“Party People” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Hi Ziggy here.

Remember me? 

You may not be aware but I’m Belizean. Belizean through and through. Born in Ladyville just over four years ago (around twenty-nine years ago in doggy years) and moved to San Pedro (it’s when I decided to go ‘upmarket) just over two years ago.

Now anyone that knows me knows that I love a party. I mean you don’t ‘serve‘ in the British Army without knowing how to party. And we Belizeans are party people! So I was well hyped knowing that it was my country’s thirty-fifth birthday on Wednesday. 

I was excited when I got up and became even more excited when Mommy (that’s Rose for the rest of you) started talking about the big parade later that day. She could see how happy I looked but I could see the look of dejection on her face.

She called me over and asked me to sit down. I did. I’m well trained and a good boy (well, usually I am). I didn’t like the look of this. What had I done? Well I knew I’d brought some dirt in to the house, but hey, how can you play around in the garden chasing iguanas without picking up some dirt! And I had scattered my toys around the house. But then I always do that. It’s my house isn’t it!
Mommy stroked me. Told me what a lovely boy I am (I know I am but it doesn’t hurt to be reassured) and I just knew that there was bad news coming my way. ” I’m sorry Ziggy” she said, ” You can’t come to watch the parade with us”. 

I must have looked distraught because Mommy then commenced to kiss me on the face. ” I know it’s your day Ziggy but it’s going to be excruciatingly hot. And there will be lots of noise. And loads and loads of people. And it’s because I love you that I don’t want to put you through that ordeal”. She could see that I was sad (I can do the sad, doleful look very easily you know) and I could see that she was sad too. ” I know”she said, “I’ll take loads for photos for you to look at. It will be like you were there.” 

And that’s exactly what she did (Mommy always keeps her promises. She’s not like John at all) and now I’m going to share them with you. Obviously it’s not like I was really there. But I’ve got a good imagination and I did go last year.

Carlo (yes, THE Carlo of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar fame), my friend Aubrey (Carlo’s youngest daughter) and John waiting in the shade for the ‘Parade.

John hobnobbing with the dignitaries. I bet he wouldn’t let Deputy Mayor Gary Grief go until he had his picture taken with him!

He wasn’t smooth enough (I would have been!) to get his photo taken with the lovely Miss San Pedro though!

Anyway, enough of him, let’s get on the with the ‘Parade’.

The Police and Fire Departments leading the procession as they always do.

And then, crash, bang wallop. A pallette of vibrant colours, flamboyant costumes and a plethora of sounds.

First up though was my country’s flag.

And then came the people, hundreds and hundreds of people. All of them enjoying themselves.

In the center is my friend Aubrey’s Mommy, Alma. Hi Alma.

And my friend Ema. She’s definitely got ‘the moves’. Go Ema!

And there were acrobats too.

A mini-me Mayor Daniel Guerrero and a look alike Jorge Aldana.

But the real Mayor was there too. But why doesn’t he throw dog treats?

And Miss San Pedro.

I told you she is ‘hot’, didn’t I!

I think Mommy needs to have a word with these people.

Just the place for me to watch next year’s ‘Parade! 

And my country is only thirty-five years old.

Today’s headline is based on the single released in 2008 by Nelly (featuring Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas) which reached number forteen on the UK Singles Chart and number  forty on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Bad Boys” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Well if you read the previous edition you’ll know that Rose, Ziggy and I got through Hurricane Earl with very few problems and we felt confident that we could cope with the three , yes three, hurricanes that were due to ‘hit’ Ambergris Caye on 7 August.

We’d known that Hurricanes Alfie, Louie and Frankie (I know that these names don’t appear within the list of hurricane names for 2016) were going to ‘hit’ Ambergris Caye since August last year. We just didn’t foresee that they would arrive just four days after Hurricane Earl.

When Rose and I sat down (on many, many occasions) to lay out the design for the house we planned to build on Ambergris Caye we had a clear consensus that it would include a clearly defined and separate area that family and friends could use if they (and we hoped that they would) came to visit us. Eventually we decided that the best way (well for us at least) was to incorporate a two bedroom/two bathroom, self-contained apartment built on the ground floor. Well actually if I’m truthful it started out as being a one bedroom/bathroom apartment but we changed our minds (and the design) mid construction. 

Since we moved in to our home in December 2013 the apartment has been used spasmodically -more often than not used by the friends in BATSUB that we have – but when this has been the case it’s use more generally has been for durations of not more than three or four days. And then there have been months before it has been used again.

All that changed this year and since the beginning of June it seems like we have been in a constant mode of apartment cleaning. Getting it ready for one visit after another.  And we’ve loved it.

First to arrive was Frank. Long time readers will recall that it was Frank, when serving as a member of BATSUB, who had found Ziggy and his brother Grizzly when they were four week old orphans (c’mon put the tissues away).

Ziggy is the cute blond one on the left.

Frank is the ‘cute’ ginger one (I may well be in trouble for that) at the back.

Frank stayed with us for eight days before he set off a year’s posting in the Falklands and five days later Rose’s sister Pat arrived with her eldest son Dylan. Perfect timing to experience Lobsterfest and for me to wear the snazzy shirt that Frank had bought me.

