have a pool day at my house and possibly going for a little ride to break up the afternoon if we got bored.

I ate and paid my bill at Estel's, ran the rest of my errands, and then bumped into my friend Kirt at his new painting spot on Front Street and bought myself a a sweet piece of magnet art from him


Once Rene showed up for me, we rolled back to her place to get a few things, and then we made a stop to hang out with Cheech for a little while. He's dong SO well, by the way - but his foster home is about to be sold, so he's still in need of a permanent place to live... Please message me if you have room in your home and your heart for a super sweet doggy.

When we go to my house we decided to ditch the pool plan for a bit and, instead, just roll up some doobs and take a long ride north - which I've been wanting to do for soooo long! I've been as far as mile 15, just past Tranquility Bay by boat, but I've never been any further than mile 6ish or so by cart or bike, and I've been dying to see what was up there.

I was not disappointed at ALL - here's what we found...

At Costa Blu we found my friend Wayne, a sailing and snorkeling tour guide, working on a nice beach barbecue for his guests

Costa Blu at mile 7.2, North Ambergris Caye - an All Inclusive Beach Resort "Opening 2015"

We continued on the beach path and, somewhere between miles 8 and 9, on a deserted stretch, we came across this awesomeness:

There is, sadly, a LOT of garbage washed up on Belize's unkempt beaches - but this is totally random and cute, I like the Lost FlipFlop Trees!

You can see more shoes starting to get piled up. I think I need to bring a new line for the trees later this week... 

We spent a good half an hour or so at Lost 'Flops (I named it, just now) and then kept on trucking. The road is surprising once you pass behind MataChica at mile 5, in case you're wondering. I'll add a video of that hot mess at the end of this post)

I LOVE how raw the land still is up this far, between all the huge resorts and private homes, obviously 

The landscaping at The Blue Reef Resort looks lovely - still lots of trees around:

We planned on making our way all the way to Tranquility Bay, but we were sidetracked at mile 10 by a bartender working at Sapphire Beach Resort and lured in by the offer of free shots, which actually turned into a Horny Monkey and three free Belikins. 

Another one to add to my Signs in Belize post... or my MORE Signs in Belize post...

Raw beach road. LOVE


ONE of the pools at Sapphire Beach, picture taken from the bar.

We had to start heading back after our drinks to beat the sunset back (again, check out the video of us romping through puddles filled with stinky sargassum that has been invading our beaches for months now behind Matachica - you don't want to be going through that shit in the dark, I tell you) 

Here's the last picture I took on our little island adventure - possibly my favorite finding of the day: 

Is this amazingly awesome, or what??? 

Here are links to the videos, since I can't I'm Ed them from my iPod. I can't even rename the second one, but that's the crap part of the road