“Fools Rush In” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

My recent (OK a little bit longer than recent) scribblings (yes, I know you don’t scribble when using an iPad but…) have not been that frequent and have led to intermittent postings. This may (more likely may not) have caused some consternation (might be a tad guilty of over egging the importance of my blog to you) amongst some of you. I mean what keeps me so busy that I cannot spend ten/fifteen minutes a day rattling out an edition? Normally not a great deal really. It’s not as if I have a lengthy list of things to do every day is it?

In all honesty though I do have a list for every day. It’s got one thing on it. WAKE UP. If I manage this then it’s worth making a list but I’m not going to waste time on something I might not need, if you know what I mean!

Rose and I though do occasionally compile joint lists. And the one that we pulled together a short while ago included ‘arrange trip to Merida’. And not long after it was on the list Rose added ‘SOON’. With that kind of statement (instruction) what else could I do? Arrange it, that’s right!

So last Wednesday I booked two return tickets (well we also intended to return to Ambergris Caye) from San Pedro to Mérida (via Philip Goldson International Airport) via withTropic Air on the Friday service (the service also operates on a Monday and Wednesday).

We could have made the journey in a number of ways – water taxi to Belize City and then bus, water taxi to Corozal and then bus, fly to Corazal and then bus, water taxi to Chetumal and then bus (there may be other ways but quite honestly I’m bored now and it’s not as if this is a travel blog!) – but decided to take advantage of the discounted price (there’s still time to book because the offer runs until 15 April) offered for the expansion of routes by Tropic Air on 3 March.

With the travel arrangements made I then set about finding a hotel and this -with the invaluable assistance of the Internet- didn’t take too long at all. It just remained to pack our bags and change up some BZ$ for US$ (very easily achieved with a couple of bars and restaurants – they do, after all, takes lots of US$ from tourists!) and we were set to go.

On Friday morning we caught the 09.00 hours flight because the 10.00 hours flight was just too tight for comfort) to Philip Goldson International Airport so that we could connect with the 11.15 hours (one hour and forty- five minute flight) service to Mérida.


Where we were headed. Mérida towards the top left hand corner.

With so much time on our hands it gave us the opportunity of taking a closer look at the changes made to the ‘International Airport since our last visit.


The new Jet’s Bar. More spacious. Better equipped. More food on offer. But, to me, it’s lost a lot of its character. It’s quirky ness.


Improved -cleaner lines – walkways and seating areas.


The new (well for us anyway) cafe.

The time flew by and then it was time for our flight


and for us to join the queue with the rest of the passengers (only one seat had not been sold) and then head out to our plane.


Once on board the pilot very quickly set the course


and we were heading down the runway


and in the air


and up in the clouds.


It what seemed like no time at all (OK, after one hour and forty-five minutes) after an uneventful flight (even for Rose who is absolutely petrified of flying – the bones of my left hand usually bear testimony to this) we were heading toward’s Mérida


and after a very smooth landing straight to Customs and Immigration


where I showed just how much I need to learn Spanish.

Our passports were checked and stamped without any trouble at all. Great. With the first step out of the way I hurried forward as we were approached by a guy who came up to us and spoke very quickly in Spanish. The only word that I grasped was sandwich and, not realising that he was a Customs’ official, I thought that he was offering us food (I’m obviously not the brightest lightbulb in the box) and quick as a flash (note the bulb connection!) I replied that I really couldn’t eat another thing! Rose by this time was virtually doubled up whilst trying to convince the Customs’ guy that we weren’t trying to bring in any food. A classic case of fools rush in. I just know that I will never live this one down.

Getting over ((if I’m honest I will never (be allowed) to forget it)) my embarrassment we exited the airport


and took a taxi ((for those that are interested in the ‘how much’ (and in a future edition I will give a cost breakdown for those of you that are interested (and for those of you are not for that matter) it was $MXN 200)) to our hotel which was a fifteen minute drive away.


The Gran Hotel, nicely located on Calle 60 which(not with luck but the result of my research!) placed us centrally in the historic centre (centro – see, I’m picking up Spanish already!).


Inside the hotel.