They’d already sampled Belizean hospitality before they met us when they tried their first Belikins at Jet’s Bar at Philip SW Goldson International Airport.

I love Jet, he makes me feel tall!

Pat and Dylan had, prior to their trip to visit us, never ventured further afield than Spain and we were a little concerned that Belize might not be their ‘cup of tea’. We needn’t have worried. They loved it.

Dylan spending quality time with his ‘cousin’ Ziggy.

Rose and Pat enjoying some sister ( and Belikin) time together.

Oh look, there’s some more of that ‘sister’ time!

All too soon their two visit came to end 

On their way to Philip SW Goldson airport
but not before they had made their ‘reservations’ for next year!

With Pat and Dylan gone we then had time to prepare for the onslaught of the hurricanes. And as it transpired Earl was a doddle when compared to hurricanes Alfie, Louie and Frankie. Why? Well let me introduce you to Alfie, Louie and Frankie. 

From left to right my great nephews (and they are great) Frankie, Alfie and Louie. They look angelic don’t they. They’re not bad boys but … well, looks can be deceiving!

They’d come with their Mum and Dad, my niece Laura and her husband Martin, for a three week visit and I had three weeks of endless questions. As one of them finished with a question and answer session so another one of them was ready to fire another one at me. It seemed too coordinated but it couldn’t be, could it?  They’re 6, 8 and 12 after all. Was I being singled out for some form of sensory bombardment? What had I done to deserve this?

So, out on the veranda, the western, lagoon facing one, early one morning (the boys got up early- but not as early as me) with a mug of coffee – instant, black and unsweetened if you are interested – I pondered (and regular readers will by now have realised that I’m a very adept ponderer). “What could I do?” How could I combat and then overcome this verbal onslaught?

And then my finely honed pondering skills effortlessly slipped in to overdrive and I had a eureka moment. “Divide et impera” I exclaimed to no one but Ziggy and myself.

But where would the battleground be I pondered. It had to be territory familiar to me but alien to my opponents, the boys. And then a strange feeling came over me as I experienced eureka moment number two. There could only be one place so I issued the first invitation to Alfie. Beat the oldest and biggest one first and the other two adversaries , I was sure, would capitulate.

Alfie -the young are so naive – readily accepted the invite. Even when I told him he had to be up and ready by 07.00 hours the next morning. He was up to the challenge though and was sitting on the golf cart waiting for me!

We drove to ‘Town and the interrogation began. I answered each question without any resistance. I knew, I knew that soon we would be on my terrain and my guerilla war would begin.

I parked the ‘cart and we walked. “Where are we going?”, Alfie questioned. “I’m taking you to breakfast”, I responded . 

The battle was won at MY table at Estel’s Dine By the Sea!

The next day I went through the same routine with Frankie, the youngest of the brothers.OK, so the element of surprise was gone but c’mon, he’s only six years old!

We talked football (soccer for US readers). He was a pushover!

Showing just how resilient I can be (looks can be deceiving you know) day three was Louie’s turn.

Some pancakes and syrup and he was eating out of my hand!

Joking aside (honest Laura and Martin, I am joking) the boys were great fun to be with and around.

They loved everything about Ambergris Caye, the place that Rose and I call home.

They loved the golf cart as the mode of travel and skirmished daily as to who would sit in the front.

They adored meeting and playing with their ‘cousin’ Ziggy.

And Ziggy loved it too!

They thought Caye Caulker was cool.

And they didn’t stop talking about their trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley on No Rush.

It’s rare to see Aubrey in one spot this long!

I got in the water too!

But then it was time for what I’m really good at

Time for a little bit of pondering!

And for Frankie?

Forty winks. What else!

A great time under the supervision of Captain Steven Rubio. 

Who needs to get there quickly, there’s No Rush!
They enjoyed making new friends.

Louie and Jaymon.

Louie, Frankie and Alfie with Jaymon and ‘Uncle’ Norman.

Rose, Louie, Alfie and Frankie with their ‘friend’ Mr Turtle.

The three weeks fairly whizzed by and all too soon it was time to say goodbye and Rose and I were joined at Tropic Air’s Departure Lounge by Carlo (he of Carlo and Ernie’s Runway Bar & Grill) and his youngest daughter Aubrey.


Laura, Martin, Alfie, Louie and Frankie are so confident they are coming back next year that they left their beach towels and snorkelling gear with us. We’ve now got the house up for sale!

We didn’t have too much time to feel unhappy because no sooner had we waved goodbye it was straight back to the apartment to get it ready for our next guest, Geordie. You remember Geordie don’t you?

Geordie is the one on the left!

The headline for today’s edition is based on the single first released in 1987 which, after being re-released in 1993 reached number 52 on the UK Singles Charts and number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Goodbye Earl” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye,Belize.

Unlike many others in Belize Rose and I got through Hurricane Earl with relatively little trouble.

We (well Rose did have some slight doubts) were confident that our house would withstand what the conditions threw at it. When we went through the final planning stages with Strukture Architects Limited in 2012 we’d been adamant that it must be designed and constructed to withstand a hurricane. This was something though that we hoped would never be put to the test.

