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!