And our room:




After quickly unpacking we headed out to start our exploration of Mérida, the capital of the state of the Yucatan, affectionately nicknamed ‘The White City’ ((as an aside, and in case that it might be of interest to some of you, I tried to establish the origin of this nickname but there is no clear cut – definitive- answer. Some say that it is because many of the original buildings were built of limestone (white). Others because of the cleanliness of the City – it is swept twice a day)) but first we needed to eat (remember I had declined the sandwich!). But not before we had a Mexican beer (I do enjoy Beliken but it’s nice to have a change) and some guacamole and tortilla chips.


And then sopa de lima (look how my Spanish is coming along!) for me


followed by conchineta pibil for me


and a shrimp pasta for Rose.


In future editions I’ll try to give you a better insight as to what Mérida has to offer and how Rose and I spent our (five nights) there. Can’t wait can you!!!!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the Ricky Nelson version released in 1963 which reached number twelve in the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.

Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while will probably remember that in a much earlier edition I mentioned that one of the properties near to where we live is the Hotel. This place partially operated (none of the rooms have ever had guests in them) when a bar, Molly Malone’s, was open for around six weeks between Mar-April 2012. Since then though it’s doors have remained closed.


Well – is this an EXCLUSIVE (it needs to be in capital letters) ? – the Hotel opens it doors for business tomorrow, Friday 4 April when the bar and restaurant has a grand opening (or is it re opening ?).


“Outside Looking In’ when in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Sitting out on the veranda- the first floor one on the western (lagoon) side of the house the other morning (yes it was early and I did have a mug of black coffee and my iPad with me ) I didn’t follow my normal routine of ‘going’ straight to The Times online. Instead I just sat there enjoying the stillness and allowed my thoughts to go wherever they wanted to go. And believe me sometimes they can go to very strange places!

I thought about how I really do not miss England. I miss seeing my family (I was going to write ‘of course’ but not everyone misses their family, so I didn’t). I miss going to the Emirates to watch Arsenal (win, draw or even lose). I do (oh how sometimes it consumes my thoughts to the point where my imagination runs riot and I salivate ) miss my visit to a pie and mash shop ( a traditional, working class meal which originated in East London where I was born).


It may not look terribly appetising to you but to me its as good as anything in a three star Michelin restaurant.

I also miss time spent with my best friend. Normally this took the form (probably an inappropriate word to describe the way we acted for two grown men) of an all day bender when we would see how many pubs (and pints) we could visit (consume) until even we could not understand each other ((this usually came some time (pints) after other people found us totally unintelligible !)).

I miss work sometimes but such hankerings are becoming so rare that I truly believe that I can say that I have ‘kicked the habit’ (sounds like the retribution you would take against an errant monk doesn’t it).

So , all in all, there’s not a great deal that I miss about living in England. And one thing is for sure, I definitely do not want to move back there.

We had a fair bit of stuff to take care of (selling our home and boat, disposing of unwanted/inappropriate stuff, sorting out our financial affairs, arranging rented accommodation on Ambergris Caye and, the most difficult of all, saying goodbye to friends and family and doing this kept us busy for a while, and particularly as the day to leave got closer.

And then when we eventually arrived here there was lots to do. Finalising our architectural plans, selecting a building contractor, applying for the Qualified Retirement Program, getting driver licences, hiring a golf cart. And the act of just generally finding out (by recommendation and by good old trial and error) where to shop for this or that.

But the whole thing – the ‘goodbye’ and the ‘hello’ – was (and continues to be) totally worth it. Any thoughts on our part – Rose and me that is- that we made an error of judgement in our advancing age? None whatsoever. Not even a sliver.

And the purpose of this reflection bordering upon soul searching on my part? None really I suppose other than letting those of you who may be contemplating moving here that it isn’t too difficult. And, even if it were to be, it’s worth it. But that, of course, is just my opinion.

Another reason for sharing my early morning thoughts with you might just be that I really didn’t have a clue what to write about!

With my period of contemplation over I showered, shaved, etc and headed to Estel’s for breakfast where – after the aberration caused by Arsenal’s defeat by Chelsea – I reverted to ordering my ‘usual’ of eggs (sunny side up), potatoes, bacon and tortilla.


I just knew that my culinary bravery wouldn’t last. Sanity returned to the world!

With breakfast finished I took a walk along the beach. Well , to tell the truth I took the cart on the beach in Boca Del Rio (you can still do that there) and enjoyed the breeze and the view.


Looking south.

Fully ‘chilled out’ I headed home, grabbed the paint brush and ‘hit’ the inside of the northern fence.


And slowly but surely (and determinedly) worked my way along it


Including the low, back aching inducing bits.


Peer closely and you can just see me behind the tree trunk.

Disregarding the ants and the heat I worked my way along the fence, getting ever closer to the eastern (road side) section)


Until I painted the final plank.


OK, so I stopped to pose. I was happy, wasn’t I!

Now I can start on the external side of the northern fence when I will be outside looking in.

The headline for today’s edition (and I must own up here, I Googled it) is based on the 2007 single released by Jordan Pruitt which reached number seventy-seven in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“It’s All Over Now” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Up around 04.45 hours on Saturday morning and out on the veranda (the western, lagoon facing one on the first floor) before 05.00 hours with my mug of black coffee and iPad. It’s still dark at that time of the morning but that suits me fine. I Ike this time of the day. Not being able to see so much ‘kicks’ the seeing and smelling and hearing senses in to ‘top gear’ mode. Well, it does for me anyway.

At this time of the day I find that I can smell the foliage of the trees (not ours yet because they are too young/small but there are plenty in the adjacent lots) so much more. There are also so many so any different sounds to listen to. The sound of mullet jumping out of the lagoon and re entering it ((I’m sure that there is a proper term to describe it but it escapes me at the moment and I really cannot be bothered to engage the memory cells ( for one because I’m just plain lazy and secondly for fear that the cells will fail me)), the sounds of the leaves rustling in the breeze, the birds saying ‘good morning’ to each other. Oh, and the screeching of the raccoons. I haven’t worked out yet whether they are fighting off potential predators or if this is just how they normally ‘talk’.

There’s also the sounds of the outboards on boats leaving the lagoon side and those already on the Caribbean – sound carries so much when there aren’t so many golf carts, trucks or cars rattling (the road is bumpy) by the front of our house.

I took ‘time out’ to read the match preview for the up-coming Chelsea v Arsenal game in The Times on-line and felt (why, oh why did I feel this?) reasonably confident that we get a result. A draw at least. In this confident frame of mind I moved indoors. The time by then was 06.40 hours, five minutes before kick-off.

The confidence didn’t last long though. Within seven minutes we were two goals down. Within fifteen minutes we were down to ten men – having had Gibbs inexplicably sent off for a handball offence committed by Oxade-Chaberlain- and two minutes later we had let in another goal from the penalty spot. I sat and watched the whole excruciating game as the frailties of the team were exposed as we lost six nil. Whatever slim chance we had of winning the Premier League evaporated before my eyes. It pains me to admit it but, it’s all over now!

Feeling mightily disheartened (I really shouldn’t take football, and Arsenal in particular, so seriously) I needed a pick-me-up so headed to Estel’s for a late breakfast (well quite late by my normal standards).

Those of you that read what I put ‘out there’ with any degree of regularity may have (understandably I might add) formed the opinion that I am a creature of habit. I’ve spent quite a bit of time and a fair amount of money working out what I do and do not like so it seems a bit stupid to me to pay no heed to what I’ve spent to learn about myself. But Arsenal’s annihilation had created a confused state of mind and I decided to throw caution to the wind. Brave isn’t the word for it ((suggestions as to what the word (s) are is NOT requested even though you might like to let me know what you think!)).

Creating unheard of consternation amongst the team at Estel’s I told them that I didn’t want ‘my usual’ of eggs sunny side up, potatoes, bacon and tortilla. No, I was going to have a change. Substitute Charles’ world famous (OK I might be going slightly over the top here) corned beef hash.


Feeling mightily pleased with myself for this momentous decision I savoured the tastes (and the ‘hash was good by the way) and enjoyed the view.


Not bad, eh?

Feeling much better I concluded that it is only football after all (did I really write that?) and that there is always next season. If you are an Arsenal fan there is always next season. Sad, but true. And we do still have the chance to win the FA Cup.

With this much more balanced view of life (yes I know it’s only football) I set off home and on the way noticed two building projects in the Boca Del Rio area. It’s funny but since going through our own build I’m strangely drawn to other building projects. Something I need to be concerned about?

The first is a two storey extension above the Train Station that I understand is going to be a living area for the owner.


It’s huge.

Just a way down the street is a much, much smaller project but one that is so typical of many of the homes on the island.


They needed a shoe horn to fit this one in!

Looking across at the new construction I noticed that it was Rubio at work.


Rubio on the right of the photo.

Rubio if you recall is the ‘main man’ that erected our fence for us.

I had a little chat with Rubio and then headed home and after reassuring Rose that I had made peace with the world again went and sat on the veranda where I heard the sounds of activity from the lot immediately north of us. Looking down I was immediately reminded of something that Kathi Moore had said to me only a few weeks previously when she and her husband Les had been on the island for their annual visit.

We’ve known Kathi and Les quite some time having first met them some years when we both chose the same time of the year for our holidays. Anyway, Kathi followed the build of our house via my blog from the outset and during it wasn’t slow in letting me know that she really, really didn’t want to see anymore rebar. So imagine my surprise when she told that she feared that she was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. So Kathi the next photo is just for you!


Literally dragging my eyes away from the rebar (it can be done Kathi) I could see the guys moving pilings in to position.


Using a rudimentary BUT very effective roller system.

And they then set about placing the pilings.


I’ve just had a quick read of what I have written and it’s obvious to me (you too probably) that I haven’t fully recovered from Arsenal’s crushing defeat so I believe that for the sake of my sanity (and likely yours too) it’s best that I bring this edition to a close. I’ll leave you though with a couple of more normal photos!


View from our front door. Not bad, eh?


The sun setting last night.

Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed with the next edition. You’ll have to read it to find out though!

The headline for today’s (rather strange even if I do say so myself) edition is based on the single released in 1964 by The Rolling Stones which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and number twenty-six in the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Poetry in Motion” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

I’m slowly (nearly everything I do now appears to be slowly!) realising that this blogging lark is not as easy as I first thought. Not that I’ve ever had great difficulty in using words. People that know me quite well might even ‘accuse’ me of verbosity! But just lately I’ve not been very good at ‘knocking out’ editions very regularly. Writer’s cramp? Other things on my mind? Too busy? Probably a combination of all of them.

Still getting up early in the morning and thoroughly enjoying my ‘me time’ on the veranda with a mug of black coffee and my iPad. Still venturing in to ‘Town for breakfast at Estel’s and still painting the bloody fence.! Whose idea was it to have a six foot fence around the lot (Rose!) anyway?


My forlorn figure (figure!, who am I trying to kid) on the way to start again on the inside of the northern fence.

Poetry in motion!

I have not spent all the time since the last edition (in fact I’ve spent hardly any time) painting the fence. There’s more to life than that after all and I didn’t move to Ambergris Caye, Belize to spend every waking moment with a paintbrush in my hand. Seriously, I didn’t.

On Monday Rose and I had the pleasure of spending time with Esme and her six year old grandson Tyler. Esme originates from Honduras but has lived in Belize for over twenty-six years but in all that time had never visited Ambergris Caye. Caye Caulker yes, but never in all that time has she made the extra twenty minute journey to Ambergris Caye.

So, why after such long a long time did she make the trip you’re thinking. Simple, she was delivering the remaining half of a pig that her husband Stephen had butchered (sounds horrible doesn’t it but I’ve never professed to be a vegetarian) for us. Stephen served in the British as a Master Butcher (come on, an army marches on its stomach) and occasionally (very occasionally we understand) can be persuaded to use his skills for acquaintances. And he very fortunately granted us this favour.


Esme and Tyler arriving on the 10.30 hours Belize Water Taxi service from Belize City.

They’d intended to catch the 09.00 boat but the driver of the bus they caught to get to the terminal decided to wait for twenty minutes for some friends to connect with the bus. Only in Belize!

After safely packing the pork cuts away in the refrigerator it was time for Tyler to enjoy himself with a swim in the Caribbean so we the short walk from the house to the beach.


Tyler impersonating a crab.


And then a fish.

And then there was just time for a group shot (minus me) before hosing Tyler down (he loved it) before it was time to run them to ‘Town to catch the 15.00 hours taxi home.


In the evening Rose and I went to Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill so that Rose could celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Rose was born in Cork a few years ago ( it would be unchivalrous of me -if not plain stupid- to say how many years ago) and this day has significant meaning to her. She no pseudo Irish person, she’s the real deal!

There was no draught Guinness on tap so we made do (very easy for me because I don’t like Guinness – and I tried it in the pub across the road from the brewery in Dublin) with Belikin but the T shirt that Rose was given was some consolation for her.



Oh and the Belikin koozie .


Green, obviously.

On Tuesday morning it was time to try the pig (no not in a courtroom but in a pan) and what better way to start the testing than with some Cumberland sausages. Stephen had provided both the traditional long sausage and a more conventional size. I elected to work my way up to the ‘big boys’ so started off with the latter.


Only one place for them.


In the pan!

Sorry, no photos of them on a plate. They weren’t there long enough!

On Wednesday I enjoyed a day out in Chetumal with five of the guys from BATSUB who were test driving the Land Rovers that they had taken delivery of only the previous day. Only ten miles on the clock when they set off.


I’d caught the 07.00 hours Tropic Air flight to Corozal where the guys picked me up and then it was straight to


“Well you’ve got to, haven’t you”.


“Come to Daddy!”.

No photos of my burger (a Whopper, what else) ‘unclothed’ because Rose would suffer withdrawal symptoms. See I am a caring and considerate type.

I enjoyed a thoroughly enjoyable day with the guys – being constantly reminded in every store that we visited of all of the things that we can’t get in Ambergris Caye- before they dropped me off at Corazal airport


so that I could get the 17.30 hours flight home.


Me ‘doing’ my back seat driver(pilot) bit.


Nearly home.

Oh, I meant to mention earlier, remember the new beach bar in Boca Del Rio I told you about around a month ago, well I understand that Ismael (the owner) is aiming to open it for Easter.

Got to bring this edition to a close now, I’ve got a fence that needs painting!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single released in 1961 by Johnny Tillotson which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart.

“Many Rivers to Cross’ in Belize.

The regular or fairly regular readers among you will know that there has been (again) a fairly prolonged period since the last edition. If you are a first time ‘visitor’ or haven’t ‘visited’ this blog for some time you won’t have noticed a thing. Having started off today’s edition in this explanatory vein I’m now starting to question why.

Frankly it’s probably due to the fact that as I sit here trying to ‘knock out’ an edition there’s an abject lack of lucidity about my thought process and even more so as far as creative inspiration (who am I kidding) is concerned. I shouldn’t be surprised really because it’s been that type of week. One in which I have failed to really concentrate on anything in particular.

I’ve done a bit more weeding – in fact I think I probably did no more than pull up the weeds that have grown since I last weeded, no fresh ground cleared- and I’ve painted some more of the fence. I washed the golf cart – so much easier since getting a hose pipe!

I have not unsurprisingly continued to enjoy my ‘me time’ on the veranda early morning and I’ve made the trip to Estel’s a couple of times but it hasn’t been a ‘stand out’ week if you know what I mean. You know one of those weeks where you feel, in fact you know, that you’ve accomplished something.

OK, so Rose and I,flushed with the success of gaining our Masters (boat captain) Licenses, did spend some time making our first foray in to trying to find a boat to buy. And the obvious place to start our ‘window shopping’ was at Captain Shark’s boatyard in the DFC area.

Speaking of Captain Shark’s, they’ve recently revamped their cart display area in Coconut Drive. It’s now starting to look like a real car(t) showroom.


OK, so there are no salespeople present. And you can’t walk in off the street to look closely at the carts but by San Pedro standards this is a showroom.

Talking about face lifts (no, not Joan Rivers) I am quite taken by the artwork on the security gate of the San Pedro Yacht Club (formerly Belize Yacht Club).


Half tempted at taking a crack at our front gate!

Now where was I (told you I have had problems focusing) ? Oh yes, boats.


Not like this though (taken when I was breakfasting at Estel’s the other day)


like these


or this


Formerly owned by Jerry Jeff Walker. Like the boat. But the name? Now that’s another thing.

Sticking with boats, our friends from BATSUB are currently taking part in the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challeng where they would have many rivers to cross and came over the weekend before last for the Poker Run and some last minute training. They were convinced that lifting bottles of Belikin to their lips would strengthen the biceps!

I’ve been following their ordeal via their Facebook pages and am taking the liberty (hope you don’t mind guys) of reproducing some of their photos.


The team, Nick, Sean and Ian posing in front of their boat Sailfish 1.


And they’re off.


“Put your back in to Nick!”.


Time for a photo call.


“Don’t be shy lads”.


“That’s better”. Ever the perfectionists, it’s time for some training. Yep, a Belikin!

Today the guys have, as they put it, the final 26 mile sprint. Good luck lads. And well done.

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single (a cover version of the Jimmy Cliff song) released in 1983 by UB40 which reached number sixteen in the UK Singles Chart.