We’d chosen hurricane proof windows – and we paid reasonably heavily for this- and although we could have saved money on less cement and rebar (and labour too for that matter) we’d spurned the savings. Having a few more pounds (for non UK readers insert US dollars) in the bank isn’t a lot of good if your home is a pile of rubble on the floor.

During the days leading up to the hurricane we made our preparations. We stocked up on food which we placed in iced filled (the ice making machine in our refrigerator went in to overdrive ) coolers because our intention was not to open the refrigerator doors unless we absolutely had to. I went to the Crystal Water Depot and got six five gallon bottles of water, a crate of Pepsi and two crates of Belikin (you’ve got to get your priorities right! And we stocked up on dried and canned food for Ziggy.

We charged up our battery operated back-up lighting and power pack (for phones and iPads) and anything outside the house that could be moved we placed in the garage or the house.

We then surveyed the house and the garden to identify what we thought could be the weak points and concluded that our garden fence and our front doors (all constructed of wood) were at some risk. I did consider fixing some plywood over the front doors but a deleted stock at the hardware stores took that decision away from me. And as to the fence? Well, aside from dismantling it there wasn’t a lot we could do. It would either withstand what it was ‘hit’ by or it wouldn’t!

On Wednesday evening at around 17.00 hours I parked the golf carton front of the ground floor apartment so that it was protected from the elements – it could only be ‘hit’ by winds from the south- and Rose, Ziggy and I settled down for storm.

We lost power a few times but surprisingly (well for me anyway) it kept coming back until eventually we lost it completely. And then the wind whipped up and the rain came down. The front doors shook and rattled and Ziggy shook too. He was frightened. Very frightened. 

Rose and I retired to our air bed ( we’d decided earlier that we would sleep in the living room so that we could be close to Ziggy – he’s not allowed in our bedroom) and Ziggy laid down beside us. I didn’t remain awake for too long – I’m one of those people that can sleep anywhere, through anything. Well nearly anything. But a Rose shaking me awake when Hurricane Earl struck in the early hours of the Thursday morning even I couldn’t sleep through.

By this time the front doors were really rattling away and I must admit that for a while I thought that they might be separated from the door jambs. So much so that I rolled off the air bed and sat with my back against the front doors. Stupid right. As if my puny little body could do battle and win against big, bad Earl!

But you know what? When we said goodbye Earl we found that the towels we’d placed in front of the doors were soaking wet from the rain that had beaten against them but the doors were still there. Firmly in place.

We got up bright and early the next morning and ventured outside to see what damage had been wreaked. Before we’d got down the stairs though we heard Maresha our next neighbour who runs Pirates Treasure Restaurant and Bar with her partner Jason calling out to us. “I’ve got gas here if you want to boil some water for coffee”. 

Rose scuttled (I’ve waited an age to describe Rose in this way!) back in to the house, filled up a couple of thermos flasks with water, grabbed the coffee jar ( instant – just the way I like it) and took them over to Maresha. She returned a short while later with coffee. And toasted cheese and ham sandwiches!

We delayed the inspection and instead savoured the hot coffee and toasted sandwiches but once our thirst and appetite had been sated we -Rose, Ziggy and me – set off on our tour. 

Front garden first. The fencing, including the gate, had held up but the vegetation hadn’t fared as well. Branches ripped from trees

and our plantain, our beautiful, fruit bearing plantain

On to the back garden where we could see straight away that something was as should have been. A large section of our southern fence was missing!

It hadn’t gone far though. It had fallen in to our adjacent lot.

Hurricane Earl had shattered the posts holding the fence to the sea wall

and a lengthy section of the fence was leaning in a southerly direction.

This bit of damage needed immediate attention. I mean, how could we expect our Head of Security (that’s Ziggy if you are not already aware) to effectively carry out his duties if the security fences had already been breached! So I got on the ‘phone to Louis aka Wicho, the ‘can-do-everything’ handyman and he turned up the next day with his father and younger brother  to straighten and reassemble the fence. 

The aggregate, cement and lumber (we’d decided that we would have the southern fence’s post set in concrete) arrived

And guys set about their task and within three days our fence was back in place 

and the large front gate was now a double gate.

Having taken care of the immediate repair work Rose and I set about deciding what changes we need to make for if there is a next time. Our house had stood up well to the hurricane but you can always make things better. 

Number one on the list of improvements is to buy a generator. The plan is that it will be able to provide emergency power for two refrigerators (our one and the one in the ground floor apartment), the oven, microwave and one fan in our living area and one in the apartment . 

The other major change is that we are going to have holes drilled in the burglar gates that are in front of our entrance doors

so that we can bolt plywood sheets to the outside of them. This should provide protection for the wooden doors. We will then place sandbags between the burglar bar gates and the front doors to prevent rain entering the house.

Hopefully  the generator will only spark in to life during power outages and the plywood boards and sandbags will remain in the garage. 

The headline for today’s edition (the first for a very long time) is based on the single released by the Dixie Chicks in 2000 and reached number nineteen on the US Billboard Hot 